Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

futures without meat? January 24, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 1:56 pm
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I read a lot of science fiction & fantasy. Occasionally in these books, we’re shown societies that don’t eat any animal products. I’ve found they tend to fall into two categories.

In the first, the vegan thing is part of a larger, governmentally-imposed ban on certain foods. This is generally seen as a bad, nanny-state, Big Brother sort of thing. For example, in Kage Baker‘s Company novels — which I love, btw — meat is banned, as are alcohol, chocolate, & other such substances. No one seems happy to be avoiding meat, & in fact, they sneak the banned stuff whenever they can.

In the second, not eating animals is just seen as normal. It’s not enforced by the state, it’s just tradition, & in fact, eating flesh is seen as barbaric. I’m blanking on specific titles right now, but I know several years ago when I was doing some research in grad school on feminist science fiction that some women’s SF featured such societies. Some of them were, in retrospect, rather embarrassingly hippy-dippy (earth mother second wave feminist sort of stuff) — not because of the vegan stuff, though!

Have any of you read any science fiction or fantasy w/meatless worlds? What were they like? What about any other novels dealing w/animal rights issues more generally? Naomi Novik‘s Temeraire books feature dragons that are as intelligent as people, & who begin to agitate for better treatment from the humans they work for/with. All the humans still eat meat, & from an animal rights standpoint I think it’s dangerous in reality to advocate for rights for certain animals based on an intelligence cutoff (no one in the books suggests that, say, cows should have rights). But I still think it’s an interesting thing to come up in the books.

There are science fiction/fantasy anthologies on the most random & sometimes bizarre themes these days (Vampires & birthdays! I also heard there is a werewolves-&-Christmas one coming out too!). Has there ever been one about veganism/animal rights? That would be fascinating — particularly if the contributors tended towards being happy vegans, & not folks convinced that big government is out to take all our freedom away.