To describe the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as “controversial” is like calling whaling “unpleasant.” But that’s to be expected, when you routinely use guerilla warfare to sabotage illegal fishing ships. Paul Watson, the white-goateed captain of the world-famous anti-poaching campaign, has a colorful relationship with Costa Rica, mostly involving Interpol, extradition requests, and naming a ship after a murdered Tico environmentalist.
Needless to say, Sea Shepherd gets a lot of attention in a country that both abhors shark finning and has repeatedly called for Watson’s arrest. But the latest from Sea Shepherd is far more benign: a book of vegan recipes, written by maritime cook Raffaella Tolicetti. Released by Microcosm Publishing, the 192-page “Think! Eat! Act!” is now available in paperback and Kindle.
“I used to cook for myself and my friends after moving away from home,” Tolicetti writes in her introduction. “I liked it but was never really passionate about it.”
Raised in Italy, Tolicetti does not present herself as a born chef. She had no particular aspirations to prepare food until a shipmate admitted that she hated cooking and wanted to hand off the responsibility. Tolicetti accepted, not because she suddenly had a desire to whip up animal-free victuals, but because of its political significance.
“I developed a passion for cooking because it became a way for me to express my philosophy about ethics and animals to a lot of people and show them that you can have a beautiful and wide range of food exactly as with any other traditional diet,” she writes.
If you’ve spent any time on a ship, Tolicetti’s descriptions of working a kitchen during rocky seas should sound familiar – although she has the added challenge of cooking while antagonistic vessels attempt to ram each other in Antarctic waters.
Skeptics might find it odd that a group of vigilante activists would publish a book and sell it on Amazon, but the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has an active online store and has done a remarkable job of branding itself, not only with its own reality show but also with men’s “Jolly Roger” organic polo shirts.
Indeed, the society funded “Think! Eat! Act!” through a Kickstarter campaign. They easily surpassed their goal of $3,000, raising $13,075.
Instead of diving directly into the recipes, the book opens with a personal introduction from the author, then describes the virtues of animal-free diets and the many species that veganism spares from slaughter. Once you’ve learned how to make pasta, salad and soup in a rocking kitchen, you can read interviews with Sea Shepherd veterans.
Most intriguing of all, the book lists websites for vegan political prisoners – not people incarcerated for avoiding cheese, but people that the society considers political prisoners who also happen to be vegan. If you’ve never heard of people like Eric McDavid (who was released in January) and Marius Mason, their stories make for provocative reading. Something to discuss over kale and couscous pilaf.