Fat Gay Vegan - Book Review
If you're already vegan, then chances are you'll know who Fat Gay Vegan is. His blog was one of the first that I came across when researching about veganism and looking for advice on places to find amazing food around the UK!
But if you're not familiar then he is Sean O'Callaghan - an Australian vegan of approx. 20 years who left his career as a schoolteacher to become a full-time blogger and animal activist who now also runs numerous events and markets in London such as the renowned Hackney Downs Vegan Market.
Last month he released his very first book, the excellently titled, Eat, Drink and Live Like You Give a Sh!t and I wanted to give you an overview and my personal thoughts on it!
"My one true desire for this book is for people to read with an open mind and heart."
Its seven chapters take you through from how and why he became vegan, how he turned the name Fat Gay Vegan into a "positive badge of honour" and advice for people about the day to day logistics of living compassionately.
As a vegan of two decades, he manages to convey the importance of the movement through his own experiences whilst remaining happy and adding humour into his writing. It makes it more digestible for newcomers, especially when he occasionally slips in a little Fat Gay Vegan-approved snack break recipe or kitchen hack, like cheesy popcorn or the perfect battered cauliflower!
I loved hearing about his early life in Australia and his life-changing encounter with a truck transporting live chickens - A "sort of Death Star semi-trailer" as he puts it. I found his story moving and thought that by using his own personal revelations, it was a great way of explaining the reasons as to why we should all be vegan.
"Try to tell a vegan their choices are a diet and we might very well slap you with a wet slab of tofu."
The excellent and thorough Vegan 101 chapter covers A LOT! From the history of veganism, navigating your way around the different animal products in everyday foods and products, his own opinion on what to do with old clothing and footwear AND how best to deal with social anxieties around non-vegan friends and family.
I particularly connected with that part as he reminded me that I need to be more patient with people and occasionally take myself back to before I was vegan, so I can remember how it felt to think that these things were once normal and just the "way of the world."
He uses the term "kind conviction" which I think sums it up perfectly - The idea that we should be assertive and stay true to our beliefs whilst remaining polite when communicating about our vegan choices. Be it politely declining non-vegan food at a family meal or explaining to a friend why you're giving away your leather boots.
Here's one of my favourite quotes from the chapter, Vegan Means Vegan:
"There is nothing more powerful, no better advertisement for veganism, than a calm and collected person who is able to explain their stance on protecting animals in a non-confrontational, friendly and accessible way."
The idea of veganism being more than just about caring about animals resonates most in Sean's book, but particularly in the Ethical Vegan chapter. Discrimination comes in many forms and he has seen his fair share over the years as a gay and overweight, white man. He eloquently explains the ways in which he has addressed it and how we can all be more compassionate and inclusive people to other humans as well as animals, regardless of sex, race or background.
Throughout the book, he also includes contributions from friends and highlights inspirational people for their work in the vegan community throughout the world. This includes kind praise for Vgneration and our very own Laura and Kylie in which he emphasizes the importance of their work in cherishing and helping young vegans. Thank you Sean!
I could go on as there is lots to love and gain from the book, including his top vegan-friendly cities in the Vegan Travel chapter, which I have put on my hit list! But to sum up, I think that Eat, Drink and Live Like You Give a Sh!t is wonderfully written and not only takes you on Sean's personal journey, but provides you with a vegan resource that helps you understand the world we live in, how veganism can impact every aspect of it and importantly, the best ways to utilize it and spread the message using positivity.
He also gives you just enough information without overwhelming you with too many facts and figures. And he addresses the reader as both current vegans and the vegan-curious who are perhaps just starting their journey. So everyone can find something to relate to and take away from it no matter your experience, age or background. He just cares that people are open-minded and expand their compassion.
"No matter how much we do, we can always do more and we can always do better." - Fat Gay Vegan.
You can buy Eat, Drink and Live Like You Give a Sh!t now from a number of retailers including Amazon, Waterstones and WHSmith.