Day by day, I am becoming a person who shuns restaurants and when dining out is unavoidable I am considering becoming a "restaurant vegan". I am becoming more edified in my belief that human consumption of CAFO/IRAF animals is ethically wrong and prefer to avoid the unpleasantness of feasting on a poor SAD stall-raised cow or even an egg from a chicken that never saw the sunlight.
Now that my appetite has adjusted and decreased, it occurred to me that when I have lunch meetings, I could actually just order a meat-free salad, and eat my GRAF when I get home or back to the office (I like to bring my lunch). In addition to avoiding IRAF, this also solves the problem of asking the chef (if there is a chef) to prepare your entree with butter instead of industrial fats.
I am not trying to shoot for 100% paleo perfection here, and I don't mean this to be a question about nutrition, but more about making humane choices in the type of animal that is the significant portion of my diet.
I am from Texas, where beef is what's for dinner :) and live right on the Arkansas border where factory chicken farming is KING. I don't want to be a vegan and I firmly believe that eating animals is good for me and good for the environment provided they are healthy animals. I have always based the majority of my calories around meat and I find it odd now that I want to order protein free salads when their origin is beyond my control.
As someone who has struggled with eating disorders in the past this development may or may not be significant and I am interested in the paleohack's community opinion. Has anyone else reduced or eliminated ordering meat at a restaurant or become a vegan when dining out for humane reasons as opposed to purely health reasons? For you long-time paleo eaters---Is this a natural progression of a more paleo lifestyle or is this bordering on orthorexia?
If you order lamb there is a 75% chance it's imported and thus not CAFO since the major exporter of lamb is New Zealand, which pastures its lamb. Either way, for future reference based on my agricultural experience, here are the most wretched foods to the least
Why? Well no cow is raised indoors all its life. Even a CAFO cow spends most of its life on the range. I've visited factory cow operations and most really aren't bad. Now pork and chicken CAFOs really are disgusting and destroy the environment. I draw the line at natural chicken/eggs, that's about as low on the list as I go, though sometimes I have questionable sashimi.
One thing I've learned is ASK. You can only make a difference in a small town if you do this. It might be uncomfortable, but it is worth it to let restaurants know that they don't have something you are looking for.
"Where is the beef from?
"I don't know, let me ask the chef." minutes pass "He doesn't know."
"That's too bad. Well I'll have it anyway, but I'd love it if you guys would consider carrying grass fed beef products or sourcing from a local farm."
I would much rather eat CAFO meat than industrial oils, from a health perspective.
From an ethical perspective, if you feel strongly enough that you are willing to trade your health for the non-consumption of CAFO meat, then go for it.
However, keep this in mind: the production of industrial oils and other vegan/vegetarian-friendly foods is also damaging to the environment, and not particularly friendly to the millions of rodents and other small animals who are killed in the harvesting process.
Talking about "food ethics" at restaurants is difficult at best. At worst, it's a joke. Restaurants are there to make a profit by selling you prepared food or edible foodlike substances.
Unfortunately, the way our economy and agricultural systems are structured, it very difficult, if not impossible, for a restaurant to maximize profits and ethics. Throw in food politics (i.e., the conventional wisdom that veg*n diets are good for health and the environment) and it is even more difficult.
Yes, there are restaurants that aim to prioritize ethics over profits -- they may sacrifice some profit in order to become slightly less unethical. But more often, they repackage their image to give off the appearance of being less unethical (with "local" meats and "organic" vegetables and recycled napkins and the like).
Nonetheless, people have to make decisions in the real world about varying degrees of ethics -- is X or Y more ethical, even if neither are ideal? That is the question you are posing here. My personal choice is to eat the CAFO meat when I have to, but to support pastured animal production whenever I can. Your choice may be to avoid CAFO meat when you eat out. Neither solution is ideal, and arguments can be made for both sides.
Make whatever decision you think is best for you. Just don't pretend that avoiding CAFO meat makes you "ethical." It may make you somewhat less unethical than the alternatives.
Edit: I wanted to answer Erin's question here instead of in comments.
Leah said what I would say, and let me add a little rant of my own: nothing we do is ethical, per se. Even if you bike everywhere, never drive, grow your own food and compost and do everything "right," we were all born into an unsustainable world. Do you make all your own clothes? Does your house run entirely on renewable fuels? If so, were your solar panels sustainably manufactured and transported to your home?
I bet you use more water in a single day than my neighbors did in an entire month when I was in the Peace Corps in West Africa. (I do, too. It's not a judgment I'm making here.)
Avoiding CAFO meat is admirable. It is a necessary step toward taking down Monsanto, industrial corn production, soil erosion/depletion, and mistreatment of animals in the name of food production, among other things.
But it really bugs me when people think they are doing "good" for the environment or for animal rights just because they eat "organic" or "free-range" or "local." Our basic lifestyles do great harm to the environment and to animals everywhere -- not just the ones we kill for food after raising them in terrible conditions.
It is not our fault we were born into economies and cultures where doing such harm has become unavoidable, and it is laughable to think that reversing such harms will come about any time soon.
Avoiding CAFO meat is one important step, nothing more, nothing less. It does not make you ethical. It merely makes you one step closer to being less unethical than everybody else.
Oh, absolutely. Living in metro Detroit, I have never trusted the nutrition or healthfulness of anything prepared for me. I think a chef would be happy to use butter--and, in fact, when I worked in a restaurant the chef was a wonderfully kind and accomodating man--but the idea of even requesting a differently prepared meal is a bit taboo here.
Still, when I dine, I have to be resigned to getting some omega 6s. But it's even worse than that, since I am still concerned about the oxidation and trans fat potential of the PUFAs. When heated over and over again, when stored for long periods of time, and when exposed to plenty of light, a relatively innocuous omega 6 is now an oxidized radical or a horrifically damaging trans fat.
So--yes. When I dine, I tend towards salads. What's more, I'm sensitive to nightshades and to dairy, so it's particularly difficult to find a prepared dish without those ingredients.
I've given up on restaurants except for sushi once a week or once every two weeks at a place that serves all wild fish and lists how they are caught and from where. I also sit at the sushi bar and watch the fellow make it, so I know there isn't anything too bad finding its way in. I make the rest of my meals from scratch. So much more satisfying.
I am going in this direction myself. I have just recently stopped buying/eating factory famed meat and started eating humanely raised and slaughtered meat. I've also come to the conclusion that I will at least be eating vegetarian (salads with lots of veggies) at restaurants when I don't know the source of the meat.
It's very encouraging to me that our favorite lunch spot downtown just started serving certified humane meatloaf made with grass fed beef. It was delicious too!
I think this is a very good question, maybe you could speak to individual restaurants to find out about their food ethics? Surely there must be some places that sell "well treated" meat, or use free range eggs, if not maybe they should, you could start a movement :D like Jamie's school dinners but instead highlighting the use of poorly "abused" animal products in restaurants :D :D love this question though and I for one will be considering asking restaurants before I visit about the animal products they source as a result of it.
I order a generous portion of meat when going out, and I get extra vegetables (usually substituting something green for the starchy vegetables. I've become pretty selective in where I eat out now, and, at least in Seattle and I'm sure it's similar in any other big city, there are lot of options for people like you who want humanely raised/slaughtered animals. There's one place here that gets all their meat from local farms that know how to treat their animals so I'm fine eating there. Plus, you can email the chef and ask questions: I've asked him a few questions about ingredients and he's always been quick to reply, so I know what exactly I'm eating.
You might consider reading this article: http://www.fas.rutgers.edu/cms/phil/dmdocuments/Eating_Animals_the_Nice_Way.pdf
In it, McMahan presents an argument for not eating animals at all. That is, he makes an argument that what's done even to humanely raised animals can't be morally justified. It's really a quite good article and isn't long.
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