Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian's Survival Handbook

From readers:

“After hearing you speak, I bought your book, the Vegetarian Survival Guide. I do not find that meat eaters confront me very often. In fact, I have not thought much about what I would say to a meat eater until your talk at the UPC conference. Now, after reading your book, I feel so inspired! I cannot thank you enough for the kindling you have provided to light my "vegan fire" again! I sincerely appreciate the work you do and cannot wait to read your other books and to hear you speak again. I wish I could explain the motivation you have given me to face the world as a proud and educated vegan. All I can say is THANK YOU!”

“I recently read your book, Living Among Meat Eaters, and I wanted to let you know how good it was to finally gain some understanding about why my diet matters to so many people. [Your book] helped me re-affirm why I'm a vegan at a time when I was feeling alone and discouraged.”

An invisible meat eater/vegetarian dynamic exists. Left unacknowledged it traps both groups in social interactions that can be painful and upsetting: conversations that become arguments; interactions that become confrontations; meals that exclude vegetarians; friends who sabotage them; nonvegetarian lovers who alienate them. Living Among Meat Eaters guides vegetarians through these sticky situations with friends, relatives, co-workers, waitstaff, and partners. Whereas meat eaters may be surprised that such a book is necessary, vegetarians will understand immediately. Nothing prepares us for the reactions our vegetarianism prompts from the larger meat-eating culture. Nothing, that is, until now.

From my experience speaking on campuses and to vegetarian groups, I encountered similar questions from vegetarians throughout the country. To my surprise, these questions focused on how, why, and what: "How do I relate to a meat eater who has just done this?" "Why did this happen?" "What can I do?"

Anyone who is living on a low-fat or vegetarian diet will pick up Living Among Meat Eaters and breathe a sigh of relief. "So that is why that happened," they can think, as they remind themselves of that awful restaurant experience or the bitter disagreement they had with their parents/lover/best friend. Then they will see how to prevent it from happening again. Next they will urge the book upon their vegetarian friends because, finally, a book makes sense of their experiences.

Since Living Among Meat Eaters has been published, I have heard from people who have read it and write, "I keep saying ‘yes, yes, yes' as I read it. You put into words what so many of us have felt." Meat eaters have written to say that they realized they were blocked vegetarians and have stopped eating animals.

Table of Contents for Living Among Meat Eaters

- When Worlds Collide

- Are You at Peace?

- Repairing the Hole in Our Conscience

- Judgment, Guilt, and Anger

- Sabotage and Other Meat-Eating Defenses

- Talking with Meat Eaters

- Stopping the Conversation

- Love at Work I: Living with Meat Eaters

- The Nature of Relationships and Kitchens

- Love at Work II: Living with Meat Eaters

- The Family System

- Love at Work III: Living with Meat Eaters

- Partners and Children

- Grace at Work: Eating with Meat Eaters

- At Work: Working with, for, and (sometimes) against Meat Eaters

- Magician at Work: Cooking for Meat Eaters

- Being the Mover not the Moved

- Recipes for Yourself and Others

- Appendix A. Living Among Meat Eaters: Rules of Thumb

- Appendix B: Letter to Parents of Vegetarians

- Appendix C: The Vegetarian Patrons of Restaurants Card

- Appendix D: International Vegetarian Card

Reviews of Living Among Meat Eaters

"Adams (The Sexual Politics of Meat), a writer and lecturer on vegetarianism, offers advice to practicing vegetarians about eating with omnivores. She covers everything from how to answer the question, ‘Are you a vegetarian?" to tips for dining out and handling meals in a business setting. She also includes a selection of favorite recipes, adapted from classic vegetarian cookbooks. Adams argues that vegetarians today have it rough: "we see death in [meat eaters'] meals, they see it in ours. Attempts will be made to disempower your viewpoint. Your diet is the issue, but you become the target.' Point well made."
--Publishers Weekly

"Vegetarians abstain from eating animal products in order to lead a peaceful lifestyle, but when food choices clash, conversations and mealtimes aren't so harmonious. To aid in the discussion, Adams, author of the underground classic The Sexual Politics of Meat, offers vegetarians ways that can change the quality of their interactions with carnivores. She first asks, ‘Are you at peace?' because vegetarians who are insecure in their choices represent meat eaters' worst fear: that vegetarianism equals denial and scarcity. Once vegetarians know that the insecurity is not from within, they can see the verbal abuse and emotional blackmail as a sign of the meat eaters' insecurity. Then Adams lists various techniques, form deflecting sabotage to identifying subtext (‘If you loved me you'd eat this meat' isn't about food–it's about love), and suggests how these techniques may change work, living, and family situations. Besides her own experience, Adams shares stories gleaned from readers' letters–fitting in a book about social interaction."
--Library Journal

"Vegetarians often get defensive and feel under siege when coworkers, parents, siblings, and friends challenge their selective eating practices. For them, Carol J. Adams' Living Among Meat Eaters may prove a real gift. Adams shows how using humor, being patient, and accepting the fact that general society values eating meat can deflect pointless arguing and begin to raise consciousness of others. She should know–she lives in Texas, where identity is inextricably linked with steaks and chili con carne. Some may argue with Adams' generalization that meat eaters are simply ‘blocked' vegetarians. Nevertheless, her advice also brings comfort to anyone not omnivorous, including meat eaters who eschew pork or seafood or anyone keeping a strict Kosher diet."

"No Meat? No problem. Being a vegetarian in a meat-eaters' world isn't easy and Carol J. Adams knows it. She has written Living Among Meat Eaters, a common-sense guide to help vegetarians navigate sticky situations."
--Chicago Sun-Times

"To new vegetarians, Living Among Meat Eaters offers hope: it is possible to live by your principles without saying good-bye to family, friends, and job. To every vegetarian who lives, works, and eats with carnivores, it offers peace of mind, as well as the prospect of opening the meat eaters in our lives to vegetarianism. It should be read by everyone who encounters the Dilemma [of interacting with defensive meat-eaters] on even an occasional basis."

"A theme woven through the entire text is that staying out of arguments–even with the most argumentative of meat eaters, modeling peace, and very importantly having excellent vegan food at hand, are important ways to alleviate or avoid friction. Rather than bursting out of the starting line with this simple but profound advice, she leads readers to the bottom line by way of a multitude of colorful passages that you won't want to miss. Be sure to check out the Meat Eaters' Classification of Vegetarians (the Ascetic, the Puritan, the Bambi Vegetarian, the Freak, the Holier-Than-Thou-Vegetarian, and the Phobic) and the Classification of Saboteurs (Adams explains that meat eaters engage in sabotage in order to block the painful process of bring the truth about animal products to their consciousness, and some of the types profiled are the Caring Saboteur, the Dominance and Control Saboteur, and the Hostile Saboteur).

Adams also spends ample time in the practical realm, too, offering dynamite advise on fielding comments."
--Vegetarian Voice

Ten years in the making, Living Among Meat-Eaters is a truly monumental work. It's really three books in one. On one level it offers practical advice on living abundantly in a meat-eating culture, rich with stories and graceful guidance. At the same time, Living Among Meat-Eaters provides a unique exploration into the psychology of the meat-eater. Either of these contributions alone would make for a valuable read, but Adams then takes it a step further and constructs a model based on her psychological insights for how we can best become vehicles to spread veganism, making it a veritable field guide for vegan advocacy.

Her practical tips on living true to oneself in a dominant meat-eating culture include suggestions on everything from handling holidays at home to sharing a kitchen with flesh-eating roommates. Living Among Meat-Eaters explores the interpersonal dynamics of dealing with friends, family, co-workers. There's even a special section on living with meat-eating parents, with an open letter to parents beseeching their support for their vegetarian teens. The book just overflows with anecdotes and wit and snappy one-liner retorts to all the annoying questions vegans get asked over and over. All this wrapped up with the obligatory recipe section for favorite comfort foods Carol Adams' collected and personalized over the years.

Incorporating her theories of meat-eater psychology, Adams makes powerful arguments to back up her claims. Living Among Meat-Eaters argues for a more inviting approach that connects to the part of them that desires change, not the part that blocks change. She asks us to try to find commonalties, to listen to their stories, and to reflect on the time in our lives when we may have been meat-eaters ourselves.

Our movement sadly lacks theorists. Carol Adams is one of our brilliant exceptions. Her frameworks have provided pivotal understanding into the role of meat-eating in our culture.

Living Among Meat-Eaters is frankly entertaining-in some parts literally laugh-out-loud funny. This is the book we've been waiting for to finally make sense of all the hostility, of all the same stale questions. Finally, not only a coherent picture of what we're up against, but an array of tools we can use to free ourselves and others from contributing to this death culture of meat consumption. Living Among Meat-Eaters is a must read for anyone serious about vegan outreach."
--Michael Greger, Vegan Outreach