Jargon Watch: Ecotarian

happy meat photo

happy meat via Green as a Thistle

The Guardian's Ethical Living columnist Lucy Siegle writes:

Ecotarianism has a winningly common-sense approach. The concept is simple: eat the foods with the lowest environmental burden, those with the lowest global-warming potential (GWP) and the least chance of messing up the planet via their acidification and pollution potential.

It is an attractive concept; you might not be complete vegetarian, but you will certainly eat a lot less meat, and what you do might be "happy meat" grown outside of the energy-intensive factory farm system. Wikipedia says it was coined at Oxford in 2006, and promotes organic, locally grown, fair trade and very small condiment-sized portions of meat due to it's inefficient production.


an ecotarian might eat anchovies, lower on the food chain, rather than farmed salmon, which need two pounds of fishmeal made from anchovies to make one pound of salmon.

It takes the ethics of food production into account:

Take poultry and eggs. The pure lifecyle analysis that rewards high-efficiency feed conversion means non-organic appears to have the lesser eco burden; it doesn't take into account the barbarism of battery hen production.

As a rule of thumb, however, organic non-animal products are best, as the organic system uses legumes to fix nitrogen rather than wasting fuel on synthetic fertilisers.

The ecotarian keeps frozen products to a minimum and shuns chilled foods; half of all a supermarket's lorries are now temperature-controlled in order to move these products around the country, creating a huge greenhouse-gas burden. The exception are frozen peas after a seminal UK study, Give Peas a Chance, demonstrated how they were very efficiently produced.

more from Lucy Siegle
On moving toward being a vegetarian (or ecotarian) in TreeHugger:
On Moving Toward Vegetarianism: Thanksgiving
On Moving Toward Vegetarianism: The Social Contract
On Moving Toward Vegetarianism: Getting the Protein You Need
On Moving Toward Vegetarianism

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