What to read for National Vegetarian Week

It’s National Vegetarian Week!

I have been a vegetarian for coming up 12 years for a myriad of reasons. It’s good for you, and the planet, it is cheaper and of course it is animal friendly.

Because being veggie is second nature to me, I’ve never really had to think about it, but for those who are looking to learn more this week – whether a lifelong veggie or a sceptic, here are picks of the best books on being vegetarian:

The Vegetarian

Han Kang’s Man Booker International Winner looks at how a woman in South Korea decides to become vegetarian. In the West this is a fairly simple choice but for Yeong-hye it becomes an almost political act.

The Jungle

This early 20th Century novel exposed the atrocities of the meat packing industry. The public outcry led to legislative reforms. At the centre of the novel is the story of immigrants who are exploited by this industry, showing the wider reaching effects of mass meat consumption.

Charlotte’s Web

This plucky little spider manages to save Wilbur, but for adults reading this, it simply drives home that there are plenty of other Wilburs who can’t be saved. If you have a soft spot for pigs, this might make you think twice about what you cook for tea tonight.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

In the future, everyone is vegetarian. This isn’t as far fetched as you think – scientists are developing ‘artificial meat’ that are being designed to ultimately replace animal meats, and it won’t be long before this is a cheaper and more sustainable alternative. In the book that inspired Blade Runner, real animals are coveted as pets – they are far too valuable to eat, and robotic replacements are made for those who can’t afford them. A dark possibility if we don’t start to conserve endangered species.

Eating Animals

Jonathan Safran Foer explores exactly what it means to eat animals in an industrialised world. There are many implications of eating meat beyond killing animals, and Foer outlines the ramifications as he makes a highly personal decision to raise his son as a vegetarian. With significant emphasis on the stories connected to our relationships with food, this analysis is highly personal to us all.

These books show that being vegetarian is not just about animal rights, it also has social, political and environmental factors. Being vegetarian is a massively personal choice and not necessarily the right one, or the right one for everyone – like every diet, it has downsides too.

However, reading about these different issues can help us understand it that little bit more, and might even help inspire people to try it out for National Vegetarian Week!


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