Book review: The Tourist Trail, by John Yunker  »

You guys, I honestly don’t like being super-negative, especially about things that mean well, like fiction written by and about animal activists. Laura likes to sell my positive reviews as big deals because I “hate everything,” but I don’t, I swear. I just have high standards! For everything! Including myself, which translates to “trying to be better than a big jerk about things that don’t meet my expectations.” Besides, that’s what Goodreads is for.

Ashland Creek Press sent me a copy of John Yunker’s The Tourist Trail, and honestly, I didn’t much care for it. The premise is interesting enough: a lonely scientist studying penguins in South America meets-cute with an eco-terrorist captain of a Sea Shepherd-style anti-whaling vessel. Meanwhile, an FBI agent—with a past!—and his partner hunt the eco-terrorist, and a programmer follows his vegan activist crush onto a Sea Shepherd-style anti-whaling vessel. Connections!

The vegan twist is that there are vegans and they are heroic, and The Man is the enemy. Also, animals are awesome and humans shouldn’t be such dicks about using up all the earth’s resources, lest we unintentionally murder all the animals we aren’t intentionally murdering. Like I said, an interesting premise with a decent twist.

My main problem with The Tourist Trail is the actual writing. It’s clunky, and stilted, and the plot machinations are so painfully obvious—the plot twists send up flares and wave flags from miles away. It’s disappointing, I think, to read a novel that’s excellent thematically but really poorly executed.

You know what, though? It’s very Dan Brown. It’s Dan Brown writes a pro-vegan eco-thriller. If that sounds good to you, then read The Tourist Trail. If not, there are plenty more books in the world out there. Like The Murder of the Century, that was pretty great.


Treehugger talks about vegans again and bores the hell out of me  »

Sami Grover at Treehugger is talking about veganism again, in "What does a Vegan World Actually Look Like?" He in no way answers this question or attempts to take a stance. Because I’m always willing to share knowledge, I’ll answer his questions for you: Is a vegan world healthier? Yes. Is it less cruel? Yes. Is it more sustainable? Yes. Now here’s MY question: We see so many good reasons to be vegan, what’s a good reason NOT to be vegan? I’d love to hear a legitimate reason that goes beyond “bacon tastes good.”

Further: Sami Grover, what is up with you, sir? With posts like "I Don’t feel Bad for Eating Meat. So Why Do I Apologize For It?" (pro tip: because you do!) and "Why Vegans Are Welcome to Call me a Murder" (OK, murderer!), it’s starting to look like you’re sourcing your articles from Defensive Omnivore Bingo. If you’re not, you should be! Please see the below game board, that should keep you busy for a while—you can do a write-up for each square!


Meat is murder and I don’t care yet  »

I read this piece today on Treehugger, "Why Vegans Are Welcome to Call Me a Murderer" by Sami Grover. Just wanted to let you know what I’ve been doing with my day, that’s all. Just kidding! I have thoughts about it! You know me, always with the thoughts!

First let me say that Grover’s Treehugger bio says he’s a committed environmental activist. It’s my opinion that you’re not an environmental activist if you eat meat and dairy. It’s like being an environmentalist and driving an SUV, they just don’t go together. However, in Grover’s post he says he is an occasional, sustainable-meat eater. If he is actually diligent about this, it’s very impressive considering the minuscule (ed.: MINUSCULE) amount of meat that is raised sustainably. But I have to wonder, does he also only eat sustainable dairy? Dairy is TERRIBLE for the environment. Oy, that’s a lot of work. Might as well be vegan and not worry about it!

I always have to question a supposed environmentalist who eats meat or dairy. Does not compute. Grover’s main point is that maybe people are right to call meat murder but maybe it’s not helpful for the cause to actually say that. He finishes with this sentiment:

So while ideas like a weekday vegetarian diet may strike many non-meat eaters as hypocritical and strange (who says murder is OK on the weekend!?), I’d suggest they are a very real step forward—whether you believe we should eat less meat, or no meat at all. I recognize that is a hard step for those who believe in the murder-analogy to take, but it may be one that ends up saving a lot of animal lives.

I don’t disagree with Grover at all on these points. Meat is murder but society doesn’t view it as such and maybe you’ll turn more people off by telling them that. Like him, I’m not sure if this is true but I’ll give it a solid, “maybe.” And while in my heart of hearts, I can’t stand vegetarians (what makes one vegetarian that shouldn’t translate into being vegan?), I applaud and am very proud of my family and friends who have committed to Meatless Monday. For someone who isn’t a serious environmentalist and doesn’t have ethical qualms with eating meat to slow their roll, look at the environmental impact and try to reduce their meat consumption is a great step forward.

So now you’re like, “OK, Megan Rascal, where are these thoughts of yours?” Well, this post of Grover’s brings up what I’ve been thinking a lot about lately; so often, when we talk about veganism, it becomes a discussion about whether or not killing animals is wrong—I think this conversation is premature! The main reason I am vegan is because the way animals are raised for meat and dairy is inhumane and horrifying. Until all animals are treated in a humane manner up until the day they are killed, we are not ready to have the discussion of whether or not meat is murder.

Grover brings up the death penalty, which is a comparison I often use to explain my point. I’m against the death penalty—not necessarily because I don’t think the government should kill people but because the death penalty is RACIST and INNOCENT PEOPLE GET KILLED. When we have a 100 percent foolproof way to ensure that only guilty people get the death penalty and it is without a doubt sentenced fairly across race and class lines, only then should we begin to discuss whether or not the government should kill people at all. Until they find a way to do this, the death penalty should be abolished. In this same way, until it can be guaranteed without a doubt that animals are raised humanely, we haven’t reached the point where we need to discuss whether or not killing animals is wrong. As long as money and people are involved, I doubt all animals will ever be treated decently but while we wait, I think I’ll just be vegan.

[graph from the Death Penalty Information Center]

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