A WOMAN who grew up in the Woking area has written an off-beat book about the climate crisis.

Emma Armstrong wrote I Used to Think Vegans Were D*cks out of a passion for the environment that was sparked by her time as a Guide in Bisley and fostered by doing her Duke of Edinburgh Award through The Winston Churchill School.

“My special area of interest is botany and it pains me that all the things I like are dying,” Emma (pictured right) said. 

“I’ve also had a bit of a poacher-gamekeeper conversion; I have had a hand in the death of a lot of fluffy bunnies through teaching game butchery.”

After leaving university, Emma worked in outdoor education, including for Ray Mears, the woodsman, author and TV presenter.

“I spent my twenties living in the woods; I slept on the forest floor, under a tarp, as a bushcraft and survival instructor,” she said.

“I was the only woman in the woods and I was asked a lot of times if I was Ray’s secretary. I’d say, ‘No, I’m the person in charge of your food for the next 72 hours, so good luck’.”

Emma later taught English in schools, including a brief spell at Winston Churchill and decided to write the book in the evenings after her three children were in bed at the home near Henley-on-Thames she shares with her teacher husband.

Book cover
Emma Armstrong's book, available now from Vulpine Press. (Picture supplied)

She studied English Literature at university and has written articles for outdoor magazines.

“I am very earnestly concerned about the climate crisis,” Emma said.

“The future opportunities for my three young children weigh heavily on my conscience and I had an idea of writing a book.”

She said every book she had seen on the climate crisis was very dry and serious or very academic. 

“I thought that every other time I’ve taught someone, I’ve used humour so I’ll go down that route and write a funny book about how we’re all going to die.”

Emma says that 95% of the food she cooks is vegan but jokes that “I don’t identify as a vegan”.

“My philosophy is that it is better to do what you can than do nothing at all. 

“One of the huge mistakes the vegan movement made is that it’s been conflated with being pure and clean and that’s not very compelling or engaging. 

“It’s become a modern religion; a set of mores which one must avoid and a set of attributes that you must display at all times; it’s 100%ism, which I strongly dislike; no one is 100% anything.”

The book’s chapter titles include, “Vegan spoils Christmas”, “Am I the d*ck? Weapons of Mass Consumption”, “Guilt Trip: The Sequel” and “God Loves a Trier”.

Emma’s maiden name was Hampton. Her grandparents lived on the Barnsbury estate and both worked at the Lion Works factory in Oriental Road. She regularly visits her mum and brother who live in Bisley. 

She said the book is partly a thank you to the leaders at Bisley Guides, Dawn and Lesley, when she was there.

“They were amazing and got us doing stuff that even the Scouts weren’t doing. This was when you couldn’t be a Scout if you were a girl. 

“They opened my eyes to the incredible world of camping outdoors, making fires and using knives; they were a wonder.”

Emma said her love of the outdoors continued at Winston Churchill.

“Our lovely teacher used to drive us up in the old minibus to the Lake District so we could do our Duke of Edinburgh hikes and other activities. 

“I got really hooked on it and that set my love of the outdoors.”

The book is published by Vulpine Press and available now.