How To Be An Ethical Omnivore: The Basics

· 6 min read

Are you wondering if it’s possible to be an ethical omnivore? The ethical omnivore movement has gained significant attention in recent years, as people look for diets to improve not only their wellbeing but the wellbeing of the planet as well.

Learning how to be an ethical omnivore is an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint and environmental impact on the planet.

While some people may argue that veganism and vegetarianism are the most ethical diet options out there, there are ways to make your consumption of meat more “ethical”, without giving it up entirely. By choosing the foods you eat carefully, it’s possible for anyone to help protect the planet and feel better about what they eat.

While you’re working on your ethical omnivore diet plan, you could even look into ways of upgrading your meal plan to feature more vitamins and nutrients crucial to your body.

Let’s explore what it means to be an ethical omnivore.

What is The Ethical Omnivore Movement?

A growing coalition of people all around the world form the ethical omnivore movement. This group believes natural, healthy, and ethical lifestyles should include humanely-reared, organic, and local foods. Ethical omnivores are very deliberate about their meat choices, and often seek out free-range, animal products, as well as grass-fed meat and dairy.

At the heart of the ethical omnivore movement (EOM) is the desire to help people make healthier choices with their food. If you’re not ready to give up on meat entirely, you can be more mindful of the environmental impact and ethical background of the food you eat.

As an ethical omnivore, you’ll need to consider:

  • The importance of eating local: When reducing your carbon footprint, eating local is one of the most valuable steps you can take. Recent data shows what we eat is more important than where it comes from but considering the amount of transportation that goes into getting your food to you is important too. Importing food from overseas and accessing air-freight perishable items increases your carbon footprint.
  • Minimizing red meat consumption: Protein-high foods like meats and eggs make up about 83% of the carbon emissions linked to our diet. Eating fewer red meats and replacing them with fresh, plant-based proteins is a common part of being an ethical omnivore.
  • Humane access to meat: Becoming an ethical omnivore isn’t just about protecting the planet. It also helps a lot of people to know the animals they’re consuming are reared in a humane environment. Ethical omnivores search for animal products delivered through a humane supply chain.

Does Your Diet Have a Negative Environmental Impact?

One of the biggest benefits of being an ethical omnivore is that you can reduce the negative impact your diet has on the planet. The production of any food for human consumption comes at an environmental cost. Making food products requires water, energy, and labour.

The more the world’s population grows, the more crucial it is to consider the environmental impact of our meals. Here are some examples of the environmental impact your food has:

  • Land use: Around half of the habitable land in the world is used for agriculture, with certain products like livestock, cheese, lamb, and mutton accounting for the largest portion of land use. Livestock accounts for about 77% of global farming use, but meat only makes up around 18% of the world’s calories, and 17% of our protein. Clearly, learning how to be an ethical omnivore could be the key to reducing the amount of land cultivated and used for the sake of food production. Technology is already improving crop yields in the produce environment, so we can create more food, with less space.
  • Greenhouse emissions: Food production accounts for about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. The main greenhouse gasses produced in food development are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane – all substances linked to climate change. Livestock and fisheries account for about 31% of greenhouse gasses, while supply chain management accounts for 18%. Purchasing low-emission products, like chicken instead of meat, and sticking to local vendors can reduce your contribution to greenhouse gas levels.
  • Eutrophication: Otherwise known as fertilizer runoff, eutrophication happens when excess nutrients enter the surrounding waterways, disrupting natural ecosystems. Organic framing methods can help somewhat with this issue, but they’re not completely chemical-free. Ethical omnivores advocate fore more environmentally-friendly strategies for food production, which reduce runoff, such as planting trees around farms.

Water use can also be a common concern addressed by ethical omnivores, as agriculture is responsible for the use of around 70% of water use worldwide. Learning which products are most water-intensive, like prawns, dairy cows, and cheese, is helpful for starting your ethical omnivore journey.

How To Be An Ethical Omnivore: Where to Start

Becoming an ethical omnivore may not be as complex as it seems. For the most part, all you need to do is consider what you’re eating more carefully. For most people, this can be a valuable step towards better health too. Making specific food choices based on your deficiencies influenced by your genetics, and dietary goals can make you a lot healthier.

Start with a circle DNA test to determine what kind of substances you should be prioritizing in your diet. Once you know what your body needs:

1. Eat Locally

Focus on buying home-grown products and foods from local vendors. Eating local is a fantastic way to improve your local economy and contribute to your community. It also helps to reduce your carbon footprint by ensuring you’re not paying for food to travel long distances.

Highly perishable foods transported from overseas can have a significant impact on your carbon emissions because they’re frequently air-freighted. Air transportation of products like fresh fruits and vegetables can increase their carbon emissions by around 50 times compared to sea transportation.

2. Choose Meats You Purchase and Consume Carefully

Giving up on meat entirely is the most “ethical” choice for most people, but omnivores will usually prefer to eat at least some meats. If you want to continue eating meat, try to reduce your consumption of protein-rich foods like dairy, eggs, and red meats.

Beef and lamb are associated with some of the highest emissions of any meats, this is due to the huge amounts of land they use, feeding requirements, and packaging. Cows also produce methane in their guts, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Alternatively, poultry farming is far less detrimental to the planet.

Decrease your red meat consumption wherever you can, and when you do buy red meat, make sure it’s from local, sustainable producers.

3. Embrace Plant-based Proteins

Since reducing your red meat protein intake is one of the best things you can do to be an ethical omnivore, you’ll need another form of protein to balance your diet. Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based proteins to choose from, including peas, beans, tofu, and quinoa.

The nutritional content of the most popular plant proteins might differ drastically from the protein potential of meats, but you can still achieve a balanced diet with the right portion sizes.

You can even consider substituting half of the meat-based protein in your usual diet with a plant-based one. For instance, you might switch half of the minced meat in your spaghetti Bolognese with tofu.


4. Find Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Another powerful step you can take to become an ethical omnivore is to look for ways to reduce the amount of food you regularly waste. Even if you don’t think you’re a particularly wasteful person, food waste generally accounts for about 6% of greenhouse production, and most of us could do more to combat the issue.

Reducing food waste can be easier than you think. For instance, you might buy frozen fruits and vegetables if you’re not going to use them in the next few days or pick vacuum-sealed frozen fish to improve shelf life. Other strategies include:

  • Shopping in the “rejected produce” bin at your supermarket and buying the ugly fruit
  • Using apps like “Too Good to Go” to buy meals before they’re thrown away
  • Using all edible parts of vegetables and fruits
  • Not buying more food than you need each week
  • Checking dates on perishables before you add them to your basket
  • Planning your meals for the weak for better shopping
  • Organising your kitchen so you know which ingredients you have
  • Making stock from leftover vegetables and bones
  • Getting creative with left-over ingredients

Not only does reducing waste make you a more ethical omnivore, it can also save you money on your monthly shopping costs too.

Can You Be an Ethical Omnivore?

There’s no one-size-fits-all perfect diet that works for everyone. This is something you’ll discover when you use your DNA test to learn more about what your body needs. If you want to be a more ethical eater, but you don’t want to give up on meat, a life as an ethical omnivore could be ideal.

As a meat-eater, you’ll still usually have a larger carbon footprint than your vegan and vegetarian friends, but you’ll be doing more as an ethical omnivore to protect the planet. It all starts with being more conscious of your decisions regarding food.

To gain more awareness about the optimal diet type for you based on your genetics, take the CircleDNA test and get your diet and nutrition report.