I met Alicia Kennedy...
on the platform formerly known as Twitter a few years ago, before the electric car guy bought it and drove off most of the best voices, including hers. She’d posted something about Diamond Crystal kosher salt, and I’d replied by pointing out that it was owned by Cargill, America’s largest privately held company, an agribusiness behemoth that controls a large chunk of the world’s food supply, and called by some “the worst company in the world.” That was news to Kennedy, and she called me to talk about it a few weeks later for one of her newsletters.
I’d been following Kennedy because I liked her food writing. The Long Island native had worked as a copy editor, wrote for the Village Voice, and ran a vegan bakery before falling in love on a trip to Puerto Rico and moving there to be with the man who’s now her husband. Her Twitter posts led me to her newsletter about, as she says, “food culture, politics, and media.”
Alicia calls her new book, “an imperative, ecologically speaking, to eat less meat, and to make a case for how that can be something we all do and it doesn’t have to have this grand overarching meaning.”
In an interview with Eater’s Bettina Makalintal, Kennedy describes her just published book, No Meat Required: The Cultural History and Culinary Future of Plant-Based Eating, as “an imperative, ecologically speaking, to eat less meat, and to make a case for how that can be something we all do and it doesn’t have to have this grand overarching meaning.”
It–eating less meat–should also be delicious, something that Kennedy demonstrates regularly with her recipes. Simple, straightforward, and mostly vegan, they offer a path to food that requires neither meat nor ersatz substitutes to be delicious. Her beans in escabeche, the kind of simple dish made with everyday pantry ingredients and produce, provides a great example of something very, very tasty that doesn’t need meat to make it taste so good.
No Meat Required
In her first book, Alicia Kennedy makes the case for living what the Atlantic calls “a rich, enjoyable, and ethical life” that deprioritizes meat in an effort to combat the ills of climate change, agribusiness, and misguided international food policy. Highlighting the culinary philosophies of everyone from Malcom X to Superiority Burger’s Brooks Headley, Alicia’s rangy curiosity and accessible writing style make No Meat Required necessary reading for anyone with an interest in our shared foodways.
Beans en Escabeche
By Alicia Kennedy
Aromatic Caribbean sofrito makes this dish one of our go-tos.
Lemon-Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
By Alicia Kennedy
This simple cake brightens any day, and you’ve probably got all of the ingredients in your pantry already.