Part memoir, part cultural criticism, and part culinary history with a focus on sustainability, labor rights, and feminism. This incredibly researched book chronicles Kennedy's personal food history and the radical past and future of plant-based eating. It will challenge you to make more thoughtful approaches to the way you eat, regardless of whether you're an omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan.
No Meat Required is a bestselling culinary and cultural history of plant-based eating in the United States that delves into the subcultures and politics that have defined alternative food—Diet for a Small Planet for a new generation
The vegan diet used to be associated only with eccentric hippies and tofu-loving activists who shop at co-ops and live on compounds. We’ve come a long way since then. Now, fine-dining restaurants like Eleven Madison Park cater to chic upscale clientele with a plant-based menu, and Impossible Whoppers are available at Burger King. But can plant-based food keep its historical anti-capitalist energies if it goes mainstream? And does it need to?
In No Meat Required, author Alicia Kennedy chronicles the fascinating history of plant-based eating in the United States, from the early experiments in tempeh production undertaken by the Farm commune in the 70s to the vegan punk cafes and anarchist zines of the 90s to the chefs and food writers seeking to decolonize vegetarian food today.
Many people become vegans because they are concerned about the role capitalist food systems play in climate change, inequality, white supremacy, and environmental and cultural degradation. But a world where Walmart sells frozen vegan pizzas and non-dairy pints of ice cream are available at gas stations – raises distinct questions about the meanings and goals of plant-based eating.
Kennedy—a vegetarian, former vegan, and once-proprietor of a vegan bakery—understands how to present this history with sympathy, knowledge, and humor. No Meat Required brings much-needed depth and context to our understanding of vegan and vegetarian cuisine, and makes a passionate argument for retaining its radical heart.
About the Author
Alicia Kennedy is a writer from Long Island, New York, now living in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her work on food and culture has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Bon Appétit, and many other publications, including Best American Food Writing 2023. She regularly publishes essays and cultural criticism in her newsletter, From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy.
“Though not a traditional cookbook in any sense of the word, everyone who loves to cook is excited about No Meat Required, food writer Alicia Kennedy’s contribution to the conversation about plant-based eating. In her signature evocative and thoughtful prose, Kennedy asks the reader to join her in questioning meat’s role in our culture.” —Vogue
“One of the pleasures of reading this book is that it prompts us to think about nature’s variety and abundance, and about how that abundance can show up on our plates.” —The Atlantic
“No Meat Required serves up a well-researched look at American veganism and lays the groundwork for plant-based cuisine.” —Chicago Review of Books
“A compelling and highly informative exploration of the meatless movement in the United States.” —Vigour Time
“No Meat Required was always going to be a hugely important book, but it didn’t have to be a total pleasure. This is what happens when a writer as curious, compassionate, and truth-seeking as Kennedy goes all out on a subject that she knows matters deeply, to her and to the world.” —Lauren Collins, staff writer, The New Yorker
“In a dietary discourse starved for historical and cultural context, Alicia’s work and analysis on the politics of eating meat (or not!) have been enduringly informed and insightful, punctuated by No Meat Required. There’s no one else I’d rather read on the subject!” —Stephen Satterfield, host of High on the Hog and founder of Whetstone Media
“Everyone, whether vegan, vegetarian, or omnivorous, needs to read this elegantly written, thought-provoking treatise.” —Nigella Lawson
“An impressively exhaustive look at where vegetable-centered eating comes from and where it might head, and a vital reminder that today’s dominant idea of veganism tells very little of the story.” —Tamar Adler, author of An Everlasting Meal