MeathookedThe History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat

One of the great science and health revelations of our time is the danger posed by meat-eating. Every day, it seems, we are warned about the harm producing and consuming meat can do to the environment and our bodies. Many of us have tried to limit how much meat we consume, and many of us have tried to give it up altogether. But it is not easy to resist the smoky, cured, barbequed, and fried delights that tempt us. What makes us crave animal protein, and what makes it so hard to give up? And if consuming meat is truly unhealthy for human beings, why didn’t evolution turn us all into vegetarians in the first place?

In Meathooked, science writer Marta Zaraska explores what she calls the “meat puzzle”: our love of meat, despite its harmful effects. Zaraska takes us on a witty tour of meat cultures around the word, stopping in India’s unusual steakhouses, animal sacrifices at temples in Benin, and labs in the Netherlands that grow meat in petri dishes. From the power of evolution to the influence of the meat lobby, and from our genetic makeup to the traditions of our foremothers, she reveals the interplay of forces that keep us hooked on animal protein.

A book for everyone from the diehard carnivore to the committed vegan, Meathooked illuminates one of the most enduring features of human civilization, ultimately shedding light on why meat-eating will continue to shape our bodies—and our world—into the foreseeable future.

Marta Zaraska is a Polish-Canadian journalist whose science writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, Scientific American, and New Scientist, among others. Zaraska divides her time between France and the United States.


“[Meathooked contains] many well-reported and engagingly described subjects-[Zaraska] has done enough research, and is a lively enough writer, that her arguments are original and entertaining, packed with tweetable facts and, often, pretty funny.”
Washington Post

“From char siu to boeuf bourguignon, meat has us hooked, proves journalist Marta Zaraska. Starting 1.5 billion years ago, when one bacterium first engulfed another, she zips through the evolution of human carnivory and examines the enduring pull of animal flesh by way of genetics, developmental biology, chemistry and nutrition. Zaraska negotiates the complexities nimbly, from meat’s pivotal part in building our big brains to the 1,000 substances that underpin its cooked odor-and the unpalatable influence of the industry on research.”

“Insightful-Like a master butcher expertly trimming gristle from a prime cut, Ms. Zaraska is often at her best when slicing away the many myths that surround meat.”
Wall Street Journal