If Classic Works of Literature Were Vegan

What would it be like if our best writers’ empathies extended to beings who don’t look just like them?

Jamie Redgate
Mar 13, 2019 · 2 min read
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Credit: Europeana Collection/CC BY 3.0, text added

‘The Iliad’

Alone in the underworld, King Agamemnon discovers that the only boat going 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 can’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 divine injustice. But then he gets over it.

‘Dracula’

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.

‘Harry Potter’

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

‘Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus’

Frankenstein’s creation tries to join civilized society by stabbing an 8-week-old calf to death. “Veal is only high-grade at 18 weeks YOU MONSTER,” Frankenstein screams. The creature flees, confused.

‘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.

‘Moby Dick’

When Ahab first sights the white whale, he vows then and there to spend his days hunting down anyone who would harm such a magnificent 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 that the pie’s 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.

friendly, radical, vegan

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Jamie Redgate

Written by

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Jamie Redgate

Written by

Scottish writer. Lit PhD. Published by Routledge, Electric Literature, Gutter, etc. Tweets @jamieredgate, resides at www.jamieredgate.co.uk.

Tenderly

A vegan magazine that’s hopefully devoted to delicious plants, liberated animals, and leading a radical, sustainable, joyful life

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