How to be a bettertarian

| April 8, 2014

There are so many choices around food available, which makes it complicated for consumers to purchase sustainable products. Rebecca Sullivan explains how as a bettertarian she makes better nutritional choices that integrate the land, the animals and the people.

Sustainability is one of those words that inspires in depth conversation.

In my early years, I was guilty of not truly understanding its definition. It wasn’t until my early twenties, when I was involved in one of those said conversations that I actually questioned what it truly meant. It was from there that I began a journey of constantly questioning, especially where my food is concerned.

After having worked in food and sustainability (thinking I knew what it was all about), I actually took my questioning to the next level and moved to the UK to study sustainability. I did a Masters of International Rural Development and Sustainable Agriculture at the Royal Agricultural College. While my studies were comprehensive, the more I delved into what sustainability truly meant, the more I realised I had much more to learn.

Today, I am still on that journey and have enriched my understanding through being involved in a program called Target 100, which is one hundred research initiatives undertaken by Australian cattle and sheep producers and the wider industry to make farming more sustainable. It’s also about connecting farmers to consumers to encourage conversations and to provide a comprehensive resource for those seeking answers about cattle and sheep farming in Australia. Being part of Target 100 has made my questioning much more serious as I now see the interplay of so many factors. In essence, Target 100 has taught me it’s not about the land, the animals or the people as separate entities, but how the three integrate.

This new appreciation in itself makes it harder to define the word ‘sustainability’, especially when there are so many choices. Sometimes you can go from no clear choice to purchase sustainably, to too many choices when shopping and it all gets a little bit complicated.

Part of my Target 100 journey, together with chef Darren Robertson and farmer Matt Dunbabin, was how we could find another way that sums up a desire of wanting a better way to farm and eat. Through much discussion and debate we came up with the concept of ‘Bettertarian’ a less complicated way to make food choices. It begins by eating with understanding, which in turn leads to making better nutritional choices and feeling better about the impact those choices have.

Bettertarian isn’t a static concept however, as it means different things to different people. As a farmer, Matt wants to farm sustainably to ensure the conservation and protection of his land for future generations and to ensure his animals have been raised ethically and with minimal stress. As a chef, Darren wants to offer his restaurant customers only fresh, quality produce, that not only tastes great, but has been ethically raised. And I want to eat somewhere where the restaurateur knows that the care taken on farm ultimately leads to the quality of the food they are able to produce for their customers.

So Bettertarian is a philosophy that champions making sustainability a priority in your food choices without having to spend years, like I have, to arrive at a satisfactory definition.

If you want to know more about being a Bettertarian and Target 100 go to