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The strange, disquieting, and sometimes delicious story of humanity’s love affair with meat In Meathooked, Marta Zaraska explores what she calls the “meat paradox.” Scientific journals overflow with reports on the hazards producing and eating meat pose to the environment and our bodies—yet nothing has prompted us to give up our hamburgers and steaks. Why do we love meat to The strange, disquieting, and sometimes delicious story of humanity’s love affair with meat In Meathooked, Marta Zaraska explores what she calls the “meat paradox.” Scientific journals overflow with reports on the hazards producing and eating meat pose to the environment and our bodies—yet nothing has prompted us to give up our hamburgers and steaks. Why do we love meat to so much that we’re happy to let it kill us? In this witty tour of our love affair with meat, Zaraska takes us to India’s unusual steakhouses, animal sacrifices at temples in Benin, and labs in the Netherlands that grow meat in petri dishess. From the power of advertising to the influence of the meat lobby, and from our genetic makeup to the traditions of our foremothers, she reveals the interplay of forces that keep us hooked on animal protein. Explaining one of the most enduring features of human civilization, Zaraska shows why meat-eating will continue to shape our bodies and our world into the foreseeable future. Kirkus Reviews: "A well-researched, refreshingly optimistic look at a serious issue, free of ideological preconceptions." Mark Kurlansky, bestselling author of Salt and Cod : "Sometimes the secret is asking the right questions. By examining the positive and negative history of meat rather than vegetarianism Marta Zaraska leads us to a thoughtful and broad array of issues. Meathooked is a book people need to read." Richard Wrangham, Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University and author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human: "Meathooked bursts with interest all the way from Pleistocene ecology to the politics of modern food production. But Meathooked is more than just a fast-paced tour of the quirks of human carnivory. It is also a well-researched plea for nutritional sanity and ecological common-sense. Marta Zaraska's sparkling argument for a future with a reduced reliance on meat deserves wide attention." Neal D. Barnard, MD, FACC Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: "This is a book to devour! Meticulously researched and written with a sense of humor, Meathooked illuminates the peculiar love affair that so many people have with meat. How did it start, why is it so pervasive, and inevitably, why does the love affair end badly--from a health standpoint--for so many people?" David Robinson Simon, Author of Meatonomics: How the Rigged Economics of Meat and Dairy Make You Consume Too Much: "We know producing and consuming it is terrible for us, the planet, and billions of farm animals, so what keeps people hooked on meat? Marta Zaraska's fascinating Meathooked provides a lively, compelling look at the many reasons humans are addicted to animal protein. Whether you're a vegan, a hardcore meat-lover, or somewhere in between, this book will help you better understand why you and your loved ones eat what you do." Hal Herzog, Professor of Psychology at Western Carolina University and author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals "From the role of meat in the evolution of the human brain to the last meals of death row inmates, from vegan sexuality to why we don’t eat carnivores, Meathooked is a beautifully written and scientifically sound exploration of the complicated relationship between humans and meat. Like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, vegetarians and meat eaters alike will find this book an engaging, provocative ride. And along the way, Marta Zaraska makes an utterly convincing case that our planet cannot survive our growing addiction to animal flesh." Christopher Leonard, author of The Meat Racket, The Secret Takeover of America's Food Business "Meathooked is a fascinating, and often surprising, exploration of the human carnivore. At every step of the way, the story of meat eating is more interesting and more complicated than you'd expect. Zaraska provides convincing, and provocative, evidence that we eat meat today for reasons that few people would imagine. It has less to do with nutrition than with culture, marketing, taste and habit. This is a book that every meat eater should read."


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The strange, disquieting, and sometimes delicious story of humanity’s love affair with meat In Meathooked, Marta Zaraska explores what she calls the “meat paradox.” Scientific journals overflow with reports on the hazards producing and eating meat pose to the environment and our bodies—yet nothing has prompted us to give up our hamburgers and steaks. Why do we love meat to The strange, disquieting, and sometimes delicious story of humanity’s love affair with meat In Meathooked, Marta Zaraska explores what she calls the “meat paradox.” Scientific journals overflow with reports on the hazards producing and eating meat pose to the environment and our bodies—yet nothing has prompted us to give up our hamburgers and steaks. Why do we love meat to so much that we’re happy to let it kill us? In this witty tour of our love affair with meat, Zaraska takes us to India’s unusual steakhouses, animal sacrifices at temples in Benin, and labs in the Netherlands that grow meat in petri dishess. From the power of advertising to the influence of the meat lobby, and from our genetic makeup to the traditions of our foremothers, she reveals the interplay of forces that keep us hooked on animal protein. Explaining one of the most enduring features of human civilization, Zaraska shows why meat-eating will continue to shape our bodies and our world into the foreseeable future. Kirkus Reviews: "A well-researched, refreshingly optimistic look at a serious issue, free of ideological preconceptions." Mark Kurlansky, bestselling author of Salt and Cod : "Sometimes the secret is asking the right questions. By examining the positive and negative history of meat rather than vegetarianism Marta Zaraska leads us to a thoughtful and broad array of issues. Meathooked is a book people need to read." Richard Wrangham, Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University and author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human: "Meathooked bursts with interest all the way from Pleistocene ecology to the politics of modern food production. But Meathooked is more than just a fast-paced tour of the quirks of human carnivory. It is also a well-researched plea for nutritional sanity and ecological common-sense. Marta Zaraska's sparkling argument for a future with a reduced reliance on meat deserves wide attention." Neal D. Barnard, MD, FACC Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: "This is a book to devour! Meticulously researched and written with a sense of humor, Meathooked illuminates the peculiar love affair that so many people have with meat. How did it start, why is it so pervasive, and inevitably, why does the love affair end badly--from a health standpoint--for so many people?" David Robinson Simon, Author of Meatonomics: How the Rigged Economics of Meat and Dairy Make You Consume Too Much: "We know producing and consuming it is terrible for us, the planet, and billions of farm animals, so what keeps people hooked on meat? Marta Zaraska's fascinating Meathooked provides a lively, compelling look at the many reasons humans are addicted to animal protein. Whether you're a vegan, a hardcore meat-lover, or somewhere in between, this book will help you better understand why you and your loved ones eat what you do." Hal Herzog, Professor of Psychology at Western Carolina University and author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals "From the role of meat in the evolution of the human brain to the last meals of death row inmates, from vegan sexuality to why we don’t eat carnivores, Meathooked is a beautifully written and scientifically sound exploration of the complicated relationship between humans and meat. Like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, vegetarians and meat eaters alike will find this book an engaging, provocative ride. And along the way, Marta Zaraska makes an utterly convincing case that our planet cannot survive our growing addiction to animal flesh." Christopher Leonard, author of The Meat Racket, The Secret Takeover of America's Food Business "Meathooked is a fascinating, and often surprising, exploration of the human carnivore. At every step of the way, the story of meat eating is more interesting and more complicated than you'd expect. Zaraska provides convincing, and provocative, evidence that we eat meat today for reasons that few people would imagine. It has less to do with nutrition than with culture, marketing, taste and habit. This is a book that every meat eater should read."

30 review for Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat

  1. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    4.5 stars -- Have you ever just wondered, “Meat, WTF?” What is it about meat that makes even the most intelligent and erudite people suddenly drop to single-digit IQ levels when they discuss it—as memorably illustrated by this comic? Why do so many Americans go from the bypass surgery table right back to the steakhouse—the equivalent of a throat cancer victim inhaling cigarette smoke through his stoma? According to the USDA, in 2011 we ate an average of sixty-one pounds more of meat than we did 4.5 stars -- Have you ever just wondered, “Meat, WTF?” What is it about meat that makes even the most intelligent and erudite people suddenly drop to single-digit IQ levels when they discuss it—as memorably illustrated by this comic? Why do so many Americans go from the bypass surgery table right back to the steakhouse—the equivalent of a throat cancer victim inhaling cigarette smoke through his stoma? According to the USDA, in 2011 we ate an average of sixty-one pounds more of meat than we did in 1951—that’s about 122 average eight-ounce steaks a year more, despite all the accumulating warnings about cancer, diabetes, and heart disease and despite the fact that the first of these warnings came as early as the 1960s. What about the legions of animal lovers, who seem to be one enraged social media post away from taking up arms on behalf of gorillas or kittens, all so strangely silent on by far the biggest killer of animals of them all… It’s not that we don’t feel empathy toward farm animals or like seeing them suffer. On some level, it does disturb us, and that’s precisely why we engage in elaborate mental exercises to avoid feeling guilty over all the harm these cows, pigs, and chickens are fated to suffer. And then there are the environmentalists, who, as the film Cowspiracy memorably showed us, won’t dare discuss the meat issue even under great duress… But there is one thing that, in theory, is very easy to do—much easier than, say, inventing solar-powered cars—and that would greatly reduce carbon emissions, slow global warming, and improve our chances of survival. That thing is to go vegetarian. And yet, we don’t want to give up meat, New York City be damned. Marta Zaraska is not a vegetarian herself, despite some reviews that have stated otherwise. She’s an omnivore who nonetheless eats far less meat than the average person. Unlike most, however, she’s willing to take a hard look at the meat industry and the culture that keeps it afloat, resulting in this fascinating, highly readable book. One of the common arguments made by modern omnis is that we have been eating meat for most of human history. This is indeed true. (Problematic when you think about all of the other things we’ve been doing since the dawn of time, as well—like killing each other.) Zaraska takes us on a tour of scientific speculation about how and why early humans began eating other animals. However, before the Paleo dieters start weighing in, she cautions: We shouldn’t assume that just because a diet is “ancient” it must be good. … Cavemen didn’t exactly lead idyllic lives. Their preserved skeletons tell us they suffered from arthritis, gum diseases, deformed limbs, and cancer. Yes, having an omnivorous diet rather than a specialized one helped humans spread across the planet, but does it apply to our modern situation? What the history of our meat eating can teach us is that our ancestors were highly adaptable. We are not meat eaters by nature as much as we are opportunists…Fruits were best for [ancient humans] at some points in the past; meat was best at others…instead of looking for a perfect and “natural” diet from the past, start looking for one that would be best for right here and right now. (And folks, stop pointing at your pathetic teeth and pronouncing yourself a mighty carnivore. Canine teeth, the author details, are a common component of most mammalian mouths; even such peaceable critters as deer and horses have them. True carnivores sport carnassial teeth—Fluffy and Fido have them, but we do not. Your Shih Tzu is more of a flesh-ripper than you are.) The manner in which we produce over 90% of the animal foods found on supermarket shelves is no longer a mystery. No matter how much we wish to pretend, most people in the industrialized Western world are now at least somewhat familiar with what is known as “factory farming.” For the more affluent, this has helped boost the sales of so-called “happy meat”—still just a tiny fraction of the livestock industry. Free-range farm animals live more natural lives, but we know such farms can’t supply the meat demands of modern America. Not only is there simply not enough land on which to raise all of the animals, but as the author details, many Americans are disappointed with their first bite. A majority of Americans don’t actually like the taste of grass-fed beef: it’s too strong for them, too gamey, and some have even described it as “fishy.” In addition, pigs raised naturally in a forest setting, rooting for acorns, create flesh that is unpleasant to modern palettes. “As a result, the original American pork couldn’t compare with corn-fed industrial pigs.” Even the supposed happiest meat of all, Kobe beef, is mainly about marketing and careful selection of high-quality cuts rather than any fanciful stories of cattle sipping beer and getting massages. You may have heard that the secret of Kobe beef lies in the way the cows are pampered. … But it’s all a myth—at least as genuine Japanese Kobe goes. According to the official website of the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association: “There have been almost no cases of cows being raised on beer,” and “massage itself neither softens meat nor increases the amount of marbling.” At the end of it all, “free farmed” animals go to regular USDA slaughterhouses along with their far more numerous factory-farmed counterparts. What is their last day like? [B]ig “processing plants” (meat industry lingo), which can “harvest” (an industry euphemism for “kill”) about 400 cows, 1,000 hogs, or 46,000 chickens per hour. Every day in the US, 24 million farm animals walk down [slaughterhouse] ramps…or are put on conveyor belts that air-lift them to the killing floor. That’s as much as the human population of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, and Dallas combined. About 9 billion animals per year in the US alone. 24 million PER DAY…and yet compare this to the 4 million cats and dogs per year euthanized at animal shelters, which provoke endless campaigns, petitions, and even threats to shelter administrators…by many of the same people who consume those 9 billion without pause. Chances are, you have heard people complaining about meat that doesn’t taste good. It turns out you can’t only blame the cook: You probably have seen quite a few examples of that problem on supermarket shelves: these are the packages of meat that have accumulated a pool of bloodish slop at the bottom of the Styrofoam tray. That slop, called purge or weep by the industry, is a solution of water and proteins—and a sign that the meat may have come from an animal that suffered more than average. To avoid this unappetizing sight, meat producers add absorbent pads at the bottom of containers to soak up the liquid. It may work to make the product look better, but…it will likely end up tough and dry. … Next time you cook a piece of pork that is pale pink and tastes quite bad, you may well assume it came from a pig that suffered acute stress right before it got killed. Further, [C]hances are good that if you buy a piece of meat in the US and, after cooking it, discover it is not as succulent as you expected, it came from an animal raised with the help of beta-adrenergic agonists. Seventy percent of US cattle are given such drugs to promote growth. These animals often truly suffer. Animals are telling us a story through their remains, it turns out, but we aren’t recognizing it. Food industry scientists are always searching for ways to make their food more appealing, but this is much harder to do when the food was once a sentient being, and people are still expecting their cheapo McBreakfast. Though there are many ways to lessen the stress of farm animals, they are often just not cost efficient. … In a better world, all meat would be juicy, tender, and tasty---and still affordable. That’s not the world we live in, or a world in which we will live in any near future. Although the taste of meat is important, for now it’s price, not quality, that matters more in keeping us hooked on meat—no matter how much we’d like to believe otherwise. How much of our craving for meat is innate, and how much is the result of advertising and environment? Industry lobbyists and big corporations “spend billions of dollars a year on lobbying and promotion so that we don’t lose our appetites for animal protein.” They even fund research studies that cast their products in a positive light and will increase demand. So for example, that news headline that trumpets that bacon is healthy, after all? Who funded the research behind it? Even if the fruit and vegetable producers did unite, their sales would still be much smaller than those of the meat industry: in 2011, for example, all vegetables, fruits, and nuts combined made just over $45 billion in farm cash receipts. That’s almost four times less than the livestock producers earned. … Who has the power to convince you to love their foods and to eat more and more of them? Not the chickpea industry, that’s for sure. Our government expends tremendous resources keeping meat everywhere and low in initial costs…and relies on the human impulse to not think about how we are absorbing the hidden costs through or tax dollars and medical bills. If it wasn’t for subsidies, we would be paying considerably more for our steaks and drumsticks. That would quite likely dampen our love affair with meat. … There are hidden costs to meat production that, instead of being paid by producers, are paid by taxpayers as part of what some call “subsidies by omission,” and these costs are quite substantial. In a darkly humorous yet sadly typical story, the author discusses what happened when a sign in a Congressional cafeteria advertised “Meatless Monday” as one of the meal options for that day. That was enough for the meat industry to raise an outcry. … [T]he Farm Animal Welfare Coalition, a group that includes some of the nation’s largest farm and ranch organizations, issued a statement to the House Administration Committee, protesting the appearance of the sign. … On the following Monday…the “Meatless Monday” sign at the Longworth cafeteria was gone. It has never appeared again. Gotta love that 1984-esque doublespeak in the name of the lobbying group. Cutting down on the amount of meat eaten would indeed promote animal welfare, by reducing the numbers of animals bred on crowded factory farms and slowing the breakneck pace of slaughter lines, but we all know that’s not what they’re really about. And if you’ve ever wondered about how meat is most often advertised… Selling meat with advertising comes with a few simple rules of thumb. “Don’t show animals” is a major one. A study done in Europe found out that it’s better to avoid using any photos or even drawings of cows, pigs, or chickens, no matter how cute. … In other words: They don’t want you to think about the animal too much or you may lose your appetite. Of course, human culture also keeps most of us hooked on meat. It carries with it a tremendous social aspect. Sharing meals is valued around the world, whether it’s Thanksgiving turkey in America or dog stew in South Korea. Across cultures, meat also carries powerful symbolism. 21st-century men may feel they are losing their power and dominance, and they want it back. … Other researchers, too, point to this “crisis of masculinity” and see eating meat as a symbol of returning to manhood’s roots. … [Meat] symbolizes our power over nature. To chew and swallow other highly evolved organisms, one that can feel and fight and bleed, is to show our human superiority. We can kill you. We can eat you. … With such potent symbolism behind it, it’s no wonder we stay hooked on meat. We humans like power, and that’s precisely what meat stands for. This is, perhaps, why even people who are being slowly killed by their diets still dig in their heels about meat. Heart disease may have taken away your comfort and mobility, but by god, you can still be a powerful caveman when you cut that steak. As Carol J. Adams detailed in her book LIVING AMONG MEAT EATERS, there is a lot going on when a veg*n sits down at a table with omnivores. Veg*ns everywhere no doubt have plenty of stories about playing Defensive Omnivore Bingo. Studies show that a mere exposure to a plant eater (as opposed to any other dieter) puts omnivores on edge and causes cognitive dissonance, turning on a set of psychological mechanisms that ends up allowing meat eaters to double down on their carnivory. … [I]t’s enough for omnivores to face vegetarians, or even just think about them, for their meat-related cognitive dissonance to kick in. It’s an unpleasant feeling, so to push it away, they shift the attention to the vegetarian. Bust here’s the secret, guys—your brother-in-law who’s pounding on the table with his fists and comparing himself to a lion? “A recent experiment showed that people actually argue more fervently when they are less confident about their dietary choices.” [B]elittling of animals made the meat eaters feel better, … Thus, we convince ourselves that cows are stupid, cannot perceive much pain anyway, and cannot suffer. This helps us escape the cognitive dissonance and enjoy the roasts and steaks on our plates. … We may believe that we choose to eat only the dumbest of animals, ones that cannot much comprehend what’s happening to them anyway, but that is simply not true. If there was anything to it, then we should be making bacon out of dogs, not pigs. And those Defensive Omnivore Bingos are sex-linked, too: While men are more likely to denigrate animals as a dissonance-reducing technique, women often prefer not to think about the animal at all and disconnect living creatures from the food on their plates: scientists call this approach “disassociation.” I’ve found this to hold true. I’ve encountered tons of women who use the excuses, “I just don’t think about it,” “Oh, don’t tell me that!” or “I don’t eat that much meat anyway,” and very few men who use them. Perhaps that’s why BBQs, traditionally the domain of men, so universally use imagery of dumb-looking cartoon animals roasting themselves or offering up parts of their dead brethren. Why do some people seem to absolutely hate fruits and vegetables? Diet is, of course, an aspect of values and culture that we pass on to the youngest generations. Children take cues from their parents when it comes to food—if you eat junk, they will eat junk. Even a parent just making an unpleasant face at vegetables will influence kids’ attitudes. Inborn traits may also help explain why some people gravitate toward plant-centered diets and others eat bologna sandwiches every day. One is openness to new experiences—those who are more open are more likely to go vegetarian. Other people seem to possess tastebuds that register many veggies as bitter and unpleasant. Indeed, vegetarian foods are still battling a century-old stereotype. “Vegetarian food was one of the main reasons why the 19th-century vegetarian movement didn’t attract the masses. Simply put, it was bad: bland, overcooked, unseasoned,” the author notes. Today, good plant-based meals are an explosion of color and flavor, but many omnis still cling to the images of wilty iceberg lettuce and mushy, boiled-to-death carrots. Bust of course, veg*ns don’t just eat vegetables. There are fruits, grains, legumes, nuts…and meat alternative products. I had to chuckle when the author began discussing the wonderful world of faux meats, which can admittedly be a bit confusing to the outsider. You see, I am an herbivore who adores vegan meat. In fact, I ate meals that included a sliced Tofurky and Yves bologna club sandwich, Gardein fishless filets, and Whole Foods’ this-would-fool-an-omni General Tso’s vegan chicken while reading this book. (Yes, I ate plenty of more traditional plant-based foods as well.) These products are not “transitionary” foods for me. When I first became a vegetarian, meat alternatives were few and far between and many were not very good. Nor do I wish I was really eating animals. So why do I eat vegan meats? For the same reason omnis eat animal meats—I like the taste. As the author says, “Once you start using veggie beef or chicken, they become a habit themselves. So you buy more, no matter whether you crave the taste of meat or not at all.” Despite the fact that they are of a higher quality and variety than ever before, and that many can and do fool omnis, vegan meats still have a bad reputation. … “In 2011, sales of meat substitutes in the US totaled just .2 percent of what Americans paid to get their meat.” It seems that many omnis can eat tough, dry, and tasteless meat all of the time and still not lose their appetite for animal foods, yet at the same time have tried a veggieburger they didn’t like twenty years ago and use it as a basis for irrationally hating all vegan meats. However, [M]ost of us eat meat substitutes already. If you consume sausages and other processed meats, meat-lover pizzas and ready-to-eat meals, you consume quite a lot of soy protein, often used to extend the meat in such products. Many of us are already aware that as the developing world rapidity industrializes, they are embracing Western-style diets, as well. And just as we are exporting our eating habits, we are exporting all of the chronic diseases that go along with them, too. [N]owadays, steakhouses are all the rage in wealthy, metro India. What’s more, India has recently taken over Australia as the world’s second-largest exporter of beef—after Brazil. … With 2.5 billion people in India and China alone, Asia’s growing appetite for meat spells trouble not only for the animals but also for the health of Asians—and of our planet. We’ve been collectively horrified as we watch the food industry-related outbreaks of disease in the developing world, such as bird flu and SARS. As the author notes, “It’s the sheer scale of the industry’s growth that causes these problems. When it comes to animal products, China in many respects has more stringent safety regulations than the US does.” Clearly, something’s gotta give. Already, 33 percent of the world’s arable land is being used to grow feed for livestock. If the 9.3 billion people who will likely be here in 2050 all want an American diet, we would need almost 4.5 times more meat than we produced in 2014 and about as much more milk … Yes, we are bit of a planet short here. Calorie-dense and symbolism-heavy meat served us well in the past, but it won’t in the future. Unlike those of many other species, the human digestive system is flexible. Our diets have changed radically throughout history, and will continue to do so. Potatoes, tomatoes, pizza, white bread, lobster, and yogurt were all once rejected as strange, unappetizing, or even poisonous at various points in our history. A plant-based diet or even laboratory-grown animal protein may seem unappealing to most now, but things can change. As the author details, it must change, if our time on this planet is to continue.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    This book means well but gets a little confused in its purpose, and a little too Marta Zaraska-centric. I like what she’s trying to do here, and she partially succeeds, but she’s peculiarly biased. On the one hand, she clearly wants to see more vegetarianism. On the other, she really wants to say that vegetarians can eat meat, too. I’m going to get a little crazy here and say that those two desires stem from the fact that she’s an omnivore who inexplicably calls herself a vegetarian. You eat fis This book means well but gets a little confused in its purpose, and a little too Marta Zaraska-centric. I like what she’s trying to do here, and she partially succeeds, but she’s peculiarly biased. On the one hand, she clearly wants to see more vegetarianism. On the other, she really wants to say that vegetarians can eat meat, too. I’m going to get a little crazy here and say that those two desires stem from the fact that she’s an omnivore who inexplicably calls herself a vegetarian. You eat fish. You eat beef. You eat insects. You ain’t a vegetarian, my friend. She clearly *wants* to be but essentially says she doesn’t have the willpower to resist meat despite feeling guilty. So she spends some time talking about how certain alleles or environmental factors predispose an individual to be more or less able to resist the lure of meat. And how 78% of how much we like meat/fish is heritable (therefore, she seems to say, not our fault if we like it). Or she cites a bunch of surveys saying that 66% of vegetarians have eaten meat in the past 24 hours and that, in fact, the average amount of meat a day for a vegetarian is 1 serving. (I can only assume this is mostly due to health vegetarians not really understanding what the word “vegetarian” means). On the other hand, she clearly feels good about the fact that she’s a vegetarian (in spite of not...being… vegetarian). Because in other ways, this book is like one big pat on the back to vegetarians, let’s be real here. It’s filled with studies demonstrating that vegetarians score higher on empathy, IQ, and openness to experience, and how they smell better than meat-eaters. That sort of thing. It’s just a little tedious, because at the point the book feels less informative/appealing to the general public and more, like, what Zaraska should put in her personal diary. Still, I learned some fun things. Like, -I got introduced to the scientific nomenclatural miracle that are penis worms. -The reason meat-eating led to brain development in humanoid species was not that the brain was “fed” by the meat (something meat eaters have claimed to me in the past as justification for the continuance of meat-eating) but that eating high-calorie food like meat (versus many many pounds of low-calorie roughage) allowed our guts to shrink, reducing the amount of energy they required, and allowing more nutrients to be redirected from our previously expanded gut to our brains. Given the high-calorie non-meat foods easily accessible (peanut butter, oils, etc.) we wouldn’t have to worry about “devolving” if we stopped eating meat, as a species. -The Bible forbids eating horsemeat, and a 9th c. Irish handbook for confessors requires that horse-eaters do penance for 3.5yrs- longer than the penance required for lesbian sex. -“Another major reason why vegetarians turn back into carnivores is lack of social support. A typical ex-vegetarian is a young woman who has just moved in with her meat-eating boyfriend. It’s difficult to be the odd one, the one who has to explain all the time, argue, and convince.” Aha, see, that’s why you do what I did and find a nice partner who goes vegetarian for you instead of the other way around. It’s a mixed bag of a book. It’ll probably annoy you a lot whether you’re carnivorous, omnivorous, flexitarian, vegetarian, freegan, or vegan. But it’s not devoid of worth.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Will

    I heard about Meathooked from an article in Psychology Today and it piqued my interest. It was fascinating to read about cultural and societal 'obsessions' with meat. Zaraska delves into history spanning thousands of years ago, explaining how our ancestors came to eat meat and why it's something we still do today (status/wealth). She also touches on the perceptions of vegetarian/vegans by meat-eaters (it's not positive), goes into some detail about the meat industry in the U.S., and explains the m I heard about Meathooked from an article in Psychology Today and it piqued my interest. It was fascinating to read about cultural and societal 'obsessions' with meat. Zaraska delves into history spanning thousands of years ago, explaining how our ancestors came to eat meat and why it's something we still do today (status/wealth). She also touches on the perceptions of vegetarian/vegans by meat-eaters (it's not positive), goes into some detail about the meat industry in the U.S., and explains the meat situation in developing countries. There is also discussion about the ethics behind eating certain animals (pigs/cows in U.S., dogs in South Korea) and people needing to justify it by downplaying the species intelligence and cognitive abilities. For example, people in the U.S. might say pigs and chickens are not as smart as dogs (but that is not a true statement) to justify eating an intelligent animal. Yet if you tried getting an American to eat dog they would recoil and argue against it. I found the book informative overall and it reaffirmed the decision I made years ago to stop eating land meat.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Martin Rowe

    This genial, well-written, entertaining, and well-researched gallop through millennia of meat eating looks not only at the biological reasons why almost all of us are drawn to meat-eating but also at the symbolic and cultural reasons for our obsession with animal protein. Zaraska combines on-the-ground reporting and one-on-one interviews with fair-minded analyses of the cases for and against. She herself, she admits, is a vegetarian who lapses quite a bit, but it's clear she's sympathetic to ani This genial, well-written, entertaining, and well-researched gallop through millennia of meat eating looks not only at the biological reasons why almost all of us are drawn to meat-eating but also at the symbolic and cultural reasons for our obsession with animal protein. Zaraska combines on-the-ground reporting and one-on-one interviews with fair-minded analyses of the cases for and against. She herself, she admits, is a vegetarian who lapses quite a bit, but it's clear she's sympathetic to animal welfare and, rightly, sounds the alarm over the environmental and human health consequences should the entire world eat the amount of meat that Americans do. The book has its blindspots—almost nothing on the dairy industry, (over)fishing, forest loss, and desertification. Nonetheless, MEATHOOKED offers a generous view of the several options humans have in the future in reducing meat consumption (fake meat, cultured meat, insects, etc.) while calling for a paradigm shift on how we humans symbolize meat as strength, masculinity, and political and social power and status. I recommend it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Keith Akers

    A well-written and informative book, even when you don’t completely agree with it, is easy to review. This book fills the bill. Thank you, Marta Zaraska, for keeping us up to snuff on the issues. She also manages not to upset anyone, steering away from nasty little confrontations with vegetarian sensibilities. So, vegans, you can relax; your ethical sensibilities will not be sullied. Zaraska provides the flip side of the “why are you vegetarian?” discussion — “why do you eat meat?” The author is A well-written and informative book, even when you don’t completely agree with it, is easy to review. This book fills the bill. Thank you, Marta Zaraska, for keeping us up to snuff on the issues. She also manages not to upset anyone, steering away from nasty little confrontations with vegetarian sensibilities. So, vegans, you can relax; your ethical sensibilities will not be sullied. Zaraska provides the flip side of the “why are you vegetarian?” discussion — “why do you eat meat?” The author isn’t looking for, or trying to dissect, rational arguments for meat-eating — she’s just looking for an explanation or a cause for this behavior. Why do people eat meat, when there are so many obvious problems with meat consumption, like disease, animal suffering, expense, and so forth? The answer is two-fold: (1) how meat-eating got started and then (2) how it was perpetuated thereafter. How it got started was not about “keeping stomachs full,” but “about showing off, politics, and sex” (p. 27) in early hunter-gatherer societies. Then after it was established, it was perpetuated through a variety of different ways. The first and perhaps most important is just that it tasted good; because of “meat hunger,” the taste of meat, or “umami” (something not unique to meat, but which meat has in abundance). Then there’s advertising, the symbolism of meat, tradition, and status. There may also be a biological component; perhaps we inherit our tastes, literally and biologically, from our parents, as well as through socialization. Minor complaints: when she tries to explain protein, she says that beans do not have methionine (p. 47). Oh yes, they do. Didn’t Neal Barnard (who wrote a glowing endorsement of the book) tell you that? Another minor complaint: her discussion of Jesus’ vegetarianism can only invoke Robert Eisenman (p. 123), whose bizarre ideas about the Jesus movement (making Jesus into a militarist advocating violence against the Romans) have convinced almost no one. What about Hans-Joachin Schoeps, the vegetarianism of the Ebionites, and the pseudo-Clementine literature? Even if you didn’t want to mention my book (The Lost Religion of Jesus: Simple Living and Nonviolence in Early Christianity), this would have been a much better scholar to emulate and argument to discuss. However, even though entertaining, informative, and well-written, I do not think she has answered the question of why we eat meat. She has answered the second part of the question pretty well — how and why meat-eating was perpetuated, once it was established. What she has not explained is how it got started. Meat-eating was about keeping stomachs full. Hunting was the quickest, most energy-efficient way to keep those stomachs full, quicker than just gathering plants. In energy terms, it was easier to kill something than to grow or gather something. That’s why hunting spread as an early human strategy. Once they had figured out spears and fire, humans had a unique strategy that enabled them to dominate any food scene that they entered. Tribes that survived by hunting had a lot of surplus social energy; energy which could then be used to solve other problems. Suppose that hunting were not energy-efficient. It’s great that meat tastes good, but if it takes additional energy to your calories by hunting animals, humans wouldn’t have done it. If some tribes did hunt for food anyway, they would have been out-competed by other tribes that used the presumably more efficient method of gathering plants. Eventually, this hunting strategy exhausted itself; humans hunted all the easy-to-get animals to extinction, which explains the wave of large-animal extinctions that followed every place that humans went. In Australia, North America, and South America, over 2/3 of all megafauna species were rendered extinct in a relatively short period of time after humans appeared on the scene. After these extinctions, humans had no choice but to develop agriculture, a different and much more time-intensive food strategy. This was a good book and a great discussion-starter for vegetarians and vegans trying to advance their cause.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    So everything that they taught me in high school biology back in the early 1960's about taste was completely wrong. Especially upon the types and structures of the tongue that perceive the differences. It isn't the only field in which there have been 180 degree turn-around in the that period of time. Loved this read! It was as enjoyable as a good and intriguing fiction flow- and did not read as the highly defined scientifically based material that it holds. Those books can often be stilted and dr So everything that they taught me in high school biology back in the early 1960's about taste was completely wrong. Especially upon the types and structures of the tongue that perceive the differences. It isn't the only field in which there have been 180 degree turn-around in the that period of time. Loved this read! It was as enjoyable as a good and intriguing fiction flow- and did not read as the highly defined scientifically based material that it holds. Those books can often be stilted and dry. This was not. Although the book is more or less divided into scientific attachments for humans to meat and cultural attachments for humans to meat- I did appreciate both parts to an almost equal degree. But I did think the first half of the book, scientific survey of humans and meat, was nearly 5 star. While the second cultural approach and insight to differences and cognition about meat, closer to a 4 star level. Why? Because in Zaraska's contrast and compare comparisons of different continents or various climates understandings of what is "acceptable to eat" meat; IMHO, the cause and effect she concludes are more highly her own cultural opinion than any cut in stone reality or progression for the future. I love meat. At points trying to cut down or eliminating for certain time periods, it was far, far harder for me than any quitting to smoking, for instance. Umami is exactly what I crave. The Japanese defining of that precise characteristic and its composite, one of the high points of the book. Also how we have different taste capacities and tolerances for more than a few different substances. By the 4th day of no meat, I feel prepared to just about eat my own arm. And I don't think it is common, but it is not, any longer absolutely uncommon either. Loving kale, spinach, all lettuces, nearly every vegetable imaginable of other cultures than mine, I still crave meat. And I got more than a few answers in this book, why that is my case. As I was exposed to many meats which are non-cultural for my location from birth, and lived behind a vegetable and Mom & Pop store for my first decade, I don't believe my great love of meat is cultural either. And I have a daughter who eats little meat and has disliked it from baby-hood. To the point that others in her household won't even let her cook the meat they eat, because she ruins it. And that is exactly the point of vegan, vegetarian and other eating patterns that Zaraska questions in this book. What reasons for the dislike or negating to eating meat? They are not all philosophical, nor religious, nor any cognitive process based in some cases. There are also tests she poses here to find out what kind of a taster you are. Non-taster, mid-taster, or high-taster. Our tongues and capacities are physically different, as some of our tolerances for milk or lactose products are, as well. This book also taught me a lot about beef. Why I do NOT like what many others do and what cultural influences have trodden upon my preferences. And most peoples. For instance, grass fed beef does not appeal to me past the first few bites. If you are a cook too, read this book. (OH yes, freezing matters.) Or are highly interested in what, where of purchased meat. For numerous animals too. Or find meat very changed from the periods of your former or young life- this is well worth a read. Even if you are a member of the meat police and have been vegan for 20 or 40 years, this book is truly an educational read. At least 20 facts I did not know or surmise in any previous searching, appeared here. And since I have witnessed Chicago Stockyards in its prime and an era when meat was handled quite differently to additional processing, it was 5 star in those answers for present day context. Processed meat-like products made from soy, grains etc. If you are interested in those progressions, that's here too. Lastly, I just have to add- the standing rib roast on the cover! All it needs is some mushrooms lightly sauteed in butter.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Radiantflux

    50th book for 2016. This is a short, readable account giving lots of possible reasons why people continue to eat meat despite knowing that it is unhealthy, is destroying the environment, and (obviously) problematic from an animal rights perspective. One quibble: The author describes herself as a vegetarian who, a few times a year guiltily eats bacon, and regularly eats fish (without guilt?). From purely a semantic point of view this a little irritating. She isn't a vegetarian, she is someone who a 50th book for 2016. This is a short, readable account giving lots of possible reasons why people continue to eat meat despite knowing that it is unhealthy, is destroying the environment, and (obviously) problematic from an animal rights perspective. One quibble: The author describes herself as a vegetarian who, a few times a year guiltily eats bacon, and regularly eats fish (without guilt?). From purely a semantic point of view this a little irritating. She isn't a vegetarian, she is someone who avoids (mostly) eating pigs, cows etc. It is pretty clear from reading the text that she would like to be a vegetarian though (which is probably why she already labels herself that) and so this book can be read (in part) as an exploration of why she finds it so hard to live up to a certain ideal. There are some genuinely interesting facts here. The story of the introduction of horse meat to Europe and the Pink Revolution in India, are fascinating; as was the story of super-tasters and their love of a meat-sweet diet, and the idea that non-tasters (who are more likely to like bitter/sour plants) are perhaps more likely to be vegan. I do, however, have trouble accepting (as a 30-year vegetarian/vegan) the central thesis of the book that meat really is so addictive. Apart from a few pangs for Chinese pork buns I never looked back. Of the vegetarians/vegans I know, none of them lust after meat. What I find interesting, is all the vegetarians I know say that they can't go vegan because they love cheese too much (and some of vegans I know still talk sadly after many years of giving up cheese). Cheese really seems hard for people to give up (as opposed to say eggs/milk etc). But if cheese is so hard to give up, I really don't know what to make of the arguments of the book. Sure meat can be considered its own special thing, but I suspect the central reasons vegetarians have trouble going vegan may well be the same ones meat eaters have making the initial set to vegetarianism. Overall, an interesting book, with many ideas worth following up in greater depth.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    If you're a Mary Roach fan, you'll enjoy this. Zaraska infuses her facts with humor and anecdotes, using a style that entertains as much as it informs. She didn't shy away from the horrors of the meat industry, but she presented them in an almost clinical way, removing emotion from the equation to ensure as unbiased an account as possible. It's rare to find a book that encourages you to reflect on your decisions without making you feel judged, and I think Meathooked just about nailed that balanc If you're a Mary Roach fan, you'll enjoy this. Zaraska infuses her facts with humor and anecdotes, using a style that entertains as much as it informs. She didn't shy away from the horrors of the meat industry, but she presented them in an almost clinical way, removing emotion from the equation to ensure as unbiased an account as possible. It's rare to find a book that encourages you to reflect on your decisions without making you feel judged, and I think Meathooked just about nailed that balance. Definitely a contender for my favorite book read in 2016!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    While this is written by a vegetarian and concludes with the prediction that worldwide we'll shift toward that, it's an intriguing, upbeat look at our fascination with meat. I particularly enjoyed the history and the cross-cultural examination of meat eating around the world. (No dog for me, thanks.) It's not a page-turning but there's certainly a narrative drive; it's well-researched and so accessible/engaging and filled with anecdotes that it moves right along; issues are raised--the politics While this is written by a vegetarian and concludes with the prediction that worldwide we'll shift toward that, it's an intriguing, upbeat look at our fascination with meat. I particularly enjoyed the history and the cross-cultural examination of meat eating around the world. (No dog for me, thanks.) It's not a page-turning but there's certainly a narrative drive; it's well-researched and so accessible/engaging and filled with anecdotes that it moves right along; issues are raised--the politics and economics of raising animals to eat--but it's not didactic. Interesting microhistory. Not as offbeat as Mary Roach's titles, but solid. Pair it with Michael Pollan's books and others about the politics and economics of the way we eat.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Finding a book that is both entertaining and educational is a joy! Ms. Zaraska has done very thorough research and been meticulous in her citations, leaving no doubts about whether this is fact or just the opinion of someone with an agenda. She covers all aspects of the title subject in an easy to understand way, explaining the science so anyone can understand. She manages to do this in such a subtle manner you never suspect you are being taught a thing. Very, very readable and I highly recommen Finding a book that is both entertaining and educational is a joy! Ms. Zaraska has done very thorough research and been meticulous in her citations, leaving no doubts about whether this is fact or just the opinion of someone with an agenda. She covers all aspects of the title subject in an easy to understand way, explaining the science so anyone can understand. She manages to do this in such a subtle manner you never suspect you are being taught a thing. Very, very readable and I highly recommend this book. If you are a Mary Roach fan, you are sure to enjoy this also.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Vitor Miguel

    This is such a great book, and I've never read anything of the subject, history of meat, food, or anything close to it, but i already knew a lot about biology, and this book opened my mind for so many things, and what could've caused a lot of events that happened in biology, such as evolutionary history, and even why we eat meat - even when we are trying to stop the habit. This is the first book that I get for free, in a goodreads giveaways, and one of my favourites on the subject, including bi This is such a great book, and I've never read anything of the subject, history of meat, food, or anything close to it, but i already knew a lot about biology, and this book opened my mind for so many things, and what could've caused a lot of events that happened in biology, such as evolutionary history, and even why we eat meat - even when we are trying to stop the habit. This is the first book that I get for free, in a goodreads giveaways, and one of my favourites on the subject, including biology. I'd recommend the book for anyone who's interested on the subject.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alan D'augustine

    In an examination of the current industrialization of the majority of our meat sources; the book high points the attendant potential disastrous consequences to our health, our environment and our continuity. "Meathooked" provides a unique and unbiased historical perspective of the history of meat eating, and by comparison, the challenges and benefits of opting to follow a plant-based diet. I cannot complement the author enough. This book should be mandatory for all high school seniors... young a In an examination of the current industrialization of the majority of our meat sources; the book high points the attendant potential disastrous consequences to our health, our environment and our continuity. "Meathooked" provides a unique and unbiased historical perspective of the history of meat eating, and by comparison, the challenges and benefits of opting to follow a plant-based diet. I cannot complement the author enough. This book should be mandatory for all high school seniors... young adults about to enter the workforce and reinvent their world.

  13. 5 out of 5

    She

    This is a great book on the topic of eating meat. The author has done a ton of research and has done a nice job of compiling it all, sharing it, and keeping it interesting. I was hooked reading this book. I liked how she touched on so many aspects of why people are so "hooked" on meat, including historical, cultural, advertising, etc. As someone who has been a vegetarian (one that doesn't sneak meat as discussed in the book) for over 20 years, I found this book to be quite interesting and though This is a great book on the topic of eating meat. The author has done a ton of research and has done a nice job of compiling it all, sharing it, and keeping it interesting. I was hooked reading this book. I liked how she touched on so many aspects of why people are so "hooked" on meat, including historical, cultural, advertising, etc. As someone who has been a vegetarian (one that doesn't sneak meat as discussed in the book) for over 20 years, I found this book to be quite interesting and thought provoking.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Britt Hemingway

    "Meathooked" is a riveting investigation of the human relationship with meat throughout history, and sheds light on the impact this relationship will have in the future. While the author states she is a vegetarian, this text is not an attempt to convince use all to be, but rather a focus on the views on meat in different countries, cultures, and time periods. It did, however, cause me to pause and consider my own diet's environmental and social impact.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Loraine

    Meathooked is a fabulous read, in part due to Ms. Zaraska's lively writing style, which she fires up with the occasional humorous quip. But what she's writing about is a very serious subject, and she's done her research. This is a book for everyone--vegans and vegetarians will be nodding their heads in agreement more often than not, but meat eaters might actually be persuaded that continued meat consumption at current levels is absolutely unsustainable.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Noe

    Highly recommend! This is a more historical and fact-driven work than others I've seen and would be a fantastic book to provide to a curious family member or friend about why you've stopped or lowered your meat eating. If you have people who are data driven rather than emotional, give them this text.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Megan

    This book really opens your eyes into the history of how we became meat eaters. It also gives an eye opening insight into problems that could arise from over consumption of meat as the world overproduced. Definitely never would have thought... (Won in a Goodreads Giveaway)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Martin

    It was an interesting book. Did it convince me to become a vegetarian? No. But I am going to try and reduce the amount of meat I eat. Even if it's only one meal per month.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tricia Friedman

    Balanced and insightful--a wonderful read for anyone exploring diet as an artifact or social act of reform for future generations.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sajith Kumar

    Most of us eat meat. Those who shun it and goes vegetarian do it out of a conscious effort, either for religious or ethical reasons. The craving for meat is felt by everybody, but the reasons for it are not so obvious. Since it contained lots of protein, which was not available as a full package from any other food, the thirst for meat was at first thought to be a physiological urge. This book dispels some of the common myths associated with eating meat. It analyses the reasons why meat is so at Most of us eat meat. Those who shun it and goes vegetarian do it out of a conscious effort, either for religious or ethical reasons. The craving for meat is felt by everybody, but the reasons for it are not so obvious. Since it contained lots of protein, which was not available as a full package from any other food, the thirst for meat was at first thought to be a physiological urge. This book dispels some of the common myths associated with eating meat. It analyses the reasons why meat is so attractive to us, which are linked to our genes, culture, history, the power of the meat industry and the policies of our governments. Marta Zaraska is a Polish Canadian journalist who works as both a foreign affairs correspondent and a science writer. She lives in France and her articles have appeared in leading science journals and other publications. The book provides a very informative discussion on the history of meat eating. Quite audaciously, the author begins with the evolution of eukaryotic cells (those cells having a nucleus) which is presented as a case of a cell devouring another one of its kind. However, seeding the story right from such primordial mists of time is a case of imaginative overreach than a lucid interpretation of good science. The history of meat eating in hominins is much more interesting as most of our close cousins like gorillas and orang utans are strict vegetarians. In Zaraska’s opinion, the absence of a coat of hair in humans is due to the change in predation habits. To eat the flesh of other animals, either you have to scavenge the remains from other predators’ kills, or you have to hunt the small game yourself. Both cases involve a good amount of running and quite surprisingly, human endurance in running is legendary. Antelope and cheetah are definitely faster, but they can’t keep the pace for an extended period of time as man does. Such a high dissipation of energy mandated an efficient method of cooling and the coat of hair gave way to sweat glands. Stamina for hunting and running necessitated the eating of meat, which is projected as the cause of man’s dependence on meat. The author dismisses some common misunderstandings about the necessity and efficacy of meat as a provider of protein. Our body needs specific amino acids to make the proteins essential for us. We can obtain these amino acids by decomposing proteins collected from a meaty diet. Of course, these amino acids are available in plant food as well, but the most essential ones (nine in number) come fully assembled in meat and egg. If you want to compensate this using vegetarian food, a lot of varied ingredients are to be painstakingly combined to harness the amount of protein required by the human body. For example, beans have many amino acids, but not the crucial methionine, which is available in plenty in grains. Zaraska makes it absolutely clear that the primary principle of nutrition in the 1950s, which articulated meat as the sole source of protein, is false. With many illustrative and witty examples, she clarifies this point conclusively. This balance of vegetarian food is applicable only to the modern western world who can afford a large variety of vegetables. For poor people in developing countries and those people of the ancient, meat is/was the only option for protein as agricultural yield and variety of vegetables were poor. It is an undeniable fact that the fascination of meat to a large number of people involves the delicious smell it emits when cooked. The book examines what makes people hooked to meat. The delectable side of attraction to meat is the highly desirable aroma and flavour produced by a chemical reaction known as Maillard reaction that occurs when meat is cooked. There are chest-thumping naturalists among us who would shun anything ‘chemical’ and would go only for ‘natural’ products. These people are sure to miss a heartbeat when they learn that hundreds of chemicals are formed when meat is cooked! Gamma-heptalactone smells fruity, tri-methyl-pyrazine is musty in odour, while 3-octen-2-one is like crushed eggs. And no, they are not added by the cook, but made out of naturally occurring ingredients in meat. Japanese researchers found that contrary to previously believed, human tongue can distinguish a sixth kind of taste, which they termed umami (delicious in Japanese). And they isolated the chemical monosodium glutamate (MSG) from kombu (a kind of edible sea weed widely eaten in East Asia) which activates the umami receptor. Later, they produced the concentrate in industrial scale under the brand name ajinomoto (Japanese for quintessence of flavour). About 3.5% of people are blind to the taste of MSG, and the author hazards a guess that it is the proportion of people who are vegetarians, because, they can’t detect the delicious taste of meat! Apart from conscious vegetarians who stay away from eating meat for religious or ideological reasons, genetic factor is a serious contender for the aversion to flesh. The giant panda though technically belongs to bears and hence should be an ardent carnivore, has a gene that disables umami receptors. It is then no wonder that the panda thrives solely on bamboo shoots. Zaraska portrays the gruesome methods by which animals are reared and ‘harvested’ (an industrial euphemism for killing) by the meat industry. Some of the practices are unethical and most cruel. Pigs’ testes produce a hormone called androstenone which imparts a bitter taste to its meat after it is killed. The industry’s solution to this issue is shocking – pigs are castrated while young without anesthesia, by making an incision on the testes and slowly squeezing the balls out with the unfortunate pig wailing its lungs out. Pale Veal is a kind of meat produced from animals separated from their mothers soon after birth which are then stuffed into tiny cages that don’t allow any movement and fed with milk formula which is devoid of iron. This deficiency makes the animal anemic and imparts an attractive pale colour to its flesh. The meat is tender because the animals never move, so the muscles are low in collagen. Such veal crates were banned in the EU in 2007, but still permitted in the U.S. There is an indirect cost to animal breeding to be paid by society. 60% of corn and half of soybeans that grow in U.S. are used for feeding livestock. However, there are gentler ways adopted by the meat corporations, at least for enhancing the quality of meat. The last hours and minutes of an animal’s life are much important in determining the taste. The more it suffers, the less tasty it becomes. Stress hormones like adrenaline and increased body temperature at the instant of a violent death reduces the quality by acidifying the muscles. Oozing of liquids that contain protein is a sure sign of stress at the last moment. But clever marketers add absorbent pads at the bottom of the containers to soak up the liquid. The most renowned brands of course use ethical practices, but the cost of it is also high, like Angus beef and Kobe beef. It is reiterated many times in the book that meat is not a biological necessity to us. We can very well manage with plant-based diets, but the socio-cultural pulls exerted by meat is considerable, even in spite of the health hazards associated with it, such as increased likelihood of cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes. Eating meat symbolized power and potency in sex. Killing and eating something which can hurt us trumpeted the masculinity of the hunter. Going towards more vegetarianism is the way to proceed in view of conservation of resources, pollution and global warming associated with rearing cattle. There can be no hard and fast rule on the definition of vegetarianism. But there are some interesting terms used, like pescaterians (eats no meat, but fish is allowed), pesco pollo vegetarians (no red meat, but chicken and fish agreeable), flexitarians (generally avoids meat but eat it occasionally) and VB6 (vegetarians before 6 pm)! The term ‘vegetarian’ is derived from the Latin word ‘vegetus’ which means ‘a person who lives a healthy life’. Difference between a ‘vegan’ and a ‘vegetarian’ is not spelled out in the book, though it uses both words quite a large number of times. Zaraska addresses the peculiarity of India which traditionally held a vegetarian diet. This may be because the country is home to about fifty varieties of lentils, peas and beans – all loaded with protein. The culinary diversity helped Indians stick on to their plant-based food for this long. It is also said that perhaps nowhere else in the world except in India would it have been possible 3000 years ago to be a strict vegetarian. The book includes a good index and a considerable section on Notes. It lists some hypotheses which seem to be not entirely based on fact. The author’s assertion that the higher a person’s IQ is at age 10, the less likely he will be a meat lover as an adult is debatable. Similar is the claim that the more a tribe bases its diet on animal products, the less power women hold and the more meat is consumed in a society, the more distance fathers keep from their infants. The book is highly recommended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dan Schiff

    Meathooked is fine as a survey overview of the history of meat eating. It is not deep or interesting from a narrative perspective. It is poorly edited. Some interesting facts I did learn from Meathooked: -Meat eating is advantageous from an evolutionary perspective, in that it favors the selfish gene by allowing meat eaters to reproduce earlier and have more offspring. -For a couple thousand years, being vegetarian was called "going Pythagorean," after the famous mathematician who did not eat meat Meathooked is fine as a survey overview of the history of meat eating. It is not deep or interesting from a narrative perspective. It is poorly edited. Some interesting facts I did learn from Meathooked: -Meat eating is advantageous from an evolutionary perspective, in that it favors the selfish gene by allowing meat eaters to reproduce earlier and have more offspring. -For a couple thousand years, being vegetarian was called "going Pythagorean," after the famous mathematician who did not eat meat. Pythagoras believed in metempsychosis, or reincarnation, so he did not want to eat animals that may have had human souls. -The word "carnavale" means "farewell to meat" for the period of Lent. -24 million farm animals are slaughtered every day in the US, or 9 billion animals each year. Zaraska did a lot of research for this book and lays it out in a logical, digestible manner. But Meathooked is not top-tier popular science writing. There are clumsy passages and embarrassing errors aplenty. Zaraska is not a native English speaker, and her editor on this book does her no favors. Among the issues I flagged: -She claims people don't suffer from kwashiorkor in the West "unless you are truly starving, an AIDS patient, or a drug addict" (p. 46). This seems to be a rather crude, insensitive and medically dubious statement. -She says there may be a connection between one's genetic inability to detect the umami taste of MSG (about 3.5% of the population) and propensity to be vegetarian. However, "so far there have been no studies that examine how insensitivity to MSG may translate into choosing a vegetarian diet. If you know any academics doing research on nutrition, ask them" (p. 68). I can't recall ever having an author assign me homework from the pages of her book -- sorry but you are the one writing the book, maybe you should've tried doing some of this digging yourself...? -She describes the smell of both androstenedione and durian fruit as variations of dead rats and smelly feet/socks. Surely her editor could've helped her find some other stinky descriptors? -She travels all over the world but does a poor job incorporating a sense of place into the narrative. At one point, she's in the Temple of Pythons in Ouidah, Benin, watching a voodoo chicken-slaughtering ceremony. She stays in Benin for approximately one page. Why go there at all, and why include it in the book? If nothing else, Meathooked made me appreciate the writing of authors such as Elizabeth Kolbert and Michael Pollan, who are masters at weaving deep research, new discovery and personal anecdote into a compelling narrative.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aadisht

    I thought this would be a celebration of meat. How wrong I was! How wrong I was! It's a book by a vegetarian, who wants to write about meat, but in the introduction, promises to be sympathetic to why people would enjoy meat. She tries hard, and I appreciate the effort, but she doesn't quite get there. Points about the book: * it goes at vegetarianism from an animal welfare (least of all), environmental (most of all), and health perspective. Animal welfare least of all because she seems open to the I thought this would be a celebration of meat. How wrong I was! How wrong I was! It's a book by a vegetarian, who wants to write about meat, but in the introduction, promises to be sympathetic to why people would enjoy meat. She tries hard, and I appreciate the effort, but she doesn't quite get there. Points about the book: * it goes at vegetarianism from an animal welfare (least of all), environmental (most of all), and health perspective. Animal welfare least of all because she seems open to the prospect of substituting livestock with insects - so her concern is more with the welfare of mammals, rather than with a religious tinged horror of eating any animal at all. The environmental aspect is the most well developed. The health is a sleight of hand, I feel. She talks about the increased chance of heart disease, etc, but doesn't mention the base. So... * elsewhere in health, she talks about vegetarian sources of protein but conveniently leaves out fat. Admittedly after being on keto I'm a little biased. And, not being vegan, it's not like she rules out dairy. * There is a very interesting point about how grilling is a demonstration of power or wealth; while stews are for the people who can't afford to publicly display how they're cooking the best cuts. * She has a chapter about how vegetarianism has been bedevilled by attracting cranks. * There is also an interesting point about how only India has delicious vegetarian food thanks to native lentils and oilseeds. Meh. Not convinced. IMO our lentils aren't as delicious as European salads. But we did have spices before they did to make even dal delicious so there's that. * Unfortunately the chapter about crank vegetarians doesn't include Indian Jains, who are as fucking cranky and just as vicious towards omnivores as the greatest Western cranks, possibly more so. * Since this book was written in 2013 (I think), it completely predates the increasing viciousness towards meat eating that India has been witnessing in the last year. I still feel angry at the way Indian vegetarianism is exalted. * Similarly it ignores that the majority of India is not vegetarian. And some of the points it makes about illegal cow slaughter seem straight out of a Hindutva whatsapp factory. * But the environmental impact of meat eating (also antibiotic resistance of factory farming) is scary.

  23. 4 out of 5

    YHC

    “Evolution doesn’t necessarily favor those who live the longest; it favors those who can reproduce the most. Studies” This is not a new concept that i learn, I have been interested in this subject for long and most of time avoid eating meat. I wanted to know if there are more new studies from the scientifically aspects. Basically the author pointed out why we changed our diet 2.5 million year ago due to the climate change, most rain forest dried out and human used to eat a lot of fruit, vegetable “Evolution doesn’t necessarily favor those who live the longest; it favors those who can reproduce the most. Studies” This is not a new concept that i learn, I have been interested in this subject for long and most of time avoid eating meat. I wanted to know if there are more new studies from the scientifically aspects. Basically the author pointed out why we changed our diet 2.5 million year ago due to the climate change, most rain forest dried out and human used to eat a lot of fruit, vegetables, nuts didn't produce that much anymore. We adapted to eat meat because there were plenty of herbivore animals. She brought out our life spans at that time was barely reaching 30. We finished reproducing, we didn't live long to actually grow sicker because of meat eating. Meat did provided human totally different style of living, high nutrients. But fast forward to nowadays, with such huge growing population who are eating more and more meats. Impact: environmental disasters such as clean water shortage, underground pollution due to the industrial animal farming, transportation of meats or even livestock cross the seas, methane caused more damaged to global warming more than CO2. Ethically, there is no really so called humane slaughtering. Before these animals reached the slaughter houses they have been suffered a lot from the feeding (wrong food, corns for cows...)and transporting. The sanitary system is not great. Health problem: The meat we eat might not be as healthy as we think, with all the antibiotics we feed them, in the future we might end up no antibiotics to kill the bacterias. Changing our diet to plant based is better for the environment and health.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Abhijit Khanna

    Though my book club generally didn't seem to like this book, I found it a worthwhile read. I agree, the writing style wasn't necessarily the best - the author seemed to repeat herself as the book progressed. But I thought the organization was logical and easy to follower, and I loved the easy integration of facts and hard datas. Though I have already significantly reduced my meat intake and consider myself a flexitarian, reading data on the number of animals slaughtered annually brought fresh gu Though my book club generally didn't seem to like this book, I found it a worthwhile read. I agree, the writing style wasn't necessarily the best - the author seemed to repeat herself as the book progressed. But I thought the organization was logical and easy to follower, and I loved the easy integration of facts and hard datas. Though I have already significantly reduced my meat intake and consider myself a flexitarian, reading data on the number of animals slaughtered annually brought fresh guilt (and perhaps resolve) to my dietary choices. However, don't make the mistake of thinking that this book seeks to proselytize the reader to vegetarianism and make meat-eaters feel guilty or ethically lacking - rather, I felt the author struck a neutral tone, just providing facts so that the reader can make up their own mind, or at the least, be more informed.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alyson Fortowsky

    Fascinating particularly on the topics of: -how humans came to eat meat as scavengers, including an interesting description of how single-celled bacteria came to be carnivorous (cannibals); - how eating meat (and high-quality diets in general) led to the development of our brains, and contributed to our ability to migrate. Plants can be poisonous, and it can be dangerous to eat them in unknown regions, but animals would have been almost universally edible for our scavenging ancestors; -the rise of Fascinating particularly on the topics of: -how humans came to eat meat as scavengers, including an interesting description of how single-celled bacteria came to be carnivorous (cannibals); - how eating meat (and high-quality diets in general) led to the development of our brains, and contributed to our ability to migrate. Plants can be poisonous, and it can be dangerous to eat them in unknown regions, but animals would have been almost universally edible for our scavenging ancestors; -the rise of hunting for reasons of increasing one's popularity and desirability; -the detriments of heme iron; -the meat lobby; -meat-eating and Christianity, especially the discussion of the early conflict between Paul the Apostle and James the Just, who appeared to champion a vegetarian version of the religion.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Yin Tse

    This book is fairly easy reading. I felt the overall tone was quite condescending, particularly the first few chapters and the style is perhaps too 'conversational'. In addition, the author's personal beliefs weigh a little too heavily on the trajectory of the book.I would have preferred a more nuanced and objective approach, though the book is still worth a read and contains a large amount of interesting and thought provoking information. Recommended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dom Moulding

    Really interesting in parts but I get the sense this book isn't sure what it wants to be. It's part a look into the evolutionary and cultural importance of meat and part pro-vegetarian arguments. Zaraska doesn't seem to want to commit fully to her and own beliefs here for fear of being written off as overly biased and as a result its hard to understand the message. Overall its a really well researched book and very engaging but feels a bit rudderless.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne Bitar

    This book is all over the place -- disjointed, jumping from one scene to the next. So many of the underlying threads were never picked up or synthesized. I was also disappointed to read that much of the science was interpreted loosely. The statistic that the average American eats 275 lb. meat a year is wildly off base. That number accounts for the weight of animal carcass -- edible or inedible -- available to every American, not the amount actually consumed.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    I retired after 43 years in the meat industry and was prepared for the worst tongue lashing imaginable, but Zaraska presented a well balanced overview without getting preachy on any one point of view. Her writing was informative, more of the style of a feature in the *New Yorker* or the *Atlantic* but none the less very relate-able. I was prepared to be offended but it turned out to be most enjoyable.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paige Blue

    Meathooked surprised me. Rather than any sort of guilt driven approach in defense of a plant based diet, Zaraska led with curiosity. Why do we eat meat? What does science, history, and culture have to say about our diet? It opens an important conversation with a fresh inquisitive perspective that is well written and well researched. Highly recommend.

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