As many of you know, I’m a hippy (with a fancy corporate job) and also a fitness addict nerd. I was already a sorta-hippy carnivore but my wife and I have become increasingly drawn to ditching meat. Now I’m going to do it.

What do I mean by sorta-hippy carnivore? Generally when grocery shopping I would try to only buy meat, eggs and dairy where the animals were treated nicely. But that didn’t stop me from eating meat, eggs and dairy of unknown provenance in restaurants, the pre-made entrees from grocery stores, etc. So only sorta hippy.

I didn’t feel entirely ok with this status quo, but also hadn’t made an effort to change it. My wife and I are total suckers for animals, especially our pets, and it became increasingly difficult for us to reconcile how we spoil the crap out of our cats and yet also eat the products of industrial animal farming.

My wife has been getting into farm sanctuaries, and found this documentary about them, Called To Rescue. We watched it this past weekend and while I didn’t have the same emotional reaction as she did, it definitely got me thinking real hard about my food choices.

The reality is, “humanely raised” meat is still the flesh of a dead animal. And unless you get eggs or dairy from farms that you know treats their animals nicely, the animals are often treated like crap.

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There’s a scene in that documentary where one of the farm sanctuaries does a mass rescue of like 1500 hens from a factory egg farm, and the birds get driven in crates to the sanctuary, then they unload the crates and open the tops and the birds all pop up out of the crates and flap around and they’re all like, “I can be a chicken now!”

The image that stuck with me from this scene was that the birds have their beaks trimmed and many of them look just unhealthy, with patches of missing feathers or otherwise seeming worse for the wear. The folks from the farm sanctuary say that factory egg farmers consider their hens “spent” after only about 18 months to 2 years of age, and kill them off and dispose of them in mass quantities because they’re not appealing as meat.

I didn’t like this idea at all, and the information about factory dairy farming was similarly bleak. So I’ve kicked around ideas for the past few days and I’ve come up with a simple plan that I’m going to follow:

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  1. No meat
  2. Eggs & dairy only from farms that treat animals nicely

I already buy hippy-friendly eggs, but I’ll have to give up eating eggs in restaurants, because they usually don’t buy hippy-friendly eggs.

I don’t eat much in the way of dairy, but what I do eat usually comes in two forms: whey protein in protein bars, and cheese. There are some potentially hippy-friendly whey protein based bars, in that they specify they use whey from grass-fed cows. That’s at least something, but not super specific. I might consider these, but there are also vegan protein bars which cause no concerns.

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Cheese is a little trickier because the hippy-friendliness of its milk isn’t often disclosed on its labeling, but I’m in Wisconsin. It’s still pretty easy to find hippy-friendly cheese here. I’m going through the scorecards from The Cornucopia Institute so I’ll know which brands of dairy at the supermarket will be ok.

(We might make an exception for the occasional pizza with cheese of unknown provenance.)

Otherwise, a lot of my diet is already plant-based food I make from scratch. Basically every week I make some kind of big pot of beans, lentils, etc. I know all kinds of tricks with veggies, and I get new and different kinds of produce from places like the Asian market across the street from my gym. I’ve even perfected recipes like crispy glazed tofu, and vegan chili using textured soy protein.

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Anyway, I know the joke about vegans...

How do you know if someone’s a vegan?

Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

...definitely applies here even though I’m not quite going vegan.

My last carnivore hurrah is going to be some turkey this thanksgiving, and if I have the opportunity at some point in the future to host thanksgiving at my house, I might go so far as to get a turkey from my local hippy butcher.

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I promise I’m not going to become some PETA crazy person, or to preach that what you do with your food choices is evil. But I wanted to share.