As a novelist who’s been vegetarian for 16 years (vegan for almost six), I spend a lot of time thinking about the dietary choices of imaginary people. Looking back on my debut novel, Mary Modern—in which the most sensible, take-no-crap character is vegan—it seems obvious that part of me was ready for this lifestyle, though it would be several more years before I connected all the dots. “How did you manage to make that roast chicken dinner sound so delicious?” a friend asked after reading Mary Modern. “Didn’t it make you hungry?”
Not remotely. But I can’t make all my characters vegan from the get-go because they need to learn something over the course of the story—and, yes, as in real life, many of them aren’t going to see what’s staring them in the face.
That’s why I decided on a not-at-all subtle allegory for my first novel after going vegan—I hoped I could make my point without any readers feeling as if they were being judged or preached to. Bones & All, a novel about teenage cannibals, reframes meat eating as flesh eating, though the result is a horror story many readers would rather take at face value. (A teenage girl who eats all her boyfriends! Hilarious!) The novel has resulted in at least one reader going vegan so far, though, and I’m calling that a win.
In my forthcoming children’s fantasy novel, The Boy From Tomorrow, eleven-year-old Alec and his mom have moved to a new town and adopted a vegan diet as a way of giving themselves a fresh start after his parents’ divorce—which is not the best reason, of course, but many dietary vegans consider the animals and our planet a little later on. Alec is happy to devour the results of his mother’s culinary experiments, and recognizes the narrow-mindedness of a “friend” who makes fun of his Tofurky sandwiches. Hopefully Alec and his mom will make veganism feel more familiar and accessible to young readers. [Read more…]