“‘Solitary as an oyster’ and other animal comparisons or expressions” article published
In the process of veganizing Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, numerous expressions that refer to animals presented themselves as items to consider. For instance, in Stave 1, the author compares Ebenezer Scrooge to an oyster, saying that Scrooge was “solitary as an oyster.” Later in that chapter, Dickens uses the expression “dog-days” for the hot time of late summer. Another example comes from Fred’s Christmas party, in which Scrooge is implicitly compared to a “bear.”
Veganizing principle: retaining animal comparisons and idioms that have no exploitative or speciesist meaning
Expressions that merely include a reference to an animal are not necessarily exploitative or non-vegan. Indeed, an entire story could be written about an animal, of course, without having any negative intent toward or associations with that animal. Such benign expressions can be left intact. And under the minimally invasive principle for veganizing a classic work of literature, such expressions should be left intact, since they represent the original author’s words and embody that author’s creative approach. In short, when no clear and convincing need for editing a passage appears, the original text controls.
Thus, expressions such as “solitary as an oyster” (which expression, for example, implies nothing negative about oysters) and “dog-days” (an expression that apparently originated as a reference to the star Sirius, which was the chief star in a constellation said to look like a dog) have been left untouched in A Vegan Christmas Carol. Even the comparison of Scrooge to a bear—presumably because of Scrooge’s grumpiness or ferocity—is not necessarily negative: bears can indeed be fierce, smart, and defensive fighters, and there’s nothing inherently non-vegan, demeaning, or otherwise speciesist about acknowledging these possible traits of a bear. Accordingly, that comparison was also left intact as well.