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Vegans are often subjected to ridicule in Global North cultures. But, as I will trace in my paper,
they have managed this status quo by satirizing non- vegan culture in return—and by
occasionally engaging in self-satire, often as a means of preempting such potential ridicule.
My paper will consist of three parts. In the first, I attempt to identify the (perceived) qualities
that open vegans up to ridicule to begin with—including lack of self-awareness,
fundamentalist identitarianism, and smug moralizing. I then turn to a set of recent para-literary vegan texts, including cookbooks (ex. Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food, 2018), comics (Richard Watt’s Vegan Sideick, 2013-), and stand-up comedy performances (ex. Simon Amstell’s Do Nothing, 2010).
I employ literary and rhetorical analyses to assess the potential benefits of these texts’ deployments of vegan satire. I also note their occasional failures, such as the lack of intersectional thinking.
In the last section of my paper, I will turn to a novel by the Nobel Prize-winning author Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead (2009, translated into English in 2018).
This novel both engages in satire and offers philosophical reflection on that mode from a distinctly
feminist perspective. As I will explain, Tokarczuk’s protagonist worries that modes such as satire, along with humor and irony, are patriarchal in nature insofar as they effect a cold, rational distancing that disdains emotion. At the same time, Drive Your Plow features a fundamentally ironic and darkly
comic plot—one in which the protagonist literally gets away with (human) murder amidst her objects to (animal) killing. I conclude by suggesting that Drive Your Plow models a kind of “warm irony” that might circumvent the pitfalls described above.
(California State University, Fullerton)