Food fight: Sarah Palin ticks off vegetarians and vegans in her new book, 'Going Rogue'
Sarah Palin's highly anticipated book, "Going Rogue," is not likely to win any literary awards, but it's very likely to sell a gazillion copies. (It's currently Amazon's No. 1 bestselling book, besting even the likes of Stephen King and Dan Brown.)
But very few of those copies, we suspect, will be purchased by vegetarians or vegans. In his review, our colleague Tim Rutten explains that a large portion of "Going Rogue" covers Palin's life before she emerged as a well-known public figure, "so there's a lot of winter, guns, fish guts, long hours at the nets under the midnight sun and a great deal about Palin's fondness for meat.... There's even a photo of her father teaching her to skin a harbor seal, an activity the caption informs is now forbidden for all but native peoples under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Ah, for the good old days."
That part about Palin's love of meat products, perhaps unsurprisingly, is raising the hackles of some animal-loving vegetarians and vegans, according to our colleague Johanna Neuman of The Times' politics blog, Top of the Ticket. Especially offensive to the animal-byproduct-free set? Palin's comment that "If any vegans came over for dinner, I could whip them up a salad, then explain my philosophy on being a carnivore: If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?" (Humorous news-aggregation site Fark.com's snarky rejoinder: "In other news, Sarah Palin endorses cannibalism.")
In "Going Rogue," Palin goes on to describe her favorite types of meat -- bacon burgers, pork chops, "the seared fatty edges of a medium-well-done steak" -- before concluding that "I especially love moose and caribou. I always remind people from outside our state that there's plenty of room for all Alaska's animals -- right next to the mashed potatoes." (Interestingly, former George W. Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully, who opposes hunting so ardently that he titled his 2003 book "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy," penned Palin's stump speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention. In "Dominion," Scully wrote of hunting that "the worst of it is not the cruelty but the arrogance, the sheer hubris of those who bring only violence and fear into the animal world, as if it needed any more of either." The strange-bedfellows aspect of his relationship with Palin was not lost on the Austin American Statesman.)
According to Top of the Ticket, Cleveland-based writer Daelyn Fourtney, who wrote on Examiner.com that it's "a sad statement on our society when we applaud those who refer to animals as the centerpiece of their dinner plate," has already felt the backlash from conservatives who assume she's a "militant" liberal. ("God loves meat and I love Palin," one commenter wrote. "I'm waiting for her run for the presidency. A true American patriot defending the COnstitution. Stop vitimizing [sic] her.") In reality, Fourtney told the Ticket, she's a vegetarian who keeps her politics separate from her food choices. "Assuming that one is left or right based on what they choose to eat is a dangerous road to travel," she said.
Of course, no public discourse about veganism is complete without a comment from PETA co-founder and President Ingrid Newkirk. In an open letter to Palin, Newkirk was quick to discount the former governor's comments about meat as both glib and outdated. "Ms. Palin reportedly finds evolution a bit hard to swallow," Newkirk concluded. "Judging from her book, that applies to the evolution of ideas and attitudes as well." Snap!
-- Lindsay Barnett
Top photo: Palin is interviewed in her Anchorage office in 2007. Credit: Stephen Nowers / McClatchy Tribune News Service
Bottom photo: Copies of "Going Rogue" on display at a Borders bookstore. Credit: Matthew Cavanaugh / European Pressphoto Agency