In addition to the following review, I recorded a podcast on some thoughts I had about issues the book discussed: MP3 | AAC
Many long-time vegans* have found themselves at some point answering endless, rudimentary questions about switching to a plant-based lifestyle. They probably wished they could simply say “RTFM.” Well, now they can, thanks to Bob and Jenna Torres’ new book, Vegan Freak.
If you’re a vegetarian, or just curious about veganism, but concerned about the ramifications of such a lifestyle change, Vegan Freak is more or less written for you. I know that if a nascent vegan approaches me for advice, I will hand over this book, encouraging also a thorough reading of all the other recommended literature and websites. (full disclosure: they added An Animal-Friendly Life to their list of sites, which was quite welcome, but certainly has no bearing on my opinion of their book)
While a lot of books for animal-free eaters are fairly dry or overly sincere, Vegan Freak is as witty, irreverent, and even occasionally foul-mouthed, as its authors’ blog at veganfreaks.com, which has been linked from here for a while now. They blog there as pleather and vegenaise (named for that delectable condiment that made me forget how nasty mayonnaise is). The book also debuts with a new website, veganfreak.com, complete with its own links, and a even forum — it’s a very nice setup.
Bob and Jenna come across as a fun couple in their blog and podcasts, and their energy seems to have transferred over to the book, for the most part, making for a quick and easy read.
While Vegan Freak does go into some depth about the point of veganism, this is not what you pick up to do intensive research. They guide you to some excellent books instead, and spend the bulk of their time instead going into what it really means to be vegan, how to deal with the non-vegan world on a day-to-day basis, and how to deal with practicalities like animal-friendly toiletries and handling social situations.
Lots of how-tos… As I suggested earlier, it’s pretty much a manual. As such, it’s best read once, dog-eared or tagged, and kept handy as a reference in your early stages of veganism, until you feel comfortable taking off the “training wheels.”
That said–despite my crack about training wheels–what Bob and Jenna write does apply to people who have been vegan longer. They tell their vegan stories, demonstrating just how difficult it can be to get to a comfortable place. Just the other night, despite my best efforts, I was still manipulated by a meat-eater into getting upset as he gave me the dumbest arguments and kept interrupting me when I tried to explain patiently. Well, I just about exploded. He was supposedly a friend, but we weren’t exactly close, and I know better. I let my guard down. Thus I winced as I finished reading Vegan Freak a day or two after that incident. Though vegan for over three years now, I still do not have the patience of a saint. Reading a book like this is a good reminder to refocus and keep breathing through the nonsense.
If nothing else, Vegan Freak‘s up-to-the minute book references and URLs are worth a look. But, of course, there’s more! If at this point you feel you have read a full review and are ready to decide whether or not to buy the book, that’s great.
I also hunkered down to flip through pages I tabbed while reading so I could comment in a podcast on some interesting thoughts the book raised.
*I prefer to use vegan as an adjective whenever possible, as the noun comes off as too much of a label. Yeah, semantics, but it also sounds better. Here of course, I don’t have much wiggle room without making it sound weirder…