Ethical Eating

Ivey Leidy shares insight into how our daily food choices impact the environment

Ivey preparing the Everything but the Kitchen Sink Salad. Photography by Jerry Rabinowitz
Ivey preparing the Everything but the Kitchen Sink Salad. Photography by Jerry Rabinowitz

Although industrial agriculture has made production easier and food more widely available, it comes with an ethical and environmental impact. According to the Land Health Institute, the global meat industry uses a third of the world’s fresh water and produces more greenhouse gases than the entire world’s transportation emissions. 

Considering meat consumption has tripled since the 1960s, it’s likely that production and consumption will continue to rise. As this happens, industrial farm animals will become even more densely packed together and their treatment will worsen. They are already subjected to antibiotics to treat and prevent bacterial infections, growth hormones to expedite production, an unnatural diet of grains instead of grasses, genetic modification and mutilation, and a lifetime of confinement. 

Furthermore, it takes 1,700 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. Conversely, it takes 39 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of vegetables. Researchers have hypothesized that if every American went meatless for just one day a week, we could save 100 billion gallons of water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide.  

Ingredients for Everything but the Kitchen Sink Salad. Photography by Jerry Rabinowitz

Thankfully, there are many ways to eat more ethically. Start by buying local, which can reduce the need to transport goods across long distances, resulting in reduced carbon emissions and pollution. Local produce is also fresher and contains more nutrients than produce that has been sitting on truck beds for weeks.

Another key step is to waste less. Utilize fresh veggies that last the longest—such as cruciferous vegetables and root vegetables—and opt for frozen fruits and vegetables that tend to spoil quicker. And be sure to work edible food scraps, like broccoli stems, into your meals as well. 

Finally, choose better quality meat, poultry, and fish. Practices such as grass-fed, pasture-raised, and sustainably farmed are not only better for the planet, but better for your health too. 

Ivey enjoying the Apple Pie Smoothie. Photography by Jerry Rabinowitz

Behind the Labels

  • Grass-fed cows have less fat and higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3s and vitamins A and E. Grass-fed and -finished means the cows are fed nothing but grass after weaning.
  • Pasture-raised, certified-humane poultry produce healthier eggs with twice the omega-3s, three times the vitamin D, four times the vitamin E, and seven times the beta carotene as conventional caged.
  • Certified-humane chickens are able to roam free, forage on their natural diet, and socialize. Free-range means that they have access to 2 square feet of space.
  • Wild seafood is caught in the animal’s natural environment, where they can eat their natural diets.
  • Farmed seafood is typically raised in crowded pens where antibiotic use is high, artificial coloring may be added to already processed feed, and contaminants and pesticides are prevalent.
  • Sustainably farmed means the fish are less densely populated and there is less chance of antibiotic use. 

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Salad. Photography by Jerry Rabinowitz

Everything by the Kitchen Sink Salad


  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 certified-humane skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp. all-purpose or garlic seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste (for chicken)
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed 
  • Pinch of sea salt (for sweet potatoes)
  • 1 bushel of lacinato kale
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup riced broccoli, stems and all
  • 1 cup shredded beets
  • 1 cup shredded carrots


Coat a cast-iron pan or skillet with 2 tbsp. olive oil. Pat the chicken breasts dry and sprinkle with seasoning and salt and pepper. Add to cool pan (this always gives a crisper chicken). Turn pan to medium-high heat and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool before cubing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (conventional bake preferable). Toss cubed sweet potato with 1 tbsp. olive oil and spread onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt after removing from oven and allow to cool.

Arrange chicken, sweet potatoes, kale, corn, riced broccoli, shredded beets, and carrots in a bowl and drizzle with basil vinaigrette. 

Basil Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • 4 packed cups of basil
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


Using a high-speed blender, add all ingredients except olive oil and pulse to combine. While blender runs at medium speed, gradually add in olive oil to emulsify. Blend until thick and creamy.

Apple Pie Smoothie. Photography by Jerry Rabinowitz

Apple Pie Smoothie


  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen cauliflower
  • 1 apple, peeled and cored
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp. hemp seeds
  • 1 date (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk


Using a high-speed blender, combine all ingredients and blend until thick and creamy.

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