Mandatory meat inspection requirements have long been a source of frustration for advocates of ethical meat. Seen as overly restrictive and ill-adapted to the realities on the ground, some argue that farm-to-consumer sales should be subject to less stringent inspection requirements than conventional meat supply chains. Recently, a series of legislative reforms authorizing on-farm slaughter suggests that policy makers are listening. But do on-farm slaughter exemptions really facilitate ethical meat sales? To answer this question, this paper explores meat inspection systems in Quebec, Ontario, and Vermont. Drawing on data obtained from semi-structured interviews with producers, processors, and policy advisors, it argues that inspection requirements may not be the barriers they are presumed to be. Instead, producers and processors face other more significant financial and structural challenges. These need to be addressed if ethical meat is to be a viable alternative to the dominant model of animal agriculture.