Friday, November 1, 2013

Book Review: Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger? And Other Questions People Ask Vegans by Sherry F. Colb.

I heard an interview with Sherry F. Colb on Erin Red Radio, ( awhile back and since I can turn on my shopping gene at a moments notice, (I can be an impulsive buyer of things),  I …  well, bought the book.  That is pretty unusual as I'm usually downloading stuff to my kindle or nook app.  Sometimes I get a paper copy when I think I'm going to want to take notes and quickly refer to something.  I find it easier to do that with paper than electronically.  In 50 years it will be a whole new world so if you're a millennial don't fret.  (Just wait until you go to a book signing and ask an author to sign your iPad though).

I've been a vegan for over 4 years now and an activist for many of those.  I am always flummoxed when I hear about an argument or idea that I hadn't heard before since being a vegan is what my days are usually consumed with.  Well, making other vegans and saving animals actually.  So on her podcast, Erin mentions veganism and abortion.  I stopped in my tracks as I hadn't actually realized the link.  So I listened and that's what actually helped make the buying decision.  I love when I learn something new.

What I say to vegans is that our job, our only job, (and this is a resolution … apropos since we're coming down the home stretch of the year and 1/1/14 is right over the horizon), is to make ONE more vegan this year.  I just found a poll that said 7% of the respondents identified as vegan but previously I heard the number of 2.5% bandied about.  In any case we have this concept of doubling so that even if we double, double again and double once more, in 3 years we'll be 10% of the population, certainly a force to be reckoned with.  I say to vegans that I liken non vegans to ships who have run aground on a sandbar.  If you talk to a non vegan and they go vegan on the spot, Eureka, you've floated the boat.  I just want each of us to help move a grain of sand under that keel, for none of us know which is the grain that will float the ship.

It is the reason I wear a shirt or button with a message or at least the word "vegan" on it.  Let another few thousand people see the word as I walk down Madison Avenue.  It also occasionally prompts a question, which sorta opens the door for discussion.  Sneaky, ain't I?

So I advocate talking, never letting an opportunity pass to bring up compassion, health, or environment.  I don't care how you put the target of going vegan in front of someone or what logic trail you use as long as you set them on a path leading to being a vegan.  Now all that comes down to sales.  Yes sales. As many of you know I spent many years as a headhunter, which is possibly the toughest sales job there is.  (Each sale is 2 closes.  You never have to convince a car to go home with you but you have to convince a candidate AND a company to both buy each other's mutual product at the same time).  At any rate, selling is really helping other people buy.  And we do that by stating a position, listening to an objection, rebutting that objection, and re-closing the sale.  It goes like this:

"You should go vegan."

"I don't think you can get enough protein just eating plants."

"That was a concern of mine as well when I first started this way of living but recent research shows that if you are a person with a fairly normal activity level a varied plant based diet with enough calories will provide all the nutrients, including protein, that you need.  So getting enough protein really isn't an issue for vegans.  You should definitely go vegan."  (Inhale!)

Of course this is an inane example but if you don't know the answers to the questions you'll be asked, if you don't know the rebuttals to the objections, you won't be a very effective vegan maker.  You'll also fall a bit flat when you get the mean remarks, (I'm going to order my burger extra bloody today just so you can watch it drip down my arms), or just silly inquiries from your family at the Thanksgiving table, (So all of a sudden you don't love me anymore?)  Sherry Colb's book, "Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger?  And Other Questions People Ask Vegans"

is a brilliantly written manual for the vegan who wants a better answer when questioned.  It is a pretty low key book, not angry, not written from a soapbox, but from the view of a teacher, (which she is), with an inexhaustible supply of patience.

I usually read books like this and hear myself thinking, "Yeah, heard that before … " but with this book I kept grabbing my pen thinking, "Whoa, what a great way to express that thought!" and underlining a passage or paragraph.  I've found new ideas and new thoughts, not only in the previously mentioned, "Abortion is killing and you're a vegan so how can you be pro-choice?" discussion but in the, "Animals wouldn't have had ANY life if we hadn't bred them to eat so isn't their existence better than if they never were born in the first place?" argument.  That one I never had heard before.  In addition there are chapters about the usual stuff such as, "Don't plants have feelings too you murderer," and, "What if everyone stopped eating meat?  Where would all the cows go then?  Huh?  Huh?"

Sherry also does a brilliant job dealing with the more complex issues of how veganism plays into religion and meat eating culture as well as drawing the line at vegetarianism being enough, or the animals eat other animals argument as well as the fallacy of "Humane Meat."

This is not a book to read and hope you remember.  This is a book that you should treat like a text you never intend to sell at semester's end.  This is a manual to refer back to when you think to yourself, "I could have done a better job talking to that guy," and need a bit of a refresher on a better way to lay down an argument.

If you couldn't tell, I highly recommend this book.  Since the holidays are coming and vegans can be a bit more difficult to buy for, suggest a copy of this book for your stocking … or for under your kwanzamasnukah bush.

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