03. What is ethical eating?

Hello again. Great to have you back. I’m sure you remember from the last post that we’re on the hunt for what humans would eat if they were living in the wild. Wild human primates, with no man-made tools or weapons, and surrounded by the bounty of nature. But, because they’re human, their choices must be ethical.

Why eat ethically?

Collecting seafood
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net markuso

The answer may seem obvious to any enlightened person, but let’s break this down. Humans can, and do, behave as if they are in their primal state, that is, as if they are simply another primate. Which is fine, and this is mostly how the world operates.

However, my belief, which I am sure is shared, is that due to human consciousness and consequent realisation that they can make choices beyond the call of nature, for good or evil purposes, that there is already enough trauma, pain, damage and carnage caused by these choices.

More than enough harm has been caused by humans to our planet Earth and all that lives on it; we seem to forget that this is the human primate’s only home. And it’s time for this to change.

It’s time for humans to take responsibility and use their rationality and ability to choose, to decide to cause the least harm possible, for the sake of the future of humans and for life on the planet.

And, deciding to eat humanely will go a long way to realising this goal.

What does ethical mean?

I’ve chosen to build into this investigation not only the importance of what we eat being natural, but that it should also be ethical.

Let’s look at the definition of ethical.

Ethical means ‘relating to moral principles.’

What does moral mean?

Moral means ‘concerned with the principles of right and wrong behaviour.’

What is right, and what is wrong?

This has got to be the most argued and thorniest question apart from deliberating the origin of creation.
Deciding on what may be right or wrong has caused untold misery in the world.

Right behaviour means trying to cause no harm.

And, what is harm

Harm is physical or mental damage or injury.

What does it mean to eat ethically?

So, to eat ethically, the animal, plant or mineral should not have been damaged or injured physically or mentally … and neither should the eater.

In fact, to be absolutely purist:

Ethical eating means sourcing food and eating it in ways that will not cause damage or injury, either physically or mentally, to either the source of the food or the eater, and also that the source of the food has had the best possible life and most humane death.

This is a tall order.

And quite impossible.

In order to stay alive and eat ethically, we will have to change our definition, and the best I can come up with is:

Ethical eating means sourcing food and eating it in ways that will cause the least damage or injury, either physically or mentally, to either the source of the food or the eater, and also that the source of the food has had the best possible life and most humane death.

Obviously, the limits and definition of ‘least harm’ are going to be very subjective. In my posts I will give my personal thoughts on this point, and leave it to you to make up your own mind.

I think we can work with this. What do you think? Do you have any better thoughts?

I will be using this definition in future posts to gauge whether or not certain foods are ethical.

2 thoughts on “03. What is ethical eating?

  1. Whilst on a guided tour round a whisky distillery in Scotland recently I heard for the first time the phrase ‘early and late barley’. During my time working in agriculture back in the late 60s and early 70s there was only one time determined type of barley and that was the crop normally – nay, naturally – harvested in late August early September. Today, thanks to genetic modification we have all year round barely and other crops such as corn, potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes, This must mean that no harvested field is left to go fallow in order for it to replenish the minerals necessary to produce a healthy crop. This probably explains why strawberries taste like water. It also begs the question – no doubt already exploited to exhaustion – what chemicals are being employed in modification of all year round crops? Moreover, what physiological harm are they doing to the consumer? It could be argued that the rise in cancer, for example, is down to these chemical. No wonder I’m now persuaded that organic is best though I’m not persuaded why it is more expensive. Be this as it may, it took a guided tour of a whisky distillery to alert me to this situation. Shows how fast asleep I was.

    1. David – thank you for your thoughtful response. Indeed, one should wonder whether such interference in nature’s natural rhythms and chemistry is filtering down into human physiology. This is obviously being hotly disputed by proponents of genetic engineering and in the name of ‘feeding the planet’. However, there would be no need to go to all this trouble to feed the starving millions if land and crops weren’t expended on raising animals for food. If humans were, as far as possible, vegan, there would be more than enough food for the planet without having to resort to interfering with nature. This is a very good article on the subject: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/feed_the_world/2014/05/meat_eating_and_climate_change_vegetarians_impact_on_the_economy_antibiotics.html

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