Here in the U.S. we’ve just celebrated the Fourth of July, with its parades, fireworks, and, of course, cook-outs. If you’re like me, the smell of a grilling burger can make you salivate from across the yard. I feel like Pavlov’s dog whenever it happens, and that includes the seven or so years I was a vegetarian. I’d like to say I react this way only on these idyllic occasions summer holidays, family barbecues, campfire weenie roasts under a star-filled sky. But the truth is I can be walking to my car in July across a 95-degree asphalt parking and smell the exhaust fan from a Burger King a block away: suddenly I need one of those flame-broiled burgers. Every time this happens I ask myself, “Why? Why is this smell such a trigger?”
That’s exactly the question that drives Marta Zaraska‘s new book, Meathooked: The History and Science of our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat (Basic Books, 2016). As a science writer whose work has been featured in The Washington Post, Scientific America, and Newsweek, Zaraska has come across information thats more or less familiar to us: how bad meat is for our health, for our environment, and certainly for the animals in the massive feeding operations. And yet, as Zaraska points out, we’re eating as much meat as ever and, globally, we’re eating even more. So why? Why are we so hooked on meat?
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