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Who's afraid of cooking vegetables? Changing conceptions of American vegetarianism 18501990

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This essay examines the changing attitude toward vegetarianism in America in the second half of the nineteenth century and in the twentieth century. Vegetarianism in America has never effectively challenged the primacy of meat in American cuisine. Instead it recurrently centres on the ability to dress meatless dishes in the image of meat and on decontextualizing, appropriating and recontextualizing vegetarian dishes into meat-oriented cuisine. The construction of a cuisine whose boundaries encompassed two culinary doctrines proved to be a mechanism that compelled meat-oriented cuisine to respond to vegetarianism and prevented the latter from developing into an independent culinary discourse. Exploring the dimensions of these processes reveals that the boundary between the apparent autonomy of cuisines on the one hand and arenas of power on the other has proved highly permeable: economic and political considerations have affected the popularity and acceptance of the culinary schools shaping American vegetarianism.
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Keywords: American cuisine; cookbooks; discourse; vegetarianism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, The Kibbutzum College of Education, Tel Aviv.

Publication date: November 1, 2002

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  • The European Journal of American Culture (EJAC) is an academic, refereed journal for scholars, academics and students from many disciplines with a common involvement in the interdisciplinary study of America and American culture, drawing on a variety of approaches and encompassing the whole evolution of the country.
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