The word 'vegan' is still a dirty word to some. For many people, it evokes a sense of superiority, aggressiveness, judgement, and smugness — which is precisely why these books about veganism are must-reads for everyone, vegan or not. It's often hard to bridge the gap between people who identify with a group and those who don't because people are generally bad at healthy confrontation and uncomfortable conversation.
This only breeds misunderstanding and resentment among the groups until the existing or potential bridge burns. That leaves us exactly where we started, a place where too many people get an immediate bad taste in their mouth at the word 'vegan.' Admittedly, there are worse reactions in life, but it doesn't make for a comfortable existence, particularly in a culture wherein vegan options are still niche and not intersectionally accessible to people across identity spectrums.
Truly, there is little you can do in life that is richer and more rewarding than taking the initiative to learn about groups of people who are different from you. It shows not only an attractive thirst for knowledge but also a selflessness in that you are not positioning you and your identities as the only ones worth knowing. Plus, what do you have to lose by reading about other people and expanding your horizons?
Whether you think you could never be vegan, you're curious about veganism, you're already a vegan, or you just like reading about food, these six books would be the perfect addition to your library.
1. Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
The name of the book itself, Veganomicon, suggests an air of vegan authority. Boasting over 250 vegan recipes ranging from breakfast through dessert, this Post Punk Kitchen creation truly is a powerhouse cruelty-free cookbook. You certainly don't have to be a committed vegan to enjoy delicious food that you can make without contributing to companies that harm animals.
What's not to love about a book written by a punk woman who makes awesome food and has a good time without getting all famous-acting (and she IS popular) and superior?
2. That's Why We Don't Eat Animals by Ruby Roth
Maybe you're a vegan and you're looking for a book to share with your children or other children (with their parent's consent, of course). Or maybe you're just looking for something that's not a full-length, complicated paperback (no judgments). Regardless, this book gives a short, but accurate look at how animals suffer for meat and other animal products like milk and eggs.
The book presents a cast of animals and shows them in their natural state versus their lives after humans enslave, abuse, and kill them for our own selfish gain. If you're new to vegetarianism or veganism, this might be a good place to start. There's no shame in starting small. It's also never too early to start teaching compassion to our children.
3. The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World
This book, above all else, is a reminder that what we eat and what we pay for makes a difference in the world. It's easy to think that our decisions are made in a vacuum and that we affect little more than ourselves, but we're all part of a society somewhere, and as a member what we do or don't do matters.
Written back in 2001, Food Revolution is still timely and as important as ever, considering its focus on food politics. It's a field that too many people are still blissfully ignorant of, despite the fact that it may well destroy our Earth (no exaggeration). It's never too late to learn. Whether you're new to food politics or a seasoned veteran, this book will be well worth your time.
4. Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement by Peter Singer
This is like the required reading of veganism. It's a classic and beloved tome that has inspired generations of people to choose compassion over taste and convenience. Published back in 1975, Animal Liberation made major waves at the time — and it still does today — with its philosophical discussions of how we treat animals. It forced people, for maybe the first time, to consciously think about how their actions affected animals.
It boldly talked about concepts like speciesism, which, like sexism and racism, describes the lesser value that we as a society give certain animals. For example, when people see pigs, they often jokingly or seriously see 'bacon' as opposed to a being that feels, love, and wants to live. Speciesism also offers and explanation for why we're shocked, offended, and appalled that people in other countries eat cats and dogs, while we continue to slaughter cows, pigs, and chickens, among other animals because their lives somehow matter less than cats and dogs.
If you're looking for what many might consider the best book on veganism and animal rights, Animal Liberation might be your best choice.
5. Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger?: And Other Questions People Ask Vegans by Sherry F. Colb
If you're not vegan, you may or may not ask many of the same questions discussed in this book. Despite the title, the book does not make its arguments through condescension or mocking. Author Sherry F. Colb attempts to use both humor and reason, exploring human thought and reasoning to not only answer the questions people ask but also figure out why people ask these questions in the first place. Above all else, this book wants vegans and non-vegans to have beneficial conversations.
This book doesn't rely on jokes alone, however. There are examples for every argument, case studies, and truly interesting points, such as how veganism is compatible with the major religions of the world. This book is a healthy combination of substance and fun, and would be perfect for any reader, regardless of their eating habits.
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