26 May 2012

'Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World' [Review]

Book Review
Bob Torres and Jenna Torres, Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World, (2005)

Husband and wife duo, Bob and Jenna, become your new vegan BFFs with their introductory guide to veganism.  Packed with references for the new vegan, wit, rage, and down-to-earth advice this book was easy to read.

Their style is irreverent and far from gentle, making it a joyful rollicking read for some, whilst  probably being being offensive to others.  However, books that try to please everyone, please no-one.  Bob and Jenna have written a book that they clearly would enjoy reading and that makes it a pleasure for other like-minded individuals to read.

The content is fairly basic, but the concept is quite rad (yes, yes I did just say ‘rad’).  The premise is that vegans, by virtue of criticising social norms, stand on the fringes of society and will always be seen and labelled as ‘freaks’.  Rather than try and mollycoddle the reader by proposing that there is a community of other normal vegans, Bob and Jenna get the reader to embrace your inner freak.

On the content front, the book takes you from basic animal rights, dealing with other people, what vegans eat, to fashion and personal care.  It really does cover the basics.  One thing I would like to commend the book on is discussing condoms and safe sex supplies and sex toys instead of making the readers Google it and find advice from similar freaky-sex-having-vegans.  

Occasional angry vegan rants pepper this book and provide comfort for a newish vegan who might be feeling frustrated and angry that the rest of the world can’t see what’s directly beneath their noses.  I love me a good angry vegan rant once in awhile, but I do take issue with one rant where Bob and Jenna insist that those who consume some animal products to stop calling themselves ‘vegan’ or.  I get the whole, ‘this is the definition, please adhere to it’, I do.  But what I also get is that if someone has cut back their animal consumption and is trying to call themselves ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’, that is a good thing (obviously not for the animals whose products they are still consuming, but still).  They see veganism as an ideal that they want to participate in, they just may be a little unsure or hesitant about getting there.  Perhaps we should find out why they want to be identified as a vegan and discuss some of our concerns rather than simply throwing a dictionary at them.

On the whole, as a seasoned vegan, I can see the value of this book for newish vegans who are starting to realise that the world is not their ally (no matter how many times you send your friends links to undercover animal agriculture footage).  I also don’t think this book is for everyone due its tone and style.  If you don’t like swearing, angry vegan rants, and irreverent humour, this book probably isn’t your cup of tea.

However, if you’re feeling a little lonely being the vegan-freak in the room (and don’t mind any of the aforementioned) read this book.  It’ll encourage you to embrace your inner freak and hopefully help you to stay vegan in a non-vegan world.

- Stevie Schafer, 2012