Fiction w/a vegan/AR sensibility?
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I know there are vegan authors out there, writing cookbooks or vegan advocacy books. What about novels that feature veganism positively? (as opposed to the dreadful Vegan Virgin Valentine, where, iirc, veganism serves as a bad coping mechanism after a teen breakup, to be abandoned once she gets over it) I know about Scarlett Thomas, altho' I haven't yet read any of her works. Who else?
I was thinking about this specifically in terms of science fiction/fantasy (I blogged about it here), but am interested in fiction more generally too.
Thanks for any suggestions!
I did a tag mash of fiction,vegan and came up with a pretty good sized list. I didn't recognize many of the titles, and I'm not sure if the vegan characters are positive or not... maybe a tag mash of science fiction, vegan?
Its worth a try, eh?
Ok, I tried tagmash for science fiction, vegan and only came up with 4 books. Of those, end of mr. y had several favorable reviews... although I haven't read it. I think I will try to find a copy now though.
Thanks, diffuse, for bringing up this topic!
Heh, right after I posted I discovered the glory of the tagmash. Although they come up w/some really odd stuff--I did one on "vegan, fiction" or something like that & a lot of COOKBOOKS came up. Hm.
I'm reading Scarlett Thomas's PopCo right now (not science fiction) & it's really, really good. It does have a couple of vegan characters--there's one point where I think it's mentioned really clumsily, but otherwise I think it's not preachy or obvious thus far @ all. I'll probably try her The End of Mr. Y soon too.
Anyone else have any leads on fiction w/sympathetic vegan characters (or that does interesting/positive stuff w/vegan/AR themes)?
I read The End of Mr. Y several months back. There's an animal-rights plotline in there involving mice. I read some reviews after I finished the book, and found that the critics generally praised the brainier post-structuralist elements of the book, while labeling the mice plotline as extraneous and uninteresting. Funny, because it was the only element of the book that really interested me much. (Maybe because Derrida and Heidegger make me want to jab a pen through my heart.)
Which is not to say that I don't recommend the book, because I thought that isolated passages of it were quite interesting. I kept the book for this reason. But as a whole, I didn't think the book was that great.
Great idea. I don't know why I never considered finding books with vegan characters. Guess I just assumed they didn't exit. I'll be searching out some of these to read.
You really have to try Michel Faber's Under the Skin for a 'searing indictment' (as the papers always call it) of our meat-eating culture. Not only a political tour-de-force (where are all these cliches coming from today?) but a truly brilliant novel. Faber writes so beautifully that he could probably convince me that eating my own family is a good thing - so it's probably just as well he hasn't tried. Yet.
Didn't realize that was the same guy who wrote The Crimson Petal & the White -- I tried to read that & couldn't get through it. I may have to check that out, tho'. A searing indictment of meat-eating culture sounds good, no matter how cliched the phrase is. :)
Also, I've heard The End of Mr. Y can be a bit of work to get through. Hm. Maybe I'll try it anyway, as I loved loved loved Popco (which I just finished; I don't usually put my reviews/thoughts on LibraryThing, so my review is here).
Anyone read Meg Cabot's Big Boned? Here's the summary from my local library's website:
"Life is reasonably rosy for plus-size ex-pop star turned Assistant Dormitory Director and sometime sleuth Heather Wells. Her freeloading ex-con dad is finally moving out. She still yearns for her hot landlord, Cooper Cartwright, but her relationship with "rebound beau", vigorous vegan math professor Tad Tocco, is more than satisfactory. When the latest murdered corpse to clutter up her jurisdiction turns out to be her exceedingly unlovable boss, Heather finds herself on the shortlist of prime suspects. "
A "vigorous vegan" being "more than satisfactory" as a beau! That's kind of exciting--unless, of course, she ends up dumping him b/c she thinks he's too picky or too wimpy or too obsessed or something. Ha.
Anyway, it sounds like it could be nice fluff reading, for those who are inclined towards that. I might check it out myself @ some point.
Edited to add: I found a review of it that says:
"Heather's love life picks up, too, with Tad Tocco, who, except for his overly healthy lifestyle, is practically perfect."
Ha. So maybe she does ditch him for his veganism. :P Dumb!
It is occasionally brought up in various Star Trek books that Vulcans are vegetarian; iirc one of Diane Duane's has a pretty funny scene featuring malfunctioning computers turning out salads that look like steaks. :-)
'Rage and Reason' is the ultimate animal rights revenge novel. Tragically, my copy was taken from me some time ago.
I ran "vegan" through Novelist and came up with these:
Tofu and T. rex (Teen)
Hans-Peter, who enjoys working in his family's Chicago delicatessen, applies for admission to the prestigious Peshtigo School that his cousin Freddie, a vegan and outspoken animal rights activist, attends.
School Library Journal Review: Gr 5-8 –This book will make kids laugh out loud. Eighth-grader Frederika Murchison-Kowalski (known as Freddie, the militant vegan) is sent back to prestigious Peshtigo School in Chicago after torching her school's football field to protest the use of a live mascot, “Angus the Fighting Angus,” for the pep rally. She will now live with her cousin and her grandfather, who owns a delicatessen. Hans-Peter is in the process of applying to Peshtigo School because of its great paleontology program and he needs the inside scoop, which Freddie can give him, if they can tolerate one another long enough to talk. This tale of friendship and family, told from the viewpoints of the two cousins, is well written, witty, and funny. All of the characters, including the grandfather, go through a period of development and change, allowing readers to get to know and empathize with them. The plot moves a bit slowly at some points but there is enough action to keep even reluctant readers interested.–Kristen M. Todd, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY --Kristen M. Todd (Reviewed September 1, 2005) (School Library Journal, vol 51, issue 9, p213)
Vegan vampire. End of transmission.
--Or not (No touchstone?)
14-year old Cassie Sullivan refuses to go along with some of the things the majority embraces at her school and is surprised to find how much is made of her actions. Cassie tries to stay cool in the face of torments and finds refuge in keeping her journal. She beings to question if just simply existing is what she wants, or not?.
Booklist Review: Cassie is an eighth-grader in 2002, when emotions from the 9/11 attacks are still raw, and everyone is trying to make sense of the drastic changes around them. Cassie works out her confusion by journaling effusively over the course of the fall semester. A bit of a hippie throwback, Cassie prefers vinyl to CD, is a vegan, refuses to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, and doesn't shave her legs—all traits that make her an outsider at her school. But it's her negative view of the country's support for reprisal that incurs the most wrath from her peers. She withdraws as much as possible, until she finds some refreshing, more tolerant friends in a writing group. If the language and philosophical musings sometimes veer into precocious pretension, Cassie is interesting and likable, and her voice grows stronger as her character develops. This character-driven novel may require some handselling, but introspective teens will gradually find themselves absorbed by Cassie's life, and empathize with her struggles. -- Booth, Heather (Reviewed 09-15-2007) (Booklist, vol 104, number 2, p60)
When Sydney Corbett comes up with the idea of making candy figures of Jesus, it's just a business opportunity for him and the people at Bea's Candies, but it is blasphemy for the Reverend Willie Domingo and the Church of the Returning Vegetarian Christ, who believe that the "New Jesus" would embrace a healthier life style.
Publishers Weekly Review: Hailed for his debut (Going Postal), Jaramillo returns with an amusing but unmemorable novel about a depraved crew of characters whose ridiculous schemes and schlock adventures conspire both to bankrupt a chocolate factory and to redeem the world. In the plebeian town of Valley, Calif., compulsive gambler and phone-sex addict Sydney Corbet lives with his media-watchdog brother Marty, who has just been discharged from the Koala Center for the "mildly neurotic." Together, the two manage to sell Wilbur Bea, debauched heir to a candy fortune, on an idea to market a chocolate Jesus. Peripheral characters include a vegan preacher, a Mexican immigrant smugly named Jesus and Orville Scrimshaw, devotee of Western Union, Remington typewriters and other outdated technologies. Despite a tame, derivative comic sense (think Tom Robbins on a bad day; Mark Leyner on a very bad day), Jaramillo has an endearing sympathy for his goofy characters that belies the novel's rather laboriously cynical tone and lends charm to this pleasant but lightweight weekend read. (May)
Truth or dairy (Teen)
This is the journal of Courtney Von Dragen Smith: middle child, product of divorce, would-be vegetarian. She writes the first mega-negative page the day after her boyfriend, "such a Dave," breaks up with her because he's heading off to college. Angry and humiliated, Courtney vows to survive senior year on the anti-guy plan. But can she really give up guys and focus on friends, school, and her job at the hip cafe Truth or Dairy? Or will a stint in student government, an epileptic dog, and a guy named Grant ("like-the lake") Superior turn her world upside down and prove her journal right?.
Booklist Review: Books for Youth, Older Readers: Gr. 7-12. The narrator of this breezy, diary-format novel resembles Bridget Jones (if Jones were a vegan, upper-middle-class teenager, living in Colorado and working at a juice bar). Courtney vows to spend her senior year boy-free after her college-bound boyfriend, Dave, dumps her. Over the next months, she joins student government; wavers over Dave; cares for Oscar, her epileptic dog; and details the relationships surrounding her--her best friend falling for Courtney's younger brother; her divorced father becoming a grandparent; her sister bringing home a girlfriend; and her grandparents enjoying a Viagra-enhanced second honeymoon. She finally breaks her resolution to be guy-less with the solid, deserving guy who's been there all along, and the diary ends, leaving plenty of room for a sequel. Courtney has a healthier outlook on life than Ms. Jones (less self-destructive and weight obsessed), but her hilarious entries share a similar blend of good-natured despair, self-improvement pledges, mild cattiness, and ultracontemporary details (a gym teacher is "like a year behind the times" because she teaches Tae Bo). Irresistibly realistic, Courtney's voice will draw even reluctant readers into this enjoyable novel. ((Reviewed April 15, 2000)) -- Gillian Engberg
Wurst case scenario (Teen)
Courtney, a vegetarian animal-rights activist, records in her diary the events of the beginning of her freshman year at a Wisconsin college, far away from Colorado and her boyfriend Grant, surrounded by cheese- and meat-lovers.
Booklist Review: Gr. 10-12. Courtney--the Colorado high-school vegan whose Bridget Jones-like diary made up last year's hilarious novel Truth or Dairy--returns in a diary-format sequel that sends her off to college. Leaving behind her family and beloved boyfriend, Grant, Courtney enrolls at a small liberal arts school in Wisconsin. In entries filled with the same contemporary voice, spot-on details, and zany comedy found in her first diary, Courtney records her first semester, emphasizing her long-distance relationship and life out of class: the culture shock, homesickness, and other quintessential freshman-year experiences--among them a minimum-wage food-service job, a polar opposite roommate, and partying (although drinking isn't a focus). Despite plenty of activity (Courtney spearheads a school protest), the text pacing lags in places, and many Midwestern references are over-the-top stereotypes, as are some of the characters. It's Courtney's humorous and self-deprecating voice (and the universal dilemmas she writes about) that help restore some of the first book's punchy authenticity. Teens eager to read about college will fly through this entertaining, often realistic offering.
(Reviewed September 1, 2001) -- Gillian Engberg
Chickpea lover (not a cookbook) (No touchstone?)
Booklist Review: Peter might dress up like a vegetable, but he’s the man-of-her-dreams for popular nursing college professor Liz Adams. Unfortunately, she’s still married to David, a cold, ambitious attorney more attached to his cell phone than to her. When Liz finds out she’s pregnant, she has to decide between the two men. Lots of humor balances out the more serious themes of this novel, including the sexual harassment of college students and the role of misogyny in academic power struggles. Fans of such books as Fanny Flagg’s enduring Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe will also go for this witty and warm vegan title.
-- Shelley Mosley (BookList, 02-15-2003, p1058)
The other side of the game
Asha and Saundra, two sisters who share nothing in common, end up living under the same roof when Saundra's plans for her upcoming nuptials come to an abrupt halt when she makes a shocking discovery that shatters her trust in men, including her fianc?.
Booklist Review: Saundra Patterson and Asha Mitchell are half sisters who live very different lives. Saundra is a vegan who practices yoga and wears dreadlocks. Asha is a department-store buyer who sports designer clothes and believes that men can only be a part of her life sexually and financially. Saundra is preparing to marry her high-school sweetheart, Yero. They live a holistic lifestyle and support each others dreams. Since her mothers death, Saundra has lived with her father, Phil. He is a police officer who has lived with a terrible secret since he was in the first grade. Phil has been dating Evelyn for six years but always has an excuse for postponing their engagement. Evelyn is also a police officer, and she has helped Phil raise Saundra. When Saundra discovers her fathers secret, it affects the relationship she has with the two most important men in her life, her father and her fiance. It will take a lot of honesty and forgiving for Saundra to keep her relationships with both men. -- Lillian Lewis (Reviewed 10-01-2005) (Booklist, vol 102, number 3, p33)
The Secret of Spring
The daughter of a practicing sorcerer takes out a personal ad for a man who can discuss botany and attracts Herb, an unsuspecting Vegan who has grown bored with his comfortable life.
Publishers Weekly Review: Best known for his pun-filled, long-running Xanth light fantasy series, Anthony pairs here with a fan and first-time author for a stand-alone novel of improbable plot and lackluster characters. Vegan Herb Moss, a member of a race of genetically engineered plant-humans on a distant planet, is bored by his nice but dull girlfriend, Lily. When he answers a personal ad in Play Plant magazine, however, Herb gets more than he bargained for: beautiful Spring, daughter of a dead sorcerer who magically sealed the secret to extended life inside his child, to be revealed when she mates with her one true love. Spring is hunted by her father's enemy, the evil mage Zygote, and Herb and his friends are her only hope for evading the villain who seeks her maidenhead. The authors' mix of science and fantasy is awkward at best, and the characters never rise above stereotype, from the reluctant hero Herb with his antiquated philosophy about moody, troublemaking women to spunky-yet-understanding Spring, to Lily with her belief that "the love of a good woman" can bring out the good in any man, even the evil Zygote. While Anthony's author's note proclaims he found "cute cleverness" in Taeusche's original manuscript, it's doubtful that even die-hard Xanth fans will discover much here to hold their attention. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Bonus comedy option:
After a devastating war and decades of occupation by the Vegans, a decimated Earth faces final destruction by the Vegans and the possible elimination of the human race.
Post #1 mentioned science fiction ... Hunters of the Red Moon, by the late Marion Zimmer Bradley (whose touchstone won't work for some reason), has one of its main characters, Dallith, as a vegetarian. Dallith and her people are empaths and experience great personal pain when they hurt or kill another being, so vegetarianism is presented as being quite natural for her and her people. (The book itself is not at all about vegetarianism or veganism, but the character did spring to mind.)
And, of course, throughout James Clavell's Shogun, the diet and customs of the meat-eating Europeans are repeatedly contrasted with the largely vegan/fish-based diet and customs of the Japanese, who tend to view the Europeans and their meat-eating as, frankly, rather barbaric. :D
Interesting to connect veganism and science fiction. I'm a big SF reader, and I can recall a number of books that feature "vegan futures," either due to scarcity or changing social mores. The 70's artsy novel Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand and the more recent YA Uglies series come to mind, as books where the main character and society-in-general are vegan (eating either cloned, synthetic, or soy meat) and people who actually eat real animals are considered barbaric and somewhat psychopathic. It's not a huge plot element in those or many other novels, but it's an interesting little sub-current.
I think a themed anthology of animal rights-related SF short stories would be a fun book to read. One might already exist.
I hope I'm not out of line plugging my own project here! :)
I'm raising money on indiegogo.com to publish my dark fantasy novel about animals, Shadow Rabbit. I have until March 5th 2013.
Shadow Rabbit is told from an animal point-of-view in a world where human cruelty has unleashed a horror that threatens the minds of all living beings. Animal experiments, and factory farming are touched upon during the course of the story that takes place in our world and also several realms of dream where animals are more focused and powerful than humans.
My vegan creds: I've been vegan for about 20 years, I spent about seven years working animal rescue and rehabilitation, I'm raising a vegan son, and live with rescue rabbits.
The indiegogo site is here:
The official novel site is here:
I hope you will visit and share the links.
Wishing you all the best!
I just wanted to mention that my wife and i co-founded a press two years ago largely devoted to animal rights and vegan/vegetarian-themed fiction. We have several titles in print now and you can learn more here: http://ashlandcreekpress.com/books/veglit/
Also, we're publishing an anthology of short fiction devoted to AR themes. If you're a writer, we're still accepting submission for another month:
Ashland Creek Press
I liked My Year of Meats, which critiques the meat industry (but is fictional).
This is really interesting. I'm working on an episode of The Vegan Option internet radio show about animals and science fiction. I've been talking to some academics who work at the junction of science fiction and animal studies, as well as vegans who are inspired by science fiction.
Einhorn303, I'm particularly interested in the trend towards vegan futures as background elements. I haven't found quite as many of those as I expected. For example, Philip K. Dick wrote dystopian futures with limited numbers of non-human animals, but folk were close to vegan out of need rather than choice.
But perhaps I just haven't read enough!
For example, I've read that the Wess'har war series by Karen Traviss features a vegan alien culture - but as I haven't read the stories, it would be nice to get that confirmed by someone else who has.
You can hear the 30 minute internet radio show all about Science Fiction and Animals online.
The show features all sci-fi from TV (Dr Who, Star Trek, Twilight Zone), Movies (Planet of the Apes, Matrix), to, of course, books. I've talked to leading academics, including Dr Sherryl Vint who was written and published on the subject.
So I hope you might find it of interest. Full details about all the works feature are on the Science Fiction and Animals show page, where you can listen.
We're a small vegan-owned publisher and a number of our novels feature vegans who portrayed positively:
Out of Breath The Ghost Runner
The Tourist Trail
The Green and the Red by Armand Chauvel
Among Animals: The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction
Our press is Ashland Creek Press: www.ashlandcreekpress.com
I also wanted to add Bubble Burst: The Truth About the Dairy Farm. Vegan hero and heroine becomes a vegan.
Vulpes Press's new YA novel The Warlock and the Wolf features a vegan heroine, and the author is also vegan. The book has animal-centered themes.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, my favorite book of last year. Don't even read the description just dive right in.
It looks like this post hasn't seen much action recently but thanks to everyone for the great suggestions. I needed another vegan fiction book to look into. I recently finished a book by an ethical vegan friend, The Grimbleschnorph Chronicles Volume One Savage Planet https://www.librarything.com/work/21349957/details/152126188. Its an awesome little sci-fi story with a vegan message.
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