The Year of the Flood is certainly the most immersive book we’ve read so far. I found no issue diving directly into the book and really getting a feel for the deeper ideas and plots immersed within. This book has two really huge themes that I think are worth discussing. The first is religion, and its ability to effect people, and then obviously vegetarianism, and how that will help us to ensure a sustainable future. This will lead into the bigger discussion of how this book relates to the class as a whole, because it very clearly does.
I think that the overarching ship of religion that this story sailed on was fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of religion being used to convey the major themes and ideas of the book. The religious group in this story is referred to as the “Gardeners”, they are a sect of people who live a very modest life. They are vegetarian because of their belief system, and they also grow almost everything they consume. Their entire policy is about reducing their environmental impact and only using what they need at all times. They get almost all for eh materials they use in their day to day lives from the world around them, and teach this kind of conservationist lifestyle to their children. This lifestyle may seem great and wonderful, but it can certainly have its shortfalls. The main one that I can find is that this society has completely eliminated meat. This is a major issue nutritionally for any society that wishes to not only survive but also to prosper. A vegetarian diet can be incredibly nutritious, but there are certain vitamins and minerals that one simply cannot get from fruits and vegetables alone. There are visible signs of the malnutrition of the Gardeners in their descriptions. The only one who is ever described as anything other than thin is Zeb, and that is because he eats meat on the side. I would imagine that him introducing meat into his diet is what has allowed him to be so strong in the first place. I only know so much about the negative impacts of not eating meat at all because of some research I did after considering a vegetarian society.
The gardeners also believe in the complete reuse of everything. This is an interesting concept to me because it seems incredibly practical, especially in a post apocalyptic wasteland, like the one described after the “waterless flood”. There is definitely some utility in the ability to utilize products for different purposes, and there is certainly no harm in repurposing something to make it into something else. The Gardeners take it to a new extreme when they are simply reusing everything. They sleep on husks from dead plants, now that is a little extreme. Their entire society fascinates me simply because it is so different from the one that I am accustomed to living in. There are just so many fundamental differences between the world today and the cult that the Gardener’s live in. Which, I do believe them to be a cult. I had not thought of them that way until Lucerne started to tell people she had been abducted, and while that story was not truthful, there are many aspects of the Gardener way of life that are very cultish. I’m sure that in a time of incredible environmental change doomsday cults would pop up everywhere, and I’m sure there would be plenty of able bodied men and women waiting to join.
The final aspect of this book that needs to be discussed is how it relates to the class as a whole. This book is definitely about a changing environment. Which does relate to the climate element of our class, thankfully so because these books tend not to. There is also an interesting “end of the world scenario” element to this book, which allows us to test what we believe about our own faith and morals. Would you be able to carry a belief system with you even past the proverbial ‘end of days’. I think this book asks in a lot of ways what faith is, what belief is, and makes fun of those people who are overly prepared for climate change, the few who are doing all the work, and those who are woefully unprepared, the many who have not even changed their lightbulbs yet.
“Why You Should Think Twice About Vegetarian and Vegan Diets.” Chris Kresser. N.p., 20 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.