THE BUTCHER & THE VEGETARIAN by Tara Austen Weaver

THE BUTCHER & THE VEGETARIAN

One Woman’s Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis
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KIRKUS REVIEW

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, from heart-searching to heart-gladdening.

Pub Date: Feb. 9th, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60529-996-9
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Rodale
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2009