Ethical Omnivorism: Another Name for Real Foodie

Ethical Omnivorism: Another Name for Real Foodie

Photo Credit: Buffalo cows on the pasture by CameliaTWU

I never knew that my real foodiness actually had a name, with a Wikipedia pageand everything (even though it is admittedly small!).  All that trouble we go through to get local, pastured chickens and beef?  It’s called ethical omnivorism, defined as “a diet that encourages the consumption of meat that can be traced back to a farm that raises grass-fed, free range, and hormone-free livestock.”

Many of us have read Nourishing Traditions, or at least become familiar with the perspective that it offers: soak, sprout, or sour your grains, nuts, and legumes, eat meats from pastured animals, drink and eat raw dairy, eat whole, organic foods, seek out traditional superfoods like fermented cod liver oil, learn how to prepare food traditionally, and become truly nourished!

But did you know that when it comes to meat and animal products in particular, some people will throw us real foodies under the proverbial bus?  There seems to be this animosity between the vegan community and the real food community.   I have a problem with is the militant attitude…on both sides. Where is the common ground we share?

To be clear: I have no problem with people making their own decisions.  I don’t fault anyone for choosing a certain food philosophy, and in return, I expect the same amount of respect.  And so while I think a varied, whole foods, omnivorous diet is best for most people, I also don’t need to force anyone to agree with me and follow what I say.

Now that that’s out of the way, we can find out where vegans and real foodies (hereafter referred to as “ethical omnivores”) crossover.

Denise says she vehemently opposes factory farming. Can’t she at least then commend veganism as a diet that doesn’t support factory farms? With the vast majority of animals being raised on factory farms, people in many parts of the country can’t even find non-factory farmed animal products, and if they can, they might not be able to afford them. Omnis who are opposed to factory farms should at least admit how difficult it is for most people to continue on an onmi diet but only eat “ethical” animal products.
a comment by exexvegan

It’s true you know.  We do have a lot in common with vegans, even if we eat sustainable, grass-fed, pastured meats.  We both have an ethical position about how animals are treated.  We may disagree about whether or not we should eat meat, but we agree that animals need to be treated better.

On way that you can make a difference is to vote with you food dollars every day.  If you make it a priority to buy local, then the part of the economy you live in is affected.  If you can afford to take this stand and put your money towards these happy animals, then I think you should.  But what if you don’t?

The simple truth is that some of us can’t afford that.  We don’t all enjoy the same privilege, whether it comes from money, knowhow, time, or other factors.  So is the answer that those with less money should be vegan, and those with more money to afford the expensive cruelty-free meats should be ethical omnivores?  Of course not.

The real answer is that you need to find a niche that works for you.  Do you care about the treatment of animals?  How determined are you to change your budget to accommodate buying foods that support your position?  It will take work, but you can find a way.  Only if you want to.

I was reading this fascinating post about vegans and ethical omnivores, and I was struck by one excerpt in particular:

For the sake of convenience, an ethical omnivore could say “I’m vegetarian,” as long as there aren’t any nearby vegans to catch them on label abuse. This could be confusing if the hosts know that the ethical omnivore normally eats meat, but hadn’t realized they were selective about the source. The ethical omnivore now has to explain this nuance while pleading with the hosts not to go out of their way to buy morally tolerable meat (or suggesting an easy option, like wild-caught fish). All of this requires more conversation than just “Meat? Yuck!” But for many people, the occasional explanation is worth being able to eat meat sometimes.

I would be remiss if I didn’t throw a little Matt Stone-esque relaxation into this post: even if you take a moral stand on the treatment of animals, it’s not worth it to value perfection over all else.

And so I have a polarity within in me, pulling me two directions: I care about sustainability and animal cruelty, and I care about my own well-being.  But if I care about sustainability and animal cruelty, then I need to assess my own financial situation and decide what I  And if I care about my own well-being, that doesn’t just mean the purity of the food I eat (which is an idea that has taken me a long time to get): it means my stress, my sleep, my metabolism, my happiness, and my diet all rolled into one.

I don’t think that any one food philosophy is 100% right.  We always must take the personal into account.  I don’t get on my real food soapbox much around here.  I mostly just say: “here’s how to make food in the healthiest way that works for me”.

So what do you think?  Do you care about the animal cruelty aspect of eating a real food diet?  Do you find yourself frustrated that you don’t have the economic freedom to eat ethically?  Do you think that if more people buy pastured animal products, it will change the supply and demand of our food economy?  Do you have any solutions?  Please share!

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