We’ve been told that a vegetarian diet can feed the hungry, honor the animals, and save the planet. Lierre Keith believed in that plant-based diet and spent twenty years as a vegan. But in The Vegetarian Myth, she argues that we’ve been led astray - not by our longings for a just and sustainable world, but by our ignorance.
The truth is that agriculture is a relentless assault against the planet, and more of the same won’t save us. In service to annual grains, humans have devastated prairies and forests, driven countless species extinct, altered the climate, and destroyed the topsoil - the basis of life itself. Keith argues that if we are to save this planet, our food must be an act of profound and abiding repair: it must come from inside living communities, not be imposed across them. Part memoir, part nutritional primer, and part political manifesto, The Vegetarian Myth will challenge everything you thought you knew about food politics.
©2009 Lierre Keith (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Lierre Keith’s book is beyond fantastic." (Dr. Michael Eades, author of Protein Power)
"This book saved my life. Not only does The Vegetarian Myth make clear how we should be eating, but also how the dominant food system is killing the planet. This necessary book challenges many of the destructive myths we live by and offers us a way back into our bodies, and back into the fight to save the planet." (Derrick Jensen, author of Endgame and A Language Older Than Words
"Everyone interested in healthy eating should be grateful to Lierre Keith." (Sally Fallon Morell, President, The Weston A. Price Foundation)
The author has a very interesting take on agriculture and sustainability. I think her expressed hatred of "masculinity" detracts from the other messages. In all of her assertions about "adult knowledge" and "accepting truths" and "evolutionary truths", she seems to have completely missed that we, too, men and women, are the products of evolution, and like our primate relatives, males tend to be bigger and more aggressive because those are the ones that reproduced the most - evolution in action. Not saying we're slaves to it, but if we don't acknowledge it, we can't effectively develop non-harmful means of expressing it. if we assume that it's all socialization, we'll spend our time 'fixing' the wrong problem.
She also engages in hyperbole (I hope) or ignorance (perhaps) or just plain lying (I hope not). The melting of the polar ice caps might release all that sequestered methane, but there's no current model I'm aware of that has the Earth looking like Venus. She also still seems to think that petroleum is from dinosaurs; yeah, we were taught that, but now we know it's probably not true - why doesn't she? There were quite a few 'facts' of this sort.
That said, when I've researched other claims, I find much important information. For instance, despite the epidemiological studies' claims, when scientists engage in causal studies comparing diets rich in animal fats vs low-fat diets, the low-carb diets usually win. I know weight loss results have been mixed, but health studies (like a recent study that compared low carb vs low fat for treatment of metabolic syndrome) the low-carb diet had profoundly better outcomes.
I was surprised to discover that grains do, indeed, contain opioids, and in quantities sufficient to cause some people to have issues with them specifically. Interesting stuff.
I don't know that I accept her assertion that the only answer is a return to some hunter-gatherer luddite pseudo paradise, but I think she makes good arguments for population control, re-factoring of the "food pyramid", and an effort to approach some form of long-term sustainable living.
The Author, Lierre Keith, share her personal experience of being a vegan for over 20 years of her adult life and how it brought havoc upon her personal health and made her life so miserable. She does offer up some good points and information (which I enjoyed learning about!), but she's ready to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" in this book because the vegan lifestyle didn't work for her and she's bitter and has become an alarmist about it.
I myself, have been a vegetarian for over 25 years (of course, my vegan friends don't think that's good enough!) and was a top flight athlete, and continue to train and exercise everyday, along with a sensible vegetarian diet (a moderation of animal products, but no animal meats) and lifestyle, and that all works for me. Vegetarianism has worked tremendously well for me, but I am not extreme about it by any means.
The Vegetarian Myth, as the author writes about, is (in a nutshell) that too many people become vegetarians/vegans in hopes of saving the animals from exploitation, saving the environment, for their health reasons, and a variety of other things. Being vegetarian/vegan in itself isn't going to accomplish those things, but it can perhaps help in that direction.
The author obviously is upset that the vegan lifestyle didn't work for her and that she suffered and was miserable for 20 years and her health suffered. She also points out several times about how women are being exploited around the world, and while that's true, it seems to be a little out of context for this book.
My personal take is "all things in moderation", and if you're going to do something to an extreme, then you'd better really know what you're doing (it may just not be for you) and monitor yourself every step of the way. Good sensible diets, exercise and your own personal philosophy on life, plus "being the best you can be" is probably "just the ticket!".
I really wanted to like this book. I looked forward to reading it after listening to Lierre's talk on YouTube, and observing how much vegans seem to hate her. But ultimately, it just has a few good excerpts, and I would be too embarrassed to recommend it to anyone I respected.
The book does indeed make some very important points about the nature of various flavors of "organic" and "traditional" agriculture. That's where the value is in her perspective: she overcame her irrational beliefs with regard to veganism and its environmental implications, and she has a lot to contribute in debunking that philosophy. There's also a lot of value in the more general points she makes about traditional agriculture being essentially extractive, like a "mining" of topsoil. This point is repeated 100 times in only the first few chapters, with lots of colorful stories and examples, and driven home very effectively. I think that this is an extremely important point to make, and she makes it clear that we can't go back from modern industrial farming to some sort of "traditional" or "organic" alternative with modern population levels, even if eating only plants was viable health-wise.
The most important criticism I have of this book is that along with its brilliant critique of traditional farming, it contains a doomsday message: that modern industrial farming will make the whole world into a big Easter Island, and that when the oil, natural gas, or whatever runs out, which is implied to be soon, it will collapse. She cites the Haber process for fixing nitrogen and the mining of rocks for phosphorous as examples of why this will happen. But no convincing scientific argument is made for why these should become impossible once fossil fuels run out. There is enough nuclear fuel around to keep us going for a few million years, even if we never invent fusion power. Does she think that humanity is going to just let itself collapse into anarchy and cannibalism rather than face the nuclear bugaboo? It seems like she would, but thankfully she is not in charge.
She also seems to reflexively hate fossil fuels as "polluting", but fails to see that humans are in effect doing what those bacteria she loves so much in the soil do. The oil, coal, or whatever was biomass lost to nature, and in a sense, humans are bringing it back into the circle of life.
I had to stop listening before I even finished Chapter 17. The author has figured out a lot about veganism and the nature of life on a human time-scale, but she has not extended this introspection to her wide array of other neuroses. She references and takes for granted a number of noxious and hateful ideologies casually throughout the book, including the gem of a line which caused me to stop listening: "Women the world over need access to contraception and abortion. But they also need liberty. That liberty will only be won when masculinity, its religion, its economics, its psychology, its sex, is resisted and defeated". Lierre hates men, capitalism, trade, "corporations", science, industry, and on some level I suspect, all people.
I havent read the print version so cant compare.
I liked the amount of factual information and statistics that made the arguments strong.
The beginning was good when she talks about the vegan who suggests a fence through the serengeti separating the herbivores from the carnivores.
Agriculture: A matter of life and death.
The author should write another book. "The Feminist Myth" The only thing I did not like about this book was her down-putting of masculinity as a whole. I completely agree in human rights and that the world is not where it should be as far as equality between the sexes, but I am a man. That is a cultural problem, not testosterone.
Data driven!!! Human and social liberal, fiscal conservative, of the old school. I like non-fiction, history and science, but sometimes read fiction. Favorite book is 100 Years of Solilitude.
The best thing about this book is the author is clear on what she believes. The least is that it is repetitive, and too sweeping in its generalizations.
Other non-scientific books on the ethics and health of what you eat.
I have not.
This book needs a counter argument since the author not only criticizes vegetarians, but also takes a hammer to agriculture, modern society in general, and the cause of heart problems.
The book was written by a former vegan, and she pulls no punches in condemning the practice on health and practical terms. She recognizes the sincere intent of vegans, just thinks them misguided and ill informed. But if you read the whole book, her attack does not stop with vegans.
It was ok
The author sounded like she was deranged. I felt like she was coming from a place of anger and aggression. I became more skeptical as I listened to the book like this was the musing of a person trying to get back at a group of people.
Vegetarians and Vegans are not to blame for her ill suffering. she minimizes the devastation the consumption of meat has on society and blames the ills of the food world on the growing of crops and farming.
Overall very skewed, this book is unbalanced. The author is trying to make a point by hitting you over the head with it instead of a more scientific evidence.
I have never written a review but felt compelled to write this one. There really are better books if one wants to stop being vegetarian or justify the reasons to eat meat.
The Vegetarian myth is a book that is full of passion and honesty. The topic was covered in every possible way, and the author's personal story added to my interest. Couldn't recommend it more highly.
The author appears anxious to blame all her medical problems on her vegetarian diet since the life-long problems started six weeks after she started the diet. Her medical opinion makes no sense.
Yes. I'll be a LOT more careful choosing books like this.
Too much anger boiling out of the text.
Disappointment and annoyance that I had wasted my time/money on the book.
Seriously, don't buy this book.
The fact that this book is written by a former vegetarian/vegan, and not someone who has never tried the lifestyle and eating style that is being criticized and dissected.
Too many eye-opening truths to pick out just one.
The narrator made this very long book very easy to listen to.
While I've never been a vegan or vegetarian, I've always had in the back of my mind that this would be a more moral way to live, not to mention healthier. I am so glad that I decided to read this book before making such a drastic change in my lifestyle. The truths that the author presents were most eye-opening, as they were either things I had never considered, or were in fact exactly the opposite of what I had previously believed. If you or someone you know is considering diving into a plant-based diet lifestyle, please take a look at the information so well presented in this book.
Like it - gives new perspectives and counter some beliefs.
Good to hear what author went through to get to her standpoint.
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