If Classic Works of Literature Were Vegan

Imagine if our best writers’ empathies extended to beings that don’t look just like them.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm, illustrated by Ralph Steadman.

The Iliad

Alone in the underworld, King Agamemnon discovers that the only boat heading to the nice side of the Styx has been taken already by the bull he butchered for good luck back in Book 7.

The Book of Job

Satan makes a bet with God that his man Job couldn’t go a month without cheese. Poor Job wanders the streets, tearing his beard and complaining to anyone who’ll listen that he is the victim of a great injustice. But then he gets over it.


Victorian London is terrorized by a monstrous figure from the continent with a disturbing taste for red meat. Our hero, V’gan Helsing, tracks Dracula’s sticky trail, overwhelming him in the final chapter with a head of garlic and some home-grown legumes. The villain dies mid-scuffle of an exercise-induced cardiac arrest.

Harry Potter

Hermione Granger, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, has her eyes opened even wider when she learns where all that bacon on the Hogwarts breakfast tables comes from. None of the other characters gives a fuck.

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein’s creation tries to join civilised society by stabbing an eight week old calf to death. “Veal is only high-grade at eighteen weeks, you monster!” Frankenstein screams. The creature flees, eventually befriending a kindly farmer who teaches him all about plant-based diets.

The Metamorphosis

Gregor Samsa wakes one morning out of fitful dreams to discover that he has transformed into a giant rotisserie chicken breast. “You are what you eat!” cries Grete, the chicken thigh in the other room that used to be his sister. They pray the cleaning lady isn’t peckish.

Moby Dick

When Ahab first sights the elusive white whale, he hurls his harpoon into the sea and vows to hunt down anyone who would harm such a beautiful creature. The following 131 chapters describe in exhaustive detail Ahab’s epic letter-writing campaign against the evasive, indefatigable whaling industry.

Titus Andronicus

Titus lures Tamora to a reconciliatory feast with the promise that he’ll bake a pie with his best pig. After a delicious dinner, Titus reveals to his sated guest that the filling was in fact Chiron and Demetrius, Tamora’s two pet terriers. “But dogs are different!” she wails. Titus’s beloved pet pig turns up his nose.

The Old Man and the Sea

A mad old fisherman who hasn’t caught a thing for months scours the seas to find a marlin on which to take out his frustration. However, thanks to decades of ferocious overfishing, he doesn’t.

The Book of Genesis

“No you may not have ‘just one bite’. I gave you a planet of plants to eat of, for God’s sake. You leave that lamb alone.”

Animal Farm

Pretty much the same except the people reading it don’t make everything about themselves for once.