Before I begin writing, I want to apologize to my vegan friends! I just finished reading The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat and Moral Crisis and it was a really fun read as well as being informative. The author, Tara Austen Weaver also has a foodie blog called Tea And Cookies that I am hoping to explore.
Part autobiographical, part confessional and part adventure story, Weaver's book also shares information about food, food ethics and how discouraging it can be to get accurate health information and treatment. Her journey into the world of the local butcher shop began when her Chinese health practitioner and naturopath told her she needed to begin eating meat to get healthy. Since she has a thyroid disorder, as do many of my family members, including my Hubby who had to have his irradiated, I was hoping she would end the book with a "magic bullet." However, her conclusion was the same as most of us come to - that each of us has to navigate the medical and health communities ourselves and there is rarely one answer, let alone one that is simple or magical.
As a person who has eaten meat and feels better eating vegetarian, but has also eaten vegan and considered Raw, I enjoyed her discussions on the process she has gone through. Since she lives in two places I have/do (Washington State and Northern California) I was happy to note some of her great resources. She was able to do some "investigating" as well and reported on some of the naturally raised meat choices available. The one I am pursuing further is Prather Ranch which I have passed while travelling up I-5. My local Co-op carries their meat so next month we may try some. I was impressed with their humane treatment and slaughter practices as well as the fact that they use all of the animal and they have been practicing ethical and environmental practices for more than thirty years because they actually believe in it, not just because they jumped onto a bandwagon!
For my friends in Washington Skagit River Ranch is a great resource for meat and eggs. They sell at some farmer's markets in the Seattle area as well.
The book does a good review of the politics of eating meat and how it affects the animals and the environment and she touches on the conflict of having something taste so good and feeling guilty for eating it. I also enjoyed her humorous anecdotes of growing up in the Hippie culture of northern California in the 1970s and eating healthy long before it was "popular". My Grandma Hopkins was a "health nut" and some of my kitchen experiences with her (or should I say "experiments") echoed those of Tara.
One caution if you have young readers, she does briefly touch on some topics such as inappropriate touching by an adult during her childhood (I don't want to be flagged in the search engines by using other wording), that are briefly and respectfully presented as part of her journey.
Overall if you are new to healthy eating or considering whether or not you want to eat meat, live as a vegan or vegetarian, I think this would be a good resource. Even if you are experienced and settled in your healthy eating choices, you might enjoy her humor and relaxed writing style. I had to laugh at some of her comments about "facing the meat in the fridge" as I can relate to them as well. I have a love/hate relationship with meat - repulsed by it but also enjoying it when it is prepared well. I am hoping her blog will carry the same writing style. For me, I would consider this a book I would read from the library (which I did), but not keep as a reference book on my shelf. It is not because of any failure on Tara Weaver's part, but because her book is not really meant for that purpose. If you have read this book or do so after reading my review, I would be interested in hearing your opinion.