Before she was a butcher, Meredith Leigh was a vegetarian. She was fascinated by plants and loved vegetables—how they grew, the way they tasted right out of the field, how they changed color and texture as they cooked.
But during a trip to Vietnam in 2004—after Leigh had been a vegetarian for nine years and a vegan for two—a woman named Loi served her water buffalo. Aware that Loi had raised and slaughtered the animal herself, the act of eating it became an act of connecting, and Leigh began to consider the idea of ethical meat.
“Eating gained new meaning,” she writes of that experience in The Ethical Meat Handbook: Complete Home Butchery, Charcuterie, and Cooking for the Conscious Omnivore. It was then, she says, “I began my journey into the meaningful consumption of animals.”
Concerned that her previous choice to forego meat had had little effect on the systems by which animals are raised—and virtually no impact on the lives or deaths of those animals—Leigh started to identify with the concept of ethical meat.Debbie Weingarten