Protest Kitchen Reading Group Guides

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Virginia Messina and I have been thrilled by the number of book clubs and reading groups focusing on our book Protest Kitchen. Below you will find some discussion guides and questions for your meetings!

  • People who hold politically progressive views are generally concerned about climate change and the environment. But many don’t appreciate the importance of eating a more plant-based diet as a way to reduce their carbon footprint. What are some local political, justice or faith institutions that might be open to hearing this message? What do you think is the best way to introduce these topics to them? How would the message be crafted differently for different groups?  

  • Did the background supplied in chapter 1—that a meat and dairy diet is actually very recent and not representative of the diverse foodway histories of the world—help you put veganism in a new perspective?

  • One aspect of food justice is working to create local, community-based solutions. Some ideas shared in Protest Kitchen include community gardens, bringing food to hungry people or sharing vegan food using ethically-sourced ingredients at events. Are there opportunities for these or other food justice-related activities in your community?

  • Have you noticed examples along the line of “Take Out Misogyny” in popular culture or in conversations with non-vegans? What surprised you the most in this chapter?

  • Can you identify some current examples that illustrate the points made in chapter 5 about how animality is used to oppress disenfranchised groups of people?

  • What’s in your resistance kitchen that matters to you most?

  • Why do you think so many good, progressive people are threatened by discussions of vegan diets? Did you find something in Protest Kitchen that can help with future discussions?

  • Veganism is a choice that responds to issues of animal suffering, injustice, misogyny, and climate change. It’s a choice that can feel empowering, but many people also experience a sense of sadness and even depression as they become hyper-aware of these problems. How do we communicate messages to potential vegans so that they will be inspired to respond rather than tempted to ignore potentially painful information? Are there ways to share information about the powerful impacts of veganism without causing your audience to feel overwhelmed by sadness?  

  • Many of the stereotypes about veganism diminish its meaning and make it sound antithetical to social activism rather than aligned with it. These include ideas about veganism as a weight loss diet or something for health obsessive people or as a lifestyle for those who care more about animals than people. Do you see these kinds of stereotypes reinforced in your own vegan community? What are some ways to counter this?

  • Many people have gifted this book to others. Who would you like to see reading this book?

  • Protest Kitchen suggests that there is much that the resistance can learn from vegans and that it is logical for politically progressive people to embrace a vegan ethic.  What about vegans and animal activists who are at the other end of the political spectrum? Do you think it’s possible for animal rights to exist within the framework of politically conservative values, many of which represent regressive political stances?  

  • Did you change your diet in any way after reading this book in an effort to promote food justice beyond simply making vegan choices?