Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Why You Don't Need Meat and other stories

I will own up and say that I was the teensiest bit wrong in the last post, when I stated that Vegan Freak was the first book I'd come across that combined the why and the how of not eating animals. Only the teensiest bit though. Peter Cox's Why You Don't Need Meat rocks the whole combination of why and how, of goriness with nutrition info, of tips on coexistence with the omnis in your life and exhortations to stand your ground... You get the idea. What it does not rock, iirc (my copy is in a different country from me so I can't check for sure) is the vegan angle. I think it hints that veganism would be an ideal, but it also stops short of recommending it and includes dairy, eggs and so on in the nutrition bit. It may also be a bit dated by now, I got the original edition in paperback nearly twenty years ago. It did the job for what I needed back then though!

There were a few books that got me through as a newbie vegetarian and vegan. The first, which appears to be out of print but available secondhand through Amazon, is the Teenage Vegetarian Survival Guide by Anouchka Grose (went for a while by Grose Forrester). This contains tips about veganism, but mostly is about the wrongs of eating meat. The case for veganism was largely put to me firstly by current events - this was during the heyday of live calf exports following on the tail of controversy about battery farming kicked off by one Mrs Currie - and by fiction. I was rather solitary as a young person and books were my connection with the outside world. The most impressive of these in my opinion was Jean Ure's Who Says Animals Don't Have Rights which also goes into ideas such as direct action and how far to go in the name of a cause.

The best books I've had on animal rights have been Campaign Against Cruelty by Alex Bourke and Ronny Worsey and (the original UK paperback of) Ingrid Newkirk's Save the Animals! The former deals with starting campaigns and forming groups, the latter with tips for what you can do in your everyday life. When I left PETA they sent me a copy of the new, improved edition, personally I didn't find it quite so inspiring as the older one for some reason. That could just be me though. When I review makeup and skincare I often point out that your skin chemistry and colouring is likely to be different, the same goes for your reaction to any given book.

And the worst, hmm. There was a book called Commonsense Vegetarianism that appeared in my parents' house at some stage, which may have had some sensible advice in but largely seemed to be scaremongering about how careful you have to be. It was seriously anti-vegan. Nice and all that my folks were making the effort to read up on it, but I wish they'd found a more positive source - suffice it to say it would have been less hassle for everyone. Then there was another teenage fiction book, Burning Issues, can't be bothered to look up the author here but the gist of it is that animal activists are all psychos or dupes. It was also incredibly frustrating that the main character didn't show a sign of being vegetarian, let alone vegan. Then there's Skinny Bitch, I've talked about that before right at the start of this blog. Suffice it to say here that conflating ethical veganism with dieting doesn't strike me as a good idea and I will never be down with 'lov[ing] the empty feeling in your stomach'.

What were your most (and least) inspiring reads when going vegan?

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