Monday, 27 June 2011

Thoughts on Vegan Freak

Vegan Freak by Bob and Jenna Torres is the first 'new' vegan book I've read in quite a while, the combination of very little money, regular access to the internet and already knowing the basic facts has meant I haven't really made much effort to seek such things out. But - several years late - I decided I'd see what the fuss was about.

I have to admit I wasn't expecting to like this one as much as I did. I used to hang out on the Vegan Freak forums and didn't have a hugely happy experience there. There were a lot of cool people, but also quite a few who, well, I'm sure they're good people and their hearts are in the right place but we did not take the same approach to vegan advocacy or practice. In any other forum people get dissed for getting drunk, eating cheese and needing hand-holding. In that one admitting to making and feeling repentant about a mistake got the same reaction. Many new vegans need advice on getting their significant other on side, if they asked for that there you could guarantee multiple 'dump him/her' type responses. (Disclaimer, I was either single or dating a vegan at that point, so I'm not being sore from getting this response myself) I'd recommend it to an existing vegan or a new one with a thick skin, not to anyone easily offended. Personally I have my doubts about that sort of approach, even in terms of its effectiveness as a means to encourage people to go vegan. (Ok, being entirely fair, I also stopped hanging out there as much because a regular had an avatar that referenced one of my few phobias, that's nobody's issue but mine.)

In the light of this, the book was a pleasant surprise. Sure it pushed the hard line on veganism, but that's a good thing when done in a constructive way. The Torres' gave a lot of measured advice on how to talk about veganism in what contexts - don't preach or get gory over dinner with omni family, talk about it calmly another time, stick to your guns *without* creating a major row. (I know, and Bob and Jenna may also know, that not everyone can do this - there will be some contexts where no approach will entirely avoid aggro - I'm afraid the only solution there is probably to stick it out until the problem starts to fade. Eventually it will. Or if the aggressor isn't in your immediate family or your favourite person evah apart from this they might fade out instead.) There is a bit of goriness, just to fill the reader in (or provide a reminder of) why to go vegan, but the focus is generally on how/why it is wrong to *use* animals rather than why particularly egregious abuses are wrong. (We all know the latter anyway, you can eat meat four times a day and still think some things are wrong, so it isn't always the best hook to use for veganism specifically) There's a lot on why people become ex-vegans, which I found useful in trying to understand the most recent crop, and also how to avoid becoming one yourself.

There are a lot of books out there on either why or how to go vegan. This is probably the best I've seen at combining the two.

(Originally posted at Increasing Veganicity)

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