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We will swear at you until you are Vegan

August 16, 2011

“Trish is coming over for dinner!” “What is it Trish can eat, again?”

Blessed with having my immediate family turn vegetarian the year before I left home (1986) plus subsequent student irresponsibility with money poverty  having me choose lentils over sausages, coupled with cow dairy being one of my asthma triggers, I’ve pondered over and put into practice the vegan diet several times.   People who follow a vegan diet coming over for dinner wouldn’t phase me – in fact last night’s dinner just happened to be vegan: pizza with vegan cheese.  Even vegan people think I’m a wierdo for liking vegan cheese but it’s a fact, like tahini and tomatoes being my favourite pasta sauce and preferring my home-made pesto dairy-free.

Along my journey of occasionally following a vegan diet (I can never actually be a vegan because I own an old leather coat and throwing it away will not bring the cow back to life) I’ve read various vegan cook books – from the ‘how to make nice ingredients taste dreadful’ Eva Batt’s Vegan Cooking to a more recent purchase recommended by GreedygirlSlim, a low-fat vegan cook book that has lots of nice dishes in it, Appetite for Reduction.  Hence I’ve read a lot of the arguments for veganism: the ethical ones, the sustainability of feeding the planet ones and the health ones.  I agree with a lot of the arguments for veganism – also, on a vegan diet, so long as I’m eating enough, I tend to feel just fine.  However, add the flexibility of eating goat or sheep dairy and suddenly it’s feasible there might be something on the menu for me in most restaurants.  Add the flexibility of eating meat and suddenly I’m almost as free as anybody else in any restaurant to choose what the hell I like for dinner.  These are some reasons I don’t manage to stay vegan for long.

In 2005, 2 American ladies, who I will admit look rather fit (choose whichever meaning of the word you prefer), published a book called Skinny BitchOn the outside cover it promised guidance on how to ‘stop eating crap and start looking fabulous’ and they admit inside that the title was just meant to be provocative and get the book to sell – they weren’t advocating skinniness or, I presume, bitchiness.  Inside the book?  The same arguments for veganism that I’d read in other books, plus reasons why they believe you shouldn’t consume any medicines (yes, you read correctly), caffeine or chemical additives – all delivered via the process of insulting and swearing at the reader as much as possible.

I’ll give a little example from page 63:
“Remember what milk is for.  It is designed to fatten up baby cows.  Do you really believe it can be made fat free?  Get your head out of your ass.  Milk = fat.  Butter = fat.  Cheese = fat.  People who think these products can be low fat or fat free = fucking morons.”

Lovely.

It’s not just the swearing at and insulting the reader that annoys me about this book.  It’s also the ‘I do this and so should you’ mentality that I’ve seen in some other books written by women for women.  “Donate blood!”  “Buy a food steamer!”  “Do Yoga!” “Play chess!” issued like orders so that one can follow the one true path to enlightenment (ok, the chess one was Inga Muscio).  I happen to be violently allergic to yoga, btw.

And then there are the chapters with graphic descriptions of cruelty to animals, slung into the text without warning.  The motivation behind including that stuff might be that people won’t follow a vegan diet unless they are shocked by the truth of the meat  industry – but people are more intelligent and aware than the authors give them credit for and they’re probably also more squeamish; if only I could get data on how many people stopped reading the chapters on animal torture and slaughter after the first few pages!

If you are considering becoming vegan, either as an aid to weight loss, to get healthier or to be more ethical/nicer to animals there are some places you can read up about it without either you or your intelligence being insulted:

  • The Vegan Society has a whole load of info on nutrition and health
  • Veganstore.co.uk sells a load of vegan food stuff and other stuff
  • Kake’s Vegan Cookery Site  is a fantastic resource for recipes and you can search by what ingredients you happen to have handy – furthermore the Kake rocks, her cooking is delish and I cannot imagine her ever ordering anyone to do yoga

I’d like to add a tiny wee bit on the end of this review.  On the very last page of  Skinny Bitch the authors do say something along the lines of  ‘We like you really and we want you to be nice to yourselves’ in which they still manage to be patronising but let’s give them credit.  They also have pages and pages of where you can buy yummy vegan foods if you happen to be in the US, and I have benefitted from these while stateside (most notably with Soy Delicious ice cream although the dairy-eaters polished it off on my behalf – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!).  This book talks somewhat more sense than nonsense and it’s not my intent to bash the authors so much as warn potential readers.

I promise next time I do a book review I’ll choose one I feel a lot more positively about 😉

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2 Comments
  1. I picked up ‘Skinny Bitch’ in a bookshop once, expecting it to be funny and self-effacing, but it was simply horrible. The basic message seems to be that if you are overweight it is All Your Fault and you are dumb and worthless. One chapter even suggested that if you were having trouble with managing calorie intake when you went out for an evening, you just shouldn’t bother while you were still so disgustingly fat, as the superior skinny people wouldn’t want to be seen with you anyway.

    I think the diet industry could learn a lot from drug and alcohol abuse specialists (I’d say AA except for the creepy Judeo-Christian cultishness). People make effective change in their lives when they feel supported and listened to – not through being hectored and abused.

  2. Wow!
    I admit my second reading of this book was a skim-read and the first was ages ago. I’d forgotten those bits where they do totally say exactly what you’ve said here that they say.

    Good point well made and thank you x

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