I’m trying to find a short story by Asimov that I read years ago. The plot is that in the future, all meat is banned/illegal and carries a huge penalty if eaten/found. A few people can afford to buy it and eat it in places like opium dens. It’s treated like heroin is today.

  • 1
    Are you sure about Asimov? I keep thinking The Space Merchants by Frederick Pohl....I'm fairly sure meat was banned (or maybe in the sequel)
    – Danny Mc G
    Feb 10, 2022 at 6:56
  • 1
    Is it the same story asked about in Dystopian short story - greasy spoons and unhealthy food are illegal? Feb 10, 2022 at 7:13
  • 4
    Not a very good match but I wonder if it could be Food of the Gods by Arthur C Clarke?
    – skyjack
    Feb 10, 2022 at 8:37
  • 3
    @DannyMcG in Space Merchants, people eat meat all the time, only it's low grade cultured meat ("Chicken Little"), not something from live animals (which is not banned, just unavailable for most people). Feb 10, 2022 at 11:16
  • 1
    Number Ten Q Street by Helen McCloy is about a woman who goes to a secret bar to eat unhealthy food. In the end she gets caught and is sentenced to being frozen (some kind of suspended animation) for the rest of her life. Does this ring a bell? Steak is mentioned as one of the forbidden unhealthy foods, though the woman eats bread and butter not a steak. Feb 11, 2022 at 8:05

1 Answer 1


I'll suggest "The Contraband Cow" by L. Sprague de Camp, first published in Astounding in 1942. Although it is not actually by Asimov as specified in the question, Sprague de Camp was a contemporary and a friend of his, which could lead to their work being confused.

It is set in a future USA, forming part of the "Federation of Democratic and Libertarian States". A Hindu majority in the Federation has forced through a law banning the consumption of "all animals of the subfamily Bovinae of the family Bovidae, the same comprising kine, buffaloes, bison, zebus, gayals, bantengs, yaks, and species closely related thereto", which mainly affects Americans wanting to eat steaks or roast beef. As far as I can see the penalties for being caught are not given, but I suppose they are reasonably grave.

Beef is available illegally from "steakeasies", and is produced either by local steakleggers (who are no problem to anyone), or on a larger scale by Mexican cartels. The parallels to illegal alcohol under Prohibition are very clear. Two researchers who are developing synthetic meat go to a secluded area to eat a steak, but one of them is first arrested by a Sikh Federal agent, and then kidnapped by a Mexican cartel who wish to shut down this competition to their trade. Various twist and turns of plot then

lead to the father of the Federal patrolman, an eminent Indian politician, overturning the anti-vacacide law, thereby assuring ruin for the cartels.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.