Saturday, September 17


Vegcast will be out later today. But as promised, here's a trimmed version of what will run on the podcast:

By Bob Torres and Jenna Torres
Tofu Houd Press

When your biggest complaint about a book is that it should have been longer, it's what you might call praising with faint damnation. And indeed there's plenty to praise about Vegan Freak, as well as plenty of damn-ing (along with more colorful verbiage). Bob Torres and Jenna Torres hit on all the major issues of "Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World," maintaining a youthful vernacular and straight-talking style that makes Vegan Freak a standout among vegan how-to books.

Those of you familiar with the Vegan Freaks weblog will not be very surprised by the tone or content here, but for the world at large this is a refreshingly frank, new take on the intro-to-veganism genre. The book ranges widely through a diversity of topics including the best way to go vegan, arguments that do and don't work, the hell of family food celebrations, vegan travel, and even vegan sex toys. They list which brands of beer are vegan and caution that some "non-dairy creamers" actually contain milk ingredients. They urge vegans to stand up for our choices and be resolute: "Meek vegans suffer!" becomes a mantra by book's end. In all, the authors keep the tone lively and fun, moving through the vegan landscape at cruising speed or faster.

And this is where that complaint I mentioned comes in: While this keeps the book from getting boring, I often felt myself wishing they had provided just a few sentences more information or perspective on a given topic before jumping exuberantly on to the next. At 150 pages, there was certainly room for the main text of the bok to be longer (there are 20 more pages of helpful appendices - in which this blog is listed as one of the resources). And although there aren't any glaring omissions overall, the result is sometimes a more superficial treatment of something that would have benefited from a more in-depth, fully researched approach. The best example of this is in the section on B12, where the advice "take a supplement every now and then" was criticized by Dr. Michael Greger (as the authors explained on their podcast) for not being rigorous enough and for downplaying the seriousness of adequate B12 intake among vegans.

In sum, one might wish Vegan Freak had been a little more thoroughly researched, a little more in-depth about some issues, but hey: As Donald Rumsfeld would say, you go to war against mainstream consumerist culture with the book you have, not the book you wish you had. And depsite any of these quibbles, I can honestly say that Vegan Freak is worth a read whether you're considering veganism or are already there. It's an ambitious task to try to write for both of those constituencies, and although it sometimes results in a bit of a scattershot tone, the authors ultimately pull it off with verve, attitude and conviction, and wind up with a book that may well serve as a bridge to veganism for an entire segment of the population who have so far been all but ignored by our moevement.

So to "Vegenaise" and "Pleather:" Rock on, dudes!

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