What does 'eating ethically' really mean?

January 17, 2018 at 4:44 PM

Here at Commonsense, we pride ourselves on being a one-stop ethical shop. But what does ethical eating really mean? Organic, free-range, vegan, vege, sustainably-caught... the list goes on! Instead of presenting a tiny sliver of a multi-faceted issue, we asked some of our people about what eating ethically means to them.


Ethical eating


Kevin2Kevin Keane, Store Manager of Commonsense Kilbirnie


For me, ‘eating ethically’ is about thinking about more than just myself. It’s about my carbon footprint, offsetting pollution, animal welfare, and getting the most from using the least out of land.

I became vegan when I first came to New Zealand, six and a half years ago. I was living in a vegan flat and I tried it as an experiment! I did it really hesitantly, but my mind opened that year and I never went back since.

I started to see the interconnection between everything.



Jo Morrison, Store Manager of Commonsense Wellington City


To me, ‘eating ethically’ means not consuming more resources than I need to, while keeping a healthy well-balanced diet.

Through studying nutrition, I found out veganism and vegetarian doesn’t always suit everyone… but no one needs to consume more than two servings of meat a week. There is some evidence linking eating animal protein with serious health risks - treat meat as a condiment to your meal! 

There's a huge study called Blue Zones that shows the longest living people eat a diet that is primarily vegetarian. But we also need to look at whether we have a modern Western bias... would we tell Inuit people to drink raw kale smoothies? Different environments have different requirements!

I’ve read that on average, people consume two thirds more calories than we actually need. Eating ethically is about using what we need, and really respecting and celebrating the food we eat. 


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Lydia Mabbett, Corporate Trainer 


I’m a vegetarian for the moral and spiritual imperative.

I enjoyed meat as a child, so it’s not about taste for me.  If I do eat meat I feel mental and emotional discord. I have it distinctly with seafood, because of what’s happening in the oceans. I respect the politics of being vegan. I have had the luxury of knowing where the dairy products at Commonsense comes from: I’ve visited the herds and I understand the care they’re tended with.

For myself, I advocate a plant-based diet. I don’t judge others for their choices, though.



Katherine McFall, Produce Manager, Commonsense Mt Eden  


I buy as much organic food as I can. I’m in a privileged position where I don’t have any dependents, but I’m from South Auckland, and if I was in the circumstances my parents were in when I was growing up, I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy organic.

Because I’m in the business, I understand why it’s important to eat ethically farmed meat and eggs. I get it! But if I had a family where I had to feed 2-3 children below Living Wage? Forget it!

There isn’t one solution. I think the power is with the consumer and where they spend their dollar. You can only take small steps. It’s a hard one.

Eating ethically is important. But it’s always going to be secondary to getting food on the table.


teva crop

Teva Stewart, Merchandise Manager


Eating ethically, to me, is about being conscious of where your food comes from.  It’s about acknowledging the effort that’s gone into producing it. It’s eating it with joy and pleasure and love…

If you do all of those things, you’re going to naturally gravitate towards ethical sustainable food.

I eat mostly homecooked food. My food is usually child-friendly but still incredibly indulgent. I cook mostly using raw ingredients that are grown and produced in New Zealand. Where possible I buy organic. I won’t compromise on organic eggs, and the pork or chicken I buy has to be free-range.

There you have it: a few of the many perspectives on what ‘eating ethically’ means to us at Commonsense. Take a look at our free range, organic and sustainably caught products over on our online store. Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share on what eating ethically means to you? Let us know at [email protected]