Roanne van Voorst’s book “Once We Ate Animals”

IAfter all, the list of erotic trends has been lengthened for us with this book. We now know that there are also vegansexuals, people who follow a vegan diet and can only love people who do the same because everyone else is nothing short of cannibals to them. That says all the good things about this pamphlet on veganism by Dutch futuristic anthropologist Roanne van Voorst, who became a vegetarian at 16 for love of animals, converted to veganism a few years later, and now promises us in her book: “I will build a futuristic dreamscape for you, of a world that is kind to both animals and the environment.” In truth, it is a nightmare that goes beyond culinary castration.

Roanne van Voorst does not hide her radicalism from the first moment: for her, having cattle is torture, torment, an unforgivable crime, a unique and continuous cruelty. She equates carnivores with slave owners, describes carnism as an “extremely violent ideology”, and “good animal husbandry” does not exist for her as a matter of principle, because even the most loving pig farmer is a pig. pig because he kills animals for money. The author constantly falls into absurdities and affirms, for example, that meat did not play any role in human evolution and that it was never a common food. For anthropologists there is no doubt that only the highly concentrated supply of energy through meat gave Homo sapiens the time and strength to become the ruler of the world. And the fact that people still drink milk is, for van Voorst, mainly the result of perfidious advertising campaigns by the dairy industry.

Roanne van Voorst:


Roanne van Voorst: “Once we ate animals.”
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Image: Goldmann Verlag

The book is reminiscent of a wild sprawling mental garden filled with cabbages and turnips: first, the story of vegetarianism and veganism from Pythagoras to Beyoncé is told at breakneck speed, then a familiar scene from a Hanni-style meatless future. and Nanny. science fiction at its finest. Episodes from one’s own family life with the Saturday pancake breakfast ritual, including marital squabbles because the husband likes milk and eggs, alternate with lengthy statements about couples therapy and banal life support advice for couples with different Feeding Habits. Stories of converted ranchers, disgusted by their past actions and now growing vegetables instead of slaughtering calves and lambs, are mixed with pleas for privacy rights for animals and condemnations of organic butchers, who are basically no better than the bad guys. of mass establishments. .

Van Voorst dispenses with scientific gravitas, nosily addressing his readers by their first names and endlessly using academic vocabulary such as “shitty feeling,” “shitty story,” “Wurschteln,” “ouch” or ” withered grandmas and grandpas,” all this as consistently as vegans use sausage. Accusations replace arguments, episodes replace evidence, moral outrage replaces sober considerations, selective perceptions replace objective representations. He cites a cookbook from 1612 that advocates not eating meat, but he does not mention the dozens of cookbooks from earlier times, in which almost all recipes revolve around meat.

Global veganism is declared the only savior of climate salvation, there are obviously no other options than enslavement to the plant dictatorship. And the notorious B-12 deficiency in a vegan diet is affirmed, but casually left out, so be it, there are pills. Van Voorst is equally uninterested in what follows from this, whether this deficiency does not call veganism into question as a matter of principle, or in the problem of what the millions upon millions of poor farmers in arid regions of the world who they raise sheep and goats are supposed to live because their soil is not suitable for growing eggplants and broccoli is good. What matters least to the futuristic anthropologist is how poor our cuisine would be without fish and meat, butter and eggs, how painful, how enormous the price of voluntarily giving up taste would be for many of us: the most unforgivable of his delusions. In any case, after reading this, we are still even more carnivorous.

Roanne van Voorst: “Once we ate animals.” Goldmann Verlag, Munich 2022. 334 p., br., €17.

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