We*Meat*Again and Becoming Un-Vegetarian

When I was twenty years old, I watched PETA’s “Meet Your Meat” in a rhetoric class and became a vegetarian. Seven years later, I decided to start eating meat again–for ethical reasons. This blog is about that journey and all its complications, from the humane treatment of animals to labor rights and global poverty, from radical feminist cooking to local, sustainable, affordable recipes. But most of all, it’s about community, about the kitchen as the place where we all sit down together and eat.

On this blog, you’ll find the ways in which my love of food and my love for literature have combined to form the delicious creation that is my book–tentatively titled The Vegetarian’s Guide to Eating Meat–and this blog, an extended conversation that brings the issues raised in the book into the everyday. The blog’s title should let you know that, while I believe food is important, I try not to take myself too seriously.

This means that some days, I’ll provide updates on the latest issues, controversies or successes in the sustainable food world. I’ll also write and photograph whatever healthy, local recipes I’m cooking up, whether with or without meat. If you’re lucky, you may even get to experience the hilarity of a video post wherein I entertain you all with my kitchen clumsiness. I’ll try to include profiles and reviews of restaurants and producers. On other days, I might just write creatively, musing on food, culture, community & identity.

Overall, you’ll get to see what it looks like when an awkward, clumsy no-good-in-the-kitchen Irish-Italian book nerd decides one day that her food is her most frequent political action. You’ll see how she makes that all work on a writer’s budget, with a writer’s voice. And hopefully, that will show you that you can make this kind of food life work, too.

Want to know more? I always welcome thoughts, questions, and requests for future post topics. Feel free to leave a comment, tweet at me, or drop me an email to let me know what you think!

13 Responses to “About”

  1. Jennifer May 10, 2011 at 8:55 AM #

    What ethical issues lead you to start eating meat again? I was veg for years as well, but started eating meat for various reasons. I love many veg dishes, and will continue cooking what I enjoy, and I don’t eat meat out very often. It’s hard to find veg entrees in midwest restaurants, I’ve found!

    • wemeatagain May 10, 2011 at 10:24 AM #

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for the great question! I’ll probably try to answer it in more detail over the course of many, many posts here, but the short answer is this: I stopped eating meat because I didn’t want to participate in the environmental, human rights, and animal rights travesties of the factory farming industry. What I discovered as a vegetarian was that those issues weren’t limited to the meat industry, but rather were characteristic of industrial agriculture in general. Corn and soybean fields pollute just as much as manure lagoons; organic vegetables can still be picked by underpaid, abused migrant workers, etc.

      I decided, rather than boycotting a bad system, I should try instead to invest in a good one. So I started eating meat again, but only bought from local, sustainable, humane sources. This put me in closer touch with my food and my community.

      It seems like we have similar views on meat/veg cooking. I’ve found so many good veg recipes over the years that I still cook that way a lot–about 3-4 times/week. And I’m similar in eating out, since I can’t be sure of where that meat comes from.

      Thanks for stopping by–I hope you’ll keep coming back, or subscribe, and keep participating in these kinds of discussions!

      • Jennifer May 10, 2011 at 3:38 PM #

        I recently read an article that Emily from home posted about soybean farming and Amazon deforestation, and wondered if that played a part in your decision.

      • shushworld June 14, 2011 at 5:46 PM #

        To justify the ethical reasons for eating meat again, you said that you only buy from local, sustainable, community farms. Isn’t it truly justifying “ethical” to eat what you kill with your hands?

        I agree with you that the bad system with industrial agriculture is just as polluting, but the reasons for their existence was to feed livestock. If the world is to switch to buying meat from the local farm, the same amount of crop grown (plus its pollution) would subsequently contribute as much environmental degradation and resource to supply the meat demand. A system integrated to cater to the meat demand is never a good system.
        - My two cents.

      • We*Meat*Again June 14, 2011 at 6:47 PM #

        I think that we live in a world of specialization — that is, not every consumer participates at every step along the path of production. It’s for that reason that I’m comfortable eating meat I haven’t killed with my own hands, though I applaud those who do hunt and eat that way. I’ve seen an animal slaughtered, and I could do it, at least from a moral perspective.

        You’re absolutely right that the reason for corn/soy’s existence was practically to feed livestock. However, a fundamental difference exists between small-scale, local, sustainable farms and industrial ones. Livestock animals do not need to eat those crops. Most of them are biologically designed to eat grass, and in fact, to be integrative. (Chickens peck the bugs from free-range grass-eating cattle manure, for example.) So if we moved from large-scale, industrial agriculture, we would not require the same amount, or the same type, of crops to feed that livestock.

        That all being said, you’re absolutely that reducing the demand for meat is an important part of a sustainable diet. I just don’t think a sustainable diet has to be absent meat, as long as you’re aware of from whom you’re purchasing your meat, and what standards and practices you’re supporting with that purchase (as certainly, not all local farms are sustainable ones).

  2. Genie June 27, 2011 at 3:11 PM #

    Lovely job with this blog! I stumbled upon it working my way backwards from Marion Nestle’s site. Nice shout-out to co-ops. I am sitting at New Pioneer in IC with a big smile on my face.

    • We*Meat*Again July 1, 2011 at 9:57 AM #

      Thanks, Genie! I’ve not made it over to New Pioneer, but I’ve heard great things about it. I just love having a co-op in town, and I’m going to miss mine dearly when I leave here.

  3. Michele October 18, 2011 at 4:35 PM #

    Gosh – just found your blog from Twitter; I became a vegetarian in January 2011…but find it EXTREMELY difficult to remain a vegetarian with 3 kids, a hubby, a full-time job, few places that offer true vegetarian dishes in the Midwest, etc. I would PREFER to remain vegetarian, but I guess of late I’ve been more of a ‘flex vegetarian’ – but even saying that feels that I’m cheating. I was dancing around vegetarianism and then read the book “Skinny Bitch” and quickly made the change head on. But I have to say on the nights when the kids have ball practice or play practice, I leave home at 7:15 a.m. for work and return home anywhere from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. after their events, I just can’t seem to make it all work.

    I’m going to follow along on your blog and see where the journey leads me! Thanks; looking forward to it!

    • Marissa of We*Meat*Again October 25, 2011 at 8:20 PM #

      Thanks for stopping by, Michele, and I’m so glad you’re finding some ideas and advice you can use here. For both my vegetarian and non- recipes, I try to focus on quick/easy or at least hands-off, with the occasional indulgent use of time recipe, so hopefully you will find some you like. In general, I think what’s most important is holding ourselves to standards with our food (healthy, balanced, chemical-free, environmentally friendly, among others) rather than dietary standards. While certainly, some people just can’t stomach eating an animal (which is fine) those of us who have health or the environment or welfare in mind can often make poor choices if we focus just on the meat/vegetarian divide instead of the big picture. As a vegetarian, I ate a lot of Kraft mac’n cheese, for example, which is full of chemical preservatives and has next to no nutritonal value. How much better off I would have been with a local, quick-roasted chicken and a simple green salad! Good luck on your journey — look around — and always feel free to ask if you have questions!

  4. carolinajade December 5, 2011 at 2:50 PM #

    I enjoyed reading your blog so much that I nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award. Congrats!

  5. Heather February 18, 2012 at 8:53 PM #

    I hate to admit this, but you have definitely made me think twice about my vegan diet.

    • Marissa of We*Meat*Again February 18, 2012 at 9:07 PM #

      Hi Heather! While I’m certainly glad to hear that the blog is helping people think in more meaningful ways about their diet, let me clarify. I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with a vegan or vegetarian diet per se. My issue as a vegetarian was discovering all the ways in which my diet still contributed to an industrial, inhumane system: buying substitute meat products from the same parent corporation responsible for meat production; buying produce from halfway around the world or industrial organic large-scale farms that dump CO2; buying tofu made from soybeans for which the Brazilian rainforest is being deforested, etc.

      I’ve discovered the way to solve this is to eat a diet of whole foods, primary ingredients, as local and organic and small-scale as possible. If your vegan diet is based on produce and whole grains primarily, and if you buy those ingredients from markets and co-ops and not from Wal-Mart, etc. you can still do that and avoid eating animals. I wanted to more actively support small-scale, local meat producers to be more actively engaged with my diet, and more honest about the inevitable loss of life involved in what I ate. But we all have to decide what’s right for us.

      I’d be happy to chat more, by email or here in comments, if you have any questions, or want to wonder out loud!

  6. Jterry June 21, 2012 at 5:31 PM #

    Livestock consume 50% of the water the USA uses, and 70% of USA grain. Livestock create 51% of the greenhouse gases. (earthsave.org) Each pound of beef wastes 2500 gallons of water and 15 pounds of grain. Only .007% of the earth’s water is even drinkable. Livestock are the top cause of deforestation and desert wasteland expansion.

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