The Butcher and the Vegetarian
Tara Austen Weaver

Rodale Press
Hardcover/201 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60529-996-9
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”I can’t seem to stop sharing with my food conscious friends,” says journalist and food blogger Tara Austen Weaver in The Butcher and the Vegetarian, who journeys from vegetarian to a carnivore.

A mountain climber and world traveler, thirty-something Weaver feels so fatigued that she can’t get out of bed some days, and her weight gain is out of control. After trying alternative medical treatments, her doctor prescribes eating meat as her major protein source.

A vegetarian all her life, Weaver is terrified. She doesn’t know anything about cooking meat such as beef, chicken, pig and lamb. The idea of eating meat is an affront against her ethical and moral values.

But if she had to eat meat, she wanted to know more. Her journey begins at a butcher shop learning about the various cuts of meat. Standing over a grill eating bacon she decides that bacon is the gateway drug for crossovers. She had fallen in love. After mastering an Argentine dish, steak with chimichurri (a herb sauce), her flank steak is scrumptious enough to put her into the carnivores column. She is addicted.

Eating beef tests her value system. She is encouraged to visit the Prather Ranch in California to learn about efforts underway for sustainable farming and grass-fed organic beef. The strength of Weaver’s book is her research and investigation of various organic farms and her interviews with producers at farmers markets in California and Washington. She balances her own conclusions with a variety of research studies, admitting that the USDA food pyramid had failed her. She learns many of her childhood vegtarian idols were now eating sustainablely raised meat. Deborah Madison, author of vegetarian cookbooks and chef at San Francisco's Greens Restaurant, states she converted to eating meat, “because it was important to support ranchers who were doing it right.”

Written like personal blog, Weaver reveals intimate moments in her life–some devastating–that helps the reader understand her food choices. Her message, regardless of choice, is to eat food from sources “you know and trust.” And since it can be more expensive than commercially processed food, you eat less.

Did eating meat resolve her health issue? I’ll keep you in suspense because this a must read book for all concerned with healthy eating.

Reviewer: Kate Padilla