Top to bottom: Renée French, Hazel Newlevant, Ben Snakepit, Liz Prince, and Sam Henderson, a few of the 55 contributors. Buy Digestate here and use code SUPERVEGAN12 for expedited shipping.
If you’re looking for a great holiday gift, or your books-of-the-year list is a little thin, or if you just like thinking about food and you like to read (which probably covers anyone seeing this blog post!) then Digestate: A Food & Eating Themed Anthology is for you.
While Digestate is available in some comic book shops, it’s not sold through the big online book stores like Amazon. The best place to buy it is directly from Birdcage Bottom Books. Usually they ship media mail only, but between now and December 25, use the coupon code SUPERVEGAN12 to get it shipped first class for the same price! (I promoted Digestate‘s Kickstarter campaign here back in June; I got my copy for supporting that.)
Digestate is an anthology featuring 55 comics authors and illustrators. At nearly 300 pages, this is a big book, but quality doesn’t suffer on account of quantity. While the range is wide (fiction and nonfiction, comedy and tragedy; some stories are personal, some more documentary, and some outright surreal), the storytelling and illustration are excellent throughout. Clearly the contributors were genuinely inspired and excited by the concept here. And clearly editor J.T. Yost chose his contributors well!
If you don’t like a huge portion of what’s in here, you’re probably one of those idiotic ingrates who doesn’t deserve books at all. Or food.
Yost is a vegan himself, and while there are several other vegan contributors, plenty more are not. Some of the pieces are even defences of eating animal products. But don’t let that put you off, vegan reader. The honesty of the authors (even when they’re ethically misguided) coupled with the high level of the work, gives this book signifiant intellectual and emotional weight which would be missing from a compilation of vegan propaganda and cheerleading. Digestate‘s diversity of perspectives is it’s biggest strength. This book doesn’t try to convert anyone, nor does it preach to the choir—because of its bredth and inclusiveness, it can’t.
Also, by not having a unified pro-vegan message, this book is going to appeal to a lot more people. Anyone reading it will be forced to think about where our (and other peoples’) food comes from, and that’s never a bad thing. The focus is overwhelmingly on the emotional and ethical aspects of food, how it makes us feel in the mind and soul, and who else is impacted by our food choices.
In a clever touch, Digestate‘s index indicates the dietary preference of each author: “vegan”, “vegetarian”, “omnivore”, “carnivore”, and some more specific: Ayun Halliday is a “lapsed aquariumatarian, current omnivore”, Dan Piraro is an “ethical vegan (as opposed to ‘health vegan’)”, John Kerschbaum is a “pretzel-enthusiast, etc.”, Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg is an “omnivore who loves soy jerky”.
A lot of my favorite pieces in here are endorsements of non-vegan eating. And I suppose that’s how it should be: we share the world with non-vegans, and some of them are great storytellers. James Kochalka and K. Thor Jensen and (“omnivore”s alike) both contribute excellent and rather sweet stories about why they eat meat even though they know it’s wrong. “Successful Slaughter!” by Marek Bennet (“temperate woodland omnivore”) was just great storytelling and great comics; you’d have to hate reading to dislike it. And “How to Eat Chicken” by Sophia Weideman (“om-nom-nom-nivore”) is the least vegan thing in the world, but its themes of family, memory, responsibility, care, and love still make it totally affecting. Continue Reading…