Book Review: The Joyful Vegan


Though many vegans consider veganism a lifelong commitment, others find themselves struggling to not revert back to old habits of consuming animal flesh and fluids. Rather than adding another text to the vegan spectrum on how or why to become vegan, notable vegan activist Colleen Patrick-Goudreau writes a guide on how to stay vegan. Awakening to the horrific abuse suffered by animals bred for consumption is the easy part. Staying cognizant of this abuse and letting it guide your personal consumption ethics despite constant resistance from society at large is much more difficult. The Joyful Vegan is a truly wonderful, understandable, and holistic approach to staying vegan. 

New vegans face quite a few issues when first awakening to the harsh realities of our global food systems. What should vegans in the food service industry do? How do you handle those annoying “gotcha!” questions from non-vegans? How can vegans practice self-care when we are constantly inundated with reminders of animal abuse, torture, and death? Patrick-Goudreau’s advice is practical, honest, and, most importantly, sustainable. She offers meditative practices, methods of changing our mindsets, and shares important anecdotes from her own vegan journey. 

Advice on dealing with non-vegans is pretty common fare for books like The Joyful Vegan. However, Patrick-Goudreau does not just recognize pressure from outside the vegan community, but inside it as well. In a passage on gatekeeping in the vegan community – a theme that appears many times throughout the book – Patrick-Goudreau refers to the “vegan police”; vegans that feel the need to monitor and demonize the actions of others on their vegan journey. She explains that antagonism among vegans is often a cause for vegans to recidivate into a non-vegan diet. Remember, most vegans have, at some point in their life, consumed animal flesh and fluids. There is no such thing as a perfect vegan, only a joyful vegan. 

With this, Patrick-Goudreau has an excellent chapter on finding your vegan “tribe”. No, not all vegans ascribe to the same political or religious beliefs, dress the same way, or even agree on the best means to end animal suffering; but that is okay! As a vegan, it can be easy to fall into self-created silos and forget just how diverse the vegan community is. The Joyful Vegan is an excellent reminder that reducing harm to animals is for everyone.  

Patrick-Goudreau’s writing is accessible and highly engaging. Her passion for helping others on their vegan journey shines through every page. Particularly compelling is her discussion of the history of veganism and it’s deep connection to humanism. After all, veganism is a practice meant to reduce harm for all living beings. The Joyful Vegan is an excellent tool for both new and old vegans alike. Any vegans in need of a morale booster should feel compelled to pick up this book.  

The Joyful Vegan: How to Stay Vegan in a World That Wants You to Eat Meat, Dairy, and Eggs by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau