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The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis Hardcover – February 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605299960
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605299969
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,258,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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.

From Booklist

Food-writer Weaver grew up in a Northern California vegetarian household, but later developed health issues—overwhelming fatigue and weight gain—that prompted her doctor to recommend she eat meat. She started out slowly with chicken stock and worked her way through chimichurri, chateaubriand, blood sausage, Martha Stewart’s crown roast, and barbecued meat of all sorts. The year-long experience changed her life as she encountered appealing butchers, meat clubs for girls only, and cowboys on eco-friendly ranches. Struggling with the guilt of eating flesh, she plunged into a deep examination of food as nutrition and sustenance versus the object of lust and gratification. She explores the different types and motivations of vegetarians, recalling childhood memories of wanting to be accepted among the meat-eaters and cheating outside her mother’s home. Weaver touches on the emotional, ethical, economic, nutritional, ecological, and gustatory issues involving meat and food in general that have been highlighted by Michael Pollan and others. This is a mouthwatering excursion through environmental and food issues with what may be a surprising denouement for most readers. --Vanessa Bush

More About the Author

Tara Austen Weaver writes about things that interest her: food, travel, culture, the environment, adventure. She has lived in five countries on three continents and is happiest either exploring the world with a notebook and camera, or spending the day in a kitchen learning how people feed themselves. She loves to write about farmers, environmentalists, artists, and other passion-driven individuals.

Tara's first full-length book, The Butcher & The Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis, was published Feb of 2010. The book has been mentioned in Newsweek, in New York Magazine's Grub Street, Women's Wear Daily, and McLean's. It is a February reader selection for Elle and received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly. Tara has also coauthored a guidebook and a children's book about art. Her writing has been included in numerous anthologies and won several awards.

Tara writes the food blog Tea & Cookies, where she shares stories, recipes, good books, travel, photography, and other adventures. The site has been recommended by the Food Network, featured in Saveur magazine, Readymade.com, Epicurious, and selected by the Times of London as one of the top 50 food blogs in the world.

She splits her time between Seattle and San Francisco, because she just can't decide between two such great cities, but she's definitely a left coaster. Given half a chance, she'd probably fall in love with Vancouver too.

More about Tara: www.taraweaver.com
Tea & Cookies blog: www.teaandcookies.blogspot.com
Tara on Twitter: www.twitter.com/tea_austen

Customer Reviews

This is one of those books I want every meat eater to read.
Elizabeth
She wasn't an actual vegetarian, so the meat is so alien to me approach didn't feel authentic to me.
OlyNomad
The book is well written, fun to read and the author is really funny.
D. Turner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Silea TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
So this is a book about our protagonist, a lifelong vegetarian ordered by her doctor to start eating meat. Right? Well... no. Despite her genuine health issues, it was her accupuncturist, not a medical doctor, who told her to start eating meat. And he didn't tell her to start eating meat so much as he gave her herbs that needed to be steeped in chicken broth. And she's not a lifelong vegetarian so much as person with habitual vegetarian tendencies. Though raised in a strictly vegetarian household, even as a child she regularly ate meat when visiting friends, and as an adult admits to ordering meat dishes at restaurants. So, really, she's only a strict vegetarian when her own kitchen is involved.

Aside from being measurably different in substance than in summary, the writing also makes it glaringly clear that the author is a blogger. There's a style to blog-writing, a familiar tone and a parcelized accounting of events, that is strongly evident in this book. It's hard to sit and read for more than ten minutes because in that ten minutes you've completed one blog-entry-unit, and it takes a little push to roll yourself into the next one.

As a vegetarian by choice (my parents did not support that decision ten years ago in my teens, and they're still not happy with it now), my main interest in this book was reading, well, what the book claimed to be. I wanted to read the story of a true, lifelong vegetarian exploring meat somewhat against her will. What i got instead was more of a culinary exploration than a cultural or personal one. The author has never cooked meat, so it's mostly the cooking that's novel. Interesting, but not what i'd expected.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By OlyNomad VINE VOICE on February 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I saw this book I was really excited to read it because from the description, it dealt with what I am going through right now (Vegetarian 10 years questioning my choice for medical reasons). I was curious to learn more about what medical issues she was facing and the advice from the doctor. Things you learn while reading it is that while she was raised by a vegetarian mother, she wasn't always vegetarian and would eat meat when at restaurants and at friends. Also, it wasn't an actual doctor that first said eat meat, it was an acupuncturist, which is worlds away. It started to slip away from the described premise of the book there for me. The bulk of the book is about meat exploration, too much focus on that for me. Long bits about how to cook the meat, different kinds of meat. That wasn't what I was looking for, they have books for that, it's called a cookbook.
What this really felt like was an identity crisis and her feeling lost as a person because she didn't know what group to identify with. She wants to fit in and be one of the guys, one of mainstream America on one hand, yet she likes the feeling of being unique and the label of vegetarian. She kind of wants to be in both worlds and it felt like she was using the disguise of my doctor said to do it to explore both worlds. The way she wraps up the book really leads you to believe that is what was going on with the book also. You won't find any answers in the book if you are on a similar search. She is all over the place on the issue in the book and on one page she'll be describing her love of meat and the very next her dislike of it. Her dislike of it felt really forced. She wasn't an actual vegetarian, so the meat is so alien to me approach didn't feel authentic to me.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a committed carnivore who is coincidentally married to a vegeterian, I wasn't sure I would be able to get into this book. However, it was surprisingly well-written as well as entertaining. The premise of this book is that the life-long vegetarian author had been experiencing a grinding fatigue and weight problem since her early teens. The problem persists through years of doctors visits and tests. In a 'what the heck' moment, the author turns to asian medicine and her doctor hands her a bag of herbs to be cooked with chicken to create a wonder broth. An encounter at the butcher counter starts her on a journey to sample/cook a wide array of meat with varying levels of results. Throughout this journey of carnivore discovery, the author interfaces with a wide variety of people/characters who all seem to have an opinion regarding meat/no meat. She also picks up quite an education re: how animals are raised for eventual slaughter and the options that are available for we committed carnivores. Add to this recipe romance and you have this book.
What I particularly found amusing was the culture clash when the author threw herself into meat eating. Since I have always enjoyed meat in moderation, the concept of someone being born into vegetarianism in our culture was pretty interesting and made me look at things a bit differently as I progressed through this memoir. In another respect, this book reminded me of JULIE AND JULIA in regard to the author's journey into the world of meat.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Lee TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This was an interesting read, but not necessarily what I expected from the title and book description. Here's what surprised me versus those:

- Tara's a good writer and has an interesting journey to share. But, I wouldn't necessarily call it a "romp", and there's definitely not any romantic romping that's implied by the book cover and title. Mostly there's just a lot of of talk of meat-eating being manly, and a few people that she comes across as she explores meat-eating that happen to be men.

- For a vegetarian going carnivore on a search to improve her energy and help her feel better - she goes about it in a really odd way.

An acupuncturist tells her to add meat to her diet with chicken stock. Ultimately, instead she decides to try to work her way through everything from fixing gourmet meat meals to eating pounds of bacon, barbecue, hamburgers and steaks accompanied by rich sauces, cheeses and fatty sides. Not sure that's what either he or the other doctors that recommended meat-eating to her had in mind. But, imagine it does make for a more entertaining and interesting tale.

In addition, one can almost imagine her friends continually asking each other - "What can't Tara eat this week?". Because along the way, she tries a variety of other eating styles (e.g. gluten-free, dairy free, etc.) while still in pursuit of her meat-eating ambitions.

- It does explore the "moral choice" part thoroughly without being overly preachy and judgemental about others choices.
Visits to more earth and animal-friendly farms are actually an entertaining, informative highlight. And, will (as I think was intended) get you thinking about where what you're eating is coming from.

Bottom Line: A mostly well-written interesting personal journey to share with her that will get you thinking about what you eat.
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