Book Report: Meathooked

Reviews of books relevant to the food movement.

One sentence summary: In Meathooked, Marta Zaraska investigates the history of meat, why we eat it, and what we should change about our current consumption habits.

Book title: Meathooked: The History and Science of our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat

Author: Marta Zaraska
Year of Publication: 2016
Length: 263 pages
Keywords: meat, history, evolution, cultural anthropology, carnivore

Memorable Quote: “There are many books on the shelves of American bookstores dealing with…meat…I’ve read most of them, yet non answered the question that kept bothering me: Why do we eat meat at all?

Hi, I'm Jessica and I eat meat.

In case you missed it in my prior posts, I've shared my feelings on meat-eating and my interest in sustainable meat consumption. When I heard about Marta Zaraska’s book, I had a feeling I would be the right audience. And, mostly, I was!


The first third of this book starts off with a juicy (I had to!) history of meat’s role in early humans’ lives (2.6 million years ago). As a social mechanism and a nutritional mechanism, eating the flesh of animals helped our ancestors evolve into us.

Then Zaraska segues into sections on meat in different cultures, individuals' different tasting abilities, and the pervasive idea of “meat hunger” -- a craving that can only be satisfied by, you guessed it, meat. She also discusses the unsavory meat industry in America.

Zaraska wraps up by discussing the future of meat (fake meats, especially) and why, even if a delicious meat-tasting alternative is created, it would be hard for humanity to go completely vegetarian.

My perspective:

This book was a quick and enjoyable read, but it lacked the excitement of some of the other food books I’ve reviewed. The author’s personal stories accumulated during her research and travel weren’t flushed out enough, so this book read like a lecture.

Is that good or bad? You decide.

I did get "hooked" on the section about unusual foods in different cultures though. Dog for dinner, anyone? If we’re on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, apparently yes!

One issue I had with Meathooked is that Zaraska’s agenda becomes a little too clear half-way through. She writes about meat consumption with a very strong feeling about the need to eat less meat. Let me say, I respect that. I happen to agree with her that it would be better for our health and our planet if we all ate less meat. A more selective meat consumption regime is something I'm personally exploring.

However, I didn’t appreciate the way she snuck that agenda in to her book. Yes, she's preaching to the choir, but there were a few instances that it felt TOO preachy, as if vegetarians have the moral high ground.

Have you read this book? Do you think YOU would give up eating meat?