Wednesday, 26 March 2014


Atwood, M, The Edible Woman, Canada, 1969, (McClellan and Stewart)

Clare, J, Badger, London, 1848

Ritson, J, An Essay on Abstinence from Animal Food, as a Moral Duty, London, 1802, (Kessinger Publishing, 2009)

Toklas, B. A, Murder in the Kitchen, Paris, 1954, (Penguin, 2011) 

Vegan Videos

To round off this blog, I wanted to post something you could take away with you. Perhaps you are interested in finding out more about this lifestyle, or maybe you want to know how you could reduce the animal suffering and your carbon footprint? Below are some great documentaries that I urge you to watch. You never know, they could be the start of something beautiful!

( P.s most of them are on Netflix)

Food inc. By Robert Kenner. (Trailer

Forks over Knives by Lee Fulkerson. (Trailer

Vegucated by Marissa Miller Wolson (Trailer

Earthlings by Shaun Monson (Trailer

The Raw Truth: Part 2

The truth is hard to stomach, especially when it comes to our food. The simple fact is, we have become disassociated with what we are eating. How many of us know the journey of our food? Where it comes from? What’s its story?

Perhaps we just don’t want to know. Like Marian in the previous post, you would think twice about tucking into that steak if it suddenly became gristle and sinew. Despite this, a number of chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, believe knowing the truth is an important part of appreciating your food and have slaughtered animals on air in order to provide an insight into the world of meat manufacturing. Surprisingly it was vegetarians and vegans who praised this the most, because they believe in the necessity of educating people about where meat comes from, whereas meat eaters everywhere were outraged by what they were watching. However, exposing the truth behind our food isn’t a modern phenomenon and we have seen examples of it on this course, especially in Alice B Toklas’s food memoir Murder in the Kitchen.

In the following extract she talks about killing a carp:

“The first victim was a lively carp...I carefully, deliberately found the base of its vertebral column and plunged the knife in. I let go my grasp and looked to see what had happened. Horror of horrors. The carp was dead, killed, assassinated, murdered in the first, second and third degree. Limp, I fell into a chair, with my hands still unwashed reached for a cigarette, lighted it, and waited for the police to come and take me into custody.'

The description is reminiscent of crime literature. The animal is a “victim” and Alice is the murderer, given the task of its assassination. To distract the audience from the gruesome task in hand, she adopts a comedic tone. She lights a cigarette after the deed, much like a hardy and satisfied criminal, then awaits her arrest.

Despite the humour, she draws attention to our discomfort around the killing of our food. We laugh while inwardly cringing, wondering whether we could stomach the process itself. 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Raw Truth: Part 1

Food is an emotional business. You hear it all the time; scary tales of women who have gained 20lbs because of depression, scary tales of women who are nothing but bones after heartbreaks and every chocolate laced, pastry encrusted story in between.

One such woman is Marian from Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman. Stuck in a lover’s limbo, she finds she cannot stomach a lot of the food she once could, particularly meat. The question we must ask (being a vegan blog and all) is why does this happen? What is it about meat that especially that turns Marian off and how does it fit in with her emotional state?

Whilst out at a restaurant, Marian watches as her “half-eaten steak” becomes “a hunk of muscle.” She describes how “it was flesh and blood, rare, and she had been devouring it. Gorging herself on it.” What had once been natural to Marian, the eating of the steak, has now become an unnatural act because she identifies with the food on her plate, realising that it used to be “part of a real cow that once moved and ate and was killed.” Unlike the synthetic rice pudding she ate earlier, this steak once had a history, a life and felt pain. It is possible that Marian sees herself in the steak (strange, I know) as she is being treated as a lifeless form too, only existing for one purpose, to be a wife and mother. When Marian rejects the steak, she also rejects that version of herself.

As the book progresses, she continues to give food human characteristics. She talks about chicken and how “it came with an unpleasantly complete skeletal structure and [how] the skin…would be too much like an arm with goose bumps”. It’s not unusual that the first food Marian rejects is meat- it is the most primal of food sources. Confronted with meat, Marian cannot hide. She is reminded of her real emotions and wants to disassociate from them. The truth is easier to hide in puddings and stews. In fact, Marian does exactly this at Trevor’s dinner party. She “scrape[s] most of the sauce from one of the hunks of meat…and tossed it over the candles”. The meat represents her unadulterated emotions and the domestic version of herself. I argue that, here, she is rejecting them both. She doesn’t want to get married but she doesn’t want to admit that to herself. She cannot stomach the raw truth.