Mark Bittman on How You Can Make Sure You're Eating Ethically

Mark Bittman on How You Can Make Sure You're Eating Ethically
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By Elizabeth Siegel, Allure

Photo: Romulo Yanes

"Eating ethically" is not code for kale salads massaged by Buddhist monks. We interviewed Mark Bittman, the author of Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating, for advice on how to make sure your dinner isn't destroying the planet.

What does it mean to eat ethically? "Food should be nutritious, affordable, and green--that is, it should minimize environmental impact. And the humans and animals involved in its production, sale, or consumption should be treated with respect."

What should we do to eat ethically? "Eat more plants. Even if they are farmed industrially, they use far fewer resources than animal products. Seven or eight years ago, I started eating a strict vegan diet of only unprocessed plant foods during the day. I eat nuts, grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits from the time I get up until dinnertime, and then I eat whatever I like at dinner."

So we don't have to be vegans? "Not at all. There is plenty of meat that is sustainable and responsible nowadays. Farmers' markets are great because you can ask questions about the meat, like where it came from. Always engage in conversation. If I find a good source of meat, I buy lots of it and keep it in my freezer."

What do we do when we eat out?
"Cross your fingers? I mean, there's no reason for a restaurant to tell you the truth. A lot of restaurants will say their chicken was hatched and raised humanely or that it's wild salmon, but there's no way for you to know for sure. If a restaurant has an impeccable reputation, Chez Panisse [in Berkeley] for example, then I think you can rest assured. There are restaurants like that in every city."

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