Towards an Ethical Neopian Diet
I'm a pet just like you, and I want to talk to you about what's on your plate. You may not have spent much time thinking about this yet, so don't worry if it's frightening right now. Several years ago, I was like you might be: I'd never thought about where my food came from or the idea that I should take anything into consideration aside from how tasty it was. But then I started thinking about that, and I hope you will too. So, join me in asking: where does my food come from?
First, it may seem obvious that there are certain foods that ethical Neopets should definitely try to avoid. These food items include: Blumaroo Steak, Grundo Stix , Korbat Wing Soup (yikes! I'm a Korbat, and I definitely don't want anybody eating my wings!), Meerca Pie, and Stick-O-Mynci. There are more out there, so keep an eye out. Hopefully you agree with me that eating other pets is a terrifying idea. Instead of a Meerca Pie, you can try a Vegetarian Meat Pie. Instead of Korbat Wing Soup, try Altadorian Lentil Soup, or Cauliflower Soup. And if you're really craving Grundo Stix, you can try Cheese Sticks or Cheesy Onion Sticks instead.
Now, aside from those more obvious items, let's not forget about protecting Petpets! I'm sure the Petpet Protection League is not very happy with the highly sought after Snorkle Snout. Is the avatar really worth the cruelty? I personally have been able to convince my owner not to try for that avatar – even though she collects them! Maybe you can try to do the same with your owner? Even if you don't think Snorkles are that cute, that doesn't mean they deserve to be eaten! Also keep an eye out for other items with Petpet ingredients in them. Another one to look out for is the Roasted Spyder on a Stick. I know lots of pets are scared of Spyders, but they can actually make very loving Petpets if you treat them right. Even if you don't like them, I still don't think that you should eat them. Instead, try a Carrot on a Stick.
As well as items with Petpets or pets in them, remember to be on the lookout for other types of meat. What is really in a Meat Cake, for example? Do you know? I think it's better to be on the safe side and to avoid items with names like this! Unidentified Grilled Meat is even worse! Who knows what went into that? I would recommend trying a Bean and Lentil Pasty or a Deluxe Organic Salad instead. If you really like the taste of meat and don't want to switch it out for beans, you could try the Beef Rouladen which uses a "meat substitute" instead of actual meat.
Now, after you've figured out which of your foods contain questionable meat, there are also other things to consider about your diet. You can't just go buying any meatless food you find, if you're concerned about the wellbeing of other Neopians! It's best to buy local food, for example, so that you can get fresher food and so that you can meet and interact with the people who produced it to make sure they had ethical working conditions. If you're buying food that's shipped from halfway around Neopia you might never know if the Mynci who picked your Bananas got paid fairly, or if he got enough breaks during his shift. I always recommend knowing the pets who grow your food. You could even visit their farms if you have the time! Almost every Neopian land has its own food shop, so hopefully it shouldn't be too much of a problem to buy foods that were produced near you, wherever you live.
I live in Neopia Central, so I usually buy food from the Neopian Fresh Foods and Neopian Health Foods, but one of my favorite travel spots is Meri Acres Farms. Seeing where food is produced gives me greater peace of mind, and I can tell you that the conditions at Meri Acres are quite good. The workers there get fair pay and reasonable work days. If you'd like to have a more hands-on part of the food production process, you can even pick your own berries at the aptly named "Pick Your Own" station. Then you'll know the food you're getting is fresh as well as ethical! Some of my favorite food stores around Neopia include Fruits of Brightvale, Exquisite Ambrosia, Faerie Foods, and Lost Desert Foods. You can try them all if you ever happen to be visiting any of these places. If you're on a budget you can also stop by the Giant Omelette in Tyrannia, which has free and delicious omelettes – just be sure to avoid the meat options, like the Bacon Omelette or the Meat Feast Omelette. Instead, look for the Spinach and Feta Omelette or the Green Pepper Omelette.
Now that we've gone over some of the problems with food in Neopia, what else can you do to help? Well, aside from the suggestions I've already made – such as looking for alternative foods, and making sure to do your research and buy local – another way you can help is by telling your friends. If you ever see another pet about to buy or eat a Blumaroo Steak, now you know that you should probably ask them not too. Maybe try asking them to reconsider and think about if they have any friends who are the type of pet they are about to eat. You can also try talking to your owner and seeing if you can convince her or him to start shopping at your local food store, and avoiding items with mysterious meats in them.
I hope that I have been helpful, and I hope that I've given you some ideas about how to start your own journey towards eating food that tastes great and also makes you feel good about how you are treating other pets and petpets. Good luck and happy eating!