The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis

The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis

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by Tara AustenWeaver
     
 

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Growing up in a family that kept jars of bean sprouts on its windowsill before such things were desirable or hip, Tara Austen Weaver never thought she'd stray from vegetarianism. But as an adult, she found herself in poor health, and, having tried cures of every kind, a doctor finally ordered her to eat meat. Warily, she ventured into the butcher shop, and as the

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Overview

Growing up in a family that kept jars of bean sprouts on its windowsill before such things were desirable or hip, Tara Austen Weaver never thought she'd stray from vegetarianism. But as an adult, she found herself in poor health, and, having tried cures of every kind, a doctor finally ordered her to eat meat. Warily, she ventured into the butcher shop, and as the man behind the counter wrapped up her first-ever chicken, she found herself charmed. Eventually, he dared her to cook her way through his meat counter. As Tara navigates through this new world--grass-fed beef vs. grain-fed beef; finding chickens that are truly free-range--she's tempted to give up and go back to eating tempeh. The more she learns about meat and how it's produced, and the effects eating it has on the human body and the planet, the less she feels she knows. She embarks upon a sometimes hilarious, sometimes frightening whirlwind tour that takes her from slaughterhouse to chef's table, from urban farm to the hearthside of cow wranglers. Along the way, she meets an unforgettable cast of characters who all seem to take a vested interest in whether she opts for turnips or T-bones. The Butcher and the Vegetarian is the rollicking and relevant story of one woman's quest to reconcile a nontraditional upbringing with carnal desires.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Raised a vegetarian, writer and editor Weaver was always diet-conscious, so it was a bit of a surprise when, in her 30s, her physician recommend meat-eating for her suffering health; Weaver's consequent foray into the world of meat is a toothsome take on the learning-to-eat-better memoir. Weaver jumps into the flesh flood with both feet, sampling all things savory, up to and including roasted bone marrow, in a game effort to understand the appeal. She finds some dishes, like flank steak with chimichurri sauce and Syrian kebabs, life-changing, but turns a critical eye on herself and her endeavor that proves honest and endearing, whether voicing her disappointment in the classic steak house, mulling the ethics of eating dead animals, considering the joys of grilling, chronicling the evolution of USDA dietary recommendations, or detailing the butchering process. Her narrative maintains a funny, personable tone throughout, more like a knowledgeable friend than a professional reporter. Though eventually settling on a raw food diet, Weaver avoids prescriptive finger-shaking, encouraging readers to find the diet that's right for them by incorporating a wide range of perspectives.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal
Weaver, freelance writer and author of the food blog Tea & Cookies (teaandcookies.blogspot.com), chronicles her efforts to reconcile her strict vegetarian upbringing with a medically motivated decision to eat meat. While exploring the differences between vegetarians and carnivores, Weaver cooks steaks, hosts dinner parties, tours ranches, and interviews farmers and meat enthusiasts. She considers literally cooking her way through a butcher's meat counter but never does. Instead, she embarks on a series of diet-altering "food challenges" that end with her becoming a raw-foodist. VERDICT Compared with the immersive, yearlong projects featured in Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, Weaver's experiments seem ephemeral and inconclusive. While her book will appeal to readers looking for a general survey of meat manufacture and culture, it will likely disappoint those expecting the "chick-lit spin on Michael Pollan" promised on the back cover. More successful transitions from blog to book include Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life, Shauna James Ahern's Gluten-Free Girl, and Julie Powell's Julie and Julia.—Lisa Campbell, Univ. of Alabama Lib., Tuscaloosa
Kirkus Reviews
Food blogger Weaver charts her progress as a reluctant meat eater. "How does a vegetarian find herself in a butcher shop in the first place?" the author asks at the beginning of her memoir. She had been meat free since birth; at the age of ten she could distinguish millet from barley from buckwheat. But she was feeling fatigued, and her doctors suggested some meat in her diet. So for health reasons, she was game for a little carnivorous adventure, even with all the baggage: personal values, planetary concerns, family expectations. In 1970s Northern California, the vibe was cool, but Weaver had to admit that "[t]here was also a lot of bad food . . . My family did our grocery shopping in funky little health food stores that smelled like vitamins, musty and virtuous." On the author's meat-eating quest, she revels in flank steak with chimichurri rub and the perfect BBQ, and she queasily considers the bloody veins in beef stock bones: "That's when it dawns on me: shank means leg. This was someone's leg. I suddenly feel more vegetarian than ever before." Black pudding and crown roast defeat her, but she has the fortitude to stand on the slaughterhouse floor during kill time, and insight enough to appreciate that this is a personal quest-tied to matters of health and perception, but not a global answer to the meat-eating debate. After a particularly delicious meal, she writes, "It is all delicious; I eat it all and enjoy it. But the thing is, I don't need it . . . "Are the hippies right? Are we really supposed to be eating raw, enzyme-rich plant food? I'm going to be really pissed if that's true." All things considered, she's learned to love a bit of meat. A very human exploration, fromheart-searching to heart-gladdening. Agent: Danielle Svetcov/Levine Greenberg Literary Agency

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781605291826
Publisher:
Rodale
Publication date:
02/02/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
676,952
File size:
0 MB

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