Meat is a little bit of an ethical conflict for me. I honestly have no issue with the killing and eating of animals; there're fewer things more 'natural'. The production of meat however is a different matter. While there are ethical farming methods, and there is an availability of responsibly sourced meat, this kind of selective consumption is an expensive privilege unavailable to many. So, with the constraints of a limited food budget how can we eat more ethically?
The food industry on the whole is entirely concerned with selling you more food than you require. There are a finite number of humans with a finite digestive volume, and presuming that all other things remain equal (which of course they don't, but for the purpose of my argument) the only way to further profits is to continually increase the amount of oversold foodstuff. Talk about first world problems! While reality is undeniably more complex, the principle holds. In order to sell more, more must be produced. Logically therefore if we wish to reduce the intensity of animal farming (one of the greatest concerns, if not actually the greatest concern, with meat production) then we must simply resolve to buy less meat. Sounds easy, right?
I'm not so sure that it is.
Culturally I feel that we have a tendency to prepare meals around the meat we intend to serve. Take a look at fast food as an excellent example: fried chicken, cheeseburgers, meatball subs. It's really all about a lump of animal; everything else is an extra, a side, or a garnish. Whether by conditioning or a natural, evolutionary predisposition to favour meat as a food source, I think this is probably a difficult thing to change. For meat to become supplementary instead of central we probably have to make some subtle but meaningful changes to the way we think about our food.