The Other Literary Veg(etari)ans

The recent article in the New York Times discusses Jonathan Safran Foer as” just the latest in a long line of distinguished literary vegetarians.”  Martin Rowe from Lantern Books, opines a bit more on this and sheds some attention to the other significant vegetarian writers who have deeply influenced many of us, but who perhaps have not garnered as much of the literary spotlight.
It got me thinking of the veg(etari)an writers that I’ve admired throughout the years, many of whom i’d had the pleasure of reading and editing while working at Satya. I had the pleasure of reading many voices on this issue, new and old.  My colleagues at Satya were also wonderful writers.   I thought I’d compile a list of some of my favorite pieces and the  literary vegans behind them.  I’m only highlighting a few here, but could spend hours revisiting much of the content at Satya, some of which is available online here.

My colleague Cat Clyne had many powerful editorials, but one that particularly resonated was “Embracing Vertigo.”

It takes a lot to shock me now, but in a way, I’m kind of glad I still have those moments. It shows me that I’m still capable of caring, that I’m still alive. And it’s nothing less than shocking—what we do to ourselves, each other and all the species we continuously stomp on in our selfish pursuit of survival. And when we come across these moments, we should pause to be shocked.

….After we pause to take in and feel the shock and grief of the evil we witness, we also need to pause to regain our breath, to feel the moments of love and happiness that remind us of how beautiful this world can also be, in all its complexity.

Kymberlie Adams Matthews wrote wonderful animal rescue stories. One that was dear to all of us at Satya was the rescue of hundreds of birds discarded as trash in Brooklyn.  Check out “Brooklyn Birds

The stench was indescribable. For days after the rescue I could smell it in my hair and on my skin. It is hard to imagine being a factory farmed chicken and living day after day with the aroma of suffering surrounding you.

Maureen Wyse wrote mouth-watering pieces about food and she is perhaps one of my favorite people to share a meal with.  One of my favorite stories by Mo is about her vegan dilemma on what to feed her cat(s). “The Compromise

Eric Weiss’s writing is smart, funny and has this element of vitality that i’ve always appreciated.  Here’s his “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore: A Lifer’s Guide to NYC

I guess you could call me a lifer. I was born and raised here and truth be told, I’ll probably die here; my ashes thrown into the night air as the Cyclone plummets down to earth from the Coney Island sky.

But, before I get to that final (and free!) ride on the Cyclone, I’ve still got some living to do.

On the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, Eric writes:

Why would anyone join such a club you ask? Well, I’m certain that everyone’s answer would be different, but for me, it’s the absolutely euphoric feeling I get when I hit the icy water. It reminds me in no certain terms that I am alive and, cliché as it may sound, that life is for living each day.

Plus, it’s fun as all hell. Where else can a grown man or woman yell, scream, and cheer with friends in a weekly celebration of the cold, the magic of Coney Island, the splendor of this city and most importantly, our lives?

My dear friend Rachel Cernanksy has written several pieces of her experiences in Kenya.  Here is one “It’s a Dirty Ol World, But We’re Used to It

Mark Hawthorne is a writer I’ve admired for a long time who writes clearly and passionately about animals.  Here he describes being “Inside and Open Rescue

Christine Morrissey touched my heart with her story of “A Turkey Named Adam”

Amie Breeze Harper has edited the Sistah Vegan Anthology, but an early interview about this project was featured in Satya.

Black women were used as wet nurses for slave masters’ children. Their wombs were used to produce more slaves whether they wanted to or not. This is frighteningly similar to the suffering chickens and cows go through. They are exploited to the point where we use their reproductive cycles to feed us. This scary parallel goes even deeper. As women continue eating these eggs and flesh products, so high in hormones and other unhealthy substances, it makes estrogen levels in their bodies even higher. Our reproductive systems suffer because of the exploitation of the reproductive systems of chickens and cows.

Filmmaker James LaVeck, wrote a thought-provoking series on “Happy Meat” that every activist should read.  He kicked it off with “Compassion for Sale ? Doublethink Meets Doublefeel as Happy Meat Comes of Age.”  LaVeck is the master of constructing an argument, but one that is backed with philosophy and moral and ethical conviction.

Pattrice Jones is skilled at making the connections between social movements as shown in this pice “Of Brides and Bridges: Linking Feminist, Queer, and Animal Liberation Movements

Primatologist Sarah Baeckler with Charles Spano wrote this moving piece about “Chimps in Entertainment: That Joke isn’t Funny Anymore.”  Read about this heartbreaking and warming story of Tea.

Vegan Cooking Superstar Isa Chandra Moskowitz wrote this witty piece for our last issue “Vegan Culinary Activism in 10 Yummy Steps.”

These are just a few of the vast number of wonderful voices writing about animals, veganism and the linkages between social movements.  I think what i appreciate about these stories is that they are both personal and transcend the personal to universal.  Good writing like practicing veganism requires an understanding of both ourselves and our world and our place in this world.


~ by sangamithra on November 15, 2009.

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