If you are a vegetarian, or thinking about becoming one, please read this book.
The author, Lierre Keith, was a vegetarian for 20 years. For most of those years, she adopted a vegan diet for the familiar moral, political, and health-related reasons that most people consider going off meat, milk, and eggs:
- She abhorred the idea of killing animals to eat them;
- She was outraged by the cruelty to animals our food system perpetrates;
- She believed that a vegan diet was protective of life and our ecosystem;
- She thought food sourced from animals contributed to the diseases of civilization.
The thing is: she still cares about all these things. She wrote the book because she believes now that some of her reasons for being vegetarian were based not in facts, but in her fantasies. (And some of these reasons, she readily acknowledges are based in facts: our food system is heart-wrenchingly cruel.)
The book is partly a tale about how her vegan diet harmed her physical and mental health. It’s mostly a thoroughly-documented and sobering reexamination of the reasons for going vegan. The Vegetarian Myth dissects these moral, political and health reasons chapter by chapter.
She explains, for instance, that eating a bowl of organic cornflakes with organic soy milk does not avoid the wholesale killing of animal life. Eating anything involves killing, and killing a lot more than just the plants you’re munching. To eat is to kill. If you’re eating a product of our agricultural system, well.... look.
Look at any field growing corn, soy, wheat or any vineyard or any orchard. Do you see animals frolicking happily under and over those acres? Ground squirrels? Gophers? Snakes? Mice? Birds? Bugs, even? Not many. How come? Agriculture entails the killing of just about every animal that once called those acres home. Your bowl full of cornflakes has lots of ghost-animal eyes looking up at you. Plant-based foods produced by agriculture are not the innocent food we’d like them to be; they are very good, though, at hiding the killing they entail.
As a vegetarian myself, I found the chapter on the health effects of this diet the hardest to read. Arrgh! I’ve eaten so much soy! I wish I had thought harder about ingesting something that finds its way into paint, ink, and putty.
Lierre tells her story better than I can.
Get a piece of paper, write down on it:
Get a copy of Lierre Keith's book, The Vegetarian Myth.
Check it out of the library, borrow it from a friend, or buy it from your local bookseller.
Still not sure? Maybe you don't think she cares enough about life? She cares, you'll see. She cares.
Here, let Lierre speak for herself (and please forgive her if she sounds overly passionate; it's important stuff she's talking about, and it's not easy to talk about things like this):
You can read another review from Stanford University Be Well program of the book HERE.
And Mark (in the comments section) alerted me to a skeptical and critical review of this book. Thank you, Mark. You can read that review HERE. (This business of eating is important and complex.No easy answers, folks!)