Books

'Protest Kitchen' Is Often, Like Our Politics, Unsettling

Carol J. Adams and Virginia Messina's Protest Kitchen provides easy, everyday tips to help make positive change in the world, but it might best be read with the comfort of a vegan Irish Cream in hand.

Protest Kitchen
Carol J. Adams and Virginia Messina

Conari Press

Oct 2018

Other

"We live in an unsettled time in politics."

"It's easy to feel overwhelmed."

It's hard to argue either statement and perhaps that is why Carol J. Adams and Virginia Messina open their book Protest Kitchen: Fight Injustice, Save the Planet, and Fuel Your Resistance One Meal at a Time with these lines. And while Adams and Messina would definitely agree that donating to Planned Parenthood, voting, or volunteering at a local animal shelter are excellent ways of bringing about positive change, they have another suggestion: Go Vegan.

Protest Kitchen is often, like our politics, unsettling. The section on animal cruelty discusses chickens being scalded alive, chickens being debeaked without anesthesia, and baby pigs being castrated, again without anesthesia. The section on meat and misogyny compares myths that defend sexual violence against women ("she liked it") with myths that defend sexual violence against animals ("she's a bitch from hell"). And it's not just meat, eggs, and cheese that are problematic; the authors also note that traditional chocolate production often relies on child-slave labor. In fact, after the first reading, I felt more overwhelmed, and the primary hope I found in the book was from the recipe for vegan Irish Cream (where I was reminded that Irish whiskey is naturally vegan).

The second pass revealed a message I appreciated more—that taking small steps toward veganism can be an important form of protest and that we can make positive changes by examining what we put in our grocery carts and kitchens and on our plates.

While some of the content may be difficult to read, the book itself is set up in a reader-friendly format, with charts, recipes, and commentary wrapped around specific daily actions for enacting change. For example, the first daily action (and there are 30 in the book) is to taste test nondairy milk. Other easy entryways into veganism include swapping butter for a plant-based oil or choosing a black bean burger instead of the traditional hamburger.

Using olive oil instead of butter might not sound that radical, and it's important to note that Adams and Messina state early on that being vegan isn't all we need to do to improve our world. That said, they also maintain that "like the #grabyourwallet campaign, veganism is in part a sophisticated boycott using economic consequences to bring about change".

The authors are also honest about some of the limitations of a vegan diet. Adams and Messina admit that their carrot dog (essentially a grilled carrot on a bun) isn't going to taste exactly like­­­­ a hot dog and that vegan cheese (at least in the past) often tasted like plastic.

Primarily though, Adams and Messina really do try to make it easy to give up at least some animal products and usually seem to keep their human audience in mind. While much of the book does relate to diet, Adams and Messina share other tips about decreasing stress and improving mental health, and while some of these suggestions (taking a walk, reading books, adopting a kitten) aren't necessarily unique, there is something warm and comforting about them.

The overall message is that veganism is good for all—people, animals, and the planet. Ultimately, both Adams and Messina seem genuinely concerned with not only with making the world a better place through veganism, but making each individual reader healthier and happier.

In that spirit, Adams and Messina include a variety of recipes, many of which, such as Baked Flatbread with Herbed White Beans, simply sound yummy and might tempt a carnivore. And let's face it—there's really no such thing as a bad chocolate chip cookie (a vegan recipe is included in the book). Plus Adams and Messina include an entire section about hosting a protest dinner, with a menu that includes Trumped up Vegan Cutlets á L'Orange, Drain the Swamp Kitchen Cabinet Compote, and "Stop the Wall" Taco Salad Bowl with Fire and Fury Salsa.

The authors don't skate over the issues of cost and availability, either. Vegan butter is often almost twice as expensive as regular butter, and some items such as vegan chocolate chips can be difficult to find. Adams and Messina acknowledge that vegan products are not necessarily within everyone's reach but maintain that "everyone, no matter their economic status, should have the option to be vegan", and one daily action suggests donating vegan products to food banks.

Not everyone may be able or even interested in becoming a vegan, but considering our "unsettled time in politics" isn't likely to become settled any time soon, it's nice to know that the seemingly small acts of starting the day with oatmeal instead of eggs or using chick peas instead of tuna fish are a form of resistance in and of themselves.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors


David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Music

Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.

Film

NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.

Music

South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.

Music

Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Music

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.