Alicia Kennedy: Working Class Veganism and the Connections Between All Struggles for Liberation

Speaking with Raechel Ann Jolie about her refreshingly candid new memoir, ‘Rust Belt Femme’

Tenderly, May 1, 2020

Looking back, I am shocked they didn’t think I was a cop,” writes Raechel Ann Jolie in her new memoir Rust Belt Femme, of the note she sent to her local Ohio chapter of Food Not Bombs in the early aughts. Her language was so straight-forward, so nerdy: exactly what a bookish teen would write at the time. Jolie was just a young punk and new vegan seeking comrades in the anti-war movement, and she had heard about the organization from her ex-boyfriend—the one who turned her onto veganism when she was 16.

The experience would be hugely educational for her, and she’s gone on in her work as an academic, writer, and podcast host to bring a thoughtfulness and intersectionality to veganism that is often lost. Reading her memoir, one realizes it can all be traced back to this same sort of earnestness, openness to learning, and particular upbringing.

All of this is so rendered so refreshingly candidly in the book; Jolie’s voice is at once funny and heart-wrenching, putting every reader who wanted to be part of a scene back into their adolescent shoes. I asked her how veganism has fit in with the rest of her life, and what advice she has for those wishing to expand their sense of justice beyond animal rights.

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