On being a humaneitarian
How meat eaters can turn away from factory farms.
by Caroline Abels, founder of Humaneitarian.org
Perhaps you recently read a book, saw a documentary, or heard a news report about factory farming. As a result, you no longer want to eat factory farmed meat, but you still want to eat meat. How can you do it?
For years, those of us who detest factory farming had only two choices: become a vegetarian or keep eating factory farmed meat. We couldn’t buy pasture-raised pork or free-range chicken because we couldn’t find it: the emergence of factory farming in the 1950s quickly led to fewer American farms raising animals naturally.
But thanks to a recent surge in consumer demand, more farms and food companies are shifting to humane practices, and a third choice is available to us: we can become a humaneitarian. It can be easy or challenging, depending on where you live and what you’re willing or able to spend. But whether you’re in Missouri or Maine, in Oregon or Oklahoma, being a humaneitarian means:
- Knowing the kind of animal farming that’s acceptable to you
- Eating meat from acceptable farms, sometimes or all the time
- Keeping animals in mind at every meal by trying to know where the meat came from
When I gave up factory farmed meat in 2009, I took the big-tent approach and switched to a range of alternative meats: grass-fed, organic, free-range, pasture-raised. Today, I never willingly eat meat that isn’t raised in one of those ways. If I can’t find humane meat, I go without meat for a meal. You, on the other hand, might decide to eat only pasture-raised meat, or organic meat, or meat raised by farmers you can talk to.
It’s one thing to purchase a pasture-raised turkey at Thanksgiving or select a grass-fed steak in a fancy restaurant. But humaneitarianism — like vegetarianism or veganism — is about shifting our eating habits daily. It’s about making a few sacrifices for the sake of animals and going farther than one or two purchases a year.
Here’s how to get started! (Click on the green links below.) And then write to me with your story: what inspired you, what your strategies are, and how it’s going!
Being a vegan or a vegetarian is pretty straightforward, but there are many ways of being a humaneitarian. This is because there are many ways of defining "humanely raised." Get a sense of what this phrase can mean by going to the page What is humanely raised meat? There you can figure out your own definition of humaneitarianism.
Then you might choose to eat humanely raised meat every day, or just a few times a month; only when you eat at home, or just when you eat out; or you might set aside your humaneitarian requirements when a friend makes dinner for you. The point is not to be rigid, but reflective.