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Vegetarianism: Movement or Moment? is the first book to consider the movement on a broad scale from a social science perspective. While this book takes into account the unique history of North American vegetarianism and the various reasons why people adopt vegetarian diets, it focuses on how movement leaders' beliefs regarding the dynamics of social change contributes to the selection of particular strategies for attracting people to vegetarianism. In the context of this focus, this book highlights several controversies about vegetarianism that have emerged in nutrition and popular media over the past 30 years.
Author Biography: Donna Maurer is a long time vegetarian and freelance academic editor who also teaches online for the University of Maryland University College, where she is Adjunct Associate Professor of Sociology. She has co-edited three books on food and body weight issues (with Jeffery Sobal), including Eating Agendas: Food and Nutrition as Social Problems. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Association for the Study of Food and Society.
|1||What Is Vegetarianism? And Who Are the Vegetarians?||1|
|2||Vegetarian Diets and the Health Professions: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Issues||22|
|3||Charting the Contemporary Vegetarian Movement in the Social Movement Field||47|
|4||Vegetarianism: Expressions of Ideology in Vegetarian Organizations||70|
|5||The Beliefs and Strategies of Vegetarian Movement Leaders||89|
|6||Organizational Strategy in Action: Promoting a Vegetarian Collective Identity||117|
|7||The Food Industry's Role in Promoting and Gaining Acceptance for Vegetarian Diets||131|
|8||What Is the Future of the Vegetarian Movement?||141|
|App. A: Methodology||151|
|App. B: Vegetarian Websites||153|
Posted July 12, 2002
?For anyone ¿ vegetarians and non-vegetarians ¿ who has questions about vegetarianism, Dr.Maurer¿s book is an excellent resource. She addresses a wide variety of issues, including who is likely (or unlikely) to stop eating animals and why, the emergence of a vegetarian movement in North America in the 1800s, dietary issues (e.g., protein complementing), the government (e.g., USDA) and vegetarianism, facets of the ideology and values behind vegetarianism, and the food industry¿s promotion of new veggie foods (e.g., veggie burgers, ¿not dogs¿). Clearly, Maurer touches on most questions that people have about vegetarianism. But, just as important, she addresses these issues in a clear, accessible writing style, which makes the book easy and enjoyable to read. Dr. Maurer also subtly puts her discussion of North American vegetarianism within a sociological context, using insights and concepts from the social movement literature. In particular, Maurer examines vegetarian organizations and leaders to understand why they use particular strategies and the extent to which such strategies are ¿successful.¿ I especially like her look at how people become vegetarians; she stresses personal contact and social networks are key, but ideology can also play a role. This is how most social movements work. Of course, as with any book, there are things I would have liked to see more of and things I think Dr. Maurer overlooked. In particular, I think Maurer might have created a greater historical context for some of her explanations and searched for stronger links to existing political and economic systems. For example, in discussing why ethnic minorities, or people of color, seem less likely to become vegetarian, Maurer notes that ¿traditional ethnic foodways¿ often center around meat, reducing vegetarianism among people of color. Yet, Maurer does not question where these traditional foodways come from, how they are socially constructed, or how they relate to regional differences. It would be interesting to explore the development of the traditional diet of blacks in the South, which emerged within a political-economic context (slavery, ¿Jim Crow¿ segregation, lynchings, etc.) that devalued and oppressed them. That is, to what extent is the consumption and oppression of animals linked to the oppression of people? This point also to applies to Dr. Maurer¿s examination of the food industry¿s promotion of veggie foods. Even while it does this, the food industry also continually pushes the expansion of meat consumption around the globe ¿ especially in Asia. The attempt to reshape diets in China, for example, to center more on beef does not bode well for vegetarianism or the treatment of animals in the twenty-first century. Of course, the industry pushes meat-consumption because it is ¿high value¿ production; there¿s more profit in a pound of animal flesh than in a pound of wheat or soybeans. These issues shape the social context in which vegetarianism exists, and I think addressing this aspect of the market system would have made this book that much better. But, no book can address every issue or answer every question. Other books ¿ such as one by David Nibert and others that can be found in Maurer¿s references ¿ explore these issues. In the end, I highly recommend this a book because it is definitely worth reading for anyone who is a vegetarian, considering becoming one, or just interested about the lifestyle.
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Posted May 22, 2012
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