Ethical eating: characteristics, principles and benefits

The production and distribution of food cause a series of negative impacts on a global level. Defenders of ethical eating seek to eradicate these consequences.

Last update: January 07, 2022

For many years, taste was one of the determining factors behind food choices. However, today there are more and more consumers who choose their food based on ethical values, such as animal welfare, social justice or environmental protection.

This new eating position is known as ethical eating and refers to the consideration of economic, social and environmental impacts in the purchase or consumption of food and beverages. Let’s see in detail.

Principles and motivations of ethical eating

Those who practice ethical eating they focus on the moral consequences of their food choices. That is why they oppose the conventional food production and distribution system, which generates various damages globally and is perpetuated by large industries.

Environmental care

The food production methods of large industries have led to significant environmental degradation. For example, industrialized agricultural techniques deliberately use artificial pesticides and fertilizers that kill wildlife, destroy the soil, and are unsustainable in the long term.

For its part, industrially produced meat (with intensive animal husbandry) has more environmental impact than any food product, not counting the abuse suffered by these animals (chickens, pigs and cows) during their existence.

In addition, Consuming food derived from other parts of the world has environmental consequences. Their transportation deteriorates the health of the planet.

Intensive farming to produce meat for consumption has deleterious consequences on the planet.

social justice

Another motivation for ethical eating is the protection and support of agricultural workers. Well many food system occupations are poorly paid, working conditions are poor, and it is even very common to find child exploitation in this sector.

Furthermore, since the 1980s, policies promoting world free trade have increased the amount of food exported from the poorest countries. This negatively affects the food available to their own populations.

However, we are facing a complex issue, since campaigns to reduce food imports can reduce the income of farmers in the poorest countries, who depend on exports.

Animal welfare

Many people who practice ethical eating are vegetarians or vegans. They are aware that behind the consumption of meat lies the suffering of animals, raised in deplorable conditions.

However, we must not reduce ethical eating to vegan or vegetarian diets. There are people who practice food ethics, choosing to consume meats that come from independent establishments, in which the quality of life of the animal is guaranteed.

Healthy nutrition

Another motivation for ethical eating is concern about the increase in obesity levels and other harmful effects that derive from the consumption of processed foods and additives. In this case, food ethics advocates stricter product regulation or clearer labeling and sincere to reduce the incidence of health problems.



Characteristics of ethical eating

To better understand this movement, we present below its characteristics:

  • Advocates for local foods, produced a short distance from where they are consumed. Likewise, the consumption of meat from those animals that have not been abused is preferred.
  • This food conception is opposed to the industrial interests of food production and distribution.
  • It proposes that food be purchased from organic and local producers. Thus, care for the environment is guaranteed.
  • Those who practice ethical eating reject any type of abuse. Therefore, they require guarantees that the animals that reach the market have been well raised.
  • It requires the correct labeling of the products, with specifications on its origin and its components.
  • Ethical food opposes imports, especially if they come from very distant countries.


Benefits of ethical eating

The ethical eating approach not only benefits human beings, it also benefits promotes the care and well-being of the other species animals and the planet as such.

If we begin to be more aware of the origin of our food and the production methods used, we will surely contribute to an improvement that goes beyond the field of health itself. Our choice will impact on inhumane labor practices, animal suffering and care for the environment.

A first step towards ethical food can be to carefully check the labels of what we buy.

Ethical eating is a controversial topic

It is pertinent to bear in mind that ethical eating is a very controversial and debated topic. Especially since many people have used it as a resource to discredit or attack those who continue with conventional purchasing and consumption habits.

For example, it is very common to find advocates of ethical eating who demonize those who consume meat or those who do not buy their food in organic establishments.

The ideal is that, whatever the eating position we adopt, we know how to respect the other’s decision. And if we want to discuss the subject, we can do so from the open and assertive.

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