Is Meat a Good Choice?

By Chris Iberle, Food Hub Manager


People choose a vegetarian diet for many excellent environmental, health, economic and spiritual reasons. Even so, most people choose to eat meat. What we eat is one of the most personal, ethical choices we can make, and every choice has an option that’s more sustainable for the earth.

Research indicates that meat production, especially beef, contributes significantly to climate change. Factory livestock farms also damage our air, water and soil quality in ways that may be irreversible.

Digging deeper, we find that the type of meat production makes a big difference. Yes, eating less meat would lessen environmental damage. Yet the main problem is that most meat comes from industrial farms, where production and distribution use vast amounts of carbon, not to mention antibiotics and inhumane living conditions for animals.

If you make the choice to include meat in your diet, as many of us do, healthier, more humane and more sustainable meat options exist. Animals raised on rotating pasture systems with organic practices are better for the environment, climate and especially for the animals to be able to live full, happy lives. If you do eat meat, opt for buying it from small farmers whose practices you can trust and verify. Ask for sustainable choices at the grocery store. Eat meat that comes from animals free to roam on pasture, without antibiotics or hormones, eating organic feed, from heritage breeds – a very different life than on  factory farms.

Michael Pollan, the pop hero of ethical eating, probably put it the most succinctly: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And when you are eating food that’s not plants, opt for sustainable meat.

Originally printed in Seattle Tilth’s newsletter, Way to Grow, October-November 2014.

porkSeattle Tilth Turkeys & Pork

This year, Seattle Tilth is offering pastured, organically raised pork from happy pigs at Feliz Farm and Thanksgiving turkeys from Windy Acre Farm – new farm businesses through Seattle Tilth Farm Works. Learn more at

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