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My developing relationship with ethical eating

Rebecca Hodder | Fulcrum Staff

IN ALL HONESTY, I’ve never really understood the phrase “you are what you eat.” Are meat eaters animals? Yes, but all humans are animals regardless of their dietary choices. I guess this phrase just sounds more catchy than “your food choices impact your health and overall well-being,” which is much more accurate.

As someone who grew up a picky eater the way only a North American child can—we’re talking a diet of Wonderbread, hot dogs, chicken, Kraft dinner, rice, and the occasional apple—in a household where ethical eating was a completely foreign concept, I have to say that it’s a lot to take in. Rest assured that my diet has grown substantially since childhood, especially after moving away for school, but there are so many factors in deciding what to eat it can be extremely overwhelming. Between balancing a healthy diet with all necessary food groups, ensuring that we get 3 solid meals a day, avoiding the constant temptations— caffeine, fast food, and nachos among them—and balancing everything into a student budget, eating ethically just doesn’t come across as a huge priority for most students.

Then there’s the question as to what exactly eating ethically entails. Vegetarianism? Out of the question for me; not only do I love eating meat, but I’m still wrapping my head around the idea of a healthy portion of vegetables every day, let alone a diet full of them. Being aware of what I eat? This is a more reasonable request, but just because I like the taste of meat doesn’t mean I like to think about the animal I’m eating. I’m not a monster; of course I feel guilty when I hear about slaughterhouses and unethical farming practices. I just think that unless you were raised in an environment where things like that actually impact your diet, it can be extremely hard to change your habits.

That being said, over the past few years I have learned a lot about food and how what you consume has an impact on your day-to-day life. Learning that ethical eating includes things as simple as eating certain fruits only when they are in season is astounding. If students had easy access to simple ways of eating more ethically, as well as an “in your face” guide to alternate food choices, I think that our generation could vastly improve the relationship we have with food.