Keith takes us one step closer by comparing us to dogs and sheep to show us that we are almost identical to dogs. Score a point for gangstah rap!! However, she skips over our similarities with other primates with a swift vagueness that is suspicious. If some how this book can influence enough people to end factory farming soon, then let them all eat as much meat and creme brulee as they want.
I will even help her to end industrial agriculture, so long as she keeps her talking to a minimum. I would be happy to see the entire farm land east of the Mississippi River allowed to turn back into a prairie. So would most vegans I know. I first wondered how this book saved Derrick Jensen's life, since he never was a vegetarian and never intended to be. Now I know; since it goes on and on about how bad wheat, corn and soy are, maybe he thinks these things were killing him but now he'll never touch the stuff again. In fact, she hates wheat, corn and soy so much I've concluded that all she ate as a vegan for 20 years was nothing but wheat, corn and soy; with maybe a few fruits and vegetables as condiments, maybe?
I'm also willing to bet that she is probably allergic to gluten, which is probably why it made her sick.
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One thing that she got right was the myth that all the grains fed to factory farmed animals could actually be used to feed the world. Maybe the math does add up, but none of us intelligent vegans ever thought that it was more than hypothetical, or we really weren't concerned about those starving people, or we knew that capitalism would not let it be possible even if we really wanted to give it to starving third world countries.
The worse part about this book is not what she says, but all the important things she never bothers getting around to saying. View all 11 comments. Aug 06, Emily rated it did not like it. Lierre Keith is a self-described radical, meaning that she basically wants to remake the world from literally the ground up. She lays out her idealized - well, not civilization because that's a bad word - but lifestyle for the world.
The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability
While there are nuggets of value and interest in this book, they are mostly hidden in piles of sentimental, inflammatory, and repetitive filler. The over-the-top sentimentality is eye-roll-inducing. Crying over slugs dying instead of Well, that was Crying over slugs dying instead of eating your garden? Inflammatory language abounded, too. The book would have been stronger, in my opinion, maybe even two stars if she had just stuck to the facts on the topic at hand rather than waxing eloquent about the "love for all beings" and how her "prayer pulses in me like another heart" or ranting about how "the brilliance of patriarchy is that it sexualizes acts of oppression.
There is no index, so when I wanted to go back and see what she said about celiac disease or irrigation I had to do a lot of flipping and skimming. The three loooooooong chapters really needed to be split into several smaller chapters or at least to have section subheadings on them. The main thrust of Ms. Keith's book is about our food choices and their consequences. I actually agree with her up to a point; many of us don't fully consider the moral, political, or nutritional implications of what we put into our mouths.
Especially in first world countries, we consume far more than our fair share of the world's resources and have completely lost touch with where our food comes from and how it gets to us. As a recovering vegan herself, Ms. Keith specifically targets the three main rationales for following a vegetarian or vegan diet. In a nutshell, moral vegetarians believe that killing is wrong and, therefore, eating meat is akin to murder.
They believe that animals shouldn't have to die to feed them. Keith points out that even a vegetarian diet results in deaths: All life, she claims, not just animal life, is precious, but for one being to live, something else must always die. We must come to grips with the fact that we must kill in order to eat. But she doesn't stop there. According to her, agriculture itself is responsible for most if not all the evils in the world: Not to mention the damming and draining of rivers and wholesale destruction of natural habitats and ecosystems.
That's the death in your food. Then there are the political vegetarians who don't eat meat because they believe an animal-free diet is best for the environment and the only way to feed the number of people on the earth. Keith again lays the woes of the world at agriculture's feet. But she legitimately points out that modern farming takes a great deal of fossil fuel, a non-renewable resource, in the form of fertilizers, so being a vegetarian doesn't solve that problem. The farm subsidies that promote the production of huge surpluses of corn, for example, are problematic from a nutritional standpoint as well as for their effects on poor farmers in other countries.
She starts to hint here about her ideal solution by praising Joel Salatin's ten-acre perennial polyculture in Virginia and bemoaning the fact that there are about six billion too many of us on the planet. Finally she attacks vegetarianism from a nutritional angle, using her own twenty-year history of failing health on a vegan diet as the example.
I actually thought this was her strongest argument as she makes good use of many scientific studies and demonstrates how vital nutrients are extremely difficult to include in a strictly vegan diet. For example, cholesterol, protein, saturated fat, vitamin D and vitamin B12 are all required by our bodies for growth and repair and come mostly from animal sources. Low tryptophan, also difficult to get on a vegan diet, can lead to severe depression.
On the flip side, I know several vegetarians who are very healthy. One is even a triathlete Hi, Nicole! While I have my doubts about a strict vegan diet, I'm not convinced a well-balanced vegetarian diet is not nutritionally sound. Keith frequently refers to becoming an adult, using our "adult knowledge", completing our "adult task" of saving the planet. But to be "adult" I think a solution needs to be realistic and have at least a snowball's chance in hell of being successfully implemented and what she outlines just doesn't. She advocates humans "stepping aside" and allowing the earth to return to its natural state from 10, years ago, tearing down dams, and ceasing all agricultural pursuits.
Her three specific suggestions at the end of the book are: I've already spent way too much time on this review, so let me wrap it up by just saying suggestion 1 is not a solution. Suggestion 2 is great if you're in a position to do it, but many people simply aren't. I noticed that Ms. Keith's bio mentions that she lives in both western Massachusetts and northern California. Now that's a tricky commute on a bike or on foot. Suggestion 3 is likewise fabulous if you have the climate and space to do it, but again many don't. And they all still have to eat, too. There may be six billion too many of us on the planet, but which ones are you going to resign to starvation to achieve your Garden-of-Eden utopia?
My grandpa used to say, "You have to start with the world where it is, not where you want it to be. Keith doesn't seem to have grasped that concept, despite good intentions and a deep desire to save the earth. For more book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves. Aug 04, Virginia Messina rated it did not like it Shelves: I reviewed this book back in the fall on my blog.
This is a slightly tweaked version of that post.
The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability
Lierre Keith suffers from numerous chronic health problems. Unable to secure a diagnosis for most of them, she decided that the vegan diet she had followed for twenty years was to blame. Instead, she set out to prove that healthy diets require copious amounts of animal foods and that small-scale animal farming is the answer to I reviewed this book back in the fall on my blog.
Instead, she set out to prove that healthy diets require copious amounts of animal foods and that small-scale animal farming is the answer to sustainability. To prove it, she has cobbled together information from websites yes, she actually cites Wikipedia! I read the section on nutrition first. By burying all of the actual studies this way, she makes it laborious for readers to check her facts.
The Vegetarian Myth: Chapter 1 - Lierre Keith
I doubt she did this on purpose. Worse, her conclusions are indebted to the Weston A Price Foundation, a non-credible group that bases its recommendations on the opinions of a dentist who wrote up his observations of indigenous populations in the s. As a result, we get page after page of contradictions, fabrications, and misinterpretations.
For example, Keith is woefully confused about fats, believing that saturated fat is needed for absorption of vitamins and minerals and that humans have a dietary need for cholesterol Neither saturated fat nor cholesterol are needed in diets; there is no RDA for either. Like most anti-vegetarians she is vehemently against soy, insisting that it reduces testosterone levels and therefore male libido there is no evidence of this and she speculates that African-American girls reach puberty faster because they are more likely to be enrolled as infants in food assistance programs like WIC and therefore, to be fed soy infant formula.
In contrast, preliminary research suggests that soy could slightly delay puberty in girls and also reduce their lifelong risk for breast cancer. Notably, she points out that ten acres on Polyface Farm much lauded by Michael Pollan as an example of sustainable animal agriculture can produce enough food to feed 9 people for a year. But on his blog Say What Michael Pollan , mathematician Adam Merberg performs calculations which suggest that Polyface requires more calories in feed for the chickens than it produces in food.
And she mistakes her cravings for animal protein for an actual need for animal protein. And finally, finally being fed. Oh god, I thought: Eating a bite of tuna—-no matter how deficient you might be in a nutrient that it supplies-—does not cause all of your body cells to start pulsing. It wouldn't cause you to feel too much of anything. There is tons of bad nutrition info out there for vegans, some of it from pretty popular sources. Interestingly, she never tells us what she ate when she was vegan or what she eats now that she is an omnivore.
No wonder she was sick and that she now eats mostly animals and their secretions. I have raised some of it myself, loved it when it was small and defenseless. I have learned to kill. Lierre Keith was desperate to find an answer to her health problems; she landed on vegetarianism and then spun a tale to support her theory. Her intent seems heartfelt; she sees herself very much as a savior of vegetarians and wants us to learn from her mistakes. And the book has been widely embraced by those who want to believe that meat-eating is healthy and just. The problem is that there is truly nothing in this book that accurately supports that conclusion.
View all 3 comments. Feb 03, Leran Minc rated it it was ok Shelves: This is definitely an interesting read, but I found many things about the book itself problematic and generally disagree with her conclusions despite agreeing with some of her arguments. Until I find a superior book which I hope will be easy to find I would recommend conscious omnivores and vegetarians alike to read this book. Let's start with her motivation to write the book. She was vegan for over 20 years and developed physical and mental health issues due to her diet.
While it truly is sad This is definitely an interesting read, but I found many things about the book itself problematic and generally disagree with her conclusions despite agreeing with some of her arguments. While it truly is sad that others, like Keith, have destroyed their bodies and in some cases their minds with a destructive diet, I don't think that applies to all vegans and certainly not to all vegetarians.
She uses this to strike a very personal and often angry tone throughout the book that frankly detracts from the evidence she cites. I'm glad she does not hide her bias, but she certainly lets it cloud her thoughts. I have a real issue with people jumping from one extreme to another and this is a clear example of that. She goes from being staunchly vegan to staunchly anti-vegan. My biggest issue is with how her anti-veganism manifests. Her main argument seems to be that civilization and primarily agriculture has been destructive to our planets and we should revert to a simpler life where we grow only historically locally available plants, raise only historically locally available animals, don't have children, don't drive and live in partnership with the natural world.
As someone who trying hard to become more of a locavore, I am sympathetic to her desires, but find it unrealistic and absurd to live in a world as she describes it. Not to mention she splits her time between Massachusetts and California. So unless other people actively live in these two homes and she bikes between them, she is violated the kind of fossil fuel-free, small home, local world she seems to be advocating for.
What really hurts her argument are the tangents she goes on almost every few pages. She and I are both proud feminists, but despite agreeing that patriarchy has caused many problems, I see no need to link agriculture in it's past, present and future forms as wrapped up with patriarchy and nor do I find it to be a compelling argument. At many parts of the book she breaks down into this nonsensical feminist tirade for pages at a time with no mention of food,vegetarianism or agriculture. While these movements and issues are linked in some ways, she is trying to hard to create connections and loses sight of her thesis.
Structurally, the book is also very clunky. She has only 4 "chapters" divided by moral, political and nutritional vegetarianism and finally a concluding chapter on how to save the world. Each chapter is more like a section and her thoughts and arguments may have been more coherent if she imposed chapters on herself. Not all was bad, for I gave this 2 stars, not 1! I think Keith does an incredible job arguing that agriculture based on annual grains that require significant augmentation of their soil, often with fossil fuels, is problematic.
Perhaps as or more problematic than factory farms and certainly more problematic than incorporating animal products that were humanely, sustainably produced into your diet. She also makes the powerful argument that in order to sustain annual plants that may not be suited for the area they are grown in and certainly not in the scale they are grown, substantial life is lost.
Much of this life is microscopic, but the death of these organisms and the ecosystem as large effects many other lifeforms plant and animal alike. This brings us to what I think was the most profound argument of the book. Keith does a beautiful job in her Moral Vegetarian "chapter" reminding vegetarians, city dwellers and all of us about life cycles. The Circle of Life if you want to get all Disney about it. Plants eat animals as much as animals eat plants and each other.
Being vegetarian does not remove your from this cycle, the plants you eat much eat and either you supply that food through fossil fuels which were originally animals or you supply it sustainably through animal waste, blood, bones and flesh. While I agree wit her, I find her argument of this being "adult knowledge" unnecessarily condescending. Many of the issues she argues I think apply to vegans much more than they do to vegetarianism as a whole, but whatever diet choices we pursue, we can be extra conscious about how our food effects other animals and the planet and strive to be more local and less destructive with those choices.
Aug 14, Bryce Lee rated it really liked it Shelves: Lierre also makes a devastating case for the insustainability of agriculture. She gets a little off topic at a few points by letting her anti-masculinity and anti-religion views shine through. I don't really mind this, but I think it detracts from, rather than contributes to, the major points in the book.
Anyone who knows a vegetarian, is a vegetarian, or who lives in a society based on agriculture, must read this book. Mar 11, AJ rated it did not like it Recommends it for: To say that I hated this book would be incorrect. It's not that there's much in this book to hate, it's too vacillating, confusing, and utterly contradictory for that.
Simply put, this book is under-researched and laden with unsupported statements, speculations and anecdotes. The only thing to hate about this book is that people will read it, trusting Keith to have given them good, true, useful information, and go on to make bad dietary choices. The first problem with this book is that i Oh boy The first problem with this book is that it almost never attacks veganism.
It does attack many things: So really, this book could have been called "The Agriculture Myth," but that wouldn't have generated as much shock value or sold as many books. Keith does a makes a lot of radical statements, and then goes on to list many unrelated and mostly un-referenced "facts" that don't substantiate that claim, implying that the "facts" directly support her radical statements.
Is there any peer-reviewed study referenced that makes this statement directly? She leaves it to you to jump the gaps between her unsupported statements to make your own conclusions. Keith also likes to take facts to their logical extremes. So you may as well eat meat. Annual grains destroy soil and lead to monocrops of annual plants. Hence anybody who eats grains is directly causing the destruction of topsoil. Humans can't eat cellulose, and cows can, therefore humans should eat cows and not plants.
I would say that this is a faulty philosophical system at best. It's also a great way to build up big straw-person arguments to support a point. The "Nutritional" chapter of this book was really the worst of it, and here's why. According to Keith - who assumes that the plural of anecdote is data - here are approximately some of the problems I, a vegan, should be suffering from: Unfortunately for her thesis and fortunately for me , I do not and have not suffered from any of the above ailments.
I'm sorry that Keith suffers from terrible health issues, but to assume that everybody has the same life experiences as her is incorrect. To assume that her health issues were directly related to veganism is also probably incorrect, but not being a doctor or nutritionist, I'm not qualified to make that claim. We don't eat any fat or protein.
We're sick all the time. At one point Keith rails against conflating correlation and causation, on approximately page I'm a scientist and a natural skeptic, and I know a thing or two about statistics. Rewind to page It's not blatant, but subtle and implied. Fast forward to page Did you get healthier? Or did you notice that the incidence of diseases commonly blamed on animal products has gone from high to epidemic? There are some truly baffling statements in this book. Also, "remember the many happy endings provided by another estrogen mimic [she is referring to soy isoflavones: Such a patronizing attitude is insulting and hostile.
I don't know what Keith hopes to gain from making such an attack, and it is clearly not backed up by any peer reviewed scientific research, but Keith's own prejudices. This book is just plain bad. If you were to take the points in this book to their logical conclusion, you would have to eat a diet composed entirely of raw meat that you hunted yourself from indigenous animals that forage on polycultures of perennials.
Good luck with that. Oct 20, Rebecca Loring rated it did not like it. This book would be funny until you realize that people will read this and believe Keith's claptrap. Talking about the unfairness of eating "apple-babies and rice-babies" because it's preventing apples and rice from propagating is laughable.
If that's not bad enough, she cautions people against a vegan diet because two years into hers she developed mysterious health problems. She evidently knows nothing about the millions of vegetaria This book would be funny until you realize that people will read this and believe Keith's claptrap.
She evidently knows nothing about the millions of vegetarians around the world leading perfectly healthy lives. Sure, it would be nice to eliminate mono-crop farming, and we should work towards that goal, but that's not an excuse to eat factory-farmed, tortured, and abused animals. Keith is just a wanna-be vegetarian trying to justify her urge for meat. This book should be filed under "Humor" instead of "Nutrition. Feb 13, Scott Cameron rated it it was amazing. This book took me by surprise, to put it mildly. More like it slapped me in the face.
After learning that the author is a former vegan and a self-described "radical", my expectations for intellectual rigor and the pursuit of the hard truth were fairly low. But what I got was quite the opposite. I loved this book. I can't remember the last time I read something so thought provoking and invigorating. Lierre Keith's writing is wonderful and at times borders on poetic.
Throughout the book she intersp This book took me by surprise, to put it mildly. Throughout the book she intersperses bits and pieces of her own personal story with manifesto-like rage and opinion, solid critical thinking, common sense, and a ton of thorough research to back it all up. She not only understands and respects the scientific method, but powerfully uses it to dismantle a significant amount of conventional thinking and less conventional vegan beliefs.
Somehow along with relating her personal experience she is able to cut her way through subjectivity and emotion right down to the bone where she proceeds to pick over the true nature of things. She claims to be deeply committed to justice, fairness and morality and she proves it page after page by pursuing the naked truth and assessing the state of things based on what she actually sees not what she wishes or feels. There actually isn't that much of her personal story in the book but the language is so alive and passionate that by the end I felt a connection with her as a person and admired her very much even when I disagreed with what she was saying, which I did in some cases near the end of the book.
Her story about the day she gave up veganism nearly brought me to tears. The Vegetarian Myth is sort of like an angry, R-rated version of Omnivore's Dilemma, although that probably doesn't entirely do it justice. I don't share Ms. Keith's views on certain subjects and found the last chapter of the book to be slightly detached from reality in terms of what can really be expected of human beings in this world, but by the time I got to that part I already admired the book and the person so much that it didn't really matter anymore.
Keith talks a lot about the adult knowledge that life and death are inextricably connected, and there are descriptions of sustainable human-managed systems respecting and honoring this idea that are just truly beautiful to behold. This book captures that beauty and elegance better than any I've read so far including Omnivore's Dilemma, which I love and is compelling enough to be truly life changing. It's not a message I will soon forget.
Jun 22, Ryan Holiday rated it really liked it. Tim Ferriss highly recommended this book to me. I've always felt that there is nothing more impressive than seeing someone turn over a long held belief in light of new evidence. Her solution is sustainable farming and agriculture, harkening back to the da Tim Ferriss highly recommended this book to me. Her solution is sustainable farming and agriculture, harkening back to the dawn of domesticated animals.
She's a bit crazy interspersed with her predictions about factory farming are calls for "the revolution" and rants about patriarchy and too many citations of Wikipedia articles. I've rolled back my grain and carb consumption since I read this and felt shockingly better. I like to judge books by the questions that stick with you after. Her answer, after looking at the examples of other species who get high on things in their natural environment, is that carbohydrates are a drug we began addicted to. Still mulling it over. This book was a nice counterweight to Eating Animals by Jonathan Foer.
Oct 11, Rogers George rated it it was amazing. Written by a former vegan and addressed to vegetarians from "inside the camp," as it were. Her rather biographical approach is frank and fact-based without being bitter. She is clearly sympathetic to the sensibilities of vegetarians. BTW--I am not a vegetarian, and I still found the book to be thought-provoking and informative. Lierre rhymes with Pierre divides the book into three main sections, covering the nutrition, politics, and ethics of food as it applies to the idea of vegetarianism.
In Written by a former vegan and addressed to vegetarians from "inside the camp," as it were. In the ethics section she comes down strong against mistreatment of animals read CAFOs , and strongly in favor of the deal animals make with us who care for them give us animals a good life, and you can eat some of us Her description of this deal is amusingly and well told. The politics discusses the workings of Big Food and how it influences the regulators. She's definitely not in the camp of Big Food. Well annotated, good bibliography. Dec 06, Hannah rated it really liked it Shelves: Every once in a while, I read a book that radically changes the way I look at the world.
Food, Justice, and Sustainability, was one such book. I've eaten raw foods, paleo, and vegetarian. My choices have been motivated by both a desire for better health and a desire to do what's best for the pl Every once in a while, I read a book that radically changes the way I look at the world. My choices have been motivated by both a desire for better health and a desire to do what's best for the planet. For a while now, I've been hearing murmurings that in fact, vegetarianism, that darling of so many environmental activists see me, above!
I knew I needed to know more details about this idea, and The Vegetarian Myth had the specifics I was looking for. The basic premise of The Vegetarian Myth is that agriculture, as a very recent human development in the grand scheme of our existence, and industrialized agriculture, which has really only been around since , and then, agriculture on a GRAND scale, which has only been possible with the technologies invented during and after World War II, is in fact, one of the worst things to happen to our planet. Using science about the basic way ecosystems work, Kieth makes her point very clearly that agriculture is, in its very nature, draw-down of resources in a way which is completely unsustainable.
The problem is, our earth is finite. With agriculture, we are destroying resources, such as topsoil, and species--entire species every day--that are irreplaceable. Agriculture is this destruction on a massive, massive level, and is being more and more completely monopolized by a few, very powerful companies. The problem is that vegetarianism is entirely based on these monocrops of wheat, corn, and soy. Kieth adds to this science with information about why vegetarianism is not the ideal human diet.
For me personally, this was actually of less importance, and potentially less conclusively presented than her science about ecology and agriculture. I don't consider being a vegetarian central to my identity, but I do feel very strongly about doing what is best for the planet. If I get compelling evidence and this book had it that being vegetarian is actually terribly destructive to the planet, I'll change my behaviors.
So what does Lierre Keith recommend? The simple answer is that she is NOT for returning to the western diet. She is clear about the horrors of factory farming, for the creatures that it tortures, as well as for it being unhealthful for humans. In a nutshell, Keith puts forward the idea that eating grassfed, humanely raised meat in moderation is actually the most compassionate option, and the ONLY option that is sustainable if we want to save our planet, and the other living beings we share it with.
The difficult truth that Lierre Keith presents is that, in fact, we are all predator and prey. This is how the cycle of life works, and the only way that the world can stay in balance. We can do our best to be a part of this cycle with humility and respect. There is a whole lot more to The Vegetarian Myth, some of which I found radical and inspiring and some of which I found radical and discomfiting.
All of this book made me think. Some of it I disagreed with. Some of it made me change my mind. Overall, I wish everyone knew the basic facts of biology and ecology that Keith presents. I think if everyone who cares about this planet read even the first chapter of Lierre Keith's book, we'd be better informed to care for this planet that we share. View all 4 comments. Jun 11, ryn rated it it was amazing Shelves: Jul 08, Kristen Ridley rated it liked it. Wish I could rate this a 3. For reference, I come at this from the perspective of someone who has spent a great deal of time thinking about and, most importantly, researching the facts surrounding the issues that the author presents and sustainable agriculture in general.
The ecological and environmental information here is all spot on. Her agricultural statistics Wish I could rate this a 3. Her agricultural statistics are accurate and devastating to anyone who thinks that all we need to do to keep living sustainably is to go vegan. She presents a lot of largely unknown and uncomfortable information here that really needs to be heard by a broad audience. Keith writes beautifully, poetically even, about our place in the foodchain and the foolishness of regarding ourselves as somehow outside of, above, or apart from nature.
This makes her questionable nutritional information all the more frustrating. It's hard to expect your reader to swallow hard truths when some of the other pills you're pushing are of dubious veracity. Nutrition science is a murky field at best, with all kinds of mixed results and conflicting information. Keith takes as gospel the idea that a vegetarian diet is necessarily an unhealthy one. While one could perhaps make that argument regarding veganism, so say so about vegetarianism is not only demonstrably false, but in fact the opposite is often true.
Humans are able to do well on a dizzying array of different diets, and many of those diets are vegetarian or nearly so and in fact the benefits of a vegetarian diet are just as present, if not more so, in a so-called flexetarian or merely low-meat diet. I did really appreciate the interesting perspective of someone who used to be a radical vegan and then slowly had reality forced upon her. The psychological discussions are perhaps the most fascinating parts of the book. Look to Marion Nestle for a level-headed view on nutrition science.
Sep 29, Michelle rated it it was ok Shelves: This book is both more autobiographical and more beautifully written than I anticipated. It's also deeply flawed in ways I can identify and, I suspect, in ways I cannot. The flaws I have the background to identify primarily fall under the heading of taking the more science-y sounding claims of organic agriculture, resilient agriculture, and permaculture too seriously.
What that usually means is a mix of taking devout sides in scientific controversies often with an apparent unawareness that ther This book is both more autobiographical and more beautifully written than I anticipated. What that usually means is a mix of taking devout sides in scientific controversies often with an apparent unawareness that there even is a controversy and pushing pseudoscience outright.
Keith's discussions of soil properties humus , carbon grazing and sequestering , and fertilizer synthetic vs. In all cases, she presents as fact information which is, at best, in heavy dispute. It makes for quite a shaky house of cards. It's a book for the already converted but that's not what it proposes to be. Oct 13, Wildrose VuVu Magoo rated it it was amazing. An extremely well written, well thought out and depressing book. I'll start with the things I did NOT like about it: The tendancy of the author to sort of meander, and occassionally slip into feminist rhetoric.
While I'm all for feminism in countries that really need it, I find it alienating when people seem to blame it all on men. Who invented agriculture in the first place? The men hunting or the women gathering? What do you bet it was the women, who wanted a steady food supply so they wouldn't An extremely well written, well thought out and depressing book.
What do you bet it was the women, who wanted a steady food supply so they wouldn't have to kill their excess children when things were tough? Bet you a dollar. Anyway, leaving that aside, I found this book very informative and well-written. The depressing part comes from the political vegetarian section, where the author is asking if it's even possible for us to use sustainable polyculture or if there's just too many of us. I'm grimly certain there's too many of us.
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Where this will lead I have no idea and I'm almost glad I won't be around to see it. But I would recommend reading this book, the author has clearly thought things through and my mother, who was a farmer, says she's spot on about chickens. Feb 06, Daniel Lowen rated it it was ok. The prose is good; the reasoning less so. She lays out some very important facts, but many of the conclusions she twists out of them don't hold. She accuses pro-vegan medical evidence as confusing correlation with causation, but then she promptly does the same with pro-meat medical evidence.
She correctly argues that agriculture, especially since WWII, is destroying the environment, so that when the oil runs out, the whole system collapses. She correctly points out that the carrying capacity of The prose is good; the reasoning less so. She correctly points out that the carrying capacity of agricultural land without oil inputs is a distressingly small fraction of today's population. But as long as we're stuck with modern agriculture, we'll use a fraction of the resources by eating plants rather than animals. And her horrible health, which she chalks up to being vegan, looks like the result of eating junk food that happened to be animal-free for 20 years.
Mar 09, Jodi rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book is as the description says, 'part memoir, nutritional primer, and political manifesto. The author talks about all the hidden death that is involved in the production of foods such as grain crops, and why vegan me This book is as the description says, 'part memoir, nutritional primer, and political manifesto. The author talks about all the hidden death that is involved in the production of foods such as grain crops, and why vegan meals may involve far more death than the more obvious death of a single animal to provide a meal for an omnivore.
Many animals are made extinct when land is cleared for grain crops and billions of small animals such as mice and rabbits are killed every year by harvesting equipment, for example. The book explains that buying a soy burger may give you an emotional quick fix but it does nothing at all to deal with any of the bigger issues, is terrible for your health, and gives money to some of the biggest corporations that are causing some of the worst problems in worldwide hunger and so on.
To be truly moral in our eating habits involves more than just extending morality to a few animals who are most like us. The rest of the world, all those billions of other lives, count too. The author also writes about how our soils need to eat and what they need to eat is either fossil fuels or animal products such as manure, and that there is no way around this.
That we are part of a circle of life and trying to separate ourselves from this cycle is causing a lot of problems for our environment. The author explains that we are designed to eat meat and that the shocking figures often quoted about the huge use of resources to produce meat are not only inaccurate but also misleading as they are always based on grain-fed animals that are factory farmed.
Grass-fed and free range meats are a different matter entirely. Agriculture is carnivorous; what it eats is ecosystems, and it swallows them whole. Despite the title, this book talks little about vegetarianism, and is really discussing issues around veganism, mostly. A vegetarian diet can be done healthily, they explain, although you do still miss out on some of the most nutritionally dense and important foods such as liver and bone broths. So it can be done healthily but isn't exactly the same. It is also true that some of us really can't feel well eating purely a vegetarian diet while for others, done right, it seems to work for them.
People have biochemical individuality and just because some can be vegetarians it doesn't mean we all can. Veganism is different to vegetarianism, nutritionally speaking, and is not supportable particular when it comes to pregnant women and children. More information on this in the brilliant book 'Deep Nutrition. The most moving was the author's description of the day she started eating meat again.
I admire the authors writing style as well as her immense bravery in writing such a book and I'm sad she has had to cop so much unfair criticism. This book is not harshly written and the authors deep compassion for people and animals and all forms of life shines through every part of this book. The sections on nutrition were excellent. The author discusses lectins, the problems of a high carb and high sugar diet, how little difference there is in eating sugar or grains - which the body turns into glucose just as it does with sugar, the cholesterol and saturated fat myths, the problem of opiates in grain and dairy products, the lack of vitamin A in plant foods and the need for fat in the diet to absorb fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, the huge problems with soy and especially pregnant women and babies, and small kids eating soy, and the importance of fat, protein and animal foods.
The author also summarises the work of Weston A. For more information on nutrition I'd recommend readers check out the books by all those authors, they are all excellent. This book is essential reading if you are following a low-fat vegan diet, if you think any type of low-fat diet is healthy, or if you think eating lots of wheat or soy foods such as soy milk, soy burgers and soy shakes is a healthy and highly moral choice and makes you part of the environmental solution rather than the problem.
Read the book with an open mind and then make up your own mind. I'd also recommend this book to everyone who eats food as you are bound to get something useful from this book, whether it is a new way of thinking about food or the environmental impact of our food, or some new ideas on making different food choices. This book doesn't discuss every issue surrounding this topic, and isn't all you need to read all on its own, but does make some very valuable contributions to the wider discussion of this topic.
The idea that we need to eat the foods our genes evolved to eat to be healthy makes so much sense. It also makes a lot of sense that this applies to animals as well and that feeding cows grains, which make them ill, is a very bad idea - as is growing food in ways which aren't sustainable and which negatively impact our health, so many other living things and the health of our planet. Despite its imperfections this book well and truly deserves 5 stars. Aug 30, Leslitamar rated it really liked it. Lierre Keith, in Vegetarian Myth, presents her readers with several convictions she has thoroughly researched and argues passionately: In order for our planet to continue to sustain us, we must embrace our part in this cycle, acknowledge that death begets life, and recon Lierre Keith, in Vegetarian Myth, presents her readers with several convictions she has thoroughly researched and argues passionately: In order for our planet to continue to sustain us, we must embrace our part in this cycle, acknowledge that death begets life, and reconnect to our communities and to our food.
Vegetarianism is unsupportable ecologically, morally, or medically, and needs to be cured. Keith's research and personal struggles around the first two points are stunning, terrifying, heartwarming, and compelling. But blaming her past vegan lifestyle for her challenging health conditions, Keith is compelled to pound all vegetarians relentlessly. For Keith, as is clearly stated in her title, the purport of The Vegetarian Myth is to "cure" vegetarians. Keith most often refers to her population of concern as 'vegetarians, especially vegans ', but fails to make a distinct separation.
As a health care practitioner, I have seen many vegetarians not vegans move healthily into middle age and beyond. I have also seen many omnivores with unhealthy diets and the same digestive discomforts that Keith describes. All the arguments in Vegetarian Myth did not convince me that Earth can't support a number of thoughtful, perhaps religious vegetarians. Sadly, the gem of her book will be largely overlooked, as vegetarians of all kinds will take to a writer on a mission to cure them as gracefully, I imagine, as non-heterosexuals take to similar gestures of compassion.
It is a little absurd to focus exclusively on vegetarians especially vegans when discussing the very real ecological plight of our planet. Vegetarian Myth side-steps the fact that most people in the U. But Keith isn't talking to them. Keith should have made all of us and our food choices the focus of her sharp, brilliant pen.
But she is on a mission here, sadly, to enlighten vegetarians, when she comes so close to saving us all. Please read the book. It's important and its controversial nature begs it to be discussed. I look forward to more from Keith. As a rigorous Save-the Planet manifesto, she has written a powerful book that I recommend to all who eat food. Nov 30, Kathleen Quillian rated it it was amazing. Well-researched and well-written, this book makes a good case for why not to be a vegetarian. These reasons include both harm to the self and harm to the planet.
Keith writes from the standpoint of a former vegetarian whose body was ravaged by the effects of a year vegetarian diet. This came from neglecting her body of essential nutrients by cutting out protein and fat from her diet. You can feed grain to animals, but it is not the diet for which they were designed. It will also kill them.
Sheep and goats, also ruminants, should really never touch the stuff. This misunderstanding is born of ignorance, an ignorance that runs the length and breadth of the vegetarian myth, through the nature of agriculture and ending in the nature of life. This includes vegetarians, despite their claims to the truth.
It included me, too, for twenty years. Anyone who ate meat was in denial; only I had faced the facts. Certainly, most people who consume factory-farmed meat have never asked what died and how it died. But frankly, neither have most vegetarians. The truth is that agriculture requires the wholesale destruction of entire ecosystems. How many rivers were dammed and drained, how many prairies plowed and forests pulled down, how much topsoil turned to dust and blown into ghosts?
I want to know about all the species—not just the individuals, but the entire species—the chinook, the bison, the grasshopper sparrows, the grey wolves. And I want more than just the number of dead and gone. I want them back. Ninety-eight percent of the American prairie is gone, turned into a monocrop of annual grains. Plough cropping in Canada has destroyed 99 percent of the original humus. But our attachment to the vegetarian myth leaves us uneasy, silent, and ultimately immobilized when the culprit is wheat and the victim is the prairie.
We embraced as an article of faith that vegetarianism was the way to salvation, for us, for the planet. How could it be destroying either? We have to be willing to face the answer. The starting point may be what we eat, but the end is an entire way of life, a global arrangement of power, and no small measure of personal attachment to it.
I remember the day in fourth grade when Miss Fox wrote two words on the blackboard: I remember because of the hush in her voice, the gravitas of her words, the explanation that was almost oratory. Everything that was good in human culture flowed from this point: Religion, science, medicine, art were born, and the endless struggle against starvation, disease, violence could be won, all because humans figured out how to grow their own food.
The reality is that agriculture has created a net loss for human rights and culture: Agriculture has also been devastating to the other creatures with whom we share the earth, and ultimately to the life support systems of the planet itself. What is at stake is everything. If we want a sustainable world, we have to be willing to examine the power relations behind the foundational myth of our culture.
Anything less and we will fail. Questioning at that level is difficult for most people. In this case, the emotional struggle inherent in resisting any hegemony is compounded by our dependence on civilization, and on our individual helplessness to stop it.
The Vegetarian Myth – Lierre Keith
Most of us would have no chance of survival if the industrial infrastructure collapsed tomorrow. And our consciousness is equally impeded by our powerlessness. There is no personal solution. There is an interlocking web of hierarchical arrangements, vast systems of power that have to be confronted and dismantled. We can disagree about how best to do that, but do it we must if the earth is to have any chance of surviving. In the end, all the fortitude in the world will be useless without enough information to chart a sustainable forward course, both personally and politically.
One of my aims in writing this book is to provide that information. We have no way to judge how much death is embodied in a serving of salad, a bowl of fruit, a plate of beef. We live in urban environments, in the last whisper of forests, thousands of miles removed from the devastated rivers, prairies, wetlands, and the millions of creatures that died for our dinners.
The only way out of the vegetarian myth is through the pursuit of kas-limaal , of adult knowledge. This is a concept we need, especially those of us who are impassioned by injustice. I know I needed it. In the narrative of my life, the first bite of meat after my twenty year hiatus marks the end of my youth, the moment when I assumed the responsibilities of adulthood.
It was the moment I stopped fighting the basic algebra of embodiment: In that acceptance, with all its suffering and sorrow, is the ability to choose a different way, a better way. The activist-farmers have a very different plan then the polemicist-writers to carry us from destruction to sustainability. The farmers are starting with completely different information. Joel Salatin, one of the High Priests of sustainable farming and someone who actually raises chickens, puts that figure at an acre. Who do you believe? How many of us know enough to even have an opinion?
Frances Moore Lappe says it takes twelve to sixteen pounds of grain to make one pound of beef. Meanwhile, Salatin raises cattle with no grain at all, rotating ruminants on perennial polycultures, building topsoil year by year. Inhabitants of urban industrial cultures have no point of contact with grain, chickens, cows, or, for that matter, with topsoil. We have no basis of experience to outweigh the arguments of political vegetarians.
We have no idea what plants, animals, or soil eat, or how much. Which means we have no idea what we ourselves are eating. Confronting the truth about factory farming—its torturous treatment of animals, its environmental toll—was for me at age sixteen an act of profound importance. I knew the earth was dying. It was a daily emergency I had lived against forever. I was born in Hell was here, in the oil refineries of northern New Jersey , the asphalt inferno of suburban sprawl, in the swelling tide of humans drowning the planet. I cried with Iron Eyes Cody, longed for his silent canoe and an unmolested continent of rivers and marshes, birds and fish.
My brother and I would climb an ancient crabapple tree at the local park and dream about somehow buying a whole mountain. No people allowed, no discussion needed. Who would live there? Squirrels, was all I could come up with. Besides Bobby, our pet hamster, squirrels were the only animals I ever saw. My brother, well-socialized into masculinity, went on to torture insects and aim slingshots at sparrows.
I became a vegan. Yes, I was an overly sensitive child.