If I am asked if I am a vegetarian my answer is typically, "it's complicated." For about 3 years of college I was a true vegetarian, my reason was that I did not (and still do not) think that the conventional, modern meat methods are at all humane or proper. Animals are not made to live that closely together, cows are meant to eat grasses and hays, basically animals should be allowed to live like animals. Natural and sustainable...but I didn't realize I had any option other than being a vegetarian.
As I am growing on my eco-journey I have learned that there are options...and local meats are the way to go! If they are not available then organic, pasture raised/fed, hormone/antibiotic free is an option. The first organic beef my husband and I had blew our minds! The flavor is so buttery and rich it's delicious! And because of the richness it is much easier to eat a proper portion.
Now, in general we tend to eat vegetarian twice or more a week because 1) Americans consume WAY too much meat and 2)*surprise* you can get protein from plant sources! But my choices for meats are from the following: Legacy Family Farm, Native Meats, Caw Caw Creek and if it's not farmer's market season - Publix Greenwise or Kroger Organics. I feel wonderful feeding my family meat in it's purest form...free from cruelty and chemicals. Plus, supporting local farmers and sustainable practices is great for the planet and the community.
Now you may wonder...what in the world do I eat at restaurants? Well, if I don't eat vegetarian you can bet I have done my research. For example, Panera and Moe's both use meat that is equivalent to the Publix Greenwise line. But, no, I am not perfect...sometimes a dish just sounds so good I will order it. But then I drive past the chicken plant on my way to work and feel horrible that I made that choice. In the end, every small change you make can have a major impact on local economy and the planet.
If your in the Midlands of SC I encourage you to give the above farms a chance. If not, use sites like Local Harvest to fine something similar near you. Go a little greener with your meat and take it back to the way it was before the meat packing industry went crazy.