While this book boasts over 50 Vegan recipes (even some for non-human animals!), it is not really a cookbook. I had slightly hoped it would inspire me to start cooking more (I’m vegan and I really don’t cook because I do not have the time — I find myself buying pre-made dinners or eating out a lot, actually), but it didn’t really end up doing that. I am not compelled to start experimenting in my tiny apartment kitchen. I’m unmotivated to break from my low-effort veganism in that way. I also do not think reading about cooking is helpful to me learning how to better cook and work it into my life. What I have picked up is usually from videos or infographics. This book contains no pictures of its suggested food, honestly. Like I said, it’s not a cookbook.
However, I think this book has good cross-over appeal to non-vegans to help them understand and transition into a vegan lifestyle. It is a good introduction to veganism as a whole and it also reinforces some of the choices vegans are already making. It encourages people who care about social justice issues and feminism to put their actions where their mouths are. Activism is lived.
The book mentions many other books I’ve reviewed here on my blog (such as We Animals, Beasts of Burden, etc.) which almost made it feel like “the same old thing” for me. The book’s main thesis is that Veganism is more than just a healthy diet choice; that what we eat affects humans and has social justice implications, which is a fairly underrepresented argument in publishing. This argument is, I think, is very similar to the ones that the book Aphro-ism and others make, if not a little more focused on the environmentalism and praxis points. Something that bothered me about the book was that it did not seem to reference Aphro-ism or the authors Aph Ko or Syl Ko. I even double checked the index and they were not listed, while other referenced authors were. The fact that Carol J. Adams, who is the author of The Sexual Politics of Meat, and Virginia Messina, a dietitian who runs a vegan website, are both white women did not really make it seem like the target audience for this book is very inclusive. I wish more voices had been represented for a book on this topic.
While I think white women need to hear some of the messages in the book, I think the cover and the title are a bit misleading — for example: the image of the fist seems to call forth the Black Panther fist. I’m not sure what to make of it. I think a lot of the book tour for the book involved non-white voices, but I haven’t been following it very closely.
The book is still very quotable and informative:
“Donald Trump actively exploited the fiction of self-sufficiency during the presidential campaign of 2016. Despite his birth into wealth, the assistance his father provided, the nameless staff that enabled his work, the tax benefits he leveraged, the ghostwriter of his book, Trump cultivated the idea that he succeeded on his own, as self-made man. He also benefited from generous subsidies from banks.
In Beasts of Burden, Sunaura Taylor points out that one result of this prizing of ‘independence’ is that disabled people’s lives are often seen as tragic. But, dependence is relative, according to British disability activist Michael Oliver. People with disabilities see independence as the ability to be in control of and make decisions about their own lives, rather than being able to dess, was, or cook without help.”
“When David Foster Wallace turns his attention from lobsters to farmed animals, he makes a noteworthy observation. ‘It is significant that “lobster,” “fish,” and “chicken” are our culture’s words for both the animal and the meat, whereas most mammals seem to require euphemisms like “beef” and “pork” that help us separate the meat we eat from the living creature the meat once was.’
There is evidence that people feel a small sense of unease –or no sense of unease at all — about eating birds and fishes. This might be one reason why meant-reducers often gravitate away from beef and pork. It feels like a logical place to start. Moving away from these foods is good for health and the environment. It’s good for cows and pigs, too. But if you are looking at the issue of how to reduce your meat intake from the perspective of compassion, it’s not the logical place to start at all. To make a change that has a significant impact on animal suffering, it makes far better sense to stop eating chickens and fishes.”
“Children have a natural affinity for animals. Instead of taking them to a petting zoo — an encounter that teaches that their experience is more important than the animals’ experience of captivity — give them an opportunity to see animals in settings that honor their inherent dignity. Farm animal sanctuaries are able to save only a small number of animals from today’s factor farms. But their essential work allows people to connect with individual cows, goats, pigs, turkeys, and chickens, giving visitors the opportunity to learn more about why the work to liberate animals from factory farms is so important. You can find a list of these sanctuaries at http://www.vegan.com/farm-sanctuaries.
In addition to farm sanctuaries, there are safe havens for wild animals. If you can’t get to one of these places in person, there are ways to bring the experience right to your home. Visit the lions and bears of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado through their video series at http://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org or help schoolchildren take a virtual field trip to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee through their distance learning program on http://www.elephantsanctuary.org.