Sorry for the delay!  :)  I have a good post for you, though – and I can’t wait to read everyone’s thoughts and opinions.


First: lunch.


A little light, but my stomach is feeling off so it’s the best I could do!  I had a white bean hummus, Athenos Tomato & Basil feta, and arugula wrap.


With a banana-orange fruit juice:


And a snack of sourdough bread with Earth Balance.  I heart bread.  A lot.


What Does “Ethical Eating” Mean?


Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion in the comments section about my attempts to “eat ethically” and how I have certain “rules” that I apply only to certain situations or foods.  For example, I don’t drink cow’s milk for “ethical” reasons, but I eat yogurt. 


Let’s first define an “ethical eater.” 


When I first started Healthy Tipping Point in July 2008, I was just a regular eater.  As in, I did not really think about where my food came from and the impact my choices had on the environment or animals.  Sure, I knew about organic food, but I didn’t really understand why I should care about it or buy it.


Over time, I’ve transitioned to being a vegetarian because I’m concerned about how factory farming impacts our animal friends.  Not all meat is factory farmed, of course.  Furthermore, not all dairy or meat farmers are cruel, so please don’t assume that I’m implying this is the case.  However, the vast majority of meat and dairy comes from factory farms, and that disturbs me. 


Can you be an “ethical eater” and eat meat?  Of course.  Why?  Because I don’t believe you have to be a “perfect” eater to be an “ethical eater.”  I believe that being an ethical eater doesn’t mean you don’t eat meat or don’t eat dairy or only eat local or only eat organic. I believe that “ethical eating” means you strive to make educated decisions about your food choices and the impact such choices have on our community, animals, and our environment, and then you strive to reach the best conclusion for YOU.  Sometimes, you might learn a bunch of information and decide you can take some, leave some.  For example, I can go without cow’s milk, but I personally don’t want to give up yogurt.  Does that make me “unethical?”  In my eyes, no.  Because I believe that every positive effort you make is important and worthwhile.


A really great (NON-vegetarian biased) movie is Food Inc.  If you haven’t seen it and care about our food system, I really recommend it.


When I say that I am an “ethical eater,” I mean that I strive to understand WHERE my food comes from and the IMPACT that my choices have.  That does NOT mean that I am perfect. 


I find it very worrisome when people say that I am a “hypocrite” for eating gelatin or yogurt (just as a side note, I haven’t had meat or fish since I went vegetarian 1+ year ago).  I do not believe we should throw around the word “hypocrite,” especially when it comes to food choices.  Food is very personal, and all I can hope to do is educate people about why I do the things I do.   When people come down on me harshly for my choices and decisions, it makes me feel very judged.  It also makes me want to shy away from learning more.   Mama Pea said it best when she said, “I think being militant about any lifestyle choice is one of the biggest deterrents to invoking change in others.”


When it comes to being an “ethical eater,” there is no black and white.  There are a lot of gray areas, and these gray areas are dependant on each individual person.


I get a lot of e-mails from people who say, “I want to be a vegetarian, but I seriously don’t think I can skip turkey on Thanksgiving / give up marshmallows / never eat French onion soup again.”  And I always respond, “WHY does it have to be black and white?”  Make your own decisions work for YOU.  Again, as long as you’re educating yourself and making your decisions based on that information, I believe you’re an ethical eater.


What do you think of the ethical eating debate?  Would you say you try to eat ethically?  Are you an “ethical” meat eater? Do you view your “label” in a black or white manner or is there wiggle room?



  • Amanda @ Vegacious July 7, 2010, 5:10 pm

    VERY well written. I will be posting this on my blog tonight. I think you touch on some very good points. I am currently striving to become about 90% vegan. I don’t want to use the label, but do so that my friends and family understand my eating habits. Does that make any sense? Anyway, excellent post!

    • Drea July 7, 2010, 5:13 pm

      I try not to use the label either because people pre-judge what ‘vegan’ means, but I actually eat 100% vegan.

      • Theodora @ Losing Weight in the City July 7, 2010, 5:30 pm

        I definitely believe in making “smart” eating decisions – both about food ethics and about health – without putting a label to them.

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers July 7, 2010, 5:10 pm

    Well said!! I’m a big believer in the gray area when it comes to food, eating, & health. YOU have to figure out what works for YOU, whatever that may be. 🙂

  • Rachel @ Suburban Yogini July 7, 2010, 5:10 pm

    I believe, like you, that ethical eating is about making informed decisions about food. Not all diets suit everybody, and vegetarianism doesn’t work for all.

    When I was younger I used to be so strict about veganism, almost militant! These days I don’t label myself, I avoid meat and dairy, occassionally eat eggs and fish and generally just live in shades of grey!

    • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete July 8, 2010, 6:53 pm

      Completely agree with you, Rachel! I strive for a mostly vegan lifestyle, but when faced with eating iceberg lettuce or some type of meat or cheese because I have a gluten sensitivity when we go out (this has happened before!), I usually opt for the meat option! This is rare though!

  • Lisa C. July 7, 2010, 5:11 pm

    Well said, Caitlin. I think it’s really difficult to live’ by the book’ and that is why a lot of people shy away from changes. People look at Vegans and think “oh my gosh, I could never ‘not eat cheese’ or whatever…But the thing is, you shouldn’t be making healthy changes for anyone else but you. If you are happy/proud of how you eat and your knowledge of where your food comes from, there is no need for radical change just to conform to ‘the ideal’. Just my 2 cents.

  • Drea July 7, 2010, 5:12 pm

    I 100% agree with you with the idea that eating should be personal, and you can’t judge someone for the choices they make..good or bad! I eat vegan but I often find myself NOT talking to other vegans on Twitter/blogs because they put down people who don’t eat the way we do and I find that offensive. I wouldn’t tell someone I thought was ‘chubby’ to not eat that bag of Doritos, so why should I tell someone how to eat in ANY circumstance?

    Eating should be enjoyed, not labeled like everything else in this world.

  • Christie {Honoring Health} July 7, 2010, 5:12 pm

    Three cheers to you, Caitlin! I saw your tweets yesterday and thought it was ridiculous that people would ridicule you and call you a hypocrite. Food is very personal and each of us have to make our food choices based on our bodies needs and by what we feel ethically comfortable with. You do a great job of showing that. So many people are militant about the way they eat and that only leads to disorder and unhappy bodies.

    Mad props to you.

    Do people say mad props anymore?

    I’m old.

    • Retta @ RunRettaRun July 7, 2010, 5:41 pm

      I say “raise the roof” still. May I join your club? 🙂

      • caitlin July 7, 2010, 8:46 pm

        hollar back!

  • Dorry July 7, 2010, 5:13 pm

    Great post – we talked about this last night on #fitblog chat. I’ve educated myself and aim to eat ethically. I think you said it right that it is about what works best for the individual. I don’t judge other people’s eating choices and I’m sad that you’ve been judged/called a hypocrite. Keep doing what you are doing…making a positive influence in countless lives through your honesty and insight!

  • Katy(The Balanced Foodie) July 7, 2010, 5:15 pm

    This was well thought out and didn’t make me feel condemned at all which I REALLY appreciate since some blogs I’ve read easily make me feel like a horrible person for my food choices. I make as many ethical choices as I can and can afford to do in my daily life and I believe I am an ethical eater.

    Thank you for this post and helping me to feel that you don’t have to be a “perfect” eater to be an ethical one!

  • Holly B July 7, 2010, 5:15 pm

    Bravo, Caitlin. Bravo 🙂

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs July 7, 2010, 5:16 pm

    Good post! I believe ethical eating is all relative to each individual. Before I went vegan, my ethical eating was trying to buy organic, free range, non factory farmed etc, cos at the time, that’s what I could manage. I couldn’t have been vegan at that time, now I can – so my ethical eating has changed. But I wouldn’t think any less of someone if they ate meat or something, only if it was free range – every step, no matter how small, makes a difference. Some people can do more than tohers – the same as some people can run 5hr marathons and it’s a HUGE thing, others run 2hr marathons – it’s all relative to that person! 🙂

  • HTP Dad July 7, 2010, 5:16 pm


    • AngelaOSG July 7, 2010, 5:20 pm

      hehe love this comment from your dad! 😉

      • Tara July 7, 2010, 5:23 pm

        ditto, HTP dad is awesome!

  • Tina July 7, 2010, 5:17 pm

    I LOVE this post… it puts into words what I’ve been feeling for the past year or so–ever since reading some of Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman’s work and watching Food, Inc.

    I don’t want to completely give up meat or dairy and I worry about the quality of soy products (thanks Monsato!) as well as recent research on their estrogenic properties. As someone who is insulin resistant and requires fewer carbs and more veg and protein sources of fuel for my body to work efficiently and be healthy, becoming vegan just isn’t possible for me.

    As a result, I’ve developed a flexitarian diet. I’ve limited my meat consumption, almost all of my dairy is organic and my diet is high in vegetables and excellent quality grains (including quinoa, which is an excellent source of protein but is actually considered a seed).

    My food philosophy is this:
    -make the best choices possible (for me and the environment and for animals)
    -listen to my body
    -minimize my impact on the earth (this includes not overpurchasing groceries that end up going bad before I can eat them and not purchasing things in single-serve packets that will fill up landfills)
    -share my philosophy with others. This allows us them to potentially learn from what I do and hopefully gives me the opportunity to learn more from their food philosophy and knowledge.
    -And I don’t judge others!

    Great post!

    • jenny (green food diaries) July 8, 2010, 1:42 am

      i like your food philosophy.

      • Charise July 8, 2010, 1:39 pm

        As a hypoglycemic, I have many of the same diet needs as you do, and subscribe to a similar “flexitarian” diet, with humanely raised meat 3-4 days/week, mostly organic dairy, lots of veggies, and whole grains when possible, as well as a listen to your body and no judging philosophy.

        I’m also not above a greasy cheeseburger from a non-local/organic-food-serving restaurant on the weekends. I have to balance my “intentional” eating with bad-for-you choices and sometimes for convience and budget purposes. All things in moderation as part of a happy life. : )

  • Courtney @ Three Months July 7, 2010, 5:17 pm

    Caitlin – this was a great post and took a lot of courage to write. YOU need to be happy with your choices. Other people need to only worry about themselves!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) July 7, 2010, 5:17 pm

    i would say i always try, but i do think it’s silly for people to judge based on someone eating one certain thing. it’s not fair to call anyone a hypocrite, especially since we all are depending on the subject or the situation. besides, who determines what is “perfect” or “imperfect” eating? seems like it would be a miserable world if we all shunned anyone that we considered a hypocrite…

    all that to say, i think that by doing your best you’re doing a lot more than most! 🙂

  • Cat July 7, 2010, 5:18 pm

    The not having to be perfect debate resonates with me SO STRONGLY and which is why I adored “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer. It finally made me realize that not eating meat MOST of the time does make a difference within our food system and that having a bite of my date’s grass-fed, sustainably raised pot roast does not make me a bad person and doesn’t make my efforts any less important!

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 8:47 pm

      I loved that book, too. It was great.

  • AngelaOSG July 7, 2010, 5:18 pm

    It’s sad that you were called a hypocrite. You are simply doing the best you can do and I think it is clear that you are committed to your lifestyle and passionate about making a difference that works for YOU. Labels are good and bad…good for commitment, bad sometimes for how others will perceive that label. Unfortunately we can’t control that, but I think you did a great job giving your point of view. Some days I regret ever giving myself the ‘vegan label’ simply because of other’s judgment, but more so than anything I am proud of my commitment and my willingness to stand up for what I believe in. There will always be judgment from others so we have to take it with a grain of salt.
    As for ethical eating, I agree that it is not a one size fits all, like anything in life people wil do what works for them personally.

    • Shanna July 7, 2010, 5:41 pm

      I totally agree with Angela! It’s so sad when people use the comments section to throw insults around. You don’t owe anyone an explanation and I hate the idea of having to defend food choices. I always operate under the rule of doing the best I can and one of my favorite aspects of your blog is how real it is. No one is perfect and I’ve learned from your blog and others to just make the best choice I can in any given situation. So thanks for that!

    • Catherine July 7, 2010, 6:53 pm

      I think sometimes people begin to really define themselves by a label of how they eat, which makes them view people who don’t rigidly follow what they do “hypocrites.” It makes me sad because I think we all have so much to learn from each other, especially when it comes to food which is typically such a unifying thing culturally with sharing food and family and whatnot.

    • AngelaOSG July 7, 2010, 7:18 pm

      PS caitlin thought you might enjoy this quote:

      “Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

      • *Andrea* July 7, 2010, 8:25 pm

        if only more of us believed this!

      • caitlin July 7, 2010, 9:39 pm

        I like that quote!

      • Maya July 7, 2010, 11:44 pm

        I love that quote! Eleanor Roosevelt was brilliant.

        • MaryZ July 8, 2010, 5:54 pm

          Great quote and so true! I am very leary of labeling myself as a vegetarian for the sake of having every around me watch what I eat. I’m not totally vegetarian but every day I learn more and have started making choices that seem right for me. I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful post. I’ll be sharing with friends.

  • Emily @ Relishments July 7, 2010, 5:20 pm

    Wow, Caitlin. This is the post I’ve been trying to write for my blog for weeks. Thank you for so well putting into words my feelings and reminding me that I’m not a “bad person” for eating meat when I visit my parents, or not buying organic strawberries. I’ve made a ton of changes, but I’m not perfect. Change is a process and I love your definition of eating ethically. Thank you!

  • Katie @ Healthy Heddleston July 7, 2010, 5:20 pm

    Eating and food are definitely personal and ethical eating has so many gray areas as you stated. I really liked your post and I wanted to touch on one subject that you alluded to with your email example: Flexitarians. This word didn’t use to exist and now it does… why? because of personal beliefs and personal food choices. We can be anything we want to these days and eat any way we wish. As long as we understand what is ethical for us and for no one else we are being an ethical eater.

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine July 7, 2010, 5:20 pm

    This is such a wonderful and thought-provoking post. I’m mostly vegan, but I feel like a fraud calling myself that when I occasionally eat non-vegan baked goods or seafood. Food is one of the most personal choices we make in life, and I don’t really care what others eat, but I do wish that everyone would take the time to educate themselves about the options and lifestyles out there. If you want to eat meat/dairy/whatever else, it’s your own business, but I think it’s really important to know where our food comes from!

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 9:42 pm

      I don’t think you’re a fraud 🙂 Say whatever you want!

  • GirlonRaw July 7, 2010, 5:21 pm

    Great post and once again, thought and discussion provoking. I believe everything, including out diet choices are a process. Look at how you said your eating habits have changed, and guess what, they will again in another year when you look back and see what you are now eating and they will continue to as long as you remain someone who has concern and regard for your health and the environment around you and open to learning as new developments come to hand. I love what Vegan Chef Bryant Terry said (and I quoted on my recent blog post) he wants to “encourage others gently, to seek out their own food values in what kind of food system they want to see and help others seek out better lives”


    Also how cool is Mama Pea. I LOVE LOVE LOVE what she said!

    I have a blog friend who can be extremely militant to the point of scaring people off so I really like Mama Pea’s approach much more 🙂

    Bravo girl!

  • elaine! July 7, 2010, 5:21 pm

    The all-or-nothing approach is what causes orthorexia. You have to be balanced for your own mental wellness. On top of that, our food system is so far gone that you can’t go 100% on every single food choice without making it your entire life. While some people can and want to do that (and I’m sure they will help move the American food system closer to ethical standards), the majority of us want to eat AND do other things… like be students, have careers, and generally live our lives.

    If you applied the same mindset to working out, you’d never survive! If you didn’t meet your workout goal for the day, you’d consider yourself a failure… rather than realize that some days you have to play by the Universe’s rules, not your own.

    I think this all-or-nothing mindset stems from America’s puritan roots. It’s salvation or damnation, nothing in the middle.

    • ashley July 7, 2010, 8:20 pm

      “On top of that, our food system is so far gone that you can’t go 100% on every single food choice without making it your entire life.”

      veganism is not difficult at all. you should try it before you make assumptions.

      • elaine! July 7, 2010, 8:25 pm

        I did try it, actually. And I’m not even referring to veganism, I’m referring to ethical eating. You can be an unethical vegan. Plenty of foods are manufactured by companies that exploit workers and pollute the planet, even though their products don’t contain animal products or by-products.

        • ashley July 7, 2010, 8:48 pm

          yeah. my mistake. that makes sense.

        • Maya July 7, 2010, 11:46 pm

          That is so true, Elaine! I think that we often hold veganism to a high standard, as if it’s the perfect diet. But ethical eating is such a convoluted issue, and there is always room for improvement in any diet, just like in anything else in life. If we felt that we always had to be perfect in that regard, or any other, we’d drive ourselves crazy.

    • Tara July 8, 2010, 8:32 pm

      Elaine!, I love what you said about the all-or-nothing approach deriving from America’s puritan roots. I do think that a very valid point! I think moderation is key in most things.

  • Tara July 7, 2010, 5:22 pm

    Amen, sistah!! You are right! Perfect is the enemy of good. It’s great that even though you admit to having a totally Type A personality, you can see the gray area in food preferences and not feel the need to be black and white. You rock! Everyone else can buzz off. It’s easy to be critical of someone when you’re really just a jealous of them or something.

  • Rachel July 7, 2010, 5:23 pm

    You know, it was only after reading your blog and realizing that being an ethical eater doesn’t mean you are a perfect vegan 100% of the time. Your blog gave me the courage to become a vegetarian in a way that works for me. My boyfriend’s family are avid hunters and always have a TON of meat that will either be eaten or go into the trash. These animals were not brought up in factor farms or fed pesticide-laced feed. So, on the extremely rare occassion that this meat is prepared for me, I may decide to eat it. And that is okay.

    I am still doing good for the world by not giving my money or my health to institutions that raise animals in unhealthy and treat them in unethical ways.

    I feel this approach is definitely an improvement from how I used to eat meat all the time. Something is better than nothing!

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 9:43 pm

      YAY! I’m glad HTP helped you on your vegetarian journey 🙂

  • Karen July 7, 2010, 5:23 pm

    Great post, sums up my beliefs on black and white-thinking. It’s this reason I’m a 90% ‘vegetarian’. I feel that by giving myself a gray area to ‘cheat’ I am much better at achieving my goals. I know that if I’d tried to give it up cold turkey I would have jumped off the band wagon by now. You gotta do what’s best for you and not worry about labels.

  • Emily July 7, 2010, 5:23 pm
    • Nicole July 7, 2010, 8:18 pm

      I didn’t realize my state (Ohio) was the second largest egg producer in the country. It’s good to see we’re taking steps to make things better. I often struggle with buying eggs direct from the farmer who treats their chickens humanely and buying the ones at the grocery store. There’s a HUGE price difference, especially when I consume a ton of eggs. I’ve been thinking about scaling back my consumption, paying the extra money, and buying the farm fresh, ethical eggs.

      • caitlin July 7, 2010, 9:46 pm

        YAY California rules. They are nearly always on the forefront of stuff. What happy news!

        • Emily July 7, 2010, 10:17 pm

          Yeah, the only sad thing is that its not happening untl 2015….

    • Steph July 7, 2010, 10:46 pm

      While I agree that it’s sad it’s not happening for 4.5 more years, it’s to give farmer’s enough time to switch over. For bigger farms, it may be easier, but for the smaller ones they may need to make monetary adjustments (though to be honest, i think the big ones are the big culprits)
      I am happy this is finally happening.

  • Allison L. July 7, 2010, 5:23 pm

    Thank you for your post! As a result of your blog (and KERF’s), I gave up my decade-long addiction to Diet Coke and am drinking more water and ever so slowly changing my eating habits to healthier and less processed foods. It feels good! I’m glad to have confirmation that I don’t have to do it all in a day or a week. I can slowly make changes for the better!

  • Rebecca July 7, 2010, 5:25 pm

    I love this post! Thank you. It backs up what I said in that post I e-mailed you the link to the other day! You’re one of the people who inspired me to become a vegetarian. I sort of look at you in that aspect as a role model. I think you’re absolutely right–food IS personal and no one should judge you because of it.

    With that being said: I’m having an amazing grass giveaway here:


  • Evan Thomas July 7, 2010, 5:26 pm

    I try to eat as ethically as I can and, yes, I eat meat. When it comes to dairy, I check to make sure that the cows were not treated with growth hormones. The animals I do eat are wild caught or grass fed/hormone free. And most importantly I appreciate it.

    I really admire the people that are able to completely run on plants and feel fine, but honestly if all I eat is vegetables with the occasional piece of tofu, I’d undereat and feel awful running. A diet that’s high in fat and protein is just what works best for me, and that usually means eating animal protein and that’s something I’ve come to peace with. And I’ve realized I can’t be persuaded by other people who can’t come to peace with how someone else eats.

    As for militant people, well, let’s just say the last time I saw someone tweet a petition to have the Obama family become vegan, I unfollowed that person immediately. How can anyone petition someone else’s lifestyle/ethics? That’s just absurd and disrespectful.

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 9:47 pm

      What a ridiculous tweet…

  • Leah @ L4L July 7, 2010, 5:26 pm

    I’m an ethical meat eater! I try to only eat wild caught fish, local organic grass-fed beef, organic free range chicken, and as much local produce as I can handle! I avoid brands that I know have a bad rep. I support the ones I know strive for ethical conditions.

  • Sarah July 7, 2010, 5:27 pm

    Love this post! I am so one of those people who chatted with you about “rules” now that I’ve been veggie for a month and really think you hit the nail on the head. I think people get very caught up in wanting to use the label vegetarian/vegan/Pescetarian/etc becuase it makes them feel like they are part of a specific group and there is strength in numbers. I personally apply the label vegetarian loosely to myself. I have not ate meat in about 6 weeks but do eat chewing gum…which has gelatin. I really feel like my “label” and relationship with meat is going to be on a touch and go/day-to-day basis and paired with making smart choices (i.e. my husband still eats meat and all of our meat comes from companies which we can trace to local/organic farms or from the local farm-to-plate grocery store where the farmers bring their goods to the store, you pick it up that day and take it home). I feel like both my husband and I are practicing ethical eating and if I decide to have a local/organic turkey sandwich tomorrow, I won’t feel guilty. Likewise, if we’re on a trip and there’s a dish that I absolutely must try that has meat/stock in it, I probably will try it…again, love this post and seriously think you nailed it!

  • Jess July 7, 2010, 5:28 pm

    I agree that there is no black and white when it comes to eating. I consider my husband and ourselves ethical eaters because we buy local or grow all of our own produce. We buy our bread from a local business that uses only natural, local ingredients. When we eat meat it’s from local farms that allow their chickens and cows to eat grass and room the pastures and are never finished in gross feed lots. Local organic milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs whenever possible. Does it all cost a lot more? Of course, but it’s worth it to support our local community farmers as well as reduce the carbon footprint our food is creating.

    I think people get so hung up on labels. It’s not necessary. You only need to justify what you eat to yourself, not anyone else.

  • Lori July 7, 2010, 5:28 pm

    I agree with you, Caitlin. I don’t believe it has to be all or nothing. I don’t think people need to label themselves. If they want to, that’s fine, but don’t judge others. And if some want be activists or whatever, good for them. But some of us just don’t feel the need to go all out and declare ourselves one way or another. I also believe that every little bit counts – buying organic when you can, foregoing meat sometimes, buying local when you can. I think we should try to educate ourselves about nutrition and the environment and do what we can, but no one is perfect. How we eat is a personal choice. We aren’t hypocrites just because we care about the environment but aren’t vegan.

  • Kaitlyn July 7, 2010, 5:29 pm

    GREAT post, Caitlin! As a vegetarian who does eat egg whites and does consume dairy, I find that I have had to question my own intent as to why I don’t eat meat because I feel it is unethical, but I still consume products that come from animals. And I figured out, through research and self-evaluation, that I don’t eat meat because of many of the ways animals are treated and as you said, demoralized in factory farming; however, do I judge my family and friends who eat meat? OF COURSE NOT! They have their own beliefs and I have mine. For my own health, I have had to keep dairy and eggs in my diet…that’s just what the nutritionist has said. And I have become ok with that because I know that I am still making a difference and helping animals by not consuming meat…even though I do eat eggs and consume dairy.
    As so many on here have said, it is vital that everyone understand how personal food is…it’s not just about the product itself…it becomes about the way it has been manufactured, produced, packaged, prepared and eaten. And that, for everyone and everything, is DIFFERENT!
    You are to be commended, NOT criticized, for the way in which you put out your beliefs for all of us to see, hear and enjoy. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your beliefs. You are truly an inspiration…not a hypocrite! 🙂 Blessings! ~Kaitlyn

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 9:50 pm

      Thank you dearie, I really appreciate your comment. One of the primary reasons I still eat yogurt is that I need the protein and really don’t feel like I can get it from non-dairy sources.

  • Lindsey @ Sound Eats July 7, 2010, 5:29 pm

    Love this post. Food is personal, and as long as each individual is making educated choices that they feel are best for them, then I don’t personally feel anyone should be saying anything about it.

    I definitely experienced a little backlash when I stopped being a vegan. I had gone vegan primarily for health reasons, and stopped for similar reasons. Now, that’s not to say I had no other reasons. In fact, the reason I held out as long as I did was because of the dilemma I felt about how to ethically eat animal products again. It can be done!

    This is also why I don’t label my own dietary preferences in any way anymore. I have many days where I’ll eat vegan or vegetarian, but I don’t get into the 80% vegan, or pescetarian, or whatever labels. I make educated choices based on what I feel my body needs at that time. 🙂

    Thanks for the post, Caitlin!

  • Allie (Live Laugh Eat) July 7, 2010, 5:30 pm

    Nicely written. I stopped eating meat after I watched Food Inc. however I continue to eat seafood and dairy. I’ve eaten meat maybe a few times since then. The first couple of times I felt guilty and actually didn’t blog about it. But then I thought to myself, I was the one who stopped eating meat. No one told me I couldn’t. There weren’t ever rules put in place. I can eat it if I want or I can opt not to as well. By just cutting back on meat, I’ve made an impact on the environment already and I’m proud of myself for that.

  • Amanda (modernation) July 7, 2010, 5:30 pm

    Great post, Caitlin. I agree that food choices are personal and we all need to decide what our priorities are when it comes to food choices. No one should judge anyone else’s choices -that is the beauty of having choices. There is so much that we don’t know about our food, where it comes from and the impact it has. I try to continually educate myself so I can make the best choices regarding what is important to me. That was what I loved about Food Inc. It isn’t about telling you what to eat or not to eat, it is encouraging us to make informed choices about our food and have personal stake in those choices.

  • Runeatrepeat July 7, 2010, 5:31 pm

    I think everyone should follow their own little heart. No one is my family is veg, but I would never judge them or anyone else on what they ate.
    Recently my sister-in-law asked me how I keep myself from being self righteous about being veggie. I thought it was the most off the wall question. Eating (mostly)doesn’t make me any better than anyone else.
    I live in a glass house. I’m not perfect, I just don’t eat cows.

  • Michele July 7, 2010, 5:31 pm

    Wiggle Room Required!!! For me, black/white or all/nothing thinking is a slippery slope to setting myself up for judgment and self-ridicule… two things I don’t need or want in my life.

    I tried vegetarianism and almost-veganism for a while, but it didn’t work well for my body. For me, I feel better when I incorporate a little animal protein in my manner of eating. I don’t eat meat every day, but I do so about three or four times per week. I feel better, and that’s what this health thing is all about.

    So I make the best choices I can about where my meat comes from and what goes into it. I still don’t eat red meat or pork — that leaves chicken, turkey, and fish (including seafood). So I strive for no antibiotics, cage free, sustainable, etc.

    I didn’t want to eat meat at all… with the whole why should something have to die so I can eat thinking. But in the end, I feel better physically when I do eat a little meat. That’s perfectly okay… for me. Maybe not for others. As for dairy, it’s Stonyfield/Oikos organic and organic half and half.

  • Marci July 7, 2010, 5:31 pm

    Nice post Caitlin. Eating is a lifelong challenge and battle for many people. There is no light switch answer for how to eat right. And “right” is different for everyone. Could be based on diet needs, where you live and not having things available, or wanting to expose a family to all foods to let them decide.
    I don’t know where I fall, but I love to learn more about how other people eat, why we eat certain foods, and hope to teach my blog readers and family one day about different lifestyles.

  • Heather July 7, 2010, 5:34 pm

    Great post!

    You touched on a good point when you said that food is a personal choice – I could not agree more! I was vegetarian for about 8 months in 2008 after reading Skinny Bitch. I was very passionate about it at first and tried to talk to everyone I could about my newfound ways. Whenever I did though it invoked a lot of debate and some people just did not want to hear it. People don’t want to be told (or even have the perception that they are being told) what they shouldn/shouldn’t eat by others, so now I truly believe that the best approach is all about education and getting the info out there. That way people can make their own choices based on what’s best for them.

    I did’t stick with being a vegetarian – I found that eating some meat and dairy in my diet was what worked best for me. I will say though that being a veg for the time I was taught me alot about other ways to eat. It opened my eyes to a whole different food world that I never really paid attention to, and for that I am grateful!

  • Laura July 7, 2010, 5:35 pm

    Loved this post! I 100% agree with you. As one personal example: I used to be a regular cow’s milk drinker & have completely stopped buying dairy milk based on the things I’ve learned about the big commercial dairy farms. However, from time to time I do still consume a limited amount of products which contain milk…cheese on my salads for example.

    I understand this means I’m not vegan. But I don’t think it means I don’t care about the health and well-being of cows. I believe every little bit helps and it makes me sad when people who insist on “all or nothing” turn people off from making any sort of change / impact at all.

  • laura July 7, 2010, 5:36 pm

    This is SUCH an important conversation to have, especially here, where it may seem like you’re offering your food choices up for scrutiny. First of all, it annoys me so much on bloggers’ behalf when people take the sharing of information as an open door to criticism; I get that that’s unavoidable, but it would be nice if people were a little more thoughtful about what they’re hoping to gain by calling you a hypocrite.

    But, that’s separate. This is bigger than that – it’s so incredibly easy for people to assume that everyone has the same reasons for giving things up, and the same standards and goals. I HATE when people assume that any vegetarian has the ultimate goal of being vegan, and is just “working up to it” – I, for one, put dairy and other no-killing-required animal products in the same ethical bucket as any other corrupt, disfunctional corporate practices: am I horrified by the state of the industry? Absolutely. Do I think there is something inherently unethical about eating eggs? Absolutely not. And that’s where I choose to draw the line. I don’t think that eating mammals is a thing I’m comfortable with anymore, morally, but I wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian, because it opens up my decisions for discussion and I hate that. I’m on the fence about fish and poultry, even, because I don’t in my gut feel like those are on the same level -in whatever terms I’m ranking life forms- as beef or pork; anyone who does, more power to them. Its about finding a way of living without ignorance and willful blindness, in a compromise that you’re comfortable with – because seriously, anyone driving a car or living in a house or drinking out of a bottle made of anything but hand-cut grasses has no room to call anyone else a hypocrite. The point is that you are deciding to make any decision at all – that should ALWAYS be respected.

    • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans July 8, 2010, 12:49 pm

      I don’t eat mammals either and I often have to defend that position when other people want to know why I make the distinction. Curiousity is one thing, and I don’t mind trying to explain my views to people but its really frustrating when someone seems judgmental of choices that only affect me anyway.

  • Natasha July 7, 2010, 5:36 pm

    Great post! I too feel like I eat ethically. I try to pay attention to where the food I eat is coming from. I am pescetarian and haven’t had meat in almost a year. I do eat seafood but only products that are certified sustainable. I too no longer drink cows milk, but still enjoy organic yogurts and cheeses and butter. I feel judged sometimes but I try to just roll with it. I’m not eating for other people. I do believe that the changes that my husband and I have made have made a difference for the better, for the life of animals,environment and our health. I believe people need to do what they believe is right, and should be knowledgeable about their food choices, but ultimately it comes down to a personal decision.

    I loved Food Inc. Another good one that really changed me was Earthlings.

  • Gracie July 7, 2010, 5:36 pm

    I must be honest here. I don’t consider myself an ethical eater. I never felt guilty for eating meat or dairy, and I probably never will. But I do feel a twinge of guilt when I realize that very little, if any, of my food decisions are based on how they impact the environment. I know that I need to educate myself more, and I know that I need to stop *putting off* educating myself more. Up until now I’ve used the excuse that “I’ll pay attention to buying organic/locally when I get my own place.” But deep down I think I’m just too lazy and selfish to actually make any changes!

    I really, really appreciate this post because it challenged me. This comment would probably be twice as long if I wasn’t on my phone! 😛

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 9:52 pm

      Great comment Gracie! I think everyone is on different points of the journey and I can definitely relate because this is where I was 2 years ago or so.

  • Orla July 7, 2010, 5:37 pm

    Fantastic post. Really sad to hear that you were called a Hypocrite.
    I think that once we are happy with the decisions we make when eating whether vegetarian/pescetarian/vegan/dairyfree /egg free etc, that is what is important.
    It is about being confident about being ourselves and it is hard enough to do that without criticism from people who don’t know us properly.
    Congrats on a super article.

  • Amy B @ Second City Randomness July 7, 2010, 5:40 pm

    I very much agree with you when you say food choice is personnal. I hate when people write about how they feel bad about not what they did/ate/etc, but because of the reaction they may get. And I also don’t agree at all with others harshly judging you via blog. Because you’re just putting out there what works for you. You never said it would work for everyone- but you like it. And that’s what matters.

  • Grapeful July 7, 2010, 5:41 pm

    It’s good that you defined what ethical eater means to you and I liked your definition of it. Personally, I am a live let live or in this case eat let eat. I eat what I want for my own reasons and don’t get offended by the eating habits of others since it’s personal like you said. But I can understand why some people may have been put off with your phrase “ethical” eater. Think about it. “Ethical” is a loaded term in itself and can give off negative connotation when you are labeling yourself as one thing while differentiating yourself from another.

    Personally I don’t like to put a lot of meaning behind terms but rather meanings. For instance I think it’s silly how society has come to accept XX as a racial slur and now by just saying XX it’s an easy button for an insult. But I digress. Point is society tends to be hung up on terms and I can see why someone would think you labeling your eating practices ethical is indirectly judging/calling say a non-vegetarian’s habits unethical. Some people tend to see things black and white unfortunately. So I would have gone along the lines of “aware” or “educated” (which probably could be seen as insulting). Just my two cents.

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 9:53 pm

      I agree with ethical being a loaded word – I use the term because I’ve heard it before but maybe it’s time to change it!

      • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans July 8, 2010, 12:54 pm

        How about being a “conscientous eater” You choose food for many reasons, some of which ethical but maybe this one is more all encompassing and less controversial. I think your post was really well thought out and fair by the way.

  • Shellybean July 7, 2010, 5:41 pm

    I don’t label my eating habits, but I have recently cut the majority of meat out of my diet. I’ve only eaten meat, and white meat at that, during dinner for a couple of years now, but recently (for health, ethical, and taste reasons- I’m just kind of sick of chicken)I’ve stopped preparing meat for myself during dinner. (I still make it for my fiance.) If I want meat at a restaurant or at a friend’s house, I’ll eat it (I don’t like limiting myself when I’m eating somewhere nice, and I don’t like inconveniencing other people) but I’d say that means I’m averaging 1 or 2 servings of meat a week now.
    I still eat eggs (from the farmer’s market), yogurt, milk, and cheese.
    So obviously I think that this way of eating is more ethical than the way I was eating, which was more ethical than my days of sitting in the dorm eating microwaved chicken taquitos from Walmart. It’s all relative.
    I really enjoy the way I eat and I think it’s important for food to be pleasurable. So I’m not aiming for perfection- I’m trying to do a little better than I did and to set a good example.
    I think being ultra rigid about how I eat would be off putting to the people around me and would just make them more staunchly carnivorous.
    On the other hand, I have no intention of calling myself a vegetarian (because I can’t help loving sausage, even if I rarely eat it) or a flexitarian (b/c the term annoys me, even if it is a decent description of the way I eat.)

  • Cara July 7, 2010, 5:44 pm

    I absolutely love this post. It inspires people to try to eat more ethically rather than shying away from it due to the people who judge. I am still working on eating ethically, one small step at a time…

  • Kara M. July 7, 2010, 5:44 pm

    This IS a great post! Not that you need my approval, but I’m on board with you 100% when it comes to ethical eating and what it means for me. There is no such thing as the “perfect” way to approach eating. However, the more I learn, the more important it becomes to me to eat mostly seasonal, local, non-processed foods (and it would be great if they were organic too). Does that mean I’m never going to eat another orange because they don’t grow where I live? NO! But, I’m going to do best to try to keep my eating ethical/clean.

    The fact is that our current food system is very taxing to the health of our bodies and the environment. To eat completely ethical/clean would actually be inconvenient for our busy schedules, not to mention expensive. To me, it really is disturbing how much of our food (not just animal products) is produced, and movies like “Food, Inc.” and books like “In Defense of Food” are truly eye opening to that end. But, as you said, eating is a very personal thing, and there are in fact gray areas. Everyone has the right to choose to eat the way they want, but I do hope that more people educate themselves about the source and contents of their food.

  • Morgan @ Healthy Happy Place July 7, 2010, 5:46 pm

    I agree with you that every little thing counts, and we don’t have to be perfect. I have no desire to become vegetarian, but like to do my part by reducing my animal product consumption. A couple of days a week I cook all vegetarian foods, and most of it is also vegan. Is this perfect? no. But I feel like it makes a difference.

  • Jaya July 7, 2010, 5:49 pm

    This comments section is like striking gold. This is exactly what I am researching right now for my thesis (blog/social media/non-expert influences on how people define “healthy” and “ethical” food choices). Thank you (with openly selfish motives) for opening up this discussion!

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 9:54 pm

      AWESOME! The comments are really good, too! Very thoughtful.

  • Lauren @ Lauren Loves Good Food July 7, 2010, 5:51 pm

    Great post! I REALLY like your point about things being black and white. I have a friend who is always telling me she wants to be a vegetarian but she eats SOME meat and would have to give it up. My response? Just eat what you want, you don’t need to give up chicken just so you can call yourself a vegetarian! Thanks for the post 🙂

  • Dynamics July 7, 2010, 5:51 pm

    You stated your opinions so eloquently!! I think it is a shame to have labels but they are necessary to some extent. Maybe we should say we are “Flexitarian.” Oh, but that may open another can of worms.

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is July 7, 2010, 5:54 pm

    I could not agree more with you. I think that ethical eating means making as many well-educated decisions when it comes to eating that we feel comfortable with. I find that calling anyone a hypocrite or trying to force certain habits upon someone does not invoke good change in the world!

  • Katie (Sweet Tater) July 7, 2010, 5:56 pm

    have you noticed that you have to defend your healthy eating habits more than you ever had to defend unhealthy eating habits? i feel like we rarely see people getting onto others about the nasty things they put into their bodies, but as soon as we start to adopt healthier labels like vegan, vegetarian or ethical eater, people watch us like hawks just waiting to swoop in and call us hypocrites at the slightest “slip up.”

    you’re damn right that it doesn’t have to be so black and white when it comes to food. if that’s the standard and people continue to nit-pick other’s attempts at a healthy life, it’s going to turn people off from even trying because they’ll expect to not be “good enough.” and that would really be a shame.

    • Lizz (leadingthegoodlife) July 7, 2010, 6:07 pm

      “have you noticed that you have to defend your healthy eating habits more than you ever had to defend unhealthy eating habits?” This is something I deal with all the time! It’s amazing how people started picking apart my diet once I became vegetarian and started eating healthily.

      I hate having to justify why I eat what I eat…and NOT because I don’t think I have good reasons. I just don’t think I should have to defend myself all of the time. Food choices is a GREAT topic for discussion – you can learn so much from and be inspired by other people. But when there is spitefulness, glibness, do-gooder-ness, etc fueling the conversation, I want no part in it. There is no one ‘right way’ to eat!

    • Maria (realfitmama) July 7, 2010, 6:11 pm

      I couldn’t agree more! I have been bombarded with attacks from my family/husbands family for the 8 years that I have been a vegetarian. They tell me I’m malnourishing my daughters or depriving them of important foods. WTF?!

      I never criticize the fact that they choose a big mac over salad and beans or french fries over a sweet potato.

      It’s very sad that people who feel so unhappy with their food/health choices can openly and cruely pass judgement on those who are trying to live a better life.

      • Becky July 7, 2010, 6:53 pm

        Completely agree with you guys too. My husband and I spend so much time defending ourselves and our vegetarianism to people. Why do others get so aggressive with us about OUR choices when we aren’t getting aggressive on them about theirs? We always start the conversations by saying “these are OUR choices, and we have NO judgment or problems with whatever YOUR choices are” and still so many people attack us.

        • caitlin July 7, 2010, 9:55 pm

          I also agree. I think unhealthy people who condemn you feel like you are judging them by not eating the way they do. It’s very strange.

  • Marie July 7, 2010, 5:56 pm

    Well I think it’s crap that people attack you the way they apparently have, but I completely agree with your way of thinking. I’m a “pescetarian” leaning towards vegetarianism, and I also practice the “gray area.” I don’t drink cow’s milk and rarely have cheese, but I love greek yogurt and ice cream. Labels are difficult to deal with and I think people put too much stock in them, when it’s just an easy way of defining how one eats. You’ve been incredibly open and honest about your choices, so I don’t understand how someone could disrespect you like that. You’re a huge inspiration and you rock! Thank you for all that you do.

  • stacey July 7, 2010, 5:57 pm

    Great post Caitlin. This is a topic that is very near and dear to me. As someone who has had disordered eating habits for most of my life and only started having a healthy relationship with food about 3 years ago when I turned 30, I have a hard time with black and white concepts when it comes to food. Part of developing a healthy relationship with food, meant that no food was off limits to me. I can eat what I want. Unfortunately, I have some food intolerances and suffer from IBS so I am limited because of those issues, but I can deal with with. About a year and half ago, I went to yoga training for 5 days where we ate a vegan diet and watched the movie Earthlings. I have never been a big meat eater and I have been vegetarian on and off throughout my life. I was very moved by the movie and it really sparked a desire in me to start thinking about where my food was coming from. On top of that, eating a vegan diet for the weekend was great for my digestive issues. So, I started to eat a vegan diet after that weekend. But, I found after a year or so, that I was craving eggs and real cheese and ice cream. This did not happen to me at all for the longest time when I decided to eat vegan. I did not miss any of the foods that I was no longer eating. So, on the occasions that something that is not vegan appeals to me, I let myself have it, so that I am not restricting myself. And on these occasions, I have found myself feeling guilty. This is not a feeling that I want to associate with eating. When this happens, I just work to assure myself that it does not make me a bad person to eat cheese once in a while. But, I think that part of the reason why I feel guilty is because when people ask, I tell them that I am vegan because it is just easier to explain my eating habits that way. Then I feel like calling myself a hypocrite- which is crazy. So, my current mindset is that I eat by my rules and I don’t need to justify it to anyone. What I need to do is listen to my body and provide it with the foods that it needs to function best.

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) July 7, 2010, 5:57 pm

    What a wonderful and interesting post! I think you summed up my approach perfectly when you said “When I say that I am an “ethical eater,” I mean that I strive to understand WHERE my food comes from and the IMPACT that my choices have.” >>> that is my approach 🙂

  • Kiran July 7, 2010, 5:58 pm

    Making informed food related decisions is the way to go. That said, Food Inc documentary is one main reason why I’ve switched to healthy/organic eating with regular exercises of course 🙂 Love your take in this matter. No labels for my eating lifestyle, thank you 🙂

  • Fran July 7, 2010, 5:58 pm

    Well said. I can see how someone might be confused by your eating habits with a different definition of ethical (everyone has their own definition after all), but you’ve done a great job of explaining your thought process. And that’s ultimately what ethics should be: conscious thought about one’s actions. As long as we do our best to be educated and thoughtful in our choices, when the moral compass points to yes, who’s to say we’re wrong? Like you said, it’s never black and white. This isn’t math class; there’s no right or wrong answer. There are many answers, each as valid as the next, and that’s something to celebrate.

    So enjoy your yogurt!

  • Cate July 7, 2010, 6:02 pm

    This is really great and well written!
    I completely agree with your fabulous definition of ethical eating. My eating habits have certainly changed since seeing Food Inc. I still eat meat and dairy products but I look at things VERY differently. I have also been adding meatless meals to my diet. I know that making these changes has had a positive impact on me, the people around me, and the environment. I agree that it is not always black and white; there should be wiggle room when it comes to your diet and health. It is about what works best for you!
    thanks again for this wonderful post 🙂

  • Maria (realfitmama) July 7, 2010, 6:05 pm

    I believe in labels only when it comes to me. I “label” myself and my daughters vegetarian because we eat ZERO poultry, red meat, pork, fish or “wild” meat and have done so for 8 years.

    We do, however, eat eggs, cheese and yogurt. These products are always bought in organic, free range form or directly from farmers that I know and can visit on my own when possible.

    Cows milk has been out for many years because I see no reason in giving MY milk to my daughters since we stopped breast feeding so why would I give them milk from a cows breast? Again – these are MY choices and I WOULD NEVER and HAVE NEVER judged ANYONE for their food choices as long as they are made in an educated way.

    The phrase I hate to hear more than “How do you get your protein?” is “Ignorance is bliss.” Ignorance is ignorance – plain and simple.

  • emily July 7, 2010, 6:06 pm

    This was so well written! Someone yelled at me the other day because I ended my 1-month vegan challenge post by saying that I would continue to consume Greek yogurt and eggs (from responsible sources), I think I’ll direct them to this post! 🙂

  • Meredith @ An Epic Change July 7, 2010, 6:06 pm

    I’m working at a summer program with 60 high school students right now and since I’m a vegetarian, I’ve been asked a lot of questions like: when? why? how? etc. Well one of my students is a vegetarian and almost a vegan. He and I have really had some great conversations and I really have enjoyed speaking to my other students about “ethical eating”. So many people question why I don’t eat organic and why I sometimes allow gelatin to slip into my diet and I think you and Mama Pea say it well: I don’t want to be militant about this but I do want to be educated. I feel better knowing that the decisions I’m making are helping out. Yes, I still eat some dairy and occasionally eggs, but I don’t want to label myself as a “vegan” EVER because I’m afraid of the imagine that puts out (ie, PETA). I am a vegetarian for many, many reasons and I try to explain that I am making these choices for MY life and doing it the best way that I can. That is all we can do! I’m sorry people think you’re a hypocrite, I’ve heard it before too. I appreciate your point of view, your recipes, your lifestyle, and the choices you’ve made — they’ve helped me make my own!

  • Jessica @ Rawtumn July 7, 2010, 6:11 pm

    I agree 100%. I don’t understand why anyone would call you a hypocrite for these choices. I strive to eat high raw, mostly vegan foods but there are just some things I like to enjoy every once in a while that fall into the meat, cheese, or processed category, etc and I am okay with that. It’s all about the big picture and there is definitely room for some gray area. No one is perfect and what’s fine for some will be abysmal to others. That’s okay, live and let live! Thanks for this post!

  • Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly July 7, 2010, 6:13 pm

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said food is personal. I work with clients everyday with whom food is probably one of the most personal relationships they have. I think that everyone has their own rules, philosphies, rituals (whatever you want to call it) and with those rules come certain beliefs that are also very personal. Judging someone because they don’t eat, believe, act, etc, how you do is ridiculous and immature. I love how you present yourself. You never “preach” but rather just tell us how you live. That is admirable, takes courage and with that comes people who will agree, disagree and some with be apathetic. But in the end…as long as YOU are happy with your choices and your decisions then that is all that matters!

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) July 7, 2010, 6:13 pm

    I love this post. I can’t eat meat because I can’t process it but it took me a long time to officially “label” myself as a vegetarian because I didn’t want people to think things about me that aren’t true. In reality I would love a good chicken breast on my salad or a nice sausage from time to time but I can’t eat it. It’s a personal decision for me to eat this way for my own health and well being. Hunni still eats meat and it is his decision. If I were to force people to eat the way I do what good would that do.

    I do my best to eat ethically all around so that I at least know where my food is coming from. I can’t always afford organics but I do my best to live with what I can handle both ethically and financially.

    Thank you for being so honest about your own personal decisions. That is one of the reasons I love your blog. You are honest about who YOU are and not telling anyone else to be that way.

  • M July 7, 2010, 6:16 pm

    I am enjoying this post.
    I really do agree about not condemning other’s choices.

    Just a side question,why is drinking cow’s milk not ok in your books,but yogurt and cheese are?I don’t mean this as any critique,I am just confused why you might find one more ethical than the other? Am I missing something, knowing that yogurt,milk and cheese are all from same source?

    I just was wondering about it,but not in an accusatory curiosity, but instead wondering the difference in your opinion?(by the way I do eat cheese and yogurt and love ’em)

    Thanks for any more info about this particular choice of yours -cheers!

    • danielle July 7, 2010, 6:34 pm

      I was wondering the same thing. My diet is fairly similar to yours (Caitlin’s) in that I eat no meat or fish or cow’s milk, but I do have the occasional serving of yogurt or cheese. When I eat these dairy products, I can draw no ethical distinction between them and the milk that I spurn for both taste and ethical reasons. Instead, I acknowledge to myself that I’m making a concession. It would probably be better from an animal welfare point of view if I abstained from dairy altogether, or at least much more than I do, but sometimes I put my health or even my sense of taste or convenience or my desire to fit in in a social setting before my ethical convictions.

      For me, it’s similar to any other minor moral transgression: It’s not the “right” thing (in my opinion and my situation) to do, but if I’m generally following my moral compass and once in a while give in to selfish desires, I’m not going to beat myself up.

      • M July 7, 2010, 6:48 pm

        My question is really just what is the difference between a cow’s milk and yogurt and cheese? I don’t mean it to be about transgressions or anything,just don’t understand the difference and really super curious about the reasoning,that’s all 😉

        • danielle July 7, 2010, 6:55 pm

          Yeah, I totally get your question. I was just explaining that for me there is no difference. It’s not like milk is “evil” and yogurt is a “gray area”, but that they’re both things I would avoid if I had a limitless supply of willpower and alternative foods. But since I don’t like the taste of milk, I never feel tempted to consume it like I do with cheese and yogurt.

          I, too, am curious whether Caitlin or anyone else feels that there is an ethical difference between milk and other dairy products.

        • Ellie July 7, 2010, 9:15 pm

          There isn’t a difference, it’s that if you desire to eat LESS dairy product overall, one way to do that would be to simply not eat an entire category of dairy product. Caitlin said she doesn’t like milk as much as she likes yogurt so that was her course of action in order to reduce her overall dairy intake.

          Another way to reduce dairy product intake would be to simply try to consume half as much milk, half as much yogurt, half as much cheese etc. but why bother if you like milk alternatives and are perfectly happy without it. Cutting out milk=less dairy. There is no ethical difference.

    • Dori July 7, 2010, 7:49 pm

      Not to speak for Caitlin, but I don’t think she was implying that milk and yogurt come from different places or one is worse than the other. I think she meant that giving up milk is one way she can make a difference by purchasing/consuming LESS dairy because she can do without it and enjoys non-dairy milk.

      • Cyclist Kate July 7, 2010, 8:58 pm

        Exactly–I’m the same way. I gave up cow’s milk years and years ago and don’t miss it at all–it’s much yummier to me to have nondairy milk, but I still eat some cow’s cheese and yogurt. It’s not that I think cow’s cheese and yogurt are more ethical to consume than cow’s milk, it’s just that I want to make diet changes that I can maintain and that don’t make me feel deprived (feeling deprived is the surest route back to old habits!). Dropping cow’s milk is easy to maintain, but when I dropped yogurt and cheese, I missed them and resented the change, so I added them back in limited amounts. I’m still making a net positive change, but one that is easy to maintain.

        • Kelly July 7, 2010, 9:58 pm

          I also choose not to drink cow’s milk but still eat yogurt and cheese. Dori explained exactly why I have done this. Since I do not particularly like milk it was easy to take out of my diet and reduce my overall dairy intake. There are such other great milk substitutes that I prefer taste wise.

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 9:57 pm

      Dorie and Ellie are right 🙂 They said it perfectly.

  • Catherine July 7, 2010, 6:16 pm

    This entry was really well written, and I appreciate it because I think there are a lot of grey areas when it comes to food. I think sometimes with all the information that is out there, finding what is “ethical” can be overwhelming.
    I also wish there was a way to ensure that all “ethical” foods, organics, and whatnot were more cost effective. I feel like sometimes the price of not just healthy but good food in general is such a deterrent to both lower income and middle income people a like.
    Another food issue that I consider a part of food “etichs” and that I find extremely heartbreaking but also interesting from a sociological perspective is the sort of grocery store wastelands that exist in poor neighborhoods, but that falls into another category really.

    • Sarah for Real July 7, 2010, 6:38 pm

      Good point! Did you know that the World Health Organization actually has figures that show the cost of food world wide has risen 20% (in how long I can’t recall) while what we spend on “food” in the US has actually fallen quite a bit. It’s all about what the government chooses to subsidize. In our case, corn and soy. Food for thought, pun intended 😉

      And on a related but side note… it drives me bananas when people donate Top Ramen to food banks!

      • Catherine July 7, 2010, 6:42 pm

        Isn’t that crazy? I know there are a lot of various factors that go into the subsidization of food, but I just wish there were certain facets of our government that weren’t “bought.” Good food shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be a basic human right, at least the access to it anyway.

      • Laura July 7, 2010, 8:09 pm

        On the food bank note– I once heard someone say, “be sure to donate good, healthy food. Not the can of pie filling that’s been in your pantry for six months.” haha

  • Heather July 7, 2010, 6:19 pm

    I can’t really comment too much on this because I pretty much eat whatever I want. I love red meat and chicken and can’t see myelf giving it up, but I have nothing against people who have make that choice. I think as long as people don’t get preachy about what what should and shouldnt be eaten and then turn around and eat it, then it is fine.

    • M July 7, 2010, 6:24 pm

      Well said!

    • Catherine July 7, 2010, 6:44 pm

      I agree with you Heather. I try to make ethical choices when I purchase meat, but a lot of times it’s so much less expensive to simply buy what’s on sale. I also agree that it’s nice to allow people to share their views and what works for them, without it turning preachy. 🙂 It gives everyone an opportunity to learn without feeling accosted!

  • Sara July 7, 2010, 6:19 pm

    Great post woman! I would even take it one step further and say why even label ourselves “ethical” eaters? Everyone makes a conscious decision what they put in their mouth; just because I eat a veggie burger doesn’t mean that a person who eats a hamburger is a bad person or unethical. What we eat is a very personal decision and should not be judged by others. I went vegetarian two years ago and then started back to eating meat every now and then for the last couple of months. I felt really guilty at first, but I’ve learned to be at peace with my decisions and make the best decision I can based on what options are available to me. Reducing my carbon footprint and living a campassionate life are important to me though. As a result, I’ve also started to limit my dairy and other animal products. When I started to make the connection, my dietary habits naturally changed. Having said though I don’t beat myself up over an ice cream cone or a piece of meat. Every little change helps. Kudos to all those commenting; I love reading all the comments!

  • Wendy July 7, 2010, 6:22 pm

    Healthy eating is all about moderation, right? I think most people would agree that it’s ok to treat yourself once in a while, if you’re eating healthy most of the time. So why should vegetarianism/veganism/”ethical” eating be any different? If you feel like it’s unethical to eat meat, but really enjoy Thanksgiving turkey, who says that’s not ok? It’s up to each person to make their own decisions about what they put in their bodies. And I, for one, am not going judge anyone for their food or lifestyle choices.

    That said, my definition of “ethical” eating is probably a lot different from most of your readers’. Having first-hand experience working on beef and dairy farms, I know that a lot of the so-called horrors are either blown out of proportion or flat-out lies. Therefore, I don’t believe you have to eat organic/grass-fed/hormone-“free” (in quotes b/c all animal products naturally contain hormones) to eat ethically. I eat conventionally raised meat and dairy products, and don’t feel guilty.

    I also want to pass along an interesting article to you – this is a first-hand account of what a vegetarian nutritionist found when he visited a cattle feedlot. You might be surprised by what he found:

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 10:00 pm

      This was really interesting. I would actually love to visit a factory farm or a large scale farm like that.

      I wonder if those cows go to major slaughter houses (probably). That’s another major concern of mine…

  • Lauren July 7, 2010, 6:26 pm

    Great post! I have called myself ‘vegetarian’ for almost two years now and I have definitely allowed myself some wiggle room in that time span. For example, when I traveled to Africa last summer, I did not want to disrespect the family whose home I was graciously allowed to stay in by turning down their traditional meals containing meat. I also choose to eat locally-caught salmon sashimi when I go for sushi rather than imported tofu (I try not to support the soy industry anyway). I don’t think there’s anything hypocritical about it: I can back all of my choices with logic and reasoning. Everyone is entitled to do what works for them, while keeping in mind the environmental impact of their decisions.

  • Anne July 7, 2010, 6:26 pm

    I don’t judge your food choices or what you label yourself as.

    The definition of Vegetarian: For the purpose of membership of International Vegetarian Union, vegetarianism includes veganism and is defined as the practice of not eating meat, poultry or fish or their by-products, with or without the use of dairy products or eggs.

    Often broken down further into OVO-LACTO, and LACTO. Vegetarians may or may not try and minimize their non food use of animals like vegans.

    I think that back in the day, my mom was a vegetarian because she didn’t eat meat. Now a days with so many vegans out there, people get confused.

    Everyone has their reasons… my high school English teacher was vegetarian, but wore leather shoes, a leather belt, and carried a leather purse. Her reasons for being vegetarian, all the grain that is fed to cows could feed so many more people… I wonder what the cow that her purse was made of ate…

    I recently watched No Impact Man. Very interesting. He went to the farm where the milk he buys in produced, which was not labeled “organic”. He ask the farmer why, the farmer, whom had names for all of his cows, replied was something like this, when you carry the organic label, you can’t treat your sick cows with antibiotics when they get sick and he can’t stand just to let an animal die.

    I agree, as long as the animals are treated well, its part of nature.

  • Sarah for Real July 7, 2010, 6:31 pm

    Wow! What an excellent post and some excellent comments!

    I am vehemently carnivorous. There, I said it.

    I eat meat, dairy, and fish because I believe they are critical to MY health and happiness. I am educated on the topic and confident in my decision. In fact, you’ve inspired to me write a post on it! (There are so many “why I am vegetarian” posts… but not too many, “why I am NOT.”)

    I also consider myself “ethical” in terms similar to your definition. I try to choose local foods, including animal products, where I can shake hands with the farmer or rancher and know that his product is humane and healthy. It has been a process for me to reduce my consumption of conventionally raised beef and chicken and I know I am still on the journey.

    I think it is the process of stopping and considering if we want this factory farmed beef today or not that makes us ethical in our decisions.

    We wouldn’t consider someone a HERO for making ONE organic, local, humane beef purchase. It is the same to NOT condemn someone for ONE conventional beef burger.

    I’ll save the rest for my post 😀 Great topic Caitlin! Very well spoken!

    • Kelly July 7, 2010, 10:00 pm

      I would be very interested in reading your “why I am not” vegetarian post!

  • Lizz (leadingthegoodlife) July 7, 2010, 6:31 pm

    I definitely agree with this. In fact, I think a lot of things in life are far from black and white…and we oftentimes limit ourselves with that type of reasoning. It does not have to be an ‘all or nothing’ scenario. I believe things to be much more fluid.

    Labels can be so limiting! Others want to ‘bucket’ you so they can infer things about you. And sometimes it seems that when a label is typically seen as “good” (ex ‘ethical eater’, ‘athlete’), people tend to pick it apart, poke holes, point fingers…show you that you’re no better than them. As I type this I realize it sounds awfully negative. I don’t mean to say that all people are so narrow-minded. But once a label gets put on something or someone, it seems to give narrow-mindedness a place to breed. It provides a set of ‘rules’ to measure you up against…which is too bad.

  • Julie @ Pickley Pear July 7, 2010, 6:43 pm

    Thought provoking post. I’m probably not real ethical when it comes to eating, I am more practical and buy the cheapest veggies or the meat that is on sale. I have changed my meat habits slightly – only organic beef and chicken is what I buy. I try to eat more fish, and only from the USA, but who really knows where the restaurant fish comes from. I do the best I can, indulge occasionally and treat my body with respect (meaning…I give it what it wants!).

  • Hannah July 7, 2010, 6:45 pm

    Have you read Food Matters by Mark Bittman? He discusses how CAFOs are bad for the environment, not just in terms of the conditions of the animals, but by polluting the land and water and using a great deal more fossil fuels and natural resources than farming fruit and veggies does. Anyway, by just making an effort to eat less meat, we can have a huge impact on these environmental issues.

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 10:02 pm

      I have not read that but I’ve heard similar arguments before! Major concern for me.

      • Hannah July 8, 2010, 9:19 am

        Eating less, as opposed to no, animal products can also make a huge difference in your health, too. I really don’t see a reason to go all the way vegan unless you categorically consider eating animals unethical. If you are doing it to improve your health or the environment, you can do a lot just by eating less meat and dairy.

  • LindsayK July 7, 2010, 6:51 pm

    Caitlin, the grace with which you handle yourself daily never ceases to amaze me. To open up this conversation in the wake of a personal critique of your own choices is something I admire and wish more people were capable of doing. Well done, and a well written post at that!

  • Kelsey July 7, 2010, 6:52 pm

    I agree that ethical eating is not a black and white issue. Food is such a personal choice, and what works for one person will not work for another. The way you eat now, may not work for you in the future – just like everything else, eating habits change over time depending on a myriad of things!

    I also agree that labels can be flexible. I have friends who consider themselves vegetarians because they eat no meat or fish, but still consume milk and yogurt…but I think that what really matters is that you take the time to educate yourself on where all of your food comes from, and use that information to make informed decisions!

  • Molly @fuelherup July 7, 2010, 6:53 pm

    Good post!
    Personally, I don’t believe in killing animals for food. At all. I’m sorry, but in my opinion, there’s no “ethical” way to kill something.

    I also don’t like the way dairy is produced now. I go months on a vegan diet, then eat some yogurt and cottage cheese, then go back to vegan. this is my own version, I suppose, of balancing ethics with enjoyment.

    And you’re right about every little thing making a difference. When friends say, “It’s cool that you’re veg, but I just love meat!” I encourage them to just try replacing meat in one meal! Many find that they don’t really eat meat at breakfast, and don’t snack on it, so having a PB&J at lunch instead of a turkey sub is a change they can make without too much hassle, and still have meat at dinner or special occasions.

    Anyway, great post! I didn’t see the comments in question, but I totally agree with what Mama Pea said!

  • Danielle (Runs on Green) July 7, 2010, 6:55 pm

    Thank you for shedding light on this! In NO way does your lifestyle have to be black & white. I think every little bit counts and just because you can’t technically slap a label on your eating patterns doesn’t mean you aren’t making a difference with your body/the environment!

  • Anya @ Fitness & Sunshine July 7, 2010, 7:09 pm

    Wiggle room is so important! Just like you, I’m okay without cow’s milk, but I love greek yogurt and different cheeses. I think different people have very different things that work for them so calling anyone a hypocrite is quite silly.

    I try to understand where my food comes from, especially when it comes to dairy, eggs, and fish (I don’t eat very much chicken or other meats). It’s important to be educated and make wise decisions.

  • Amber July 7, 2010, 7:10 pm

    I loved this post!

    About two months ago I quit eating meat (I still eat fish & seafood) after reading Eating Animals. I did not go into the book with the INTENTION to quit eating meat, but after reading the book I just can’t stomach the idea of chicken, pork or beef so I don’t eat it. Maybe I will again one day, though. I’m not going to draw any lines.

    I try to tell my family about the things I learned through watching Food Inc. and Eating Animals not to sway them to stop eating meat but to INFORM them so they can make INFORMED decisions about what they eat. I think that’s really all you can ask of anyone!

    Once again, great post!

  • Lindsay @ The Ketchup Diaries July 7, 2010, 7:16 pm

    I think you have nailed ethical eating straight on. People should simply be more aware of where their food comes from. Food, Inc. had a profound affect on me and has limited my meat consumption (for the most part) to meat that I’ve purchased that I know is antibiotic free, all-natural and free range. I stray away from it at restaurants and try to stay with a vegetarian entree or seafood item (so long as the fish came from the sea and not a farm!!). But, along this journey, I’ve had buffalo chicken pizza (my FAVORITE) without worry. I just do the best I can, which includes recommending Food, Inc. to anyone that will listen!

  • Ellen@FIrednFabulous July 7, 2010, 7:26 pm

    I’m pretty sure there is NOTHING “ethical” about the way I eat. Haha. I’ve cut down on processed foods a lot, I’ve upped my veggie and fruit intake, and I’m making small changes to cutting down on sugar. For now, this is OK with me. I know that I should give up the diet sodas and Sweet n Low in my coffee, and I slowly have tried weening myself off it, but I’m just not ready to go the full distance yet. I want to have a better understanding of where food comes from and what exactly it is I’m eating, but I don’t know if I’m quite ready to get that involved. Baby steps!

    I think you are so positive and balanced, and that in itself is truly inspiring. Don’t worry about being called a hypocrite—some people just like to dissect things to DEATH or stay too “by the book.” But yeah, if you were a vegetarian that ate a big juicy burger every once in a while, I might call you on it! I also can’t stand the “vegetarians” who are on the pizza/pasta/bagel diet!

  • Jolene ( July 7, 2010, 7:40 pm

    I eat what I want to and try to make educated decisions about my food. I don’t have any strict rules, I just eat as ethically as possible, when possible.

    I buy mostly Saskatchewan raised meat (there are no feed lots in Saskatchewan, and I don’t even know if there are any in Canada). When I drive around my province, I see the cattle out grazing in the fields, free to roam as they wish. I make sure I know where my meat is coming from, and I believe that is ethical.

  • Heather July 7, 2010, 7:41 pm

    This is something that I’ve been struggling with a lot. I believe in putting my money where my mouth is, so I try to shop local and preferably organic, but that isn’t always possible. I was vegan for 2 years, and ended up switching back to a pescetarian lifestyle. I had to ask myself, with my beliefs and some dietary problems I’ve been having: would I rather eat Earth Balance, which is made up of palm oil (which is not ethical, at all) or real, organic butter? Would I rather eat faux-meats or sustainable seafood? I really don’t know, and sometimes I do still feel guilty now that I’ve incorporated things back into my diet.

    I think awareness is key. Research your products. I love TJ’s as much as the next person, but many of the commentors pointed out that their food is produced by cheap laborers. Does that mean I will boycott them 100%? No, but I will keep that in mind when I shop there. There’s also a lot about money and privilege that comes into play with being an ethical eater. The first rule to food eating is that you MUST eat to survive. Some people don’t have access to farmer’s markets or fresh or affordable produce. So, that’s my goal: food as sustenance. Then I worry about it being ethical and healthy and all that. It’s what kind of irritates me about all the arguments from Michael Pollan (who has a philosophy that I agree with, yet he seems to ignore class and urban areas). I mean, they do touch on that in Food Inc., but the same arguments about “healthy eating is CHEAP” (bull! It *can* be cheap, depending on access and knowledge and creativity) and all that. There’s a reason processed food and empty calories are cheap, and THAT’S where I think people need to put their energy into: fighting against that.

    Woo! RANTY! I always love your posts about these subjects because I know you get it, and I also love that you believe in moderation and you aren’t preachy.

  • Allie July 7, 2010, 7:47 pm

    Honestly, the fact an ethical eating debate even exists baffles my mind. All the lines of what is and what isn’t, what we should and what shouldn’t don’t exactly matter to a CERTAIN point. Change doesn’t come from one, it comes from many. All the steps that we all take in our own ways add up.

    We trip over ourselves trying to find this line of what is and what isn’t ethical, but we forgot that we’re in this ethical battleship together. Although we might not always agree on the semantics, we all believe in the cause (i.e. factory farming is breaking the world and fucking shit up all over the place [I’m classy, eloquent, etc., I know]). That’s what really matters, isn’t it? Shouldn’t it?

    I, myself am a vegan because it was the right thing for me to do. I couldn’t, in good conscience, continue to consume animals or animal products knowing what I know, so I stopped. I feel very informed and have my own ideas about ethics that have driven me to this lifestyle. I couldn’t be happier with my decision :).

  • Sarah July 7, 2010, 7:47 pm

    Okay, wow. I needed to read this today and my reasons have absolutely nothing to do with food.

    I just would like to point out that I get frustrated when people get so blatantly judgmental towards bloggers (which is different than disagreeing) who never outwardly express judgment themselves. I have never once heard you chastise someone for eating meat or splurging on desserts five times a day or drinking 10 cups of coffee a day. You have said time and time again that you are on a quest to find balance – and your honesty is admirable.

    Yes, this post is about ethical eating – but it is also about looking into someone else’s life through a different lens as them and making judgments that don’t account for the person’s resources, upbringings and family system. We are all just doing the best we can.

    On an ethical eating note – I appreciate the way your blog has opened my eyes to different eating opportunities and meal possibilities. I don’t feel so “stuck” in the kitchen anymore when it comes to healthy eating and cooking!

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 10:04 pm

      Thanks!! 🙂

  • Paige @Running Around Normal July 7, 2010, 7:48 pm

    I definitely agree with the statement about putting rigid labels around things. There are definitely grey areas. Even though you made it a point to say that you hadn’t had meat or fish at all since declaring vegetarian, if you had it’d be OK too, and you still wouldn’t be a hypocrite.

    • *Andrea* July 7, 2010, 8:20 pm

      well put! love your outlook!

  • Dori July 7, 2010, 7:52 pm

    I am a vegetarian — no meat or fish since October 2009 — and I try to eat vegan as much as possible, but don’t feel bad when I don’t. I know that the small steps I have taken have made a difference. I try to buy eggs from farmers markets and companies whose practices I know, but if I am out to breakfast I know that won’t usually be possible. While it is an ethical dilemma, I know I am doing the best I can. Great post, Caitlin.

  • Danielle July 7, 2010, 7:52 pm

    Bravo Caitlin! I do try to be an ethical eater as well, as do many of the commenters above, but I think the most amazing thing is that the term, ethical eater, can have many different degrees and meanings to various people. I believe that there should be a gray area. Sure vegan, vegetarian, or raw foodist work for a few of us, but I think that oftentimes the strict label can bring about more harm than health… in terms of how they impact us emotionally and mentally. Being physically healthy is important to me, and should be important to others, but perhaps it is less important than my entire well being which means avoiding obnoxious feelings like guilt. Ta-da! 😉

  • Jamie July 7, 2010, 7:54 pm

    I think it is important to note that this notion of “ethical” eating is a privilege. Many people in this world do not have the luxury of buying certain food products. Many people in this country live in “food deserts” where they lack adequate grocery stores and cannot eat or access certain foods. So, it really is unfair to start accusing people of not eating a certain when really not everyone has the opportunity to eat just like you.

  • Jamie July 7, 2010, 7:55 pm

    And when i say “you” thats not calling anyone in particular out. I think this is a great post Caitlin and a conversation that needs to be had. Kudos. But we also have to realize that making certain food choices is a luxury.

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 10:05 pm

      I completely agree!!! We are very lucky we can make these choices.

  • Rachel (Two Healthy Plates) July 7, 2010, 7:57 pm

    Great post! I think the most important thing to realize is that it doesn’t have to all or nothing. Making small changes also makes a big impact, little choices add up and taking small steps is still better than taking no steps!!

  • Billy July 7, 2010, 8:01 pm

    Wonderful and common sense post that unfortunately, those that judge may not use at times. All one can do is make the best choices they can. I would rather choose what I eat today instead of being forced on medication when I am older. I am a 44 year old man and wish I made better choices at 21.

  • Kate B. July 7, 2010, 8:08 pm

    One of my favourite podcasters, from Vegetarian Food for Thought, says the following, “Don’t do nothing because you cant do everything.” I love her attitude! She always makes me feel like any decision I make helps, whether it be switching out one glass of milk with almod milk (or another kind of non-dairy milk) or if I cut out all animal products daily. Caitlin I love this post SO much! Thank you for everything you do!

  • Alison July 7, 2010, 8:10 pm

    I really appreciate your post! Although I never commented I was definitely a person that found it hypocritical for you to not drink milk but still eat yogurt. I think it was because you labeled one “unethical” but the other was totally fine because you like it. I always find the way you address your opinion on sometimes touchy subjects really refreshing and I feel like I learn something. Your use of the labels “ethical/unethical” (because they ARE labels) threw me off but youre absolutely right that food is personal! I won’t be judging you anymore 🙂

  • Koko July 7, 2010, 8:11 pm

    Brilliant post. I cannot stand the labelling that goes on in this food blog world! I have been a vegetarian for 10 years, but I do eat seafood. I don’t eat dairy besides yogurt and the odd bit of cheese. I literally have no clue how to categorize my diet…but it works for me, and I truly feel good about it. If that upsets anyone….so be it!
    Thanks Caitlin!

  • *Andrea* July 7, 2010, 8:11 pm

    i love mama pea and your responses. i noticed this on Averie’s blog too – the loveveggiesyoga one. being all-or-nothing/black- or white in anything in life is not necessary! it actually is more harmful and stressful. especially for those of us with eating disorder pasts, etc.

    i 100% agree with you! this is why your blog is one of my favs! you’re not too preachy yet you inspire me to try and eat more vegetarian foods/organics (but not exclusively), try running (but not judge myself for not being a sub 8 or 7-min half marathoner), have fun with friends and indulge in some beers or fries once in a while, etc.

  • Meghan@traveleatlove July 7, 2010, 8:14 pm

    Everyone’s ethics are different, so in that sense anyone can say that they are an ethical eater. I think making little changes most definitely makes a difference, but at the same time I wouldn’t proclaim that I don’t eat one thing because of ethics but eat something that is pretty much the same product because I don’t feel like giving it up; that truly is a conflict no matter how you look at it. For the record I consume both milk and yogurt. I have chosen to eat only organic hormone-free dairy across the board because of better practices. (grateful that I have that choice!).

    • ashley July 7, 2010, 8:31 pm

      “but at the same time I wouldn’t proclaim that I don’t eat one thing because of ethics but eat something that is pretty much the same product because I don’t feel like giving it up; that truly is a conflict no matter how you look at it”

      more people should be saying this.

      • Polly July 7, 2010, 9:44 pm

        Agreed…while I think it’s very rude and unfair to call someone hypocritical for not being a “perfect” consumer, I (semantically) don’t understand the purpose of saying you don’t consume cow’s milk while you eat a product that is entirely made of…cow’s milk. To clarify, I don’t AT ALL find your actions questionable or problematic, I just think your description of your behaviors is highly confusing. That being said…this has been a great discussion to read and learn from, and thank you for being so open with your thoughts!

        • Neely July 8, 2010, 7:59 am

          I’m late on this, but this, in my opinion, was the “issue” from the get-go. I think the only reason anyone made a comment about being “hypocritical” was because Caitlin made the statement about milk while she eats dairy. I don’t think anyone was calling her out for eating what she wants, but just because the statement directly contradicts her action.

          Having met Caitlin and knowing that she is an honest, sweet person, I think she just made a small error by this contradiction. She didn’t deserve to be called any names at all, but I think the reason anyone commented was because of it.

          Heck if I had a food blog I am sure I would contradict myself at some point too. That, and everyone would be tired of seeing pictures of frozen dinners and Tijuana Flats.

          Great discussion, Caitlin. Glad to see you loving it in your new place.

        • Caitlin July 8, 2010, 9:09 am

          I think I shouldn’t use the term “unethical” when describing why I do some things and not others. We need another word… Any ideas?

          Miss you Neely! How’s Fish?

  • Kim July 7, 2010, 8:15 pm

    Great post! I got into a fight with family when I said I want to eat vegan more often but am having a hard time giving up yogurt and cheese.. give me a break – some people just look for a reason to argue and no matter how convinced you are on the inside that you don’t want to eat eggs ever again, someone out there will say you’re being silly for making that choice (btw it was a family member who smokes and regularly eats at O’Boys and Beefy King despite a family history of cancer & heart attacks).

    The way you talk about ‘perfect’ and ‘ethical’ is eye-opening – I work a full 40-45 hours each week and cook everything for my fiancee, and it’s really difficult to find time to experiment with a lot of vegan substitutes (ex: the vegan cheese at Ethos always hurts my stomach), so I’ve learned that it’s a PROCESS of transition and it’s all about making good choices. No one just wakes up one day and becomes a marathon runner, it takes practice!

    And I feel you on the Skinny Bitch – as soon as I read it there was no more meat or fish in my life. I do organic yogurt & cheese, and only eggs in baked goods.

    We miss you in Orlando! I’m visiting Charlotte this weekend and bringing back a carry-on full of Trader Joe’s goodies (the spicy soy-flax tortilla chips ROCK)! 🙂

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 10:06 pm

      HAVE FUN AT TJs!!!

  • Mandy July 7, 2010, 8:17 pm

    Great post. I think that this false dichotomy leads many to embrace unhealthy and unethical eating due to the inconvenience and effort involved in being a vegetarian. This train of thought assumes that incremental changes have no effect, which is ridiculous.

  • ruby red July 7, 2010, 8:21 pm

    Well said. I like your “ethical eating” definition. It must be stressful for you to feel like the eating-police are after you on this blog – I’m so sorry!

  • Sarah (Gluten Free Grazer) July 7, 2010, 8:22 pm

    This is a great post, Caitlin! It resonated with me and I can relate to a lot of what you said about having some wiggle room.

    I have a ton of food allergies – gluten, fish and seafood, milk, egg yolk, pumpkin, so for me, a lot of my food decisions have been predetermined by my genetics. On these foods there is very little (if any) wiggle room, simply because it makes me sick.

    That said, over time, I have changed the way I eat, moving towards more healthful, nutritious, and ethical foods. I follow some of the dietary laws of Kashrut but could never keep kosher 100% because of my allergies. So, I do the best I can.

    Since reading lots of Michael Pollan and others, I have made the switch to being an ethical meat eater. I’d say I eat a vegetarian diet 80% of the time and am now very aware of where my meat comes from. I only buy grassfed, local poultry and beef.

    This decision was rooted in my learning about factory farming and me making the choice to not support that industry with my food dollars. Some of my friends are also ethical eaters and have modified how they eat over time which has made it nice because we can have informed, intelligent discussions about food issues and eat similarly which strengthens our social time.

    Sure there are times I don’t choose organic or may not question the source of the meat in front of me, but those instances are often when they come at the expense of my family (who worked hard to prepare a holiday meal, accommodating my allergies) and friends and that’s not a price I’m willing to pay in my life.

    Thanks again for raising these questions!

  • Teresa B. July 7, 2010, 8:28 pm

    This is a great post! Thanks so much for bringing up this topic. I find it interesting that most of your commenters are vegetarians/vegans. I think it’s great that we live in a country where we have the freedom to choose what foods we purchase for our families. (Many people around the world don’t have this choice.) But I hope you all don’t think I’m “unethical” for buying meat at my small-town grocery store. I’m grew up on a cattle/hog farm, and many of my friends are livestock farmers. I know they do a great job taking care of their animals, and I want to support them.

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman July 7, 2010, 8:35 pm

    Oh my goodness, your comments are packed so I’m not even sure you’ll notice this one. But it’s so refreshing to me that you can eat healthy 99.9% of the time and not stress about it the rest of the time. So you eat ethically and eat yogurt. My world didn’t end when I heard that. I think we can only do what’s best for us. I don’t begrudge vegans for having a “restrictive” lifestyle as much as I don’t preach to my friends who eat burgers that theirs should be grass-fed. I know that I try to eat ethically by eating meat that’s raised to roam free, to eat what nature intended it to eat, and so on. It’s not my place to judge others.

    On that same note, I like knowing I’m not judged coming here but still being a meat eater. Thanks!

  • Mellissa July 7, 2010, 8:36 pm

    I don’t believe in labels about food, I eat what I want and when I want it. Now most of that food is healthy and I try to make good decisions about where my food comes from but I eat meat and will continue to do so. I happen to live in the Midwest where there are still A LOT of farms and I choose to support those farmers. Especially the ones who raise the animals humanely and practice organic principles when applicable.

  • Allie July 7, 2010, 8:43 pm

    loved this so so much. you put into words what i have struggled with for a while. i am not 100% anything- vegetarian or vegan. i drink soymilk but eat yogurt. i don’t eat meat but every once in a while will eat a piece of wild fish if i know where it came from. i felt like a fraud, for lack of a better term, for so long, because i didn’t follow all the “rules”. but as you said, i eventually started to feel really good about the choices i make, and i continually evolve as an ethical eater. THANKS for putting this out there.

  • maria @ Chasing the Now July 7, 2010, 8:45 pm

    100% positively absolutely agree with you Caitlin. Food and exercise are not black and white topics. You have to find what works for YOU, not other people.

    For me, ethical eating means being educated and making the best choices you can for the situation you are in. For example, I’d love to buy only grass-fed beef, but I live in Japan right now and that isn’t available at any of the supermarkets in my town. But, when we come home to visit soon, we will make the effort to purchase it, if it’s available.

  • Jamie July 7, 2010, 8:51 pm

    I totally agree with what you are saying. I mean why does eating vegetarian have to be black or white? I think that sometimes people feel as if vegetarians think they are “better” than other people, so they aim to tear down that superiority. I toy with the idea of going vegetarian often, maybe soon!

  • irina July 7, 2010, 8:54 pm

    Good for you, you must do what works for you. I could never understand how being “ethical” gets equated with “vegan” lately. This may be the effect of the “Skinny Bitch” series…this has always been one issue I took with the books – it is all or nothing – you are either vegan and super ethical or not vegan and practically a villan. Eat what works for you – your health, mental and physical, your lifestyle, etc. I limit dairy, but have some cheese here that there; I hardly ever eat red meat, but if I am at a BBQ and someone only prepared steak and veggies I am not going to let them know that I try not to eat meat, I just have a moderate portion and move on. Life is too short. The most important thing for me is to spend my time and calories on things that are wholesome, minimally if at all processed, local (if possible) and humanly raised (on small local farms). I think paying more for better food is the investment in my future health. I do not need anyone’s approval of my food habits… nor do I offer advise for anyone else.

  • lauren @ Eater not a runner July 7, 2010, 8:54 pm

    Great post, I think it’s important to stick to your own beliefs and do what works for you. That’s why I don’t like the label of “vegetarian” or “pescatarian” or whatever. I just do what works for me and incorporate as many ethical eats into my diet as possible. But of course I’m not perfect, and I don’t think you have to be to make a difference!

  • Kathryn July 7, 2010, 8:54 pm

    I think this was a great post with many amazing points so thank you 🙂

    The thing that really bothers me about labels/judgements is the role that money and access plays. I would love to be able to eat 100% organic and local but as a graduate student, the money just isn’t there (I also live in a small town with limited access). Does that mean I’m unethical? A bad person? Obviously it doesnt but I think there is often judgement (in a general sense) when people don’t 100% engage in their beliefs (if that makes any sense haha)

    Thanks again for all of your posts 🙂 I always look forward to your blog!

  • Olivia @ Blissful Runner July 7, 2010, 8:57 pm

    I certainly hope there are grey areas when it comes to ethical eating. I have educated myself of factory farming and, as you said, subsequently made the best choices for me. As someone who has struggled with disordered eating for almost two decades, I don’t feel it would be smart for me to say that any foods are off limits. I have too many food rules already – I really don’t need to make it harder for myself. I now eat meat in far smaller quantities than I once did and began incorporating tofu and beefed up other sources of protein in my diet (no pun intended!). For the sake of my sanity and my health I feel this is the best I can do right now.

  • Chelsey July 7, 2010, 9:06 pm

    Such a heated topic! This is such a personal subject matter, but I am so glad you wrote about it. It is crazy how “personal” food really is. I hate labels, but am mostly vegetarian because I will not eat factory farmed meat. I did, however, eat shrimp this past weekend because it was not factory farmed. I felt weird having to explain my choice on my blog, but did anyways because people tend to be so judgemental. This post was very tasteful. Nice job Caitlin!

  • Victoria July 7, 2010, 9:17 pm

    Wonderful post! You clearly have a lot of reading to do yourself:)
    I have such a difficult diet to explain to other people… I mostly tell people I’m vegan or vegetarian… I don’t eat red meat and i’m lactose intolerant. I try to avoid meat in general for the similar reasons as you BUT I occasionally eat chicken or turkey and salmon because I actually get ill if I don’t have a little animal protein occasionally. And I eat eggs because I like them… a lot… and their good protein!
    Anyway, I very much agree with your post that there are gray-areas and my diet is an excellent example (It can be all over the place in terms of what I do and don’t eat and a lot of people don’t necessarily understand it but thats okay because I have MY REASONS).

  • KatieTX July 7, 2010, 9:20 pm

    As I eat my wild alaskan salmon that I consciously chose over the farmed Atlantic despite the large price difference, I do think eating decisions are very personal. Every little bit helps when it comes to being more ethical/environmentally friendly!

  • brandi July 7, 2010, 9:20 pm

    We have extremely similar thoughts regarding ethical eating, and I think most people are on the same page.

    I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, but I do consider myself an ethical eater.

    I buy as much locally as I can: dairy, meat, produce.

    I buy organic from companies I believe in and support that are running ethical and sustainable practices.

    And, more importantly (to me), I make as much as stuff MYSELF as I can: breads, desserts, yogurt, etc.

    But no one is perfect. There are things I cannot buy her that I still need or want sometimes, and I’m okay with that.

    I think the most important thing for everyone is to just find out where your food is coming from and decide how to go from there. The more we know, the more change we can cause in the food industry. Buying local meat and dairy IS more expensive, and my husband and I have a very tight budget, but it’s worth it to us to splurge on those items (and local produce) and cut back on other things.

  • brandi July 7, 2010, 9:21 pm

    PS: Great discussion – thanks for posting this!

  • Maya July 7, 2010, 9:24 pm

    I can’t wait to dig through the comments and read what everyone else thinks. You are so right about people being black and white. I am a longtime vegetarian. I agree with vegan principles, and maybe one day I’ll be ready to commit fully to veganism. But I just can’t give up the Greek yogurt, good cheese, or occasional ice cream. And that’s ok by me. I don’t drink milk and have switched to non dairy alternatives. I do buy non dairy cheese and ice cream. I’m in the gray area when it comes to dairy, and it’s an area in which I can live and consider the ethics of eating that are important for me. I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • Serena July 7, 2010, 9:26 pm

    So well put! And I don’t know who Mama Pea is, but I LOVE that quote! I’m currently breast-feeding and am having a lot of guilt over when to stop. It’s the militant people who make me feel guilty and like eating, it’s such a personal decision. That quote and your post actually helped me a lot with that as well, even though it’s completely unrelated.

  • sarah July 7, 2010, 9:28 pm

    Caitlin, you are so inspiring and I LOVE your definition of “ethical eater” so much that I think that’s what I am.

    I am mostly vegetarian because I prefer it. Nothing makes me happier than fresh summer fruit and veggies and plenty of whole grains. Well, except maybe chocolate. 🙂 I am a huge animal lover and know that if I had to raise/butcher an animal in order to eat meat, I would gladly never touch meat again. On this side, I seriously consider taking the plunge and being vegetarian. BUT the scientist in me wonders if humans are meant to be omnivores (Like cats are carnivores! It’s not wrong for them-it’s their biological makekup. Feed a cat a vegan diet and it will literally die!). So I eat seafood a few times month and chicken rarely (usually when I’m eating out) and a bison burger once per year maybe. I don’t drink cow’s milk unless it’s in a mocha but eat cheese/yogurt often and would miss it if I gave it up. Plus, I’ve never been good about getting my calcium and I worry that one day far too soon my bones are going to dissolve. Yikes! When I think about animal milk and it’s purpose (feed same-species babies), it’s gross but I try not to think about it. I do buy only organic milk and organic/free range eggs and when I buy chicken I buy the same because I hope that the cows/chickens are treated humanely. I make an effort to support stores/companies/products that try to take care of our planet and it’s creatures.

    I strive to educate myself and to do what feels best for me emotionally/morally/physically. Some days are better than others, and I’m ok with that. It’s a personal decision and it is important that I respect others’ right to do the same even if I don’t agree with their choices.

    Sorry for the book…oops!

  • Shallin July 7, 2010, 9:29 pm

    For Caitlin and others who are interested in learning more about ethical eating and today’s agriculture system, I would encourage you to check out books by Joel Salatin (who was featured in Food Inc), Sally Fallon (she has the most AMAZING cookbook, “Nourishing Traditions”), and the work of the Weston A. Price and the Weston A Price Foundation, found at: Weston A. Price, who was originally a dentist by profession, did work with isolated, industrialized cultures and how their teeth and bodies were often disease free and things such as cancer and diabetes were unheard of until processed sugars, fats, and foods were introduced.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin July 7, 2010, 9:29 pm

    You make such a good point about ethical eating not being black and white! My parents always call me a hypocrite for certain conflicting eating choices, but I keep on telling them I’m not trying to be a perfect ethical eater, I’m simply doing what I can!

  • Carly (Swim, Run, Om) July 7, 2010, 9:34 pm

    I completely agree – ethical eating is NOT black and white! For me, I’m very focused on eating locally, and I’m blessed to be two minutes away from a large farmers’ market. I’m not a vegetarian, but many of my meals are meatless. However, because of my budget, I usually DON’T buy organic or free-range meat. It’s not necessarily my preference, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it.

    Life is too short to be obsessed with what’s on your plate! Eat what’s good. 🙂

  • Joy July 7, 2010, 9:44 pm

    Caitlin, you did a great job with this. Don’t give the haters your time or energy… keep doing what you do. You are positive, energetic and an encourager. Love ya.

  • Caz July 7, 2010, 9:53 pm

    This is great! I find so many people get antsy about their food choices that they find reasons to accuse or tease or make fun of other people and their ‘labels’. Food choices are so personal and based on culture and family that it’s really hard when one person or another brags about being ‘right’ or ‘better’ than someone else.

    I’m not vegetarian or vegan but I do try to eat that way often. In the past year, my bf (a meat-loving Aussie) and I have transitioned to a vegetarian diet probably 4-5 days out of the week.

    My view on ethical eating is that I won’t give up meat, but I’ll only buy free range/organic/biodynamic meat that’s been treated fairly during it’s life. I view eating locally/seasonally as more important than eating organic (shipped a long way) but will pick both if I can.

    That being said, I completely understand why it’s more important for a mom with picky kids to choose the organic tomatoes or milk flown in from across the country/overseas to limit chemicals but still get veggies.

    I have a ‘whole foods’ view of my diet. I enjoy tofu and tempeh in moderation but would rather eat an organic chicken breast than a processed vegetarian ‘chick’n’ patty. I’d rather make and freeze a batch of soup than buy canned soup from the store.

    However, this is also because the cost of food in Australia is MUCH higher than in the USA and I’d rather spend money on food that TASTES good, than proccessed food. But I’d never judge someone else for this because I realize that one -this lifestyle is not feasible for many people/families and two -many people don’t have the interest in food and cooking that I do.

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit July 7, 2010, 9:56 pm

    Great level-headed response. I consider myself an ethical eater, especially after seeing Food, Inc. I try not to eat meat unless I know where it’s coming from/how it was raised, etc. I’m not a big meat eater anyway so it’s not a big deal for me to eat vegetarian most of the time. I try to buy organic/local as much as is possible given the availability and my budget. I definitely think some people have gotten a bit “food snobbish” with all the various talk about ethical eating. But overall I think it’s a good thing that more and more people are being exposed to the truths about our food industry in the U.S. and changing their habits. Great post!

  • Raya July 7, 2010, 9:58 pm


    That is all.

  • Matt July 7, 2010, 9:58 pm

    I think that it’s best not to label your “style” of eating. The definition of “vegetarian” is probably more clearly defined than “ethical eater.” Once you label yourself as something, people attribute their preconceived notions about that thing to you.

    Kath and I frequently eat mostly vegetarian dinners, but our criteria for excluding certain foods are never “is it meat or not.” We’ve never declared ourselves to be vegetarian, and so we never get these questions about “oh my god, you’ll eat THIS but not THAT?” In fact, most of the obnoxious comments are more along the lines of “are you becoming vegetarian?” To that the only response is, “I just eat.”

  • sarah July 7, 2010, 9:59 pm

    To me, being ethical means deciding what you believe and sticking with it. In my opinion, it is unethical to make choices out of pleasure when they violate your ethics, or to not apply your ethics uniformly. It is a very high standard, I understand that, but I do find it frustrating that it is so common in the blog world to just apply your ethics whenever it is convenient and doesn’t infringe on the things you like. People like greek yoghurt in blogland, so they eat a lot of it, but they fail to recognise that eating it is inconsistent with the other things they claim to believe. Dairy farms are very, very bad for the environment. No matter if they are organic or not. And greek yoghurt is even worse than regular yoghurt for the environment because it creates more waste whey that is too acidic to be used on anything else. Yet so many bloggers claim to be concerned about sustainability and eat containers nearly every day. I am picking on yoghurt here just as an example, but I think it applies to a lot of things. I have particularly noticed the inconsistencies since moving out of the US. Consumerism often trumps ethics, and I do think that’s a concern. Most other readers will probably call me militant because of it, but to each his/her own. For me, ethics means deciding what I believe, and living it…even if it creates some discomfort. Even if it means I have to stop eating things I like. I don’t want to ever be so wrapped up in my own interests that I stop caring about the interests of other beings and of the earth. So maybe I am militant, but I feel very much at peace…because I don’t compromise my values to eat things just because they taste good.

    • caitlin July 7, 2010, 10:09 pm

      I think you have an awesome and very admirable viewpoint on your ethics related to food. Seriously… you are selfless. (I am not!)

    • Allie July 8, 2010, 11:09 am

      You really said everything that I was thinking (ok, the frustration I was feeling). I don’t know if it makes me militant or not, but I agree that one should hold to their values. It’s not about being perfect, but it’s not about excusing slip ups/making exceptions either, you know? I’m not trying to point the finger at anyone or (hope) I’m not coming across as holier then thou, because we are all human and we all (myself included) make mistakes. But I also think we a strong capable people who can hold to our convictions, even when it goes against something we might enjoy.

      • Caitlin July 8, 2010, 11:10 am

        I don’t think that makes you holier than thou at all, Allie. If you can draw black and white distinctions for yourself, I think that’s awesome. I just can’t make myself do it or expect others too because there are so many complex things to think about when it comes to eating.

  • Skyler Meine July 7, 2010, 10:02 pm

    This is a very interesting post. I haven’t been on here much but I think this is a hot button for a lot of people. I loved the video and will be sharing that with as many people as possible. Ethical eating what a fun debate.

  • Babs July 7, 2010, 10:09 pm

    i think it’s hard for some people to believe that everyone should do what’s right for them, especially when you are educated about the horrible impact of factory farms on the animals and the environment. sometimes it’s not that people are “judging” but instead it’s that they are trying to get people to be honest about what efforts they are making. the animals can’t speak, so it’s up to us to speak for them. the dairy industry is horrible and there is no need for us to be stealing another animal’s milk. you don’t have to thrive for perfection, but instead just keeping replacing more and more 🙂 daiya cheese is amazing for all those cheese lovers! best vegan cheese there is.

  • Ariel July 7, 2010, 10:23 pm

    I feel like all of us are incredibly lucky to be able to make the choices we do about food. It’s such a privilege to even be able to enter ethics into the equation here. A large number of people in the world have no choice about what they eat or if they get to eat at all. I don’t get how anyone can judge anyone elses diet decisions because it’s so personal!
    In terms of ethical eating I really do think every little bit counts, and it’s ridiculous to aspire to a *perfect* diet when that couldn’t possibly exist in the first place.

  • Miranda @ MirandasJeans July 7, 2010, 10:49 pm

    I think I am still a new born to all this (can you tell I just saw parts of Eclipse – new borns lol). I used to be a vegetarian between the ages of 16-22, and I ate like crap. Nothing but carbs and garbage food. Right now I eat salmon. However this salmon is from costco which means 99.99% chance it is farm bread fish. The rest of my eating rather than putting a label on it, is an effort to eat healthy. I want to make informed decisions on what I want to put into my body. Is it going to provide me with the nutrients I need, and will it dance around on my taste buds the way food should.

    It reall sucks that there are people out there who are passing judgement and calling names, when really I think that they need to accept that there are boundaries around what foods you will eat, but along those boundaries there are gates that open and close at your descretion. If they are vegetarians who don’t eat dairy or eggs, do they criticize lacto-ovo vegetarians too for not being ‘truely committed’? *sigh*

  • Lindsay July 7, 2010, 11:08 pm

    I have in the past felt compelled to be a vegetarian, but because of medical reasons, I need to remain a meat eater. I often feel guilty for eating meat because I feel bad for the way that animals are treated and how they are fed supplements and medicines that make them bigger and grow faster. So while I am well informed about this information, I cannot cut out meat, because my blood platelet counts are so low, that the protein is needed and I might need blood transfusions if I dont keep eating meat, eggs, cheese, and dairy!!

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople July 7, 2010, 11:24 pm

    I really, really enjoyed this blog. I think you make extremely valid points and I have to agree with you.

    Learning more and making changes for the better doesn’t get erased if you don’t change every single thing for life.

    It is hard to not feel judged when people call you a hypocrite! It is one of my least favorite words. But know you that you are doing the best for you!

  • Jackie (Peaces of Earth) July 8, 2010, 12:48 am

    WOW! You hit the nail on the head with this one and I’m amazed at all of the amazing comments. I think ethical eating involves being educated and making decisions (like you said) that are right for YOU. That fact that you care about where your food comes from and how it affects the environment and animals are HUGE. None of us are perfect, or 100% everything. Ideally I’d like to be 100% vegan, organic, local. Is that possible? Not really, not right now! We have to do the best we can, but as long as we make our decisions CONSCIOUSLY then I don’t see anything wrong with that!! Just want you to know that I love you and this post is so super fabulous! Thanks for starting this conversation!

  • Amanda @ Eat to Live, Live to Run July 8, 2010, 1:00 am

    I agree with everything you said 100%. I use the label “vegetarian” when describing myself, but actually I eat oysters, mussels, clams and other brainless creatures. I’ve analyzed my diet, made my decisions about what is important to me. But you are absolutely right … it is not black and white. There is always a gray area. As a fairly new vegetarian I have had several instances where I’ve had to make decisions. One day I decided to eat a crab cake at a restaurant, that was the right decision for me .. that day. And I didn’t feel bad about it. On the 4th of July I had lunch with my family at their Country Club, every single vegetable on the buffet was cooked with some type of meat as “seasoning”. Instead of going hungry, I ate the vegetables (not the chunks of meat), some people would ridicule me for that. It was the right decision that day for me. I agree with you that the important thing is that I think about where my food comes from, and I make educated decisions about what I eat. I’m not the textbook vegetarian by any means, and I’m not perfect, but I’m an ethically conscious eater.

  • Amanda @ Eat to Live, Live to Run July 8, 2010, 1:05 am

    I decided I wasn’t done yet with my comment … LOL.

    I think because of this conversation I will change the “about me” information on my blog to state that I am an ethical eater instead of “vegetarian”. Thanks for making us think!

  • jenny (green food diaries) July 8, 2010, 1:31 am

    seriously well said, caitlin. might be my favourite post by you.

  • Mama Pea July 8, 2010, 2:21 am

    Thanks for quoting my Tweet. I just can’t stand it when people give vegans, liberal thinkers, women…hell, human beings a bad name. Everybody has a different journey to where they feel is the right place for them. I’m never going to judge someone because their journey is different from mine.

  • Jo July 8, 2010, 2:44 am

    Hi Caitlin, this post really resonated with me as I have been called a hypocrite on my blog in the past because I try and eat a natural diet and limit processed/fake foods. I’ve had people demanding to know why I use a protein powder and even because I dared to take a dispersible vitamin tablet when I was getting over a cold!

    I totally agree that food choices are entirely personal and that there is no black or white area. My food choices are mine and mine alone and I shouldn’t have to defend myself because I dared to have a protein shake after my workout.

    I hope you don’t mind, I’m going to link to this post in my blog entry tonight.

    Thank you.

  • emma-kate July 8, 2010, 2:53 am

    Thank you for this post, it’s great. I’ve been judged many times, by close friends and family no less, for trying to eat ethically, trying to live a healthy life, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing…so it’s great when people like you come out and address this issue and confirm that what we eat is one of THE most personal things ever, and we should each be allowed to make our own decisions and philosophies about food and eating.

  • Becca July 8, 2010, 4:08 am

    Thank you so much for this article. Being such an all-or-nothing type of girl, I’m completely overwhelmed when it comes to topics like these where it’s impossible to apply an all-or-nothing attitude.

    I don’t want to be a vegetarian or vegan, because I enjoy eating animal products and I strongly believe that it’s possible to farm without causing suffering. Sometimes, I am lazy, and I’ll eat out somewhere where I have no idea of the sources of their products. But, overall, I’m doing better than I did a year ago, and as my earnings and emotional journey increase, I’ll do better than that. I’m a million miles behind most people who hang out here, but I’m trying.

    Most bloggers are open and welcoming no matter what point of view you’re coming from, so I’m happy to hang out on vegan/vegetarian sites and feel unjudged. Unfortunately, some commenters can be less so – I recently unfollowed a blog because the commenters were so self-righteous, and a bit mean-spirited!

    One of the things that I love about this blog is that *everyone* who comments is supportive, no matter what stage of the journey we’re at. Props to you for having gathered such a good community!

  • Stacey @ Tipping the (Kitchen!) Scales July 8, 2010, 5:16 am

    Caitlin, one of the things that first drew me to your blog was how normal you are. That isn’t an insult or a put down in any way. It’s a positive thing because it made me realise that I don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be healthy and I don’t need to put a label on the food choices that I make. I am slowly trying to become a healthy eater but it’s a slow and gradual process. At first I thought that I couldn’t be ‘healthy’ because I can’t afford all organic food or I’m not a vegan, raw foodist etc etc. I think labels can really discourage people away from healthy eating which is such a shame. Now that I am trying to be healthier I find people can be more judgemental and feel as if they can make comments on my food choices. These comments annoy me because I have never said that I am perfect and wouldn’t ever want to be. There needs to be some wiggle-room! Since being judged on my own food choices I now have the rule that I will never pass judgement on what anyone else eats. Food choices are such a personal thing and it is up to each indivdual what they are happy to put into their bodies. Thanks for the great post and for being a ‘real’ person that I can relate to – you have inspired to me to try and lead a healthier life.

    • Janelle July 8, 2010, 7:59 am

      I totally agree with this – thanks Caitlin for being “normal!” 🙂

    • Caitlin July 8, 2010, 9:07 am

      Haha I am really glad I am normal. 🙂

  • jassy July 8, 2010, 5:33 am

    ethical eating for me is appreciating the works of God and of others so as not to waste any food…

    health is the main reason why people should choose what they eat, there’s nothing wrong with being a vegan or vegetarian or omnivores just as long as you know that you take care of your health.

    food choices. that is something first world countries should be thankful for because here in my country, most of my countrymen don’t have a choice or don’t even have food to eat at all. 🙂

    • LindsayH July 8, 2010, 9:49 am

      i think you make a great point about how privileged we are to be able to make these choices about our food. it’s really important to remember that.

  • Christina July 8, 2010, 7:40 am

    This is really interesting, and thanks for opening up this debate. Honestly I’m surprised at how positive most of the comments are- not that I disagree with your post! 🙂
    I think when you label yourself as anything (an ethical eater, vegetarian, vegan, pescaterian, whatever), you’re automatically opening yourself up to criticism. People want to understand this “belief” you claim, and they want to see how well you’re adhering to it. I think part of this is a natural reaction- ie, someone who has made real sacrifices of things they enjoy eating might call themselves and ethical eater, and (rightfully?) be irritated when someone thinks they’re being ethical by buying a couple of pieces of organic fruit once a week.
    I don’t really discuss my food choices and I probably make more compromises than you, but this debate makes me wonder if putting labels on something is necessarily a bad thing. It opens up a lot of conversations (some healthy, some hostile) and lets you and a lot of other people learn something. But I don’t think you can have a label without opening yourself up to being judged- otherwise words wouldn’t have meanings.
    Again, thanks for an interesting post and for allowing this conversation!

  • Foy - Garden. Cook. Write. Repeat. July 8, 2010, 7:46 am

    Well said. I have a tendancy to look down on people who don’t put thought into their food choices. It rankles me when people say things like, “I hate to buy fast food, but I was running late and didn’t pack a lunch, so I’ll just swing by Burger King.” We always have choices. We could choose to skip lunch, or have a back up lunch at work. I don’t mind if some people eat meat and others don’t. Or if you don’t drink milk but eat yogurt. But I do care when convienence becomes a crutch. And we are by no means so poor that we don’t have options or so under educated that we can be ignorant. If only everyone would make informed choices.

  • Janelle July 8, 2010, 7:57 am

    I’m sorry I’m late to this party, this is such an interesting topic. I completely agree with your view that what you choose to eat is very personal, and that ethical eating isn’t a black and white issue. Is the high-raw vegan who drinks young thai coconut water while living in New York eating more ethically than someone eating locally produced meat? Or the vegetarian who drives a SUV acting more ethically towards the environment than the omnivore who walks to work? I don’t know, and won’t pretend to know, but I just try to weigh my options and make the best decisions for myself.

  • Di July 8, 2010, 8:00 am

    First of all, that wrap looks amazing. I want it! 🙂

    Secondly, I think your definition of ethical eating is great. I think labels are tough, because everyone’s going to have a different opinion on similar terms. Defining what it means to you is good, so hopefully people will understand where you’re coming from!

    And you’re right, no one’s perfect, which is what makes people interesting!

  • ari July 8, 2010, 8:24 am

    i think you can be an “ethical eater” while eating ethically raised meat and dairy. there are certain presumptions and almost rules that come along with labels, so once you put a label on your eating habits, i think most people will expect you to follow those rules. so, if you’re label yourself a vegetarian but still eat fish, you’re not a vegetarian. you can still be an ethical eater, but don’t call yourself a vegetarian. if you’re going to eat dairy only occasionally, then you’re not a vegan. and there’s nothing wrong with that; just don’t label yourself as what you’re not.
    i think the ethical eater label has standards that are more open for interpretation. i think there is lots of grey area in that label, but not so much in the vegetarian/vegan/raw/etc labels.

  • Kelly July 8, 2010, 8:33 am

    Nicely said! I whole heartedly agree 🙂

  • Amanda July 8, 2010, 8:34 am

    I strive to be an ethical eater, yet I eat meat and consume eggs and dairy frequently. To me being an ethical eater is all about understanding where my food comes from. I feel that people have evolved to eat animal products, but I feel it is unnecessary for those animals to be treated in cruel manner while being raised. I choose to purchase local produce when in season (as much as possible in NY). I know that many times the food I purchase is not organic, but it is fresh and grown within 10 miles of my home. This year I took this approach even further and planted my own garden to supply my produce this summer and I am prepared to can my food to eat year round. This year I decided to raise chickens, for eggs. This was a direct result of watching Food Inc. I have always gotten my beef from my grandparent’s that raise beef cows. This peace of mind is such an amazing quality. I never worry about my meat being contaminated and it is leaner and in my opinion tastes better. I hope to expand my personal farming efforts to include raising meat chickens and pigs next year. While many people do not understand how I can raise an animal and have it slaughtered, I feel it is the most appropriate way. I know that these animals have been raised well with love and attention and I know that my meat will be a quality product. In my area, we have a chain of small stores called Stewarts. Stewarts provides local egg and dairy products. The farms that provide the goods are conventional farms, but the products are fresh and there is a great deal of transparency between the farms, the store and the consumer. I worked for this company in college and I truly believe the animals, farmers and store employees are treated well. I can honestly say that I have never purchased my milk from any place other than Stewarts. These are the steps I take to be an ethical eater. Without a doubt these efforts are worth it !

  • Lauren @ Health on the Run July 8, 2010, 8:42 am

    This is such a great post! I love that you tackled this issue, and I think that you said everything so well. There are also so many wonderful comments already!

    I have been a vegetarian for half my life. When I first became one, it wasn’t a very popular diet. It was something that made me different, and something I always had to defend. Because of this, I clung to it extremely rigidly — almost as if it were my religion. Fortunately as I grew older, I realized that life isn’t black and white and food ISN’T religion (or at least, it’s not mine). I wasn’t going to die if I ate a little gelatin….or even if I sampled a piece of chicken.

    But what has also happened during that time is that things have gotten so much more complicated. It used to be that if you didn’t eat meat, you were a vegetarian. Simple as that. But now people question you if you eat any sort of animal products (from dairy to gelatin), or things like cheese or beer that might technically be non-vegetarian. I don’t think that being an ethical eater means that you need to avoid these things like the plague. I think you said it best in your post — that we need to be mindful of our food choices and do the best we can. Ultimately we have to live with our own choices. And for me, eating a few marshmallows doesn’t make me unethical.

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat July 8, 2010, 8:58 am

    Great post Caitlin! I belong to a local vegetarian/vegan social club and we always have discussions about people who say they want to be veg but can’t give up such and such food. I think we all agree that if there is any effort they can make, we encourage them to do it. It’s not black and white and it doesn’t mean they have to be perfect, like you said.

    I think all we want is for people to CARE. I went vegan several months ago for health reasons but it’s opened up a whole new world of ethical issues to me. I’m also learning more and more about where food comes from and I’ve been trying to buy local and organic as much as possible. Every little bit counts!

  • Kath July 8, 2010, 9:02 am

    Great post Caitlin!

    Black + white “food rules” make me SO MAD!!! I will never put a label on my eating. I agree with you so much that you have to do what’s best in each food situation. And most of us will have food situations 3 meals a day for the rest of our lives.

    Should I not drink the milk my dad bought at the beach because it’s not organic? I don’t think that’s going to get my anywhere. But when I spend MY dollar, it darned better be to a dairy I feel good about (and i was because I bought organic milk for the family for the first half of the week 🙂 )

  • Elizabeth July 8, 2010, 9:12 am

    Very thoughtful post! Your comment about food being personal really resonated with me. I feel that my food choices are very personal and at the same time, food is such a communal experience. Meals are meant to be shared, in my opinion, which is why I think respect for each others’ choices is so important.

    I’m a life-long vegetarian (who knows how that happened), but most of my loved ones are not. I am not sure how I would label my eating, but if I had to give it a name, I’d call it compassionate eating. I try to give thought to where my food is coming from and how it will nourish me. This also means having compassion for those around me to the point that I don’t judge or belittle their decisions.

    I think food is one of the most exciting ways to show love and care for other people. I never thought in a million years I’d do this, but in the past few years I have started cooking fish, poultry and meat-based dishes for friends and family. I still don’t eat any of these myself, but I have learned how to select and prepare these foods in ways that don’t make me feel guilty or uncomfortable (or grossed out… let’s be serious here).

    Yikes. I just rambled. 🙂

  • LindsayH July 8, 2010, 9:45 am

    i definitely agree that food is personal and i would never judge people for their choices. at the same time, for me personally, being vegan is not just about food. yes, i eat a vegan diet, but i am also “a vegan,” and (as much as i dont like the labels i think they are to some degree a necessary evil) there is a difference. not only do i eat a vegan diet, but i dont consume animal products in other ways either (health and beauty products, clothing, etc.)
    one one hand it frustrates me when people say “im vegan but i eat fish.” on the other hand, i realize how much easier it is to say that than to say “i dont eat meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, or byproducts, but i do eat fish.”

  • Jen July 8, 2010, 11:36 am

    I 100% agree, Caitlin! Doing anything that you can to help the environment is good…in fact, it is better than most of the world is doing. And, I agree with Mama Pea…just because you do not want to eat meat or drink cow’s milk, does not mean that someone else needs to give it up. I love your style of eating…you eat what you want, but you make healthy choices…and most importantly, you don’t tell others that they need to eat the way you do. You eat the way you want, and I love that. I do the same. Just because I choose to not eat meat, does not mean that people around me can’t eat meat. Sometimes when I turn down chicken or a burger people seem to get offended. They make comments. I don’t make comments on their eating style, so why do they do it to me?!

  • Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) July 8, 2010, 11:56 am

    For a while, I held on to labels- I was a vegetarian, a pescetarian, an almost-vegan… now, I don’t label myself. I eat mostly vegetarian foods. But I enjoy a burger on occasion and fish every couple of weeks or so. But when I do enjoy my burger or fish, I try to make it from the best source possible (free range, organic, grass fed, or wild, unfarmed). I eat organic fruits and vegetables and when I do eat dairy (I eat very little), I eat mostly organic when I can. This is ethical eating for me- making the best choices I can, and doing what works for me- no labels at all.

  • Shelly @ July 8, 2010, 12:25 pm

    Thanks for this post!! I went vegetarian 4 months ago, and have been struggling with the “all or nothing” mentality in myself. I’ve been calling my eating practice “vegan at home,” because when I’m out at restaurants (4-5 meals per month), I will eat cheese. So what does that make me – a 25-days-a-month vegan? A part-time vegan? Why the labels? And why do I have this internal sense that if I’m not 100% vegan all the time, that my efforts don’t help the earth or the animals? I started this all 6 months ago by going organic after watching Food Inc. Now I call myself organic vegetarian, or if you want to get crazy with it, organic whole-foods vegetarian. But I’m still trying to find my way, and honestly, I want to be OK with having cheese once a week. I want to add yogurt back into my diet. I’m having a hard time meeting my daily calcium/D requirements and have resorted to a vitamin supplement – but I’ve always preferred to get my nutrition through food. So, anyway, thank you for posting this, because I do feel that I eat ethically, and think (a bit too much!) about what I eat and how it impacts my animal friends and the planet and my health. I need to remember that every little bit helps, and to remove the concept of perfection from my food!

  • Reader July 8, 2010, 1:32 pm

    Caitlin, I couldn’t agree more about your ethical eating discussion! It is NOT black and white. I don’t eat a lot of meat, just because it is my choice. I could never be a full vegetarian because my husband will never be one and I cook the meals and there are some things I enjoy that contain meat. I don’t really “dig” eating just like a chicken breast with nothing else, ew, but I like ground turkey (97 percent fat free) in some dishes I make (like taco salad or w/ a pasta dish) and I like chicken mixed in a salad or wrap or pasta on occasion and once in a blue moon some pork, but on the whole, I don’t really eat meat (I do not eat ANY fish or beef or any other meat other than turkey, chicken and the occasional pork—but it’s all occasional!) I am thankful that my husband is very supportive of my eating decisions, as well as my natural, green and “tree hugger” mentality (my uncle called me a tree hugger recently, I think that’s a compliment!) My co-workers and extended family are not but so supportive, but it’s all good! I don’t care what others choose to eat, that’s their choice. It’s not my place to tell them otherwise. Yet, I don’t know why people can give me grief about what I choose to do, I don’t do that to them.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share an article a Vegan wrote about his trip to a cattle feedlot in Colorado. He was surprised—wasn’t at all what he expected.
    I’m a writer for a farming organization and I have been to quite a few farms—crop and livestock. I have never seen anything but respect for the animals that livestock producers raise. I also have been to a turkey processing plant and it was very clean and was not at all what I expected (again–I rarely eat meat and I’m a big lover of animals. I think my co-worker puts it best (she writes about animal welfare often and does a lot of research, plus has about 15 years of experience more than me):

    What he (the author) found is that most of the information he had about “factory farms” was not accurate and he stressed that everyone should see for themselves.
    I am finding more and more that people are being brainwashed by the disturbing undercover videos being put out there by animals rights’ groups and they think that is an accurate depiction of modern agriculture, but those cases are the EXCEPTION, not the rule. I’ve been to a ton of farms in my “career” with Farm Bureau and I’ve never seen ANY instances of abuse.
    I think people too easily call every commercial farming operation a “factory farm.” It’s a term that no one can easily define. Does it mean farming operations of more than 100 animals? 200? 500? 1,000? Does it mean a contract farm where that farmer or farm family raises thousands of broilers for Tyson Foods?
    It’s like calling every non-small store a Walmart, which comes with bad connotations … just like factory farms. Do you see what I’m saying? The VAST MAJORITY of farmers – small, medium, large, contractors, privately owned corporations, etc. – take good, scientific care of their animals. Some people don’t think that scientific care of food animals is enough, but it’s proven that animals taken care of following these guidelines are healthy and as happy as any confined animal can be. If you think about it, following the logic of some animal rights people, owning cats and dogs is cruel too. They should be allowed to roam free and confining them in a house or a cage is wrong … so it’s all perception.
    People need to quit using the term factory farm – period. It’s not accurate in most case and it unfairly paints a picture of most farming operations that do a good job of raising our country’s (and other countries) food supply.

    Go visit a local farm, ask questions! See for yourself! They’re not all bad.

    • Caitlin July 8, 2010, 1:33 pm

      Thanks for sharing this. I would love to go to a “Factory Farm” and see what it’s really like!

  • Morgan July 8, 2010, 2:18 pm

    My sister calls me a food snob because I am an “educated eater” but then she asks me to cook for her because my educated food tastes far better than a half cooked, pre-packaged meal!

    My husband recently made (grass-fed, locally owned farm) steaks for her and her husband in which he said he normally needed some form of steak sauce to eat said steak. My husband asked him to just try it without any sauce and he said it was the best steak he’d ever had. No sauce needed.

    Looks like being a food snob makes a difference in taste (but we all knew that)!!!

    Good post Caitlin. I hope you don’t think you owe us any explanations for why/what you eat.

    • Jen August 12, 2013, 1:37 am


  • Kari @ Adventures in NewlywedLand July 8, 2010, 5:39 pm

    Love, love, love this post. I don’t think I’ve ever commented, but this post spoke to me. So thank you for it. Thank you especially for the reassurance that not everything has to be black and white. I’m doing my best to better myself through the food decisions I make, but knowing that not everything has to be black and white makes me feel a lot better about my efforts. I’m not such a failure after all!

  • Joey July 9, 2010, 11:18 am

    Labels, labels, labels – vegetarian/vegan/pescatarian… I completely agree with you. Ethical eating means being informed about where your food comes from (how it was raised, what it was fed, if chemicals were used, etc). And it absolutely doesn’t have to be black and white. I try my best to know where all the food I eat comes from, but that doesn’t mean that on occasion I don’t eat meat that came from who knows where. I think we have to support our beliefs with our daily decisions but that doesn’t mean we can’t “splurge” from time to time or treat ourselves to a less strict standard on occasion.

  • Emily July 10, 2010, 3:24 am

    I agree with you on this one. I think labels are bad no matter what the circumstance, because in my experience people are never 100% anything.

  • Danielle August 21, 2010, 1:47 pm

    I loved this post! You are so right, there does not have to be a black and white. I am not a vegetarian, but I eat meat MAYBE once or twice a week. I feel like putting that label on a diet/lifestyle creates restrictions that just don’t need to be there. I avoid meat because a) I get grossed out my raw meat and b) I can’t afford to by free-range or grass fed organic meats. Simple as that. I also agree we should not criticize others for their lifestyles because every positive choice has an impact, no matter how big or small.

  • Janene Giuseffi August 22, 2010, 8:40 pm

    So, I’m a little late to jump on this bandwagon, but THANK YOU! This is a great post, and definitely hits home. As an environmental studies grad student, I feel a lot of peer pressure to eat ethically, and hate the feeling of being judged for my choice to eat meat occasionally, and often people conveniently overlook that I ONLY eat meat that is locally grown and grass-fed (in the case of beef). And heaven forbid I miss a farmer’s market (“she must be buying her food from Krogers…tsk, tsk.”) In fact, I only eat meat from the farms that I’ve personally visited and felt okay with supporting, and get most of my veggies from a local CSA. Living in a rural area, I’m lucky enough to have such amazing resources at my disposal, but the pressure is ridiculous sometimes, bordering on evangelism, as crazy as that sounds!

    any-who, kudos for a great post!

  • Carina January 2, 2011, 5:34 pm

    I first became veggie about 9.5 years ago and I gave myself 5 exceptions — 4 that I planned, one free one. My exceptions were steak at a particular restaurant many states away, goulash at another (also many states away), my dad’s day-after Thanksgiving chimichangas, and corny dogs at the TExas state fair (all the meats rolled into one! ewww). It worked for me. I went off meat completely in June of that year and I didn’t have an “exception” oppurtunity until the state fair in Sept that year. I got the corny dog and I still regret this — I wasted it. I hate wasting food, particularly animals that then died for no reason. I realized the thought of eating meat didn’t seem right to me.

    But it’s interesting to note that like you, I’m a vegetarian for ethical reasons, mostly b/c of the factory farms. One of my brothers has pushed me with lots of questions about this and we’ve basically concluded that I would eat roadkill — eww — because my objection is to how animals are kept and killed, and the intentional killing of animals. That leads to the conclusion that I’ll eat animals that live in the wild and then die of natural causes or accidents, like roadkill. Thankfully I haven’t seen a menu with roadkill yet, so I’ve successfully avoided that moral dilemma!

    • Caitlin January 2, 2011, 5:35 pm

      I love this comment 🙂

  • Tonya Breen June 1, 2011, 7:52 am

    Caitlyn, Great post! I think we are told never to judge others. Who’s business is it if you want to be a vegan 364 and then eat Christmas dinner with your family? Thank you so much for the Food Inc. video post. I always meant to watch that movie and had forgotten about it. Will definitely watch it tonight since I’m in need of a major diet overhaul! Thanks! Have a very blessed Day!

  • Chelsi July 22, 2011, 1:05 am

    How are meat farmers NOT cruel? They’re murderers. I don’t see how it’s okay to pick and choose which part of the animals it’s okay to eat just because it tastes good… then you’re not a vegetarian and you’re sure as heck not a vegan. I do however eat eggs because they’re unfertilized. I understand dairy and eggs, things that come from animals but not an actual living being.

  • AmandaonMaui October 18, 2011, 10:51 pm

    After reading this I hope I haven’t offended you with my comments about what is gluten free and what is not. I just wanted to be of assistance in letting you know where hidden sources of gluten exist so that you will feel your best.

    • CaitlinHTP October 19, 2011, 6:04 am

      Oh no I REALLY appreciate it Amanda! You know SO much!!

  • Sara October 19, 2011, 9:53 am

    Not starting a fight, just wanted to help clarify the term “factory farm.” I AM a Vegetarian. Let me make that clear. However, I do work for an agricultural non-profit. People often think any large farm is a factory farm owned by a corporation. 98 percent of farms in America are owned and operated by families. Some of these families may contract with a meat company, but they care for those animals until they are sent to a processor. Once animals raised for meat go to a processing facility, that operation is owned by a corporation and that may be what you think of as a factory farm. That is not a farm, it’s a processing facility. I hope that helps. I just don’t like the term “factory farm” because it’s not really true. You have farms (large and small) and you have processing facilities. I hope that helps clarify the term. That’s all I was trying to do!

  • threenorns December 28, 2012, 5:18 pm

    excellent article with really good points.

    i consider myself an ethical eater even though i’m *heavy* on the meat consumption and very light (or i’m supposed to be, lol – you’re not the only one that hearts bread!) on the grains. it’s simple: if i go vegetarian, even with supplements up the ying-yang, i end up anaemic. if i eat starchy carbs, i’m groggy, logey, and can’t think straight.

    personally, i believe firmly that one should look to one’s genetic origins, not one’s local vicinity, when determining what to eat. that “hundred mile” diet is all well and good – except i live in the middle of cropland, ontario, but i was born in stockholm, sweden, and my family genetics come from northern finland and scotland! oats – no problem. wheat? big problem.

    i don’t think there’s anything ethical about making choices that are to my personal health’s detriment for the sake of some higher principle. after all, if i run myself into the ground, i’m not going to be a very good caregiver for my 5yr old, eh?

  • Jen August 12, 2013, 1:32 am

    I commend you – anyone – for trying to become an informed and educated consumer (of food or whatever). But, I think this is the “problem” with what you’re trying to express – why people claim”hypocrite”: You say you’re an “ethical” eater, rather simply saying you aim to be a more “educated” eater. Ethics are about what one thinks is “right” or “wrong”. So while you say others shouldn’t judge you, by claiming to be an “ethical” eater (read = right) it comes across that others’ choices must be unethical (read = wrong). Thus when you seem inconsistent in those choices, others (in a defensive position) will be quick to shout: hypocrit. And I’m with them. But if you’re aiming to be a more educated, concientious consumer – great!

  • Kendall November 15, 2014, 8:07 am

    Fantastic words! All truthful. I, myself, like you- am striving to become more of an ethical eater, as life goes on.
    I am, what I call -a “semi-vegetarian” – eating only free range organic chicken and fish-which is terribly costly, and having said that- I do not eat a lot of either. I have been doing this for the last 9 years, and so far so good.
    Having two rabbit children and a cat child (really an animal lover, of all creatures, even killing ants or spiders brings me to tears!) -I started becoming FULLY ‘ethical’ about a year ago.
    Tossing out all ‘harmful for the environment’ chemical products and ALL animal tested cosmetics/detergents in my home.
    I believe living ‘ethically’ is really important for our planet. And every little change a person makes has a big impact. A global movement is in the works. More and more people are switching to the ‘ethical side’ in their daily food/clothing/product choices. And that is just the point– WE HAVE THE POWER to change the world. It is so exciting! So happy I found your blog. Good luck with all ethical eating in the future.

Healthy Tipping Point