When you grow up in a strictly vegetarian household, tofu and tempeh come to feel like siblings. At times odd and off-putting, but a part of you nevertheless. Meat becomes the intimidating neighbor down the street that you'd prefer kept its distance. But when your health is waning and doctor's orders leave you standing on the threshold of a butcher shop, how do you maneuver through the icy meat cases? Can you learn to distinguish rump roast from top round? Do you even want to?
Tara Austen Weaver's book, "The Butcher and the Vegetarian," is her plunge into carnivorous waters. Desperate to solve the mystery of her perpetual weight gain and her nearly debilitating fatigue, Weaver honestly recants her journey in navigating through the butcher shop. The reader is at once charmed by her wit and admiring of her sincerity. She understands that the choice to eat meat is not simple, nor should it be taken lightly. It is with beautiful honesty that she shares her struggle to find a middle ground between beans and bacon. In a culture that has been deemed a bit meat-centric, she carefully considers every aspect of meat eating- from ethics and the environment to her own energy and enjoyment.
But her writing isn't limited to salami sandwiches and fragrant Syrian kebabs, though those parts are mouthwatering. What makes her tale worth reading are the personal reflections she shares along the year-long journey. The story is in itself a top quality cut of beef. Aged with just the right amount of history and anecdotes, well marbled with characters, seared with heart, and juicy in its honesty. A fine dining experience to read.