When Marta Zaraska was in her early twenties, she and her stepfather were visiting a Tanzanian market. Much to their surprise, a local man stopped them and — in all seriousness — offered four cows in exchange for her hand in marriage.
Naturally, they refused the offer. But the engaging way Marta shared this story (and many others ) in Meathooked captivated me from start to finish. This book is the science journalist and world traveler’s lively, often humorous look at how millions of years ago, humankind began an on-again, off-again love affair with meat.
Case in point: In 2009, Marta’s mother became concerned about the health risks associated with eating meat. She briefly switched to a plant-based diet.
Within a couple of weeks, however, she returned to feeding her ham-and-paté addiction. Why?
Because, as she told Marta, “I like meat, I eat it, end of story.” That was her daughter’s cue to begin a globetrotting investigation and answer these questions:
“What is it about animal protein that makes us crave it? What makes it so hard to give up? And if consuming meat is truly unhealthy for us, why didn’t evolution turn us all into vegetarians in the first place?”
What’s her conclusion, after examining the global meat culture from animal sacrifices in the name of religion to scientists culturing meat in laboratories as a way to feed the world?
We eat, love and even risk our health for meat because:
“…it stands for wealth and for power over other humans and nature… because history has taught us to think of vegetarians as weaklings… and… the meat industry knows how to sell its products…[and] because the mistakes of… science led us to believe in the protein myth.”