Does vegetarian and vegan alternatives taste like meat and does it matter?
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"Meathooked: The history and science of obsession with meat by Marta Zaraska - Book review

 

Last night I finished reading the book called "Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat," by Marta Zaraska. The book appealed to me because I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years now (one that never sneaks meat, which was a topic discussed in the book). It took me just a few days to read it, and that was over a busy holiday weekend, but I kept wanting to continue on because I found it so interesting.

Marta has put a tremendous amount of time into researching the information to write this book. It is evident in every page you read. She has went to great lengths to gather information, interview experts, experiment, and so on. I really enjoyed reading the information, which included the historical aspects of eating meat, the role advertising and culture plays, and so much more. I have read many books over the years that would fall into the animal rights and vegetarian category, but I still ended up learning quite a bit from this book. It as especially interesting to learn about the cultural aspects of meat and what meat people eat and find taboo in other countries.

Near the end of the book, Marta recommends that vegetarians and vegans essentially celebrate the small changes that people make, even if it's adopting a Meatless Monday mantra, and that essentially the "vegan police" are detrimental to the movement. This is something that I have said for many years. Running the Daytona Beach Vegetarian Society, I never put people on defense about their meat eating. When you do that, your message is lost, because they have to go into defense mode and defend their actions. My goal is just get them to taste vegetarian alternatives (we cook up vegan food and give it away) and to start making some of their food choices based off of plant based foods. I'm thrilled if they reduce their meat consumption, because I know it's not likely that they are all going to go vegetarian or vegan. The vegan police keep many people from wanting to even try to give up meat, because they assume they will never be pure and they don't want to be ridiculed for falling short. One of the most ridiculous things I ever see, which has started in recent years, is vegans giving vegetarians a hard time.

Marta put something into words that I have felt for two decades now. She said that "Studies show that a mere exposure to a plant eater puts omnivores on edge and causes cognitive dissonance..." I've known for many years that my mere presence at a food function can make omnivores uncomfortable, without me even saying a word or making a gesture of any kind. If a meat eater looks at me and knows I am vegetarian, that is enough to create a psychological issue within them that brings about discomfort about what they are eating. I've seen it happen many times over the years. Now I have the words to explain what is happening.

Two thumbs up for "Meathooked" and all of the interesting information that it provided. I found it to be well researched and written, compelling and quite thought-provoking. I wish every meat eater would read it so that they have a better understanding of why they eat it so much, and that every vegetarian and vegan would read it to also gain insight and understanding as to why it is so difficult for many people to give up meat. 

- Jacqueline

 



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