On the Transition from 2020 to 2021

The year that was, the year that will be.

2020 was defined for me—more than by the pandemic, more than by my book deal—by the success of this newsletter. It has buoyed me financially and emotionally, and opened up so much possibility. There are now over 10,400 free signups and 1,400 paid subscribers, and that’s incredible, as well as a big responsibility. I worry I’ve become less a writer, less a journalist, and more an influencer—that’s something I’ll be thinking about during my time off. I need a break, because I can feel myself, in my writing, being too venomous, too angry, too mean, and I would like to return some wonder to my perspective on the world. To do this, I’m gonna read. And sleep. And watch a lot of Nordic TV.

When I return, there will be conversations with Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy, Claire Sprouse of Hunky Dory, and farmer and journalist Nicola Harvey, among many others. There will be inquiries into language justice, the spice trade, coffee, and more. But the Monday essay will sometimes be a book review, sometimes a TV show or movie review, sometimes be a photo diary, sometimes be a cooking journal. I have to spend the first six months of the year deep, deep, deep in work on my book, and that will likely come at the expense of me being able to churn out so many opinion pieces, so many reported essays. I hope that’s ok, and I hope the audience grows and moves with me. I hope to keep you engaged.

Before that break, what was some cool stuff from 2020? I was on Good Morning America and the BBC World Service’s “Food Chain” to discuss food media. I talked about meat on “Point of Origin” from Whetstone; I moderated a panel on meat for the Museum of Food and Drink. I had notable essays in Best American Food Writing 2020 and Best American Travel Writing 2020. I wrote about food for non-food magazines, such as In These Times, Time, The New Republic, The Guardian,Refinery29, and The Baffler. I sold my book, Meatless, to Beacon Press.

I have become a different writer, a better writer, but I’m burned out and overwhelmed after spending most of the year focused on how service workers and restaurants might survive, and on how the industrial meat and agriculture industries disregard not just ecology but human life for the sake of profit. I’m just tired, and I hope to see you on the flip side.

Happy holidays—stay safe and warm. (And follow me on Instagram, where I’ll be doing plenty of baking Lives.)