The first in my new “Vegan Reads” series.

I’m one of those people who loves to read recipe books. When I’m eating by myself, I sit at the table with my broccoli walnut pasta or tofu stir fry, a cookbook propped up in front of me. I flip through, gaze at the vibrant pictures and skim the descriptions of each recipe’s origins, how long it takes to make, what the ingredients are. I tag the dishes I want to make by folding down the corners of the pages, or marking them with a star in pencil (never pen; I never

A drawing of a black corset, Victorian style.
A drawing of a black corset, Victorian style.

I’m sitting on the floor before a television set, one of those old black-and-white boxes with the rabbit ears on top, propped upon a small table. My parents, brother and I are visiting friends or family, I don’t know who, or where. In my memory I am alone in the room, which doesn’t mean there aren’t other kids there, just that they are not part of this story. The adults are in another room. I don’t know what I’m watching, but I know what I see, because the scene has been seared on my mind for most of my life…

What does it mean to read and write about a book that wasn’t written for you?

This is the question on my mind as I read and write about Helen Knott’s In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience (2019).

A woman of Dane Zaa, Cree, Métis and mixed European descent from northern British Columbia, Knott writes an account that is at once a profoundly personal tale of having her sense of self and her place in the history of her people ripped apart by racism, sexual assault and addiction, and a collective history of Indigenous women in the Americas…

Early September. A field in Norfolk. A morning walk with partner, friend and small dog. The people are taking in the views while the tied-up terrier, used to the pavements and parks of London, gets lost in the irresistible smells of the eastern English countryside. In the distance a large group of cows is hanging out. As we get closer we spot one lingering on the edges of the crowd. She seems to be eyeing us, sizing us up. Not moving, but probably ready to if needed. We note some calves among the herd. And no fence between us and…

Re-reading Terry Tempest Williams’s Refuge

Late last year, I came across a mesmerising photograph online. A man in a cowboy hat was standing several feet below ground, atop a coffin in a freshly dug grave. The caption told me that he was a mourner at the funeral for one of nine Mormons murdered in northern Mexico by suspected cartel gunmen in November 2019. The news startled me, and piqued my curiosity. …

When it comes time to choose the weirdest and most novel expressions of 2020, there will be some fierce competition. I’m getting my vote in early: Shoe-Leather Tracer.

As so often happens in life, once you become aware of something, it suddenly appears everywhere. I first heard the term Shoe-Leather Tracer a few weeks ago, while doing some socially distanced socialising with my partner and a dear friend at the end of a hot May day. My beloved and I sat side-by-side on camping chairs on the pavement just after dusk, our canine companion bouncing between us, while our mate…

Image by Eyüp Öztaş from Pixabay

Seven stories, old and new, about animals, people and disease


Since Coronovirus came into the news at the beginning of this year, we’ve heard plenty of stories about the dangers of animals spreading disease to people. So it’s good to have a reminder that human beings are often the ones who destroy worlds. This is a lesson all too real for the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, who were attacked by a series of deadly epidemics, brought by conquering and colonising Europeans, in the centuries following the invasion of 1492.

Five hundred years later, the descendants of the original inhabitants of Turtle Island (North America) have rich histories of storytelling…

How to find hope — and allow space for grief — in a time of change

Illustrations: Julie de Graag (1877–1924) via RawPixel

In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, millions of us have had to make sudden and substantial changes to our everyday lives. Around the world leaders talk about a “war” against the virus. Varying degrees of policing have been put into place to ensure that citizens comply with lockdown measures, with the threat of fines, arrest or violence if they do not. In the face of widespread insecurity, I believe veganism offers a less combative and more compassionate model for change.

Vegans are used to change. Going vegan in an overwhelmingly meat-eating society means a radical break from the norm…

Some years ago I was hanging out in a friend’s garden on a sunny London afternoon. There was a little BBQ happening with people from their building, and I had come armed with cold beer and flavoured tortilla chips. After tipping the psychedelic orange crisps into a bowl, I offered them around. When the dish reached the eager hands of a child aged about ten, an adult standing nearby pounced on me — “Don’t feed my child Frankenstein food!” — and wrenched the chips out of the kid’s grip. I took the bowl and shuffled sulkily back to my companions…

Unlike most of the books on my shelves, Prozac Nation does not have the location and date I bought it inscribed on the title page. But I have a clear recollection of when and where I first read it.

I was in London, on my way to a seminar on feminism and psychoanalysis in Bloomsbury. It was the spring of 1995 and I’d been in the city for about eight months. I was in the first year of my PhD programme in history. And I was depressed. Maybe not as chaotically and desperately depressed as Elizabeth Wurzel. But depressed nonetheless…

C Lou Hamilton

Author, editor, independent scholar, animal lover, passionate vegan, queer fem/inist

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