Here at Ashland Creek Press, we’re delighted to participate in today’s virtual Meatout event, along with so many others who are passionate about their health, the environment, and the well-being of animals. For those unfamiliar with Meatout: It has become the world’s largest annual grassroots diet education campaign, encouraging people to explore a wholesome, nonviolent diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It’s a fantastic campaign — for so many reasons — and it’s wonderful to see such a great list of participating bloggers offering news, recipes, and inspiration about compassionate choices.
Diet is such a personal choice, and John and I get a lot of questions — some curious, some polite, some defensive — about the way we choose to eat and live. But what’s been especially interesting for us, as writers and editors, is to see the reactions to John’s novel, The Tourist Trail. As soon as it was published, it was clear that the book was having a strong emotional effect on readers — which, of course, is the whole idea of publishing a novel.
We heard from people in the animal-rights community who were glad to have a book that reflected vegans and activists as regular people (rather than hippies or terrorists, which is so often the case). We also heard from readers who said the book has opened their eyes to the plights of the world’s oceans and its creatures, that it put into human terms a problem that before had been purely theoretical to them — and this was hugely inspiring, to know that the book taught as well as entertained.
Yet still other readers had a different response: They were bothered by the truths that the book revealed: the fact that our oceans are in peril, that innocent animals are being illegally hunted and slaughtered, that our governments still have a long way to go when it comes to animal protection. And this was tough for both of us to hear — and especially to know that people would prefer not to finish the book than to face up to the very real challenges that are facing our planet.
And at the same time, it’s understandable — life can be overwhelming enough without having to worry about the future of the planet — and this is one reason we love Meatout. By simply rethinking one’s diet, a person can have an enormous positive impact on the natural world. For example, every person who gives up meat saves the lives of more than 100 animals a year. And even the little changes count: If every American were to replace just one chicken meal each week with a vegetarian or vegan meal, this would be the equivalent of taking 500,000 cars off the road.
So we say, give it a try. A few smart and compassionate people you know agree: Albert Einstein once said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” And Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Check out Meatout Monday for a great way to start.