What is an ecovore?
An ECOVORE: a sort of vegan/vegetarian
An ecovore chooses what she/he eats based on the impact that that food item has on nature. Ecovores are vegan, or vegetarian, or even vegan except for eating the occasional wild game or fish (like me - I estimate once a month). This may seem like a contradiction which is why ecovore is a good alternative name for people like us. We eat (or would like to eat) only what the natural ecology of the planet provides. Hunter-gatherers are the only true ecovores, but in a looser definition, we can strive to lessen our impact, one baby step at a time. Just think this way, every less meal that you eat meat helps.
WHY NOT EAT FARMED MEAT?
Eating farm-raised animals has a HUGE impact on the environment. 80% of farmland in the U.S. is used for farming animals (Vesterby and Krupa, 1997). This number is so large because much of the corn and wheat and other crops we see growing eventually end up in the stomachs of farm animals. Don't quote me, I need to doublecheck these numbers, but, the basic idea is this:
X grams of vegetable protein takes Y amount of farmland to grow.
X grams of beef protein takes 8Y the amount of farmland to grow.
X grams of pig protein takes 6y the amount of farmland to grow.
X grams of chicken protein takes 4Y the amount of farmland to grow.
X grams of dairy protein takes 4Y the amount of farmland to grow.
You get the idea. Sustainably harvested wild game or fish doesn't take any land to grow. The key word is sustainably. Overharvested wild game or fish has huge ecological effects that cycle throught the environment. www.mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp and www.blueoceaninstitute.org have wallet size lists of "good", "maybe ok", and "bad" seafood to help guide decisions. There is no list I know of for terrestrial wild game.
As a bonus for all of us that cut down on or quit eating farmed meat, we don't contribute to the horrific conditions that farm animals are exposed to. On that note, I do have to say that free range animals/animal products are definately better that non-free range animals (as far as conditions and probably lower the Y values of animal proteins), but they are not as "ecologically safe" as vegetarianism.
HOW TO BE AN ECOVORE
Shunning farmed animals one type at a time is a good way to start. I stopped eating red meat in 1993, all farmed meat in 1994, and eggs and dairy in 1995. I started adhering to the fish lists(see above websites) in 1998. I very rarely even buy fish. I eat it when I catch it or a friend does. I eat wild game even more rarely. At most once a year.
My Favorite Web Sites
Monterey Bay Aquarium fish list
Blue Ocean fish list
Inspiring vegan punk rock