Fireflies and Chocolate, Lucy’s latest novel, written under the pen name of Ailish Sinclair, is out today. And this one features a real vegan from history: Benjamin Lay.
He’s not a main character but he shows up a few times in the story and his appearance is always profound and helpful to Elizabeth, the protagonist. Benjamin Lay lived from 1677-1759 and did not eat, wear or use anything that came from slavery, human or animal. He campaigned against the slave trade, particularly among his fellow Quakers, often in rather dramatic fashion as is shown in this quote from the book:
Mr Lay did stand out in the snow in his bare feet and stab a bible that was filled with some red juice to look like blood. He did this in front of the congregation as a message about slavery.
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 600 children and young people who were kidnapped from Aberdeen during the 1740s and sold into indentured servitude in the American Colonies. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… and there’s chocolate!
The first vegan book is Fat Gay Vegan: Eat, Drink and Live Like You Give a Sh!t by Sean O’Callaghan of the well known Fat Gay Vegan blog.
We LOVE this book. It’s political but it’s also deeply personal, containing many stories from the lives of Sean and other contributors. The book is about how to be vegan, but it’s more about how to be a better vegan, and really it’s about how to be a better person. And we can all work on that.
It’s refreshing to read a vegan book that tackles how minorities and traditionally oppressed voices are treated, even within the vegan community. We have experienced and witnessed shocking able-ism and racism in our 21 years as vegans, and yes, sadly, sometimes from vegans. It weakens the movement. It weakens the world. It needs to end.
And we can all check our privilege. We can all watch our language. Some in this house have, upon occasion, described various unfortunate things as ‘crazy’. Not good, Vegan Family House, not good.
So it’s a challenging book, a personally challenging book, but it’s in no way downbeat or depressing. Although forthright, it’s written with a compassionate sense of humour. It’s empowering. Why should we shut up and put up about our veganism to please or appease non-vegan friends and relatives? At the end of each chapter there are little refuelling stops with delicious and simple recipes and food suggestions. And in the final chapter Sean predicts a world that continues to become more vegan, and perhaps more importantly, more kind.
For those who don’t know, Veganuary is a charity that encourages people to go vegan for January and the rest of the year. And this is their compelling guide. It’s so persuasive that apparently the proof-reader went vegan!
The book has sections on why you should be vegan, with warnings of graphic content that you can choose to read or not, and then being vegan at home, when out, visiting friends, answering questions, and everyday foods you maybe didn’t know were vegan. It’s a very good starting point for anyone who is thinking of going vegan and wondering how to go about it and how hard/easy it will be.
Eating: a simple trifle made of bananas in vegan jelly, topped with thick custard and this rather nice provamel cream (we were lucky enough to find a few of these cheaply on Approved Food recently). There’s a more detailed trifle recipe on the Vegan Christmas page.
Homemade hummus in the early morning sun. Little bit of parsley in it. Basic recipe here.
The book in between is THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story. Out now.
Autumn is well and truly underway. High winds. Flooding. Beautiful trees. Log fires. And lovely roast dinners. Above is a quarter marrow (peeled, deseeded) stuffed with the simplest of nut roasts made by blending/processing walnuts, almonds, sweet potato, celery, parsley, sage and some Vecon stock. Roast for about 45 minutes at 200c/400F. YUM.
Holly Bourne’s new YA novel, The Places I’ve Cried in Public is too important a title for us not to mention. It’s a book about abuse. It could help prevent abuse and even lessen the lasting negative impact on the targets of abusive behaviour.
We follow Amelie as she revisits the places she cried during her relationship with Reese, a relationship that she thought was loving. Through this story the author deftly points out many of the red flags that are hallmarks of abuse and which are often ignored or not noticed by young people (or people of any age). This can be because when you’ve grown up in an atmosphere of abuse and control, these behaviours seem normal, but it can also be because they are new and unknown, or because they are perpetuated as acceptable, as in one conversation we were party to recently where an abusive individual was described as merely having a ‘strong personality’. No. A world of big bad no.
Two of the strongest early indicators of whether you’re dealing with an abusive or narcissistic personality, in any relationship type, are that person’s reactions to both your failures and your successes. A toxic person will revel in your failures, your heartbreaks and, in fact, anything that goes wrong for you at all. They will patronise rather than empathise, and sometimes try to convince you that an event that was simply unfortunate was actually your failure.
And success? Well, you’re not allowed to have any. They will chip away at it, pointing out others who’ve had more success, or are ‘better than you’. You may actually learn never to speak of your own achievements, understanding that it makes this person feel bad. They will attempt, and quite possibly manage, to sabotage you too.