If not AR books, what DO I read?

September 29, 2010

I’ve said it a few times in the newsletter and elsewhere – when I read or watch just about anything, I tend to come up with thoughts about veganism.  Maybe that’s just how I’m wired after 13 years of outreach work (including, yowza, 9 online!) but here’s an example of how it works in case it’s something you can take advantage of and not feel like you’re missing out by not watching slaughter videos:

Here’s a link to the book [affiliate link] in case you’re interested, like I said, not at all vegan – unless you decide it’s going to be 🙂

Does this happen to anyone else?  Even if it’s not veganism, so, say you pull things back to whatever your job is, let me know in the comments so I’ll know I’m not crazy!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

James September 29, 2010 at 8:21 pm

You can, of course, pick up specific ideas and tactics from writings on any topic. Anyone who practices vegan outreach (which is anyone who’s vegan) should probably read Dale Carnegie, for example. But there are also times when you get something better. When a book is truly great, it affects my “worldview” (hate that word) and thus affects my ethics – vegan stuff included.

Here’s an example I was thinking of recently: The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins tells an evolutionary story of how organisms came to be, and in such a fresh way that after reading it I could never look at animals (human or non) the same way again. The idea is that we look at biology backwards: we think that animals use genes to pass on their traits, when it’s more accurate to say that genes build animals to ride around in. Then they toss us aside for a new model. I’m simplifying a lot here, but basically, I came away from this book with much, much greater sympathy for any creature, especially any creature built to feel pain.

Jason September 30, 2010 at 12:19 am

I’m jealous – Dawkins has been on my list forever, but I never seem to get to his work…

tomb7890 October 1, 2010 at 1:42 pm

James, excellent choice! The Selfish Gene seems even today widely misunderstood as a rationale to be selfish, when almost the opposite is true. The book shows that when genes act “selfish” it can have the opposite effect in their hosts: a tendency toward altruism. Not an easy read but was for me a huge influence in shaping how I make sense of the world.

Erin October 1, 2010 at 2:02 pm

I just did a training to teach HypnoBirthing, and all the reading materials were about trusting your own body and your instincts instead of what popular media would have you believe. I found myself connecting it to the choice to be vegan over and over. It resonated so strongly with me. I actually wrote the woman who created the program and suggested that she makes those connections and not recommend that pregnant women ingest the breast milk of cows and the flesh of animals raised in fear and pain (the principals of HypnoBirthing are to eliminate fear and pain for the birthing mother and her child).
I’ve also been wanting to reread the Tao of Pooh because again that idea of just trusting the way and not causing struggle in life to me means not causing others to struggle.

Jason October 1, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Erin, congrats on getting into teaching HypnoBirthing – I enjoyed the course (and the side-thinking that came with it) but I’ve got to say, I’m glad to know someone’s going to be out there teaching it with half a clue about vegan nutrition – our teacher was 100% JAG (rice milk is our best bet for vegan protein, apparently BZZZT WRONG) and it took me about a class and a half to get back into it and away from the thinking of “if she’s so incredibly wrong about that part, what else is she just making up as she goes?” Hey was I just venting a little? Hmm, excuse me. 🙂

Erin October 1, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Jason, the traditional HypnoBirthing program is supposed to be taught very specifically following the program. My instructor to become a teacher is a macrobiotic guru and all around hip chick, so she said when teaching that we can say, “The book recommends these foods, but of course you should talk to your care provider and follow the diet you are comfortable with.” I can’t imagine suggesting rice milk! Oh… some people… When I was pregnant and took HypnoBirthing we had a raw vegan in the class, and our teacher actually had her talk about what she was eating and how she was meeting her nutritional needs with the rest of us. I’m really excited to start working with expectant parents.

Jason October 1, 2010 at 11:28 pm

I wish we had been asked about our food choices from a “help the rest of the class” perspective, but my sense at the time was that I was being asked for agreement with lunacy and anything I could possibly say would only undermine the instructor, and I really didn’t want to wreck the good parts of the training for the other couples there, because there was definitely a lot of good in the program, and we used a lot of it during the birthing process.

Once you start teaching, if you feel like sharing some of the vegan aspects of your work as they emerge I’d love to hear about them and share them here!

James October 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Oh, and Jason and tomb, I should add that The Selfish Gene is also a great antidote to some of Michael Pollan’s wronger ideas. Pollan, though he’s spot on about a lot, frequently blurs the lines between individual, species, and gene in his works, and that leads him to make some bad assertions about meateating, agriculture, etc.

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