Cannonball Read III: Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World by Jenna and Bob Torres
The beginning of this review is probably a good place to mention that for the past year and change, I've pretty much been pescetarian while staying on the east coast (about three weeks out of the year) and lacto-ovo vegetarian on the west coast (where I spend the rest of my time). One of my goals for 2011 was to go lacto-ovo on the east coast, and maintain a vegan diet and lifestyle in Los Angeles.
For anyone who loves macaroni and cheese the way I do, this was a daunting prospect. So, I downloaded Vegan Freak to my Kindle. The synopsis billed it as an "informative and practical guide... (with) ...tips and advice for thriving without animal by-products." Sounded great!
And at first it seemed pretty great. The authors spend the intro and the first chapter or so talking about their own journey from the standard American diet, to vegetarianism, and then finally to veganism in a relatable way. Then things took a turn for the petulant and snarky.
When I decided to go veg*n, I never, ever aspired to be the preachy or diva variety of veg*n. I figured that would be unproductive for me, animals, and the people around me. Which is why it was so annoying to encounter such a judgmental and downright insulting attitude in Vegan Freak.
One of the authors recounts a story of a student asking him what he can eat, which is apparently a perfectly good reason to describe her as "dumb...(with) drool running down her cheek, as she breathed through her mouth." In reading their harsh descriptions of most friends, family members and acquaintances, I got the impression that the only thing worse than an omnivorous eater or a vegetarian in the authors' view was the dreaded "unrepentant ex-vegan." They deride such folks as being a "special breed of annoyance."
The authors strangely feel the need to dis co-op customers for being, "volvo driving, middle aged, leftover hippie types." They also don't seem to like "the hipster scourge that has subsumed the identity and originality of untold millions under cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, fixed-gear bikes, and DIY knit iPod cozies." So, it's cool to be vegan, just don't be an old vegan. Or a young one.
I could look past the insult-happy style of the book, if those informative and practical tips ever materialized. But the authors lift all their ethical arguments from books I've already read, all their shopping and product suggestions are stuff I already knew about from buying my own food, and everything else was just common sense.
Maybe the snark was just a bit over my personal threshold, maybe the advice was just a little more 101 than what I needed, but I certainly can't recommend Vegan Freak, especially not to my family and friends who already look at my lunches dubiously enough.
This review is part of Cannonball Read III. For more information, click here.
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