Resisting Temptation (in Modern Fiction)

Resisting Temptation (in Modern Fiction)

There’s a trend in fiction these days wherein “monsters” such as vampires and werewolves can choose to reject their destructive natural instincts in favor of modern alternatives. Some examples:

The vampires on HBO’s True Blood (based on Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris) do not have to drink human blood. Instead, they can choose to drink a synthetic bottled drink that contains the same nutrients as human blood. It quenches their biological thirst for blood and sustains their lives. It comes in flavors that mimic blood types, for example AB+ or O-. This new invention of synthetic blood has allowed the vampires to choose to live in peace and harmony with humans instead of viewing humans as food sources.

true blood ad

A new show on NBC called Grimm has a character who is a “reformed” Big Bad Wolf. In the pilot episode, he is first assumed to be the villain who has kidnapped and killed women and girls who wear red hoodies. But later in the episode we find out that he is not bad anymore. Rather, like an alcoholic or someone with a drug addiction, he acknowledges the desire to do bad things but resists. Instead of eating people, he is a vegetarian.

The Showtime hit Dexter features a serial killer who struggles with his violent inner demons. Even though he can’t completely resist killing he does temper his obsession and only kills people who he can prove “deserved it.” He limits his destruction. Dexter is a bit like a flexitarian who isn’t ready to fully give up the consumption of animal products, but he knows he needn’t cause as much death as he may crave. Instead of ignoring the problem, the flexitarian chooses vegan options more often than not.

In the pilot of The Walking Dead on AMC there’s a powerful scene where the hero finds the bodies of two zombies. These particular zombies chose suicide rather than zombie-dom because they knew they would not be able to control their violent urges as zombies. Scratched on the wall in blood they wrote “Please forgive us.” On the other wall hangs a deer’s severed head, a hunting trophy from their former life.

The Walking Dead

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that writers have created these fictional “monsters” who have free will and can choose compassion. These are not just scary fantasies of things that can kill humans in simplistic “us versus them” stories; instead these are tales of creatures who are so similar to humans that they too can choose violence or peace. They are powerful reminders that we are responsible for our actions, that our choices have consequences. In True Blood, Dexter and The Walking Dead, the analogy to veganism is implied. In Grimm there is no veil, the analogy is offered up to the viewer on a platter plain for all to see.

These are fictions not only designed to entertain, they also offer a powerful message to viewers: we can prevent cruelty, we can prevent unnecessary violence and death. In particular, when viewed through a compassionate lens, these shows tell viewers that we can prevent animal suffering, we can prevent environmental destruction and the deterioration or human health. We can choose to abstain from causing unnecessary suffering and death. We can choose modern alternatives. We can choose vegan.

5 Responses to Resisting Temptation (in Modern Fiction)

  1. Interesting take on these shows. It’s good to see creatures of all sorts taking the more peaceful path.

  2. Thank you for this insightful article. It’s interesting to see the occasional node to veganism from the entertainment culture and other areas. It is certainly happening more now than in the past and I expect to see more in the future.

  3. I’m kind of disappointed in this post (although I appreciate the time and effort put into it). Seeing the title “Resisting Temptation” implied (to me) that it would tell us how to resist eating non-vegan foods when we feel tempted to. Instead, the gist of this post is “you can resist temptation…so resist it.”

    Um….yeah…I think we kinda already knew that.

    As someone who is trying to go vegan, and who has sworn I would never do so, and who has always LOVED chicken, eggs, butter, and cheese, this is really hard. And unfortunately, I’m not finding a lot of blog posts about what to do when you feel tempted. Yeah, I could call to mind how bad animals are treated. But to be honest, I’m not a big animal rights activist or anything. I believe animals should be treated well, and I do want to care more about animals. I’m going vegan for that reason, as well as health (though I admit to being selfish and being more concerned about health).

    Basically, I feel that going vegan will help me feel more connected to animals, and be more concerned about their well-being. But I’m still not there yet. Call me names if you want, but that’s how it is. I’m trying to be more compassionate by becoming vegan, but I need more than just “think of the animals” when I’m confronted with a meat dish that smells tantalizing at the time.

    I’d really like to hear REAL ideas for resisting temptation, for people who want to become or stay vegan, but still like the taste. And more than just “think of the animals” or “watch ‘Earthlings'” or “read a book about slaughterhouses” because that’s not going to work while you’re out at a restaurant. I’d love concrete suggestions for distractions, substitutions, and vegan foods/recipes that are satisfying to eat when you feel like you are craving meat.

    I guess it seems like a lot of vegan blogs I’m reading are all about “preaching to the choir” or talking about veganism only from a politics/values point of mind, and never (or rarely) from a strictly health-oriented point of view, or from the point of view of a person who isn’t “quite there” yet as far as politics/animal rights values go.

    I kind of understand why that is, but I also think that if you want to spread veganism, you have to try to see things from a non-vegan perspective…what will help a non-vegan see the benefits in veganism (someone who may or may not see the animal’s side of meat-eating yet)? What will help a new or struggling vegan stay the course, besides a guilt trip (because not everyone responds to that, no matter how much you may think they should)? If you want the whole world to be vegan, then thinking outside the box–outside your own reasons and values–might help you figure out a way to sway the masses a little better.

    Just my thoughts, as a teetering fence-sitter. I’m sure many people will disagree with me.

  4. Anon,
    You may prefer to read this post: http://www.vegansoapbox.com/how-to-avoid-meat-cravings/
    Or use the search function at the top of the blog to find any number of interesting reads. THere are, after all, over 2000 entries to this blog. Surely some of the other ones may be more useful to you than this one.

  5. I don’t crave meat but if you still like the taste! try adding dark soy sauce to make gravy or stews. Also there are many vegetarian sausages etc that taste real, a lot of the time especially when meat is reared on a factory it has little taste aand relies on flavouring, sometimes bad for people to give it taste. There are soya milks that taste the same if not better than real and if you see a calf being shipped over to the veal market you shouldn’t want to continue drinking the ‘real stuff’ anyway, also factory farming for milking cows is getting worse and they are injected with antibiotics to prevent disease which can be carried on to the consumer.

    Hope that you continue to think of animals as companions not food!
    Good luck
    Vic

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