What do you get when you mix a huge dose of recovering vegan with liberalism and some over the top feminism? No, not Roseanne Barr on Atkins. You get The Vegetarian Myth, by Lierre Keith. Flashpoint Press was nice enough to send me a copy of this eye-opening book and although it took me a few months to get through, it has been an enlightening read. In it, Keith combines her own personal experiences with some good hard data to help debunk the vegetarian myth as we know it.
Interspersed throughout the story is Keith’s description of all the trauma her body went through as the result of 20 years on a vegan diet. The pain she went through sounds even worse than the taste of vegetables, and it was all because she wasn’t getting the nutrients she needed. Her spine degenerated, she experienced hypoglycemia and even depression. Some of her medical problems still linger to this day, despite turning back to eating a healthy meat-based diet. This is unfortunate, but to prevent people from suffering the way she did, she methodically debunks the vegetarian myth.
First, she tackles “moral vegetarians.” These are the vegetarians that slip over to the dark side of the eating spectrum because they are against killing. Keith says, “If killing is the problem, the life of one grass-fed cow will feed me for an entire year. But a single vegan meal…will involve hundreds of deaths. Why don’t they matter?” Who decided that plants suddenly wanted to sacrifice their lives to sustain ours. They don’t want to die any more than animals. But if people are still concerned about the lives of animals, Keith notes that, “A square meter of topsoil can contain a thousand different species of animals.” And agriculture kills these animals. Why are they less important than cute animals? I could go on, but suffice to say, she backs up her words.
Then she takes on “political vegetarians.” These are the people that think they are helping save the world by not eating meat. They make claims that the corn fed to a cow only makes a little meat, but could directly feed a lot more people. They don’t realize that feeding corn to cows is wrong and they are meant to eat grass, which humans can’t digest. Keith says, “[the political vegetarians] don’t know that cows eat grass anymore than they know that soil eats cows.” In the chapter she shows how terrible factory farms are, while also exposing that the vegetarian diet is no better for the world. She fixes the water myth and attacks agriculture’s use of water and oil.
Finally she turns to “nutritional vegetarians,” those who simply think the vegetarian diet is healthier. Again, she proves them wrong by first comparing our bodies to those of carnivores, which are quite similar. Her biggest attack is upon soy, which may very well be the worst thing ever. It’s enough to make me look at all the food I eat and consider cutting all soy products out. Read the book if you want to know why.
In the end, the book isn’t simply complaining about vegetarians and dropping data. Keith actually offers some solutions, although the biggest would require the total restructuring of the civilization we have come to know and love.
I found the book to be an interesting read, although it was quite long-winded. It probably could have been half the length, while still making the same points and doing them just as strong. I liked how she wove in her experience as a vegan, but at times she seemed to be following a feminist agenda rather than an anti-vegetarian one. I would recommend this book for anyone looking into different eating lifestyles, but prepare for some scary stuff. This book also makes for a good response next time a vegetarian tries to attack you with propaganda, just don’t offer up this book until they attempt to slam you first, because then you are no better than them.
Buy the book here and see the light for yourself.