Top critical review
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King of the preachy vegans
on 3 September 2013
The book would be ok for a vegetarian curious about veganism but I don't see it being much use to anyone else.
Minus one for only being available on Kindle which is not compatible with my iRiver or my phone (OS 4.1), having to sit at the computer desk negates somewhat the joy of reading books; you may as well just read websites.
Minus one for Prof Francione being totally out of touch with his readership. He has been writing on this issue for 25 years and seems fixated on the evils of animal welfarists and his own moral superiority. The book is short and reads like it has been written by people who have been repeating themselves for so long that they are tired and not bothered to listen anymore, they have it all figured out, have told you the way it is and you can like it or lump it. On the abolitionist approach Facebook page he and editorial/production assistant Sarah Woodcock are derisive to anyone who dares to voice an opinion not in 100% agreement with their dogmatic rhetoric.
Going vegan is a journey, it is for everyone, the conclusion of the book includes a good luck wish for the journey yet this conflicts with recent posts saying that going vegan is easy and should be virtually instantaneous. He was associated with Peta for years but now expects that everyone should join him in his current negative opinion of them. When I posted what I thought was a polite observation that I found the anti-welfarist theme detracted from the more important promotion of veganism (including that I had bought the book and was a fan of the website) the response was "please don't waste my time with nonsense without knowing the first thing about which you are speaking ..... I have shown her the cyber door. If she wants to defend what these groups do, great. Not here." I'm including this in the review as it may have influenced my star rating but would like to point out that I am not a member of any welfarist group.
He takes the stance that going vegan needs only the will to do what is right by the animals and is derisive of the notion that someone might need a support group. Isn't that in essence what the book is supposed to be though, a guide/support for people to make the change to veganism. The reason I bought it was because I answered yes to this question - Are you already a vegan and would appreciate knowing some more effective ways to communicate with those who defend eating animals?
So does the book do what it purports to do? I read the book as a moral vegan who believed in the abolitionist approach but did not feel confident in discussing veganism without alienating people or coming across as "preachy ", specifically with my family and friends. The whole premise of the book is that "we all agree that it is not necessary to inflict suffering on animals for reasons of pleasure, amusement or convenience" and that is where the book fails. Yes I agree, that's why I'm a vegan but my family are "some of the people who have no moral concern for animals". My father comes from a culture and age group that drowned unwanted kittens and puppies in a water barrel, so yup, my Dad is like Michael Vick and no, nothing in the book will make him see that this is not ok. For the book to be of value you have to agree with the first principle and I know plenty of people who don't. Did the book somehow manage to give me the rethoric to convince my family and friends that veganism is a moral absolute - no I couldn't even convince the author that I was looking toward for guidance that I wasn't a "welfarist troll" so guess another minus one for that. The authors rationale is that "no one really thinks that plants are the same as animals", this is correct; my friend recognises the difference between animal, mineral and vegetable he just affords them all the same moral value which is that they have none.
As for the notion that going vegan is easy, making the decision to go vegan is easy but then the fun begins. While the authors live in a vegan rich environment I live in a country with a strong history of blood sports, racing, animal farming, no vegan restaurants (in the whole country - none, zero, zip) and the only available vegan shoes are crocs. People don't understand why I drive 100 miles to buy the exact same pair of crocs that I already have and everyone thinks look stupid and they let the rain in and it rains a lot and no I still don't know how to explain it to them.
I found veganism could be isolating and lonely so I bought the book and reached out to the online community for support, knowledge and understanding and got banned (by the author in case you missed that bit). I started the book with a 5 star expectation, enthusiastic and looking for inspiration and finished it dejected and disillusioned - final minus one.