Healthy and Sane

To educate or not to educate? That is the question

December 23rd, 2010 · 17 Comments · food ethics

I had an interesting encounter in the bathroom at work yesterday. One of my co-workers was wearing a fur scarf around her neck and the other one expressed how gross that is that some poor animal had to suffer for this. What, ladies at your workplace don’t just chill in the bathroom and talk about anything and everything (such as animal rights)? lol. I considered saying nothing for a second but then decided to (very politely) probe a bit…

“I agree. Are you a vegetarian by any chance?” I said. [Any guesses as to her answer??]

“No, I know, I know. I thought about it… but but…I don’t eat much red meat!”

Again, I paused, wondering if I should take it any further. I’m not usually in the business of educating my co-workers about nutrition or food ethics but then I figured it wouldn’t hurt to just mention something. Just this one thing.

“I’m not a vegetarian either.” (I’m sure that was a relief for her to hear. I think when people know that they could be doing something better but are not, they’re afraid they’re being judged when the topic comes up). “But I really try to only eat humanely raised meat.”

We then got into the discussion of how I know where my meat comes from; where I shop for it, etc. I casually mentioned my meat CSA and she genuinely seemed to be interested to hear more about it. I think I blew her mind by making her realize that there is no need for black and white: vegetarianism (or even veganism?) or full on I-kind-of-care-but-want-to-do-nothing-about-it carnivore. This was a quick conversation that may change at least some of my co-worker’s purchases going forward (or at least give her food for thought). I do not plan on preaching about it to any other unsuspecting citizens, because generally people want to talk about the weather, your next vacation plans, complain about being tired/overworked or brag about the fabulous party/dinner they recently attended/hosted. And that’s ok. Instead, I’ll try to make a small difference one post at a time… here on Healthy and Sane. Lucky you! haha

Do you ever talk about food ethics/healthy eating/fitness/etc to people that normally have no interest in this subject, because you think they may benefit? I think it’s a delicate balance (especially with co-workers!) but you may have information they would actually appreciate so sometimes it’s worth sharing!

By the way, that was actually an incredibly long intro to a discussion I wanted to have on sustainable seafood, prompted by a sample of RainCoast Trading tuna and salmon I recently received for review.


The subject of sustainable seafood has been on my mind for a while. There are so many different parties to consider- our choices impact the fishermen, the fish and our environment. I’ll cover what I learned on the subject in the next post (check back tomorrow – there will even be a giveaway of some seafood for you!!). Until then…

What do you know about sustainable seafood?

PS – I’m also at Russian Bites today with a beet salad with walnuts recipe. Check it out! :)

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17 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Lauren at KeepItSweet

    i am really looking forward to your post on sustainable seafood- i feel like i have very little knowledge on the subject. it is great that you gave your co-workers some information, especially in a way that wasn’t preaching.

  • #2 - Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat)

    It’s an awkward discussion to have. For instance, people always ask ‘Are you a vegetarian?’ when I refuse meat. I always answer yes because it’s easier than going into, ‘Well, I’m vegetarian 95% of the time but sometimes eat humanely-raised, local chicken and sometimes eat locally-caught fish… blah blah blah.’

    It’s a sticky situation.

    • #3 - Elina

      Erin- I actually had the same question once at a meeting (that served lunch) when I didn’t see the pepperoni hiding under the veggies on the pizza and started picking them out like a 5-year old. People asked me if I was a vegetarian and I said that I don’t eat meat if I don’t know where it comes from. I got a few smart-ass comments like “it’s from the supermarket” and everyone moved on. I say give ’em a little somthin’ somthin’… they asked!

  • #4 - alicia

    That is a very tough discussion – kudos for broaching a difficult topic.

    Interested to hear more about seafood sustainability. I find it very confusing – my only source is the monterey bay aquarium – it helps when purchasing seafood – but its SO difficult to know what to order when you’re dining at a restaurant. When the menu says COD. I wish it would say – locally line caught by an independent fishing co-op….ha.

    • #5 - Elina

      Alicia – I know. It really IS difficult. I also consult my Monterey Bay iphone app but rarely ask further questions from the staff. I’m much better about meat than seafood. I know it’s important to ask questions because restaurants need to know that their customers care, so it’s definitely something to work towards! :)

  • #6 - Michelle

    My friend Barry is a vegan and we’ve had many conversations about his decision to not eat meat at all and my conscious choice to try to eat humanely raised meat. I’m not sure how much he was enlightened but it was good to have the discussion.

  • #7 - Gabriela @ Fro-Yo Lover

    That’s definitely a delicate subject!
    It’s really funny how they were talking about in the bathroom.. oh, well.
    I’m glad you were there to speak up, Elina!
    I completely agree with you: there’s no need for the “black and white”. I thought it was awesome how she wanted to hear more about humanely raised meet. Which means she’s willing to help the environment!
    Anyway – thanks for sharing this, girl. It’s a great topic for a discussion!
    Happy Holidays :)

  • #8 - Shannon

    yeah, i think it depends on where I am/who i’m with whether i share my thoughts… but if i think they’ll be receptive i’ll definitely get into a discussion!

  • #9 - Kelly

    I have to admit I usually only have that discussion with people that I know pretty well. The reason being, it’s complicated as you said and definitely not black and white. I think the good news is that in the wake of Food Inc I feel like far more people are interested in talking about it than before. The downside is that movie WAY oversimplifies things so I think then sometimes think it’s black and white when it’s still not. For example, the locavore issue – I’ve read quite a bit on this and everything I’ve recommended suggests that while it is good, people generally vastly overestimate it’s environmental impact compared to other choices they could make, i.e. reducing meat consumption.)

    The bottom line for me is that I am careful not to preach because one, like I said it’s complicated so I think there is no one right position and because two, I’m not perfect so who am I to judge others choices. I may make an effort to keep my meat consumption low and opt for humanely raised choices when I do, but I still wear leather, I still eat foie gras, I like lobster, etc. so I am FAR from perfect.

    I love talking about it, but I think some people take it way too far and get preachy and judgey so it’s always a fine line.

  • #10 - lindsay

    Great topic! We buy our meat from an organic farm out here. It taste A TON BETTER! But then again, we don’t eat meat that often. 1x maybe. I am a huge fan of those raincoast salmon and tuna. I feel much better knowing where it came from. Cheers Elina!

  • #11 - Corey @ The Runner's Cookie

    I often don’t bother “educating” with co-workers or in casual conversation. I’m not very good at it, and I don’t really enjoy doing it unless they express an interest. I will have these conversations with close friends and family, but I agree with your general consensus that in the right time and place, educating can be positive and helpful.

  • #12 - Diana (Soap & Chocolate)

    Ugh, sustainable seafood is something that confuses me too! Which is no good considering that I’ve declared myself pescatarian. I of all people ought to know! It’s just hard when you read conflicting information about how some fish should be bought from farms and some should be bought wild-caught…how to keep it straight? Actually, I saw a really great graphic about low vs. high risk seafood a while back so maybe I should dig it up and we can both educate ourselves so we can pass the knowledge on to others. :)

  • #13 - MelissaNibbles

    I’ll talk about these sort of things with my coworkers if they ask, but they usually know more than I do and they aren’t vegetarians or anything. I think people are more educated about where their food comes from than they used to be and we sometimes underestimate people who aren’t bloggers.

  • #14 - Rachael

    Yay! I campaigned for sustainable seafood policies with Greenpeace for a couple of years – taking on major grocery chains (TJ’s, Whole Foods, Walmart, Kroger, etc.) to introduce programs. Trader Joe’s was the last to agree, surprisingly, but the Monterey Bay Aquarium and GP both put out good guides to what to buy and what to avoid. Thanks for this post!

    • #15 - Elina

      That’s so amazing, Rachael. I’d love to hear more about that experience!!

  • #16 - Kelsey @ Snacking Squirrel

    THIS IS MY FAV SALMON AND TUNA! I only buy this brand. the rest seem too risky to me :)

  • #17 - If You Can Read, You Can Cook » Blog Archive » Link Round-up: 12/25/2010 » If You Can Read, You Can Cook

    […] To educate or not to educate? That is the question – Healthy & Sane. Kind of an apology about getting preachy about food at work. Me, I hate preachy people, especially over food. Vegetarian? That’s cool. Vegan? Fine. Only eat free-range meat from animals that had names and organic vegetables grown within walking distance of your door? Awesome. Just don’t look down on me for buying $1.50 ground beef and 80 frozen greenbeans. […]