On being a humaneitarian
How to turn your back on factory farming, but still really enjoy meat.
by Caroline Abels, founder of Humaneitarian.org
At some point, maybe you read a book, saw a documentary, or heard a news report about the ways that farm animals are raised industrially for food. You decided you didn’t want to eat that kind of meat anymore, but you wanted to keep eating meat. How could you do it?
Until recently, you would’ve had a tough time. For years, those of us who despise the way animals are treated in factory farms only had two choices: become a vegetarian or keep buying the wrong kind of meat. We couldn’t buy pasture-raised pork or free-range chicken because the emergence of factory farming in the 1950s quickly led to fewer American farms raising animals naturally.
But now, thanks to a surge in consumer demand, more farms and companies are shifting to humane practices, and a third choice is open to us: to eat like a humaneitarian. This means buying humanely raised meat all of the time, or some of the time, and it can be easy or challenging, depending on where you live and what you’re willing to spend. But whether you’re in Maine or Missouri, 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 products in 2009, I took the wide-angle view 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 these ways and if I can’t find this kind of 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. (Share your story of what you do!)
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 and 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. How can we give up factory farmed meat and eat humanely as often as possible?
Here’s how to get started (click on the green links below). And be sure to write in with your story of what inspired you, what your strategies are, and how it’s going!
Being a vegan or a vegetarian is pretty stratightforward (vegetarians don't eat meat, vegans don't eat any animal products), 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? It can help you settle on a definition that will guide your humaneitarianism.
You might choose to be a humaneitarian every day, or just a few times a month; only when you eat at home, or only when you eat out; or you might give up your humaneitarian principles when a friend makes dinner for you. The point is not to be rigid, but reflective.