What Makes Kicking That Meat Habit So Hard?

When it comes to eating meat, the United States remains supreme, and in a country that's always got meat on its mind, it can be difficult for an individual to reduce their consumption. In a Huffington Post interview science journalist, travel writer, and vegetarian Marta Zaraska reveals just what makes it so hard, and how we can overcome these obstacles.

Zaraska discusses her recently released book Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat, directing our attention to a report she researched that examines the difference in neuron signaling and brain chemistry among individuals, which can contribute to some people finding meat tastier than vegetables. Zaraska cites this as one cause of continued and persistent consumption of meat.

To give us hope, however, Zaraska also addresses a widespread misconception that leads to the idea that we as humans need animal protein to be strong. According to her research, a study conducted in the 1800s analyzed animal-protein intake by observing the meat consumption of soldiers and laborers. The researchers involved then misguidedly applied their results as standard intakes for the average person. As a result, the “eat meat to be strong” concept stemmed from this association of meat with soldiers and laborers and the false attribution of their habits to the human population at large. This contributes to the reason why, in the words of Zaraska, “Meat came to symbolize wealth, power over nature, power over other nations.” Because of this, people often forget that plenty of alternative forms of protein exist and can even be better than meat.

When asked what she hopes readers will take away from her book, Zaraska advocates for reduced meat intake and hopes people will realize that they don't need to consume as much animal-based protein as they think. She states that “knowing why humanity doesn’t want to give up meat, what keeps us so hooked, will make it easier to draft strategies to change the current trends.”

Written by Marcos Cervantes