Interview with Casey Taft
On the occasion of the Croatian publication of the book Mom, Dad, I'm a Vegan (Understanding your vegan family member), we decided to talk to the author, Dr. Casey Taft. He kindly gave us the permission to translate the book into Croatian and we were very happy to present it to the public on the World Vegan Day.
Book can be ordered for free in Croatian here [link] and for readers in English, book can be ordered on the web page of its American publisher, Vegan Publishers, which was co-founded by Dr. Taft.
The conversation was a great opportunity to share the experiences about veganism from different parts of the world and we hope you'll enjoy it as much as we did.
Can you tell us why and when you decided to found Vegan publishers?
We started Vegan Publishers on New Year’s Day 2013. The original thought to start a publishing company came when we were looking into publishing a vegan-themed children’s book and couldn’t find any vegan publishers to submit the book to. We thought that there really should be a publishing house named Vegan Publishers and it’s a really searchable name, so we just went for it. My wife was skeptical that it would work, as is her nature, which is a good balance for my own wild ideas sometimes. But we went forward with it and are really glad that we did.
We're happy that you did as well! Can you tell us when did you become a vegan and how did your family and friends react?
I would say that I’ve really been vegan for only about four years. For about 10 years before that, I was almost exclusively on a plant-based diet but I was not truly vegan in all ways and wasn’t doing it foremost for the animals. I went vegan for good when a vegan friend of mine challenged me on ethical grounds. I knew she was right and went vegan right then, and my wife agreed to join me and she went vegan too.
The book Mom, Dad, I'm a Vegan is the first book that VP published. What was your motive for writing it and what are the reactions you have received so far?
Yeah, that was an eBook that I wrote because I thought it was really important for non-vegan family members to better understand the vegan perspective. I wrote the book to give to my own family because they didn’t know much about veganism and they were somewhat hostile and defensive to it.
Sometimes it’s easier to just hand someone a book and ask them to read it on their own than to get into pointless discussions or disagreements. It worked somewhat with my family. They understood me better and the conflict died down, though I’m still waiting for them to go vegan themselves.
I thought of the book as a vegan advocacy strategy because if we’re able to talk to our loved ones about veganism, we better spread the vegan message and hopefully help make more vegans. It was also helpful for me to write the book because it forced me to research all topics related to veganism and learn how to respond to all of the justifications and myths that non-vegans sometimes throw at us. A lot of what I know now about veganism I learned while I was writing the book.
In terms of reactions, I was surprised at just how many people described strained relationships with family members over their veganism. Regardless of whether the book helped to improve relations with family members, many have expressed gratitude to us that they were given the opportunity to at least try to improve communication with their loved ones about why veganism was so important to them.
Can you tell us more about the books that influenced you the most in terms of vegan topics?
The World Peace Diet was probably the most influential during my early transition. These days, the books that we publish probably have the greatest influence on me. I learn something new from every book that we publish and every author that we work with. I also learn a ton from those who follow our social media pages. I feel very fortunate to have access to so many intelligent and evolved people.
Yes, your online presence is really vibrant and engaging. Vegan Publishers have
a very interesting Facebook page, we like to check your posts.
As a publisher, VP covers a lot of vegan topics with books both for kids and adults. What are the criteria that you use to decide which ones are interesting for you to publish them? Do you have some personal favourite that you would like to point out?
The main criteria for us are (a) Is this a book that has never been done before and does it fill a gap in the literature? and (b) Is this a book that we can market and actually get sales? In addition to my Vegan Publishers’ work, I’m a researcher and medical school professor, so I’m most familiar with the model of publishing in which I strive to do something that hasn’t been done before.
I can’t really say that I have a personal favorite among our books. I really think all are great. That’s why we decided to publish them! Every one serves a different purpose and is intended for a different audience, and every book we’ve done has a story behind it and a lot of thought and care. So it really depends on what somebody is looking for.
How wide is your audience (both in the USA and abroad)? How well do you think that general public is informed about veganism (both in the USA and abroad)?
We have a wide audience. On Facebook in particular. Lately we’ve been getting 1,000 new followers every day, and about 20 million people see our posts every week! Most of our followers are in the US but we also have large followings in the UK and Australia and various other places. The beauty of social media is that we’re able to spread information like never before. So now if somebody doesn’t know anything about veganism, they practically have to willfully ignore it. The information is out there and readily available for folks who are ready to be open to it. Younger people are much more likely to be vegan than older folks now so it seems that things are changing in a big way.
Quite true, information was never so accessible as today. What do you think is the biggest prejudice that some people still have towards vegans and veganism?
I don’t honestly think that people are really prejudiced against veganism. I think that people find ways to deceive themselves into thinking that it’s okay to needlessly use and kill animals. Part of that deception may mean telling oneself that vegans are crazy or unhealthy or weak, etc.
Do you have some advice for people who know a vegan or are interested in becoming vegan themselves?
My advice is to just go vegan because every day that you remain non-vegan, you’re directly contributing to animal cruelty. Almost nobody truly thinks that what we do to animals is okay, and when you go vegan, it’s wonderful when your behaviour matches your ethics. Going vegan will be much easier than you think it is.
Simple advice, but then again being vegan today really is simple, it's just a matter of choice. So... just do it! :)
Is there some project in particular that you are preparing that you'd like to mention / talk about?
We have a lot of them, with books coming out about vivisection, fruitarianism, veganism in the music industry, the marketing of animal ‘’products’’, veganism and activism in the black community, a vegan shopping guide, and others. We’re thrilled about all of them.