Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Vegetarian Myth- Lierre Keith May 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. A. Breeze Harper @ 2:16 pm

Is anyone familiar with her argument? The book was just released. I ordered it just now to review. Anyone else want to review it with me?

-Breeze

Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith

Book Description (from: http://www.lastgasp.com/d/34466/) : 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.

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334 Responses to “Vegetarian Myth- Lierre Keith”

  1. mel Says:

    From what I understand, her analysis comes from a very anti-civ/primitivist perspective à la Derrick Jensen/John Zerzan. It makes me hesitant to pick it up, but I am curious. I’ll have to wait until I can find it at the library.

    • kerstster Says:

      This is what i was afraid of at first, but it’s not all that bad, in fact it is more than worth reading. And very very well researched, at least as good as Naomi Kleins books…

      • terri williamson Says:

        Not well-researched, intensively (even passionately)-researched.

        There’s a difference. Keith wrote (p. 100) about vegans/vegetarians:

        “But some of it is emotional dishonesty. These vegetarians aren’t looking for truths about sustainability or justice. They’re looking for the small slice of facts that will shore up their ideology, their identities. This is where politics becomes religion, psychologically speaking, where the seeker is looking for reaffirmation of her beliefs rather than active knowledge of the world. I was one such believer: the above could be written in a very personal first person rather than the distancing third.”

        The problem is, it still can. Vegan true believer, anti-vegan true believer, Keith is still a religious fanatic about food. And she’s still emotionally dishonest, still looking only for the small slice of facts that will shore up her current ideology. All that’s changed is the specific food ideology that’s her religion.

        I keep starting to find her compelling—and I’m almost sure I’ll end up agreeing with what I infer to be her main points, that the current world population and an economic/food-producing system which is dependent on MINING—exploiting to exhaustion—groundwater, soil fertility reserves, and petroleum—is insanely unsustainable.

        Only EVERY time Keith talks about a topic I’ve preciously researched, she manages to say things that are either dead wrong—flatly, incontrovertibly, simply FALSE—or a gross exaggeration/misinterpretation/simplification of the issue. Not things that I disagree with her interpretation of: things that are factually absolutely incorrect.

        It is dead, flat, absolutely wrong, for example, to suggest as Keith did (p. 8) that a vegan is doomed to serotonin depletion because there are no plant sources for the amino acid tryptophan. Not only is that not true, plant sources of tryptophan were well-publicized way back when Keith very first became vegan! (I haven’t been vegetarian since 1985, and I’ve never been vegan. But I still have tattered remnants of my 1977 copy of Laurel’s Kitchen telling vegans what we needed to eat to ensure complete intake of amino acids.

        So if Keith ended up deficient in an amino acid (tryptophan)–which she perfectly well might have–it’s because she was ignoring nutritional advice readily available three decades ago and selecting her diet on ideology instead, not because plant diets can’t provide tryptophan.)

        Similarly, It is false to say that Asian cultures use soy products only as condiments, misreading (possibly deliberately misinterpreting) studies based on soy PROTEIN consumption levels of 14 grams a day or more, as indicating soy PRODUCT consumption levels of only 14 grams. As Keith points out, 14 grams is about a tablespoon.

        As Keith exuberantly fails to note, if one ate firm (the most concentrated) tofu, to ingest 14 grams of actual soy protein a day one would have to eat at least twelve full servings of tofu a week. Alternatively, with some soy milks, one would need to drink a quart a day to meet that soy protein intake.

        A QUART OF SOYMILK DAILY–or 2.5 pounds of firm tofu a week–is being shrugged off as “Asian people use soy just as a condiment.”

        That’s a deliberate misrepresentaion, not an accident.

        *
        The problem is, Keith does that on EVERYTHING I already know, and on everything I’ve troubled so far to check. She slips in insightful comments with absolute factual bloopers.

        So, in sum, you can’t trust anything Keith says. She’s one of those authors who, if an utter fruitcase says something that supports what the author already has chosen to believe, whereas twenty independent studies claim to prove the opposite, calmly cites the fruitcase as the only known authority on the matter.

        She does not, mind you, cite all twenty-one studies and explains why she has firm reasons to trust that one study over the other twenty. Keith cites the one study that supports her position (maybe) while suppressing the mention of all others.

        So if Keith is right (and I do suspect she sometimes is) it’s by accident. You have to research, YOURSELF, anything–everything!–Keith says.

        And any credence you place in the result should reflect the effort YOU put into verifying her sources. Lierre Keith did none. She swallows anything that confirms her prejudices, and rejects anything she dislikes. Truth (or verifiabilithy, if you prefer) is utterly irrelevant.

        • marc Says:

          Hm, you found 2 things that she said that you can prove wrong, and thus draw the conclusion that “you can’t trust anything she says”. Your logic is absurd. The minor facts you attacked aren’t even the main thrust of her argument: that a vegetarian diet is not sustainable, natural, or good for the planet.

          You completely support her argument that in a quest to justify your identity you look for a tiny slice of information that supports it and throw the facts away.

          If you can somehow convince an intelligent person that a vegatarian diet for all of humanity is sustainable then maybe you can criticize Keith. good luck,

          • xrodolfox Says:

            ^This is also a flawed argument.

            Keith’s main argument, that being veg*n is worthless, is flawed. She argues that veg*nism done world wide is unsustainable, while in practice, only a small percentage of people in the world are veg*n at all.

            At the same time she argues that eating meat is “natural” (Appeal to Nature fallacy), while lambasting the meat industry. Reality check: most people in the world currently eat animals and it is not sustainable either.

            She tries to connect the problems of capitalist and consumption to vegaanism by spreading fear about the diet and using logical fallacies to promote eating meat (which is clearly not working for the world, the future, or animals).

            The reason she appeals so much is that she’s co-opted the language and metaphors of the left and used our frames of “sustainablity” against us.

            I’m not vegan to be sustainable. My veganism isn’t the end point of my activity in the world. My veganism is a starting point.

            I work to change the SYSTEMS around us, not just my personal consumption. What I consume personally is between me and my ethics. What I do in the world is what really frees animals, and that’s attacking the meat industry, including this liberal fetishization of “nature” instead of taking responsibility for the world that we’ve created and making it work for humans and animals NOW instead of some consumer revolution.
            Keith is nothing but a red herring.

          • Frank Rizo Says:

            “The Vegetarian Myth” is absolutely riddled with bad information, faulty facts and just plain lazy research, as well as anecdotal and ad hominem arguments, and unnecessary second agendas, such as radical feminism. Nearly every page contains cherry-picked facts slanted to give a certain perception, as well as completely false statements. Only 32 of the 207 references cited in this book are from journals, and only half of them are actually peer-reviewed. The remainder are from other books, in which the authors can write whatever they please, websites, newspaper and magazine articles; information that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. One even came from Google Answers, as well as some from Wikipedia!

            Lierre Keith writes as if the anthropological and archaeological evidence she quotes is written in stone, when in fact many of these topics are constantly under revision or not well understood yet. Writing a book and promoting it as a factual, scientific account of a subject when it is not is doing a great disservice to your unknowing readers. If she was not willing to put in the real research effort, then she should have touted it as a personal account and nothing more. Selling flubbed facts to people who are searching for answers or inspiration is just bad journalism. Here are some more examples of this:

            1) Page 101: Lierre claims that grazed animal farming/polyculture can feed nine people per ten acres. In Reality, Lierre lists the food produced on a ten acre perennial polyculture. Her numbers are based on Michael Pollan’s exposition of Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and are arrived at by dividing the numbers for Salatin’s 100 acres of grass by ten. But Pollan explains at great length (P. 222-225) that the 100 acres of grass is actually 550 acres because the adjacent 450 acres of forest are essential to the health and productivity of the farm. Accordingly, ten acres of land actually feeds about two people rather than her estimate of nine. Lierre says that if you live in New England you should eat what grows there. However, with this level of productivity, you couldn’t feed all of New England on all the land in New England.

            2) Page 58: Lierre claims that sustainable farming is not possible without domesticated livestock. “I would need domesticated animals—their labor and the products of their bodies—to farm sustainably. I needed their manure and their unspeakable bones, their inconceivable blood.” How then does she explain the success of vegan organic agriculture in the UK and US, where no animal inputs are used? How does she explain that the most successful organic CSA in the country actually uses no animal products on their fields (Honey Brook Farm in New Jersey)?

            3) Page 140: The author states that “Carbon-13 is a stable isotope present in two places: grasses and the bodies of animals that eat grasses”. She goes on to suggest that since there is no evidence of grass “scratch marks” on the human teeth found, that they must have been eating animals. There are many flaws in this thought process. First, one can’t even begin to explain the preservation and degradation issues present in examining three million year old teeth for ‘scratch marks’. Second, carbon-13 is an isotope found in ALL terrestrial and marine plants, not just grass. Finding high levels of C3 or C4 (which are what carbon-13 breaks down into) in human teeth only means that that human was eating large amounts of some plant, seed, nut, etc. (not just grass) or the animal that ate those. It is not as simple as grass or cow.

            4) Page 142: The author states that there are no bacteria in the human stomach. This is simply untrue. In 2005 Barry Marshall and Robin Warren won a Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering a stomach bacteria that causes gastritis and ulcer disease. There are currently over 130 known stomach bacteria.

            5) Page 146: The author states a “rumor” authored by RB Lee about hunter-gatherers getting 65% of their calories from plants and 35% from meat. She states that this “simply isn’t true”. First, this rumor-spreader is one of the most well-respected anthropological/archaeological researchers in hunter-gatherer studies who edited what is considered THE tome on hunter-gatherer theory, ‘Man the Hunter’. He isn’t some random hack. Second, saying those numbers ‘simply aren’t true’ is simply not true. Hunter-gatherers did and do inhabit a huge range of environments and likewise their diets cover a wide range. Some do follow the 65/35% number. Some eat much more meat. Some eat much less.

            6) Page 250: “Understand: agriculture was the beginning of global warming. Ten thousand years of destroying the carbon sinks of perennial polycultures has added almost as much carbon to the atmosphere as industrialization, an indictment that you, vegetarians, need to answer. No one has told you this before, but that is what your food—those oh so eco-peaceful grains and beans—has done.” Much of Lierre’s book is borrowed from Richard Manning, a well-respected environmentalist and author. Manning understands that human dependence on grain monoculture is not the fault of the small percentage of concerned people who decided to be vegetarian, but is rather a historical mistake of which we all share the burden of repairing. Despite Lierre’s insistence, vegans do not need to eat grains nor any sort of annual monocrop. Why did she target vegans when compared to average corn-fed Americans, vegans consume much less grain?

            On the topic of climate change, Lierre fails to address that regardless of type of feed or forage, ruminant animals emit an abundance of methane, a greenhouse gas up to 72-times more potent than carbon-dioxide. She, along with other grass-fed proponents, point out that growing pasture sequesters carbon in the subsoil and claim that farms like Polyface are carbon-neutral. However, she ignores the fact that soil can only retain a limited quantity of carbon—once pasture is healthy, the soil is carbon stable. Meat from pasture-based livestock contributes at least as much to climate change as meat from CAFOs.

            7) Page 203: “We’ve been doing what we’ve been endlessly badgered to do since the 1960s. We’ve eaten, according to the USDA, less fat, less meat, fewer eggs. Our dietary fat has fallen 10 percent, hypertension has dropped 40 percent and the number of us with chronically high cholesterol has declined 28 percent.” The reality is Americans eat more meat now than in the 1960s according to the USDA. While the average percentage of calories from dietary fat consumption has decreased, dietary fat intake increased from 135 g to 178 g from 1960 to 2006.

            8) Page 10: “…there are no good plant sources of tryptophan. On top of that, all the tryptophan in the world won’t do you any good without saturated fat.” And later Keith blames the lack of tryptophan in vegetarian diets for depression, insomnia, panic, anger, bulimia and chemical dependency. Yet, a cup of roasted soybeans contains nearly three times the adult RDA of tryptophan and a cup of pretty much any other bean will get you between 50-60% of the RDA. Two tablespoons of coconut oil more than meet the adult saturated fat RDA. Nuts, dark chocolate and avocado are all rich in saturated fat.

            9) Page 215: “Sixty grams of soy protein—that’s one cup of soy milk—contains 45 mg of isoflavones.” The soy milks available in supermarkets have about 6 to 11 grams of soy protein per cup. According to Lierre’s often-cited Weston A. Price Foundation, a cup of soy milk contains only 20 mg of isoflavones.

            10) Page 99: Lierre claims that “Researchers from Cornell showed that E. Coli 0157:H7 could be stopped by a very simple action: feeding cows hay for the last five days of their lives.” In the study Lierre refers to, the researchers showed that overall E. Coli levels (i.e. including strains other than 0157:H7) in three cows were decreased by feeding the cows hay for five days. They conjectured that 0157:H7 levels would be similar. However, subsequent research suggests that grass-fed beef does not have lower levels of 0157:H7

            • Nick Says:

              Brilliant. We need more debunking of all this grass-fed, paleo, permaculture, “we need certain things we can only get from animals” nonsense.

    • Why? Says:

      Leirre Keith was never a vegan … never a vegan. She admitted on a radio interview where she ranted on about binging on eggs and dairy ever week and claimed that all vegans “universally cheat” eating steak once a week.

      I suspect she attempt some over-restricted early Kushi-style macrobiotic diet (now she has chosen a macro-psychotic diet) but I was interested to read below that she dabbled in Qi Gong and her teacher told her to eat meat. Qi Gong done wrong can also cause serious health problems. Something not spoken about much in the West.

      The recommendations from TCM (Traditional Chinese Folk Medicine) practitioners to eat meat, usually pork, are based on unscientific nonsense.

      If she came out and admitted she screwed up on an over-restrictive macrobiotic diet (she ranted about not eating white sugar for 20 years etc but who knows), I might have more sympathies for her.

  2. Stephanie Says:

    I do! I was just reading about the book elsewhere. I don’t want to buy it though… I don’t want to support the project. I’ll see if I can get it from my library.

    • Yashendwirh Says:

      If you rent it from a library you will still be supporting it. libraries take into account the number of times a certain book is rented and that helps support both the library and the Author. not only that but if the book is rented, regardless of ratings, the library will also buy more books like it too.

      On a side note I’d be interested in reading this book in any way possible. I was just letting you know how libraries expands on subjects.

  3. purpletigron Says:

    I look forward to your review, as I am not familiar with the text and do not currently have access to it.

    However, the summary here clearly comes in two parts: ‘Agriculture is damaging the planet’, and ‘Veg*nism cannot help to feed the hungry, honor the animals and save the planet’, without presenting the reasoning which logically connects them.

    • kerstster Says:

      For that reasoning you’ll have to read the book.
      After reading the book I can only say that she managed very well to logically connect those things. And other things that a was curious about, she actualy presented the missing links in my knowlegde about , food, sustainability, permaculture…
      While reading it was quite a shock for me as a vegetarian, I’m very happy that I’ve read it because in the end I’m happy to give up my opinion for a better one especialy if it helps us create a sustainable future. Sustainability being one of my reasons to become a vegetarian in the first place.

    • grnflea Says:

      I totally agree. As a long time vegetarian and previous vegan, I am willing to read anything and am open to new and different ideas. Funny how the ones who preach tolerance are so intolerant themselves….

  4. Dani Says:

    A quick glance at The Vegetarian Myth on Google Books seems to confirm that Lierre Keith’s analysis is based on an anti-civilization perspective — that is, civilization, and not exploitation/oppression per se, is the root of all evil. I, personally, find the cynicism of anti-civilization books like this one counterproductive. I also think a focus on anti-civilization, as opposed to anti-exploitation/anti-oppression, misses the point.

    For instance, the exploitation of other animals is not seen as exploitative and is instead called a “reciprocal relationship.” It’s sad that Keith, who comes from an anti-sexual violence background, would make such a repulsive claim. It’s repulsive, because by reframing the exploitation of other animals as a “reciprocal relationship” in defending animal husbandry Keith depoliticizes that exploitation. It shares a twisted logic with patriarchy and the belief that a woman or child cannot be exploited by a husband, father, or other “male head of a household.”

    Since Keith believes that civilization and vegetarianism are “substantially the same,” the book is fanatically anti-vegetarian. For instance, Keith makes an overzealous and misguided attempt to use the Haber-Bosch process to somehow link vegetarianism to the Holocaust. Should we think this is absurd, Keith tell us that is because we are believing the myth of the vegetarians. From page 106:

    “This overlap between war and agriculture will only surprise you if you believe the myth of civilization or the myth of the political vegetarians, which ends up substantially the same since their genesis is the same: agriculture and its annual monocrops. The myth is that civilization is progress, for human rights, human health, and human culture. The myth continues: agriculture’s foods are the foods of peace and justice.”

    It’s ironic that Keith claims a plant-based system of food production is inherently linked with war, while she proudly promotes an intensive pastoral system of food production when there is an overwhelming amount of anthropological evidence showing an overlap of herding- and war-based cultures.

    Furthermore, the vegan movement was founded in opposition to both synthetic fertilizers and war. In fact, Geoffrey L. Rudd coined the term “veganic” (combination of “vegan” and “organic”) almost immediately after Donald Watson coined the term “vegan.” Nor are annual monocrops an inherent, or even a necessary, component of plant-based culture. See the Movement for Compassionate Living, the writings of Graham Burnett, and the work of Plants For A Future for just a few examples.

    • Anonymous Says:

      From the perspective of the anti-civ, being encouraged to focus on exploitation/oppression rather than civ is like encouraging a radical opposed to patriarchy to focus on exploitation/oppression rather than patriarchy. Many people under patriarchy presume that there are aspects of patriarchy that are non-exploititive, non-oppressive, or that patriarchy is not fundamentally oppressive or exploititive. When such people organise against oppression/exploitation, their presumptions will cause them to disregard some components of patriarchy and so some severe institutional exploitation/oppression. This can be seen with many people opposed to economic oppression/exploitation, who do not believe that patriarchy is strictly a concern. The reason the anti-civ refuse to focus on exploitation/oppression rather than civilisation, is because they believe they can coherently and logically connect examples of institutional oppression and exploitation with the very fundamental characteristics of civilisation. The reason they vocalise this opposition in terms of civ rather than general exploitation/oppression, is because they feel it is important to advance this connection. Not only does the anti-civ argue that institutional forms of structured oppression/exploitation are co-extensive with the civilisation format, but that they are causally connected. They propose an error theory concerning the way civilised people evaluate civilisation – the effects of civilisation that are often seen as positive – inventions such as medicine, sanitation, agriculture, technology, progression toward equality – are, insofar as they are real, concrete benefits, actually the result of individual or collective *responses* to the abusive conditions that the concrete structure of civilisation tends to impose. What most of us think of as civilisation is not civilisation, but that in defending the construct we defend the fundamentally oppressive and exploititive reality.

      As someone who opposes social formats that institutionally support or engineer abuse, I think that civilisation – marked more or less everywhere by the abuse of women, children, the non-civilised, the non-propertied, domesticating the non-human and by mass biotic cleansing of bioregions and the forcible separation of humans from free, flowing, living ecosystems – is something worthy of careful and reasoned criticism.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I knew Keith. She was a vegan for a long time before her spinal degeneration started. She started blaming it on her diet after she started taking Qi Gong lessons and her instructor told her that her pain was due to not eating meat. Chinese folk medicine thinks meat is very healthy and therapeutic.

    • Anonymous Says:

      As if no meat eaters have spine problems. Spinal degeneration is a problem common to eaters of all types, and is probably more endemic to a “sitting” culture than anything else. That she blames her degeneration on her vegan diet is simply ridiculous.

  6. Dani Says:

    This is a bit off-topic, but I just have to say that I find Lierre Keith ties to anti-trans politics troubling in the extreme. Keith is a founding and present member of the Radical-Feminist Lesbian Festival, which is “unalterably opposed” to the existence of trans people. In addition to promoting the anti-trans works of Janice Raymond and Sheila Jeffreys, RadLesFes is explicitly opposed to allowing trans people access to trans-related health care.

    I also think it’s odd that Lierre Keith, a militant anti-porn activist, seems to be “unalterably opposed” to any lesbians ever taking part in any consensual acts related to BDSM or pornography, yet she believes that enslaving and slaughtering other animals is congruent with a “reciprocal relationship.”

    • I don’t think this is off-topic at all; I think it’s incredibly relevant. Thanks for bringing this to light.

      • anon Says:

        Agreed. Thank you, I had no idea she felt this way.

      • Evan Says:

        Read the fucking book, she says nothing good about factory farming and does not condone the exploitation of animals. Bringing up her stances and trans-people or pornography is a classic tactic that FOX news would use to get people riled up without actually looking at the issues raised.

        • Debby Says:

          No actually bringing up this other info regarding her attitude towards people who happen to be born ‘different’ from her is totally relevant. It shines the light on her bias’, her lack of empathy for anyone who is not ‘the same as her’, and points to her willingness to negatively impact other beings by her words and actions. She is the classic anti-social personality who seeks to blame anyone and everything else for her own failings and is willing to use inuendo and outright lies to make her case. The trouble is that she is also clever enough to throw in the appropriate buzz words and an occasional kernel of truth and then far too many are totally willing to accept the entire load of trash as gospel.

    • Melissa Says:

      I haven’t read the book yet

      But humans have been eating meat since there have been humans. It’s only been in recent years that vegan and vegetarian diets have come to the be popularized, and still only a small percentage of humans are vegetarian.

      Agriculture isn’t just ruining the planet for our civilization but it’s displaced many other species as well. So when you talk about killing animals you have to consider what agriculture of land does to them.

      Idealistically eating meat should mean wild meat, but unfortunately our food system is distorted into a money making business that treats animals in dispicable ways.
      I think it’s more logical to argue against the way animals are treated in these mass farms, than it is to say eating meat is bad altogether. Considering it’s the way that humans have eaten for hundreds of thousands of years.
      Not to mention the human physiology depends on the fat and cholesterol to keep the brain etc functioning at peak that comes from meat.

      • Eric Brooks Says:

        Melissa, the things that you have written are simply not true, and are based on misinformation spewed around by reactionaries like Lierre Keith.

        In places like India and countries with a lot of Buddhists there have been millions of vegetarians and vegans for many thousands of years.

        Hominids began eating animal protein and fat when they were early scavenger/gatherers millions of years ago, when in their gathering they learned to go to predator kill sites after the predators had left and eat the leavings (largely by cracking open the prey’s bones with tools in order to get at the fatty marrow inside those bones).

        However, this scavenging activity made up a very small part of the hominid diet which was almost exclusively vegetarian.

        Humans adopted hunting much more recently in climates/habitats which did not support a sufficient vegetarian gathering (tens of thousands of years ago).

        There was a brief period in history when hunting became pretty dominant in human behavior, but that large scale hunting was quickly replaced by organized agriculture between 12,000 and 20,000 years ago. Very importantly, big part of the reason that humans transitioned to agriculture was that during the brief predominance of hunting, humans became so good at it that they wiped out almost all of their megafauna prey species, on every single continent, including Australia.

        So at that point, human over hunting, combined with some other factors like climate changes, forced humans to turn to agriculture to survive because it allowed the production of much more food on a much smaller area of land.

        Then, as soon as humans got to be really good at agriculture, that massively increased food supply caused a huge human population boom all over the planet. And then in the industrial revolution which enabled humans to basically turn massive amounts of oil and other fossil fuels (which had been stored for millions of years underground) directly into food, and that factor turned agriculture into such a powerful and unsustainable tool that human population exploded into the billions that we see now.

        All throughout that entire history there have been millions of vegetarians, and especially recently, this has been a damned good thing because animal based agriculture (even grass based pastorage) is -far- more land and resource intensive, and produces far worse negative environmental impacts than agriculture for a vegetarian diet. (This can be seen graphically by looking at what happened to the ecosystems of Australia once pastoral animals were introduced by Europeans.)

        So what has happened to humans in the 21st century is that we have gotten into what is called a ‘progress trap’ by Ronald Wright in his excellent book ‘A Short History of Progress’ see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Short_History_of_Progress

        The progress trap of modern (mostly grain mono-crop) agriculture is what has enable 7 billion people to arise on the planet. But it is a -trap- specifically because to turn back from it would make matters even -worse-. If all of humans suddenly turned to Keith’s fantasy of pastoral/hunter-gatherer meat based lifestyle it would wipe out the planet in a decade or less because it tales so much more land/habitat to support that diet.

        It takes 200 acres of habitat to support a hunter-gatherer diet (as opposed to only one acre for a vegetarian-agriculture diet). And it takes from 10 to 20 times more land/habitat to support a pastoral agriculture meat based diet over a vegetarian agriculture based diet. And note that even -vegetarian- gathering in wild habitats would very rapidly destroy the entire planetary ecosystem.

        So it will -not- get us out of our current progress trap to abandon agriculture, because that would require either 1) over a hundred planet earths of landmass to support 7 billion people or 2) the mass death of almost all of those 7 billion people so that the rest of them could sustainably live as hunter-gatherers. This is clearly not possible.

        There is only way out of our trap, and that is to use biodynamic permaculture techniques to make a mostly vegetarian diet sustainable. And frankly, even if we do this well, -even- that permaculture vegetarian diet will probably not support 7 billion people. And that means that while we are perfecting our vegetable based agriculture and making it sustainable, we also need a huge global program to educate and empower women, and equalize wealth disparities to end poverty, so that the global human population starts rapidly and immediately reducing.

        Employing these strategies might, -might- save civilization and the planetary ecosystem from total collapse, if we do it all really well and really quickly.

        Turning back to pastorage and hunting/gathering will only make matters -much- worse much faster.

        So the short version of what I just wrote, is that Lierre Keith’s thesis is a -very- naive and spiteful diatribe based on her own subjective bad experience with vegetarianism and has almost no basis in reality whatsoever; -unless- what she is proposing is that we turn over the world to a fascist dictator who will engage in the mass murder of 6 and half billion people so that the remaining humans can be happy hunters in some fantasy meat eaters’ Eden.

        This is of course why Derrick Jensen endorsed her ridiculous book, because that mass human die-off is exactly the sort of grisly future Jensen would like to see happen…

        And since neither Keith nor Jensen are going to get their wish, and most humans will not turn to mass murder and hunting while skipping and jumping through the countryside, it is safe to say that Keith’s book is a useless waste of paper made from the very trees which Keith claims she cares so much about.

        It is interesting that her -book- doesn’t also say that we need to stop making unsustainable factory forest/agriculture paper based books for reading, and instead start using sustainable hunter/gatherer smoke signals again for long distance communication…

        • marc Says:

          Eric,
          I read your long set of “facts” and notice that none of them are supported by any evidence. This many acres of this can support that, what kind of diet pre-historic peoples ate, and the like. Without the supporting evidence how can we believe any of it?

          Also, there’s a difference between can happen for a little while and what can happen sustainably ad-infinitum. Do you grow food? I doubt it. Kieth’s arguments are so convincing to anyone who understands the issues of food production and fertility that without some hard evidence to the contrary we food producers are inclined to agree with her.

        • Duncan Says:

          Eric, you are wrong about humans only adopting hunting tens of thousands of years ago. Modern humans appeared about 200, 000 years ago and were very much hunter gatherers then. Analysis of bones from early modern humans indicate that meat did play a significant role in their diets. Tools left behind from earlier hominids (2.3 million years ago) indicate that they were hunter gathers as well.

          • Eric Brooks Says:

            I didn’t say that humans weren’t hunting at all 200,000 years ago. I said that for a relatively short period of time more recently, many humans in some regions were intensive hunters and meat eaters; but that, when taken as a whole, both hominids and full blown humans have far more frequently been omnivores with more plant oriented diets.

            In fact there is new evidence that the key reason cro-magnons survived and neanderthals did not, is that neanderthals became so adapted to heavy meat eating that they did not, and/or could not, shift to a more diversified diet when dramatic climate shifts rapidly altered food sources, while at the same time their territory was invaded by omnivorous cro-magnons who were much better at adapting to change, and could exploit far more diverse conditions to survive.

      • char Says:

        First off, I’m a vegetarian and have been for over a decade. So let’s get that right out in the open. Second, I read the book and I have to say that i was impressed. She is NOT “fanatically anti-vegan”. I thought that she was very compassionate (she was a vegan for 20 years!) She feels that its not the way to go. She thinks it’s misinformed. But she states her case and offers her side of the story along with some compelling evidence. She more than goes out of her way to say that she has more in common with us and states the many reasons why. After reading the book and watching the YouTube clip of her, I have to say that I believe her. She has no hidden agenda. So, before writing, it would be more beneficial for the readers out there if reviews would get information from reading the actual book, NOT the Google book preview. There simply is not enough in the preview to make an educated commentary on the book.

        So what I’d really be interested in is a veg response that directly tackles what Kieth has brought up. These are: nutrition of grain-based food; the ability to sustainably produce such foods without fossil fuels and dangerous (to ecosystems and animals) irrigation; and why, exactly, is closed-loop sustainable farming (such as Joel Salatin) exploitive to animals, remembering that these are DISTINCTLY different than factory farm, CAFOs?

        Kieth argues that grains are low-value nutrition, that soy is dangerous, that vegetables can’t give us all of our nutrition. Counter that. I mean, I can agree about grains, to an extent: my grandmother used to sprout her grains to make bread. We don’t do that anymore. Plus, we refine, refine, refine! My sister (also a veg) had to have her thyroid removed. Before she was 30. Sure that’s anedotal, but considering that she was a veg since she was 13 and eating so much soy (and soy being indicated), that’s kinda scary. And as far as vegetables, I love vegs, but I eat a whole LOT of them. I garden and I realize how much is needed to fill me up. Even on an industrial scale, that frightens me. So how can we produce enough to feed me? The fact is, since being a veg, I’m hungry ALL the time. I try my hardest, track my calories. But it’s hard. But even getting 1500 cal a day of vegetable (and fat) is difficult.

        Second, how DO we produce vegetables and grain without either animals or fossil fuels? I went to the links provided and was deeply troubled by what I read. As I had mentioned, I garden. The fertilizers they mentioned do not work. They are inefficient. Maybe they work in some areas, in some soils. But they need to work everywhere in order to be feasible. Plus, even more disturbing, is the pest and disease control. “Last resort”? Wait, please explain how killing is ok in THIS situation and not others? I mean, I don’t want to get into a “well, bugs aren’t AS important as a cow” argument. It’s a slippery slope, and who is to decide what can and cant’ be killed. It’s one thing to accidentally kill (say, walking through a forest and trampling bugs underfoot). It’s another to do it on purpose. And finally, how do we provide water for all of this agriculture? Keith states that 2/3 of the planet does not have the conditions favorable to sustainable farming. Ok, lets say that she’s exagerating. It still doesn’t take much to find that at the very least, 1/3 of the land isn’t farmable. How many places have the right weather, sunlight and water? Not a lot, otherwise, we’d all be on the same longitudal line. So please, answer me this. I’d love a thoughtful retort to these. Oh, and BTW, I’ve also done the math. The whole “pound of grain” analogy as well as the other “use of land” measurements that vegs like to use are seriously flawed. PLEASE no one respond with that – UNLESS YOU ARE REFERRING TO A SUSTAINABLE, GRASS AND SOLAR BASED FARM! A farm with no fossil fuel inputs, no CAFO (such as Polyface Farm). These are the numbers that I am looking for. Any other numbers, then you are NOT retorting Keith’s agrument. She feels the same way about CAFOs).

        And finally, I grew up in rural PA. I played with the Amish as a child. My family were farmers. I’ve seen how these animals are raised. They are not “enslaved”. There are fences, but these provide a wide berth and are mainly to keep them organized. I mean, we have our own boundaries – I can’t walk into my neighbors house! Plus, bovines are pack animals. Ever work with cows? They like to stick together. Take down the fence? Same thing. Eventually, they will meander out. But they don’t run. Take a cow, put it in confinement, then let it loose. VERY different response. Then the cow will “run” (as much as a cow can, they are easily confused and prone to panic). I mean, letting an animal be an animal – do what nature “tells” them to do – is not enslavement. I continue to visit farms here in PA, farms that adhere to the Polyface Farm (Joel Salatin) model. I got to say, it looks like a great place for an animal to live. This is NOT a CAFO farm. I became a veg because of those conditions. But I can’t understand how anyone could say that these are exploitive. I can understand the idea that you don’t want to eat meat and that by participating, even in a Polyface-like farm, you would have to be somehow involved in meat. But I can’t understand why this choice is bad for everyone. Someone like my brother believes strongly in humane treatment of animals. He eats this. He participates. To say that his views are wrong? I see how passionately and fully he believes in them. People who eat this sort of way, they have thought about it just as much (if not more, in some cases!) than we have. To dismiss and pretty much call them murderers is not constructive and makes one look extreme and radical, and not in a good way. In a George Bush kinda way (“I’m never wrong!”).

        Lets be honest, what this boils down to is 2 different world-views. One that says that any use of animals is exploitive, end of story. The 2nd worldview is that there is a reciprocal relationship between animal and humans. What makes you think that one is more right than the other? Personally, I think that would be great to carry out my life, having my needs catered and then, suddenly, it all goes black. No pain, no sickness, nothing. But that’s just me. Saying that’s exploitive hews too closely to victim politics for a person like me. However, I can respect that someone else says that they wouldn’t (and, by extension, feels that idea shouldn’t be extended to animals who have no say). But I feel more of a kinship with someone like Keith than I do with the standard American diet eaters. I just don’t see how it can be constructive to push these people (locavores?) out when we have so many shared interest. If someone like my brother can respect me, how can I not respect him?

        One final comment, there are plenty of great reasons to be a veg. Stop trying to make it the be all, end all. Stop trying to make it be things that it isn’t, and then get angry when people point those things out. If I would have known about soy earlier, maybe (just maybe!) my sister might still have her thyroid. But she would STILL be a vegetarian. Because she was (is) one based on another set of beliefs, not because it’s supposedly healthier. But having that information might have helped her side-step an enormous health calamity. For me, information is king. Someone in a post talks of enslavement of animals. But aren’t we enslaved as well if we’re constantly given (knowingly) wrong information on 1 item simply to support another?I believe that the veg diet is NOT normal, is NOT inherently healthy. But I’m not one because I want to be normal or because it’s healthy! By researching (and yes, going to the “enemy sites”) I have modified my diet to include items that may be missing and also reconciling myself to the fact that I may be sick or have issues with another. But at least I have that information. I was able to make that choice myself. If I left it to the veg sites, I would still be thinking that I didn’t need to change anything, that my diet was healthy as is, intrinsically so. When you are kept in the dark, you are a slave to the person with the flashlight. Just because it takes work to make the veg diet a bit more healthy, so what? I’m still one.

        • Rami Says:

          @char: I don’t understand how you can have trouble getting up to 1500 Cal a day. No wonder you are always hungry. Of course if you only ate vegetables, it might be difficult to take in enough calories. But who said vegetarians are only allowed to eat vegetables? It’s great that you eat a lot of veggies – they are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. But you should also eat fruits, legumes (beans, lentils, peas, etc), between 30 and 80 grams of nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, cashews…), and a limited quantity of grains (like oats or perhaps brown rice). I track my nutritional intake as well. And I am a vegan, and I can easily consume twice the calories you are consuming by eating only whole plant foods.

          Look, today I have already had 1774 cal: 81 g protein (which more than satisfies my minimum requirement of all EFAs), 49 g fat (5.6 g omega-3s), and I have already had over 100% of all vitamins and minerals, except for vitamin E (95%) and calcium (64%). Sodium is around 600 mg so far. And all of this before dinner!

          I suspect that a ot of vegans and vegetarians out there are woefully uninformed about what a balanced plant-based diet should consist of. I was one. And of course they don’t do well (neither did I) and blame it on the fact that they are not eating animal flesh.

          From what I understand the authoress never discloses what it is that she did eat on a vegan diet, so we cannot evaluate it and determine what caused her health issues. The reader is asked to simply trust her own verdict that they were the result of lack of animal flesh in her diet.

      • David Says:

        Eric Brook:
        “And it takes from 10 to 20 times more land/habitat to support a pastoral agriculture meat based diet over a vegetarian agriculture based diet”. This is simply not true. A pastoral farm can suport up to 5 people on 10 acres.

        I highly recommend everyone to read this book! It has it’s urgent points.

      • Eric Brooks Says:

        David, all you have done is state how many people can be fed by pastoral agriculture, you haven’t refuted what I said at all.

        According to you, 1 person for every 2 acres can be fed by pastoral agriculture. 2 acres per person is ridiculously inefficient land use. There is not nearly enough arable land on Earth to feed 7 billion people on 2 acres per person.

        However, a permaculture, diversified, multi-leveled forest/farm can feed orders of magnitude more people. According to the simple math formula I indicated, it would only take about .2 acres to feed one person (and it would probably require less in real life).

        Think about what you are suggesting. You are actually implying that a two dimensional piece of ground covered with grass and shrubs (which meat animals then eat while they constantly burn -huge- amounts of food energy themselves) will feed more people than a highly diverse, multi-tiered garden, jam packed with myriad perennial plants and trees providing the same nutrients directly to humans, while the food plants burn no excess energy whatsoever.

        Your contention is absolutely ludicrous on its face. It defies the laws of physics.

        To see how vegan organic farming works go to:

        http://www.goveganic.net/

    • As someone who personally knows keith, I can vouch for the fact that she did not write the section on the RadLesFes website that discusses issues related to transgenderism. Also, RadLesFes hasn’t even existed since 2006, although I know it says “to present” on keith’s website. The entire idea behind it was for womyn to stop identifying with the dominant, malestream culture and instead become become loyal to one another.

      Incidentally, RadLesFes was entirely vegetarian, though womyn who wanted to bring meat could do so.

      Thus, I would hardly say Keith is one to push her views down anyone’s throat.

  7. Alicia Says:

    I would be tempted to review it but not if I had to actually support the book by buying it. And I only say tempted because I really wouldn’t want to give this book any more publicity than it already has.

    Oh and Dani, great and insightful comments! Thanx!!!

  8. adam Says:

    Beautifully put, Dani!

    It is exactly for the reasons you bring up that I find the whole “civilization” vs “wildness” discourse so dangerous and counterproductive. Rather than examining the diverse and particular actual day-to-day oppression of certain people, animals, and ecological systems, the ecological and social crises of our day are reduce to a master narrative in which all the world’s problems exist b/c we live in cities and use technology–as if oppression and ecological degradation is (or will be) nonexistent when humans live a more “natural” way of life.

    Keith’s work seems counterproductive because it not only wrongly equates civilization, agriculture, and vegetarianism, but also is focused attack on vegetarianism (as if it is even a monolithic diet) rather a manifesto opposed to all oppressive food systems. On top of that her arguments against the “morality” of vegetarianism don’t engage with actual moral theory and the decades of literature devoted to the debate; her nutritional argument is essentialist, classifying a vegan diet as unsuitable for every- and anybody; and she even makes the audacious claim that vegetarians have “infantile” worldviews!

    It seems like Keith has nothing but a grudge with vegetarianism due to her illness, and it’s real bullshit that Derrick Jensen would put such staunch support behind such a poorly researched (i.e. she says oil is made from dinosaurs and is thus an animal product; it’s actually made from algae and plankton!), pretentious, book full of oversimplified, reductive arguments.

  9. ashley Says:

    Soil Isn’t Just Dirt: A Review of The Vegetarian Myth

    http://www.pressaction.com/news/weblog/full_article/vegetarianmyth05032009/

  10. supernovadiva Says:

    i’m not familiar with this person’s work, but already she exhaust me. it’s funny how many anti civilization people find themselves unable to leave civilization.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    @Alicia, post #8.

    Inter Library Loan. If a library in the country has a copy, they will get it to you.

    • Alicia Says:

      Thanks Anonymous, still not interested though.

      • char Says:

        I love how people are not interested in thoughtful views that run counter to theirs? Simply saying “this is stupid” doesn’t make it so. How else can you craft a good rebuttal? The way commenter Eric Brooks does? By quoting old, disabused sources, items that have been disproven at length? Stop reading ONLY the vegetarian literature. Stop being fundamentalists. This is what makes you *look* silly. But even worse, it makes your argument valid only to the same echo chamber. Get out there and REBUT these arguments! READ THEM!

      • Anonymous Says:

        Char, what do you mean by ‘old disabused sources’? (Cite -specifics- please.)

        I have been a vegetarian for 26 years now and I have spent that entire time rebutting, over and over again, the tired old falsehoods that Keith regurgitates to claim that vegetarianism is not healthy. It’s all bollocks. There is nothing unhealthy about vegetarianism. Soy products are not unhealthy. (Although there is evidence that genetically engineered soy is extremely dangerous and may in fact be the cause of most, if not all, of the health problems attributed to soy.) Soy can cause problems if you are allergic to it and eat huge amounts of it, however soy is absolutely unnecessary to a vegetarian diet so the whole soy question is just a straw man anyway.

        However it -is- true that a vegetarian diet, if not handled with some good information and practice, can indeed be harmful. And the exact same thing can be said of -any- diet.

        There is definitely a problem with some veg lit that just says essentially ‘eat whatever you want as long as it is not animal based and you’ll be fine’. That is complete bollocks too, and vegans can get into serious trouble if they don’t eat right.

        I have also spent my entire time as a vegetarian rebutting the nonsense that Keith claims about agriculture and vegetarianism as well. That one is easy. Yes all mono-culture agriculture is harmful, but meat and dairy based CAFO ag is so much -worse- than the veg version that the first most powerful step to save the planet is to get people to go veg immediately and then work them gradually onto better and even -more- planet friendly diets. And that does not and -cannot- include pastorage and hunter/gathering.

        My main argument with Keith is her fantasy land idea that we can all switch to pasturage and hunter/gathering. This is simply not scalable without creating many planet Earths. It’s impossible; totally counter to the laws of physics. And yet Keith implies it’s the way to go when that clearly is not true.

        The reason that we rely on CAFO for meat, dairy, and egg production, is that the sustainable version of producing such food takes vastly more acreage than a compact factory farm. It simply cannot be done on a planet wide scale without at least 10 Earths of arable land (and that’s a very generous estimate assuming that we engage in some completely kick butt universal permaculture).

        Keith completely ignores this as if it is irrelevant, which is inane. This is why so many on this list simply throw up their hands and call Keith’s thesis stupid – because it is.

        In the real world, people both cannot, and most importantly -will- not, switch from vegetarianism to organic biodynamic permaculture meat, dairy and eggs, from pastorage, and hunting/gathering.

        In the real world, people will read Keith’s book, decide they should stop being vegetarian, go to the store and not be able to find the diet she recommends, because it is not, and never can -be- there – and they will then switch to a vastly more destructive CAFO diet.

        Keith’s argument is very compelling and in an anthropocentric way ‘compassionate’ but that does not make it right.

        Mao was sincere, compelling and compassionate (and as naive as Keith) and his ideas (because he had the power to implement them) led to complete agricultural disaster and the deaths of tens of millions of people.

        Thank god, Keith does not have such power, because her prescription depends utterly on the inevitable violent deaths of -billions- of human beings for it to function on one planet.

        • marc Says:

          nope, sustainable methods of animal farming rotated with vegetable farming do not take more acres. That’s right there where you show yourself as someone who does not farm or understand farming. Why do you folks pretend to know stuff you dont?

          The reason it is not widely used is because it takes more labor. Therefore, the product is more expensive. If we as a people value our planet, we need to increase the value of our food.

          The argument that we need to use mass veganism as a step towards sustainable agriculture doesn’t hold water unless you have the assumption that we can’t use animal-based fertility because it takes too many acres. Throw out that assumption and your argument is dead.

      • Eric Brooks Says:

        Char, what do you mean by ‘old disabused sources’? (Cite -specifics- please.)

        I have been a vegetarian for 26 years now and I have spent that entire time rebutting, over and over again, the tired old falsehoods that Keith regurgitates to claim that vegetarianism is not healthy. It’s all bollocks. There is nothing unhealthy about vegetarianism. Soy products are not unhealthy. (Although there is evidence that genetically engineered soy is extremely dangerous and may in fact be the cause of most, if not all, of the health problems attributed to soy.) Soy can cause problems if you are allergic to it and eat huge amounts of it, however soy is absolutely unnecessary to a vegetarian diet so the whole soy question is just a straw man anyway.

        However it -is- true that a vegetarian diet, if not handled with some good information and practice, can indeed be harmful. And the exact same thing can be said of -any- diet.

        There is definitely a problem with some veg lit that just says essentially ‘eat whatever you want as long as it is not animal based and you’ll be fine’. That is complete bollocks too, and vegans can get into serious trouble if they don’t eat right.

        I have also spent my entire time as a vegetarian rebutting the nonsense that Keith claims about agriculture and vegetarianism as well. That one is easy. Yes all mono-culture agriculture is harmful, but meat and dairy based CAFO ag is so much -worse- than the veg version that the first most powerful step to save the planet is to get people to go veg immediately and then work them gradually onto better and even -more- planet friendly diets. And that does not and -cannot- include pastorage and hunter/gathering.

        My main argument with Keith is her fantasy land idea that we can all switch to pasturage and hunter/gathering. This is simply not scalable without creating many planet Earths. It’s impossible; totally counter to the laws of physics. And yet Keith implies it’s the way to go when that clearly is not true.

        The reason that we rely on CAFO for meat, dairy, and egg production, is that the sustainable version of producing such food takes vastly more acreage than a compact factory farm. It simply cannot be done on a planet wide scale without at least 10 Earths of arable land (and that’s a very generous estimate assuming that we engage in some completely kick butt universal permaculture).

        Keith completely ignores this as if it is irrelevant, which is inane. This is why so many on this list simply throw up their hands and call Keith’s thesis stupid – because it is.

        In the real world, people both cannot, and most importantly -will- not, switch from vegetarianism to organic biodynamic permaculture meat, dairy and eggs, from pastorage, and hunting/gathering.

        In the real world, people will read Keith’s book, decide they should stop being vegetarian, go to the store and not be able to find the diet she recommends, because it is not, and never can -be- there – and they will then switch to a vastly more destructive CAFO diet.

        Keith’s argument is very compelling and in an anthropocentric way ‘compassionate’ but that does not make it right.

        Mao was sincere, compelling and compassionate (and as naive as Keith) and his ideas (because he had the power to implement them) led to complete agricultural disaster and the deaths of tens of millions of people.

        Thank god, Keith does not have such power, because her prescription depends utterly on the inevitable violent deaths of -billions- of human beings for it to function on one planet.

      • Char Says:

        Anonymous says “Old dis-abused sources…”

        Right off the bat (without going back an re-reading all of the entries), here are some oldies but goodies:

        – That humans ate vegetable-based diet. This is flat-out wrong. And I’m not quoting from Weston Price or Loren Cordain or any of the Paleo wackoes. My brother (*not* the WPF brother, this one is veg but not vegan. I do have a rather large family) and sister-in-law are both archeologists. And they’ve told me that’s absolutely not true (one quick source, because I also have the book: “The Agricultural Revolution” by Graeme Barker. Very fascinating). Our biological ROOT ancestors had a vegetable-based diet (home erectus, not sapien). But it was our scavenger ancestors that 1st understood how to use tools to eat brains. As gross as it is, apparently very nutritious. Other animals couldn’t break the skull case. From there, we grew bigger brains, became hunters, and so on. Agriculture spread inconsistently, so you will have some sites that show agriculture much earlier than others. Agriculture came to the Fertile Crescent (and parts of India and China) about 10,000 years ago. Europe, about 2000. But even then, not EVERYONE in each area *suddenly* because farmers. Some tried it, went back to hunter gather, then went “back” to farming again. It came in fits and starts. And the general conclusion is that we had to go kicking and screaming, that it wasn’t something that we wanted. After all, the 1st agriculture wasn’t tomatoes and lovely salad greens. It was grains that a.) didn’t provide enough nutrients (there were horrible signs of body deteriorations. In fact, archeologist can tell if it’s a hunter gather body or a farmer body just by looking at how “bad” it is) and b.) it was damn hard work.
        But I HATE this line of vegetarian defense. Our ancestors also raped and, later on, had plenty of slaves. Does that make it right? Progress. I am NOT a vegetarian because my ancestors were. That’s a slippery slope, people. That opens up a line of defense from meat eaters that says “well, I eat meat because MY ancestors did!”
        Plus,that negates the fact that animal meat (game) is healthy. I hate to say it. But that’s what we have to fess up to. Are we all vegans because it’s HEALTHY? NO! It’s because of the morality and ethics of it. Keep your eye on the ball.
        Also, Eric brought up India, where they have vegetarian diets. Um, we really don’t have good sources (and by good sources, I mean *supportive* ones. The ones I’ve found, from both before and after the introduction of refined carbs, don’t speak too well of their physique and stamina vs. their meat-eating neighbors) that can attest that they were profoundly healthy. Now, this could be for a number of reasons – poor, subsistence diet, namely. Regardless of whether you ate meat or not, poor is poor. And lets not forget that Indians are vegetarian *not* vegan. They eat ghee and paneer. Just because a culture has been around for a good long time says nothing about the general healthiness of them. You just need to stick around long enough to pass your genes on. Not to be rude, but look at some of the “mountain people” (think “Deliverance”) here in America. Horrible deficiency diseases, yet they keep reproducing and remain stubbornly “here”. Just being here says nothing about how you got here.

        – Also, the amount of land needed. I hate to pick on Eric (I’m lazy and didn’t feel like scrolling anymore), but I’m not sure where the “It takes 200 acres of habitat to support a hunter-gatherer diet (as opposed to only one acre for a vegetarian-agriculture diet). And it takes from 10 to 20 times more land/habitat to support a pastoral agriculture meat based diet over a vegetarian agriculture based diet” comes from. Again, I garden and I grew up in Amish country (with farmer relatives, plus playing with the Amish as a child). So I’ve got a rudimentary understanding of crops, how to grow them, what they need, etc. The number, the 1 acre for a vegetarian, you do realize that what that means is that that 1 acre is now ONLY for the vegetarian? The diversity in that area has been cut dramatically. I also have relatives (inc my dad) that hunt. I know that the acreage where they hunt is much more undisturbed – and supports a much more diverse population of animals and plant life – than any gardening or crop growing. So true, I could possibly feed myself on 1 acre. But it would just be me (or 1 or 2 others) and a few rodents and bugs and the occasional weed that I’d miss. But a hunter gather? That acreage supports FAR more.
        Plus, we’re not even getting into the quality of the food. If I were to grow here, where I live in PA, how much could I grow? More importantly, *what* could I grow? It’s a temperate climate, in Zone 6a. What about the poor vegan that lives in short-summered Maine? Or parched New Mexico? I’m lucky – if pressed, I could grow enough. But upstate NY? Canada? I’m not sure we would be able to grow enough to match our proteins adequately, year-round. So, are we to depend on CA to grow all of our food? Better not. CA has a great climate, but the water issue is problematic. Forget about the great plains. Soil gone. But not only that, the areas that would best suit our agriculture, they would have to be stripped of all other life and set up to grow ONLY what we need, being as how we can’t grow it sustainably where we live.

        Ok, now about soy. Where are you getting this information about it’s healthiness? From the fact that you have been eating it for 26 years? Ok, that’s anecdotal. My sister had to have her thyroid REMOVED and now has to take hormones for the rest of her life (she wasn’t even 30 when that happened). That’s anecdotal too. I also know of a man who got breast cancer. As far as soy being genetically engineered, guess what? They’re now finding that GE strains are finding their way to ALL U.S. soy, even in Mexico and Canada. It’s natural, people. Its the way that plants have propagated themselves for millions of years. If you think that GE soy is “extremely dangerous” *and* it’s starting to show up in all soy crops, organic or not, why defend it? Plus, give me YOUR sources on it’s “goodness”.
        Also, no one denies that soy contains estrogen-mimicing isoflavones. I mean, that’s the whole reason why soy suddenly became world famous, not just for veggies anymore. That’s like giving someone hormones. Do you REALLY think that you can give someone hormones and not expect consequences? Heck, there’s consequences for taking aspirin!
        The soy that the Asians eat? Fermented. No one ate “textured vegetable protein” for thousands of years. That’s new. Tofu? Used as a condiment. Asians eat a LOT of meat, namely pork. Even the Japanese. The ones that don’t, use a lot of bone-based broths so that they can get the gelatin out to extend the the little meat that they have. Oh, soy was eaten a lot by Buddist monks… to keep their libido down. Hmmm…
        Now, I agree that soy is unnecessary. So stop defending it. It’s bad news. Even if *you* don’t think that it’s bad news, that it hasn’t been proven conclusively, you have to admit that the evidence against it, at the very least, is compelling and requires more research. I’d rather be safe and tell all vegs to not eat the stuff, rather than cross my fingers.

        Also, you are (again, a tired argument) conflating CAFO-based (which we all agree, even locavores and Keith) are BAD BAD BAD!!!! That’s so easy, though. Address THEIR argument, let veg/vegan go toe-to-toe with THEIR way. Pastoral and CAFO and NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT the same!!!!!!!! Crimmey, this is what I’m talking about: I want an argument that rebuts THEIR argument, not some straw man.

        And are you talking about Mao, as in Chinese Mao Zedong?

      • Eric Brooks Says:

        Char, your fundamental argument is obviously and completely incorrect.

        It takes far more land to feed you if you hunt for meat.

        Here’s a way to see the logic:

        1) Imagine that you grow a vegetarian garden to meet all of your food needs.

        2) Now imagine that you allow a deer to feed itself in your garden and you eat the deer as food instead of the plants. Since the deer is a living mammal and hence burns away huge amounts of the plant energy to stay alive, you are now getting far less food from the same amount of land use. The land would be less intensely used if you stick to eating the vegetables, fruits, legumes etc.

        3) Further – realise that if you kill a deer in the wild, it has not been eating from an intensely gardened plot packed with high levels of food energy per foot. Instead, the deer must forage over a -much- larger land area to get the same calories and nutrients.

        4) Now consider that 7 billion people are eating diets based on intensive agriculture specifically designed to produce packed areas of plant and animal food. If we were to turn all of those diets to hunting and gathering over the planetary landscape which has -far- less food per acre, -and- turn those intensive agriculture areas over to hunting and gathering habitats which are far less food intense, the entire planet would quickly be utterly destroyed.

        5) Pastorage is also far less food intensive per acre than equivalent plants grown for food, and a switch to organic permaculture pastorage would result in the same rapid human food shortage and destruction.

        Eating mostly animal flesh, because the animals burn immense amounts of energy while they are alive, is an incredibly wasteful practice and will not work for 7 billion people. Period.

        And your family members are simply wrong and need a better education. Humans have always been omnivores, almost always with much more plant food in their diets than meat. Only in habitats where plant gathering foods were not plentiful did humans focus on high meat diets. There have been relatively recent (pre-agriculture) pretty large and extensive explosions of human meat eating in various habitats, and in each case the humans got so good at hunting that all of the megafauna being hunted collapsed and largely went extinct, which is the key factor which forced humans to pursue intensive agriculture to survive.

        In other words, human hunters used up animals the way we are using up oil, vastly and rapidly (but unsustainably) increasing their numbers. Inevitably, they reached a universal crash in that strategy, and the only way out with the then inflated populations created by the over-exploitation of animals, was intensive agriculture which produced far more food per acre and switched humans back to a plant centered omnivorous diet; and this got us stuck in the current agricultural crisis that Keith writes about.

        Switching back to high levels of hunting would simply cause the same devastation that it did when we did it previously, but this time with -far- greater and more rapid consequences since there are now -billions- of us instead of mere millions.

        Hence, Keith’s vision, is absurd…

        • Anonymous Says:

          What do you mean “burns away” in reference to the deer? Other than heat energy, isn’t most of the energy consumed by the deer in turn usable to other organisms either by consuming it’s flesh (predators) or the nutrients from its waste (plants)? Energy doesn’t simply disappear, and the plants in the garden are not sourceless providers of energy from nothing but sun and water. We living things are mere converters of energy, and to suggest that we’re somehow shortchanged by eating an organism that has converted energy into a more easily utilized form (cellulose into animal protein) for humans (and plants! and other organisms!) doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand what you mean here.

          • Eric Brooks Says:

            You are kidding me right?

            You need to take a course, or read a good book, on basic biology.

            Plants are net storers of energy from the sun and from nutrients that they take in through their roots and pores.

            Mammals because they are in constant motion and need to maintain constant body heat, take -in- nutrients and metabolize (burn) them turning some of them into proteins and other body building blocks but also releasing huge amounts of them as heat.

            Your trivial tossing aside of the heat that animals release as they live is ludicrous. The amount of energy so released is massive and has to be replaced with more food.

      • char Says:

        Whoooo, ok, now I see why people don’t like us.”Your family members are wrong and simply need a better education”. Wow. See, this is the problem, Eric – what is YOUR education? Ok, I have not one, but TWO family members that are archeologists and you believe, based on what – vegan websites?!!? (because there’s no academic archeology that believes that most of homo sapiens existence was plant-based! We couldn’t grow our brains; our bones; our stature. Look at our friggin’ teeth! We do NOT have cow teeth!) – that THEY are wrong and YOU are right?
        I can’t believe this – I want good answers to retort and all I’m getting is propaganda. Hey Eric, feel free to stick your head in the sand and pretend that your arguments are sound. I don’t have another 30 minutes to waste rebutting your nonsensical, irrational arguments based on what you WANT to believe rather than what is, in fact reality. Grow a garden. You will see how hard it is.
        Go ahead and suck up your fossil fuels so that you feel you can sleep better at night. There are animals DYING because of the choices we – yes we, as vegans! – make. Your hands are even more dirty because you don’t want to meet these issues head on. This is a sad state of affairs.
        Let me tell you guys something: eat soy, your killing animals; eat wheat, your killing animals. Face up to the reality and then let’s CONFRONT that to make the BEST ethical choices.

        • TWC Says:

          “I am quite familiar with homonid and human evolution”

          “However millions of humans have indeed thrived on a vegan diet throughout all of history”

          What society? Ancient? Modern? How do you know this? You’re contradicting yourself saying that we are omnivorous yet their have been millions of people that have thrived on a Vegan diet. Is a vegan diet optimal? And if not, how do people thrive on it? Aside from that, how would any of our Paleolithic ancestors get enough calories(essential fatty and amino acids) from nothing but plant based foods? Hunting was the most economically feasible means for our ancestors to survive. Why would anyone abandon a highly nutritious food source? Out of necessity? That certainly is not what the archeological records show. In fact the records show that Paleolithic African sites were littered with the bones of large ruminants. I suppose we were just sharing our plant based diet with them in our camps though, huh?

          • Eric Brooks Says:

            Are you kidding me? Over the course of thousands of years millions of people in India and Asia have been vegan and vegetarian. Have you ever heard of Janes? Buddhism?

            Wake the hell up man…

            • Eric Brooks Says:

              Spelling correction, ‘Janes’ should be ‘Jains’..

            • TWC Says:

              Thousands of millions of years? You’re just spewing bullshit without any credible sources and expect people to believe it?

              Humans and our ancestors have used meat as a valuable and nutritious part of their diet for literally millions of years. It wasn’t until the agricultural revolution that occurred 10,000 years ago that it was possible for humans to subsist soley on grains and other domesticated plant foods. Further, the data in this study: http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.0030410, is suggestive of agriculture becoming the dominant food source in Europe around 5,000 years ago, 5,000 years less than agriculture developed in the middle east. In any case, none of the archeological or any other data is supportive of a vegetarian/vegan diet lasting millions of years. Prehistoric humans would not be able to subsist soley on plant foods unless they adopted agriculture.

              Here is a credible source supporting my argument that humans were meat eaters:

              http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/99legacy/6-14-1999a.html

              Do you have anything that supports your assertion that Indians or any other group were vegetarian for thousands or millions of years?

              Even if that is true that some culture had been vegetarian or Vegan, does that mean that it is optimal for them? Are they as healthy as our paleolithic ancestors that ate plenty of wild meat? You still aren’t considering any of these questions, or at least, aren’t responding to them.

              -TWC

              • Eric Brooks Says:

                I didn’t say ‘thousands of millions of years’. You are clearly hardly bothering to read these posts before giving your troll responses.

                The article you cite is a scientific old wives tale. The truth about hominid evolution is far different and far more complex.

                Hominids were omnivorous gatherers for millions of years (mainly fruits, nuts, and leaves – much like other primates) before they became extremely adept hunter-gatherers much more recently.

                Contrary to what your cited article claims, hominids, while they indeed began eating meat millions of years ago, did not do so in the huge quantities of the present day, or the late paleolithic.

                The part that the article has correct, is that hominids began eating meat because of food stress caused by climate change and drought. However, those hominids were not yet large, powerful, and skillful enough to be prolific hunters. In fact the primary source of meat in the hominid diet in those early times came from predator kill sites. Those early hominids cleverly learned to scavenge such kill sites after other scavengers picked them clean, by cracking and sawing open the bones of the prey to get to the rich marrow and other flesh -inside- the bones.

                So essentially, this scavenging was simply an extension of the gathering (again, mostly of fruits nuts, and leaves) that these hominids were already doing; and most importantly this scavenged inner bone flesh was still -not- the predominant component of the hominid diet.

                You can read a good article discussing the basics of this behavior, and the evidence for it, at:

                http://www.mesacc.edu/dept/d10/asb/origins/hominid_journey/oldowan.html

                High quantity meat eating only became a big deal for humans once they got to more advanced states of evolution, and only boomed periodically and regionally (depending on climate) over the last 100,000 years.

                So the millions of years of hominid dietary history have been highly variable in meat content, with far more of that overall history being omnivorous with predominant plant eating.

                The bottom line is that we are well equipped for eating anywhere on the spectrum from carnivore to vegan, and so what we eat is a choice, not a biological mandate.

                Finally the fact that you are trying to deny that millions of people over time ate vegetarian diets in places like India, is simply laughable on its face and doesn’t warrant a response.

      • Eric Brooks Says:

        I have been a professional environmentalist and ecologist for 25 years, have indeed grown a garden, studied evolution in depth both in college and afterward, and have read (and understood) Stephen J. Gould’s 1400 page ‘Structure of Evolutionary Theory’.

        I am quite familiar with homonid and human evolution.

        And let’s be clear, I said that the predominant human diet has been a plant -centered- omnivorous diet, not a plant based diet. However millions of humans have indeed thrived on a vegan diet throughout all of history. (By the way many Asians eat huge amounts of unfermented tofu and it doesn’t hurt them at all. Yet another ‘fact’ that you have wrong.)

        There are indeed periods in homonid and human history in which both meat scavenging and meat eating have formed crucial junctures in human evolution, and we certainly would not have evolved as we have without those crucial transitions. However there were even -longer- periods during human evolution when the human diet was much more plant centered than meat centered. Both modes have been important in various stages of our evolution. But the -key- factor of our diet that has made us thrive is our broad scale -omnivorousness- enabling us to eat any spectrum of foods from plants to hunted animals in any configuration in order to survive.

        Your statement about teeth belies your lack of expertise on the human diet and dental forms. Human dentation, with its extensive molars and crushing teeth (and no flesh slicing teeth whatsoever) is designed for omnivorous plant centered diets, not meat centered diets.

        You can read a pretty good synopsis of pre-human evolution relative to meat and plant eating at http://www.jqjacobs.net/anthro/paleo/scavenging.html

        Following that fundamental homonid evolution, once we had become fully Homo sapiens, our diet had become so completely and complexly omnivorous that human diets ever since have been highly variable in meat content, ranging all over the spectrum from vegan, to Inuit in composition.

        Any effort to claim that humans are either fundamentally vegetarian -or- meat eating, is simply wrong.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    @Dani, comment # 6

    Founders of organizations don’t always agree with the policies those organizations come to have.

    Can you site anything written by Keith where she expresses views about Trans people?

    Do you have any citations of Keith stating that she is opposed to lesbians taking part in consentual BDSM or pornography?

    If any of this is true it would quite ironic. Keith was banned from an extended stay meditation retreat in the 1990s because she is a Lesbian.

    • Dani Says:

      Since this is regarding Keith’s anti-trans views, and not her anti-vegetarian views, I’ve posted a reply on The Vegan Ideal.

      • Anonymous Says:

        @Dani, comment #13;

        I read your reply to my questions on The Vegan Ideal. Thank you for taking the time to type all of that up. I would have thanked you there, but I couldn’t find any links to post a comment.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    If I bother to borrow a copy of the book I will consider the “case closed” if it does not have citations to clinical studies, and a number of them.

    If the book does the next step will be for me to see who paid for the studies.

    If things still hold up after I have friends educated in research who can help me evaluate those studies.

    In 14 years of being a vegan I haven’t seen any anti-vegan statements like this book hold up to all of these things.

    • char Says:

      Neither have I seen any legit vegan studies. Look, why are we arguing at a moving object, namely science? If there is one thing that I’ve learned is that what is “true” one day (according to science) isn’t the next. Depending on science and studies to defend vegetarianism will set you up for future failure. Remember Vioxx? That was based on science. Remember estrogen replacement therapy? Yep, science sad that was pretty cool, too. There are some things that can’t be argued against – the ethics of the decision.
      Oh, and be careful of studies. How many are epidemiology? Worthless. How many have too small subject groups? How many have no control? How many do not take into account any other variables? Guess what – NONE! You know why? Because such studies would cost in the multi-millions. They can’t even get a true heart disease study, why would you think they get one to prove vegetarianism?
      There was only 1 study that comes close to being a legit study concerning the veg lifestyle. But that compared Seventh Day Adventist. C’mon! These guys are squeeky clean, they also don’t drin or eat, they exercise more, value family, etc.

  14. derarchimedischepunkt Says:

    Hello Breeze: I am glad you brought this controversial book into discussion on VOC , and I agree with you and the critique laid out by Dani here. Now my two cents are: It’s a highly problematic book in my point of view, the ethical weight of veganism can’t really be reduced to a profanity by a list of selfserving counter arguments against veganism. Since veganism is factually the only opportunity to gain a holistic or all encompassing world peace. Peace has to include the balance of everything in the world. That’s it.

  15. prof susurro Says:

    wow. As per usual I was excited by the description here and ready to rush out looking for it & then read all the comments and saw multiple new worlds of info opening up. I really love this blog & the intelligence and insight of all of the comment-makers here!!!

  16. Gary Says:

    How tightly does one have to shut their eyes to the animals’ suffering in slaughterhouses and factory farms in order to say, with a straight face, that their relationship with humans is “reciprocal?”

    • anon Says:

      This is actually not was she says at all. Throughout the book, she reveals herself to be strongly against factory farming and the mass-production of meat as a commodity.

      It’s clear to me that the majority of people critiquing this book have either not read it, or have drawn conclusions that simply aren’t there, or may, in the very least, not understand anti-civilization ideology.

      • Jel Says:

        The calves in this video were from local, pastoral farms. Not a factory farm in sight.

        So does that mean this is how she defines “reciprocal”? Funny, I wouldn’t define it that way at all.

  17. locavore Says:

    I am amazed by the responses to this book. Have *any* of you read it?

    Lierre ties civlization, agriculture, and vegetarianism into a singular “grand narrative” because they are completely intertwined: the first two are totally dependent upon each other, and the third almost certainly never existed without the first two.

    How can you say an “anti-civ” perspective is cynical? Perhaps you meant it in relation to Cynicism, the greek school of philosophy? Is it counterproductive merely because it opposes the form of production which you find preferable (the industrial variety, I imagine)? What if civilization is by necessity exploitation (of humans, non-humans, ecosystems, the planet itself)? You seem to be rejecting it merely upon the basis that it is unpleasant for you to contemplate. How would you react to the argument that someone distraught by the current profusion of environmental destruction or non-human animal enslavement is just being cynical, is “not seeing the whole picture”?

    Perhaps the RadLesFes is opposed to trans-related health care because it is not healthy (unnatural manipulation of hormones?). I sincerely doubt they are opposed to the eradication of gender dichotomy.

    The reason “anti-civilization” people can’t leave civilization is because it is fucking completely pervasive and inescapable. Did you not realize that the planet is dying, that there is more at stake than your sense of dietary purity?

    • adam Says:

      Locavore, I’ve only read two chapters (and I plan to read more), but from I can tell, Keith’s analysis is very reactionary and reductive. Critical analyses that solely deploy grand narratives are very problematic in that they trap thought and marginalize other pov (i.e. anti-oppression), as Dani mentioned.

      [Actually, your suggestion that RadLesFest excludes trans healthcare because it is "not healthy" is a great example of how "civilization" discourse has obscured your understanding of transphobia (i.e. Hormones are "artificial/synthetic", placed "out of balance", the "manipulation" of "natural" cycles, etc.--radical feminists can't be transphobic because they are opposed to the gender dichotomy!)]

      “Civilization” is itself a vague cultural construct and “anti-civilization” rhetoric really avoids addressing what is particular/exceptional about “civilization” that makes it so bad. It also relies on the notion of an abject or noble savage and wilderness which reek of colonial discourse. “Wilderness,” for instance, does not actually exist, but was a contruct in romantic times as a reaction against industrialism and during the “Age of Exploration” (aka colonialism). Aboriginal and pre-historical humans destroyed many of the large mammals and birds through hunting, and much of the “pristine/virgin” forests of today were actually “man-made” from burnings and horticulture. So if you want to address the *degree* of ecological degradation today, perhaps you should critique the intersections of patriarchy, capitalism, and Western philosophy. Otherwise you fall prey to, rather than escape, the racist and “civilized” discourse of the 18th and 19th century thinkers.

      • locavore Says:

        “Locavore, I’ve only read two chapters (and I plan to read more), but from I can tell, Keith’s analysis is very reactionary and reductive. Critical analyses that solely deploy grand narratives are very problematic in that they trap thought and marginalize other pov (i.e. anti-oppression), as Dani mentioned.”

        It does not rely “solely” on the deployment of grand narratives. Lierre goes into many details regarding the destructive qualities of all the institutions or procedures mentioned. Also, as I said before, such a grand narrative only marginalizes other POV insofar as it reveals all forms of oppression (patriarchy/sexism, genocide/racism/eugenics, environmental destruction/species extinction(/agriculture), social hierachy, etc.) as a single interlocking system. I believe that the leftist technique of critiquing separated aspects of the overall “violation imperative” is counterproductive because it fails to see how they are dependent upon each other as well as an identical mentality. That said, I also think the environmental crisis is a more urgent problem than humanist concerns. When the permafrost melts, people will not have the option of hormone replacement therapy.

        “[Actually, your suggestion that RadLesFest excludes trans healthcare because it is "not healthy" is a great example of how "civilization" discourse has obscured your understanding of transphobia (i.e. Hormones are "artificial/synthetic", placed "out of balance", the "manipulation" of "natural" cycles, etc.--radical feminists can't be transphobic because they are opposed to the gender dichotomy!)]”

        I am opposed to all impetuous manipulation of embodies states of equilibrium, whether they be human bodies or ecosystems. I am opposed to the systems that both create such a sense of gender depersonalization and purport to fix it with their scientism.

        ““Civilization” is itself a vague cultural construct and “anti-civilization” rhetoric really avoids addressing what is particular/exceptional about “civilization” that makes it so bad.”

        Civlization is a life characterized by cities. Cities require the importation of “resources,” because they have destroyed the land upon which they are based. As they are founded upon the notion of exponential growth, they will denude an ever larger area until they collapse. This has happened to all civilizations and it will soon happen to this one. You can’t have cities without importation (because they consume at a rate faster than the land is willing to give), you can’t have importation without war (because there are generally people living on the land where you want to get those resources) or collapse (because eventually you will have consumed it all). You also can’t have cities without slavery and oppression (because someone had to work in the mines).

        “It also relies on the notion of an abject or noble savage and wilderness which reek of colonial discourse. “Wilderness,” for instance, does not actually exist, but was a contruct in romantic times as a reaction against industrialism and during the “Age of Exploration” (aka colonialism).”

        “Abject”? What is wrong with the notion of a noble “savage” (as you call them; I would prefer the word “indigenous” or “native” or something without such “abject” connotations)? I agree that wilderness is a social construction. But that does not mean that civilized humans can’t destroy their habitat.

        “Aboriginal and pre-historical humans destroyed many of the large mammals and birds through hunting, and much of the “pristine/virgin” forests of today were actually “man-made” from burnings and horticulture. So if you want to address the *degree* of ecological degradation today, perhaps you should critique the intersections of patriarchy, capitalism, and Western philosophy. Otherwise you fall prey to, rather than escape, the racist and “civilized” discourse of the 18th and 19th century thinkers.”

        Hmm. Not really sure what you’re trying to say here. Yes, I am aware of the forest “management” practices of the indigenous (although I am very skeptical of the “Pleistocene Overkill” hypothesis which you mention). These people have no conception of “wilderness” as a distinct entity because they live amongst it constantly. Such a distinction is naturally dependent upon cities. When cities come to an end, humans can begin to restore their previously-held and healthy relationship with the land upon which they are dependent for their survival.

        I find Western philosophy quite reprehensible, as it is generally a justification for patriarchy, capitalism, racism, environmental destruction. Not sure why you’re trying to get me with that one: seems like kind of a non sequitor after your mentioning of indigenous practices. Do you mean to suggest that hunter-gatherers unleashed just as much destruction upon their landbase as the civilized?

  18. derarchimedischepunkt Says:

    The question if civilization needs sacrifices, is exactly that which civilization tries to solve, I believe. Veganism is of course not just a dietary purity, but a grand step in civilization, which will need a lot of innovation still, too.

    • anon Says:

      The catch is that this “purity” is a mere illusion when you look at the ecological costs required for such a diet to exist on a large scale. There is no purity if the vegan diet is inherently destructive. Lierre explains the agricultural destructiveness required in the foods that a typical vegan strives off of.

      • YAYme Says:

        Typical vegans, but not typical meat eaters? One problem with her anti vegan ran is that she’s pinning the sins of civilization and it’s elite on a tiny little group with next to no power. Not only does that not make sense, it reeks of the kind of scapegoating that’s more commonly associated with the extreme right than the extreme left. I happen to agree with her largely about monoculture, but she’s alienated vegans to the point that very few of us are willing to wade through her screed to glean the nuggets of truth many of us already know. The woman lives to be insulting, she’s a grass fed Anne Coulter. Great job DGR having such a warm, welcoming leadership. I’m sure The Leather Underground will go far…

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Thankfully, I think this blog thread will be a significant portion of the attention this anti-vegan, axe grinding book gets before it slides further down into obscurity.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    The population of the Earth is over 6 billion people with some experts predicting it going to 12 billion within 40 years if the environment doesn’t become incapable of supporting all of those people.

    Rescuing the Earth ( or even all of those people coexisting ) isn’t going to happen without the type of organized, sustained, action that is likely only possible with governments, laws and enforced laws. In other words, civilization.

    Seems like the idea of anti-civilization is unrealistic at best and likely a waste of time unless you enjoy putting energy into thinking about things that will not yield any value beyond enjoyable discourse.

    • I cannot respond to any of these replies yet, as I have not read her book and prefer to read it before engaging in the discussion…Just in case folk were wondering why I posted the topic but did not participate in the critique of the book.

    • anon Says:

      It is not unrealistic. It’s the realization that the problem IS civilization. Rescuing the earth would be unnecessary had civilization not been created. Civilization simply tries to band-aid the problems that it itself produced. It is the MOST counterproductive in terms of fixing anything.

  21. Jon Says:

    You need vitamin B12, which puts a damper on any vegan talk.

    But it’s true: Monoculture was responsible for the Dust Bowl and the desert in the Middle East.

    • johanna Says:

      Jon — B12 comes from bacteria, not animals. Industrial agriculture has wiped out this bacteria in many food-growing places. But that’s an effect of industrial agriculture — it doesn’t “put a damper on any vegan talk.”

    • We vegans are familiar with nutritional yeast, a couple of tablespoons of which provide more than the daily recommended amount of B12! Check it out!

      • char Says:

        C’mon! See, this is what I’m talking about – there is such dis-information here. No, B12 does NOT come from bacteria. No, you cannot get B12 from nutritional yeast (however it’s a great source of other b vitamins). They BELIEVE that your body can convert nutritional yeast’s B vitamins to B12. But that hasn’t been proven conclusively.

        As far as B12 from bacteria, yes. But not the way you’re thinking. every animal has it. In their colon. It’s one of the beneficial bacterias. However, this is separate from the dietary needs for B12 (the B12 can’t cross over and out of the colon). You still need to eat it.

        But seriously. If they said that you can’t get B12, would you say “nope, I’m not going to be a vegan”? Hell no! So why use this as a line of defense? It makes NO sense!

      • Eric Brooks Says:

        Actually the B-12 supplements that one can buy in a store do indeed come directly from cultured bacteria.

        And every vegan should take them. Not doing so is extremely dangerous.

        The yeast claim is indeed false. Nutritional yeast does -not- provide B-12.

        But It does taste great sprinkled on popcorn ;)

        Char definitely is hitting on a key point here. It is because of bs like the yeast myth and other misinformation (which uneducated vegetarians spread around because they don’t want meat eaters to think vegetarianism takes effort) that we end up with people like Keith understandably getting sick, deciding that veganism is dangerous, and going back to eating meat.

        Being a healthy vegetarian takes some personal work and self education, and people who go around telling meat eaters that they can just eat any non-animal food they want is foolishly setting our movement up for failure.

        A good start for a wise vegetarian transition is the cookbook Laurel’s Kitchen. See http://www.amazon.com/dp/089815166X/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=3817298639&ref=pd_sl_38b0t6tvxt_e

        It has excellent information in it on how to make a -healthy- shift to vegetarianism.

      • windforce Says:

        Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula (=nutritional yeast) has B12 in it.

      • Eric Brooks Says:

        My guess is that Red Star artificially -adds- the B-12 to the yeast.

        On its own, nutritional yeast is -not- a source of B-12 and it is really dangerous to get prospective vegans to depend on yeast for B-12, since we can have no idea whether they will by the right brand.

        There apparently used to be a lot of incidental B-12 in vegetarian food sources, but modern agriculture has wiped it out, along with a lot of other crucial micro-nutrients.

        It’s best to be safe and take a direct supplement that states clearly on the bottle/package how much B-12 you are getting.

        The easiest one to take that I’ve found is a cherry flavored sub-lingual from Solgar. See http://www.solgar.com/SolgarProducts/Vitamin-B12-1000-mcg-Nuggets.htm

        Note that even though the package indicates that one nugget contains over 16,000 percent daily allowance, a -lot- of that does not get absorbed, which is why the directions say to take a nugget every day.

        Vegans who do not get enough B-12 can suffer severe nervous system damage, so this should not be messed with.

  22. Ståle Says:

    I am yet another one who has not actually read the book in question (yet?), but I just listened to an interview with Lierre Keith, on “Healing the Earth”, a podcast on rabble.ca and had to google her name as I was curious to read some reactions to her thoughts.

    My impression, based on the interview, is that she would distinguish between the dominant forms of agriculture today (industrial scale, pesticide- and fossil fuel-dependent monocultures), which destroy the soil and and require inputs of non-renewable resources, and something like permaculture (organic, using perennial crops and companion planting), which can build soils, promote greater biodiversity and which does not require use of non-renewable resources.

    Based on this view, which I share, I would tend to agree that veganism in itself is an insufficient solution to the big sustainability issues threatening the long-term survival of humanity (and much of the rest of the biosphere we’re part of) – as long as we don’t address the way our food is produced. Is she attacking veganism itself? Or is it the idea some might have that being vegan automatically makes their lifestyle ‘sustainable’ she’s criticizing?

    Purely from the point of view of designing a food production system that can last for millenia, it is more important to design an agricultural system that nurtures soil health and biodiversity than to simply abstain from consuming animal based products. Meat production using free range animals can be sustainable (from an ecological perspective).

    The ethics of killing animals for meat is obviously a separate issue, though, and an important one at that. Just based on what I heard in the interview, though, I’m guessing Ms. Keith is NOT in favor of industrialized meat production, but her reasons for this may differ from those of some commenters here.

    In response to anonymous in comment #21 – it’s that “if” in your first paragraph that’s the issue, isn’t it? Ms. Keith argues (as I understand it) that civilization as we know it is not sustainable, meaning whether we like it or not, it will not be possible to keep it going in the long run. While you might be right that national or international scale responses to these challenges might be more effective at this point, I’m not sure they’re more realistic (in the sense, more likely to happen) in the long run (decades out). The triple challenges of climate change, economic contraction and resource scarcity may put a permanent damper on such massive scale management, basically.

  23. derarchimedischepunkt Says:

    the thing is FOR ME: the world is not only for humans, but also for those beings we call “farm animals”. If the focus stays on the human interest, you miss out on the interests of nonhuman animals. Ethically humans need to face the question of ‘sharing a world with fellow sentient beings’. The focus on the human interest is really too narrow to be ethically really waterproof.

    • anon Says:

      Exactly, which is a view Lierre Keith clearly states she believes, except her perspective is even LESS discriminating in the sense that she hold plant life as equal to animal life (including human animals).

      Animals aren’t the only one’s that must be looked at and treated equally, and no matter what, something must die in order for something else to live. That is the beauty of the “circle of life”. Death exists, and to avoid killing in order to live, is a denial of death and pain and suffering. That does NOT mean that factory farming is okay, or that oppression is okay. It’s about coming full circle, and doing what you have to, to do it with respect and to give back what you take, and I believe Keith makes that clear in her book.

      • Stop Humanity Says:

        “she hold plant life as equal to animal life” ??
        Bull***t, and we all know it.

        “circle of life” ??

        Bull***t! Who slaughters you, keith and all other humans?

        Instead of slaughtering INNOCENTS cows, Keith should slaughter not-innocent humans – the greatest virus on earth.
        Humans’ flesh is the less-harmful meat there is.

        But her discriminating views tells her she can slit the throat of other innocent beings. Is she for real?

        She might have been vegan for 20 years, but she never was animal-rightist for 20 years.

        “Saving the earth” so humans can master other species (and plants, if you so insist) is not a solution. Period.

      • You don’t have to kill in order to live, and live does not flourish and thrive and even exist because something has to be killed or was killed. It depends on your cultural perspective, you might have learned to see animal- and plant life as “natural objects”. A.) Nonhuman animals can not simply be interchanged, because they are in fact what they are: nonhuman animals. B.) The same goes for plants, they are: plants. I assume everybody is aware of the differences they encounter with plants and with nonhuman animals. To assume you need to destroy plants or kill animals in order to live is a view that bases on a cultural/religious/philosophical or otherwise background. Its not a “truth” per se, and it should definitely not be tried to be sold as such.

    • char Says:

      You do know that if you stop farming animals, these domestic breed would die. You do understand that, correct? Sure, they won’t die all at once, but they will go extinct. I don’t know, I recall my horror when the Taiban destroyed those beautiful ancient Buddist monuments because they didn’t fit into their world view. I would hate to take on that responsibility – to destroy for all generations a group of creatures. That just doesn’t’t sound like it respects life.

  24. [...] Vegans of Color: Vegetarian Myth- Lierre Keith [...]

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Sadly, Lierre has been snared, thoroughly conditioned by, and with this book has sold out to the vehemently pro-meat/dairy, anti-veg/vegan weston price foundation (wpf). This is a DC-based lobbying group whose members consist of “farmers”, which of course means they breed, confine and kill animals in order to sell their parts and fluids for profit (not to mention their own culinary enjoyment on top of that). The wpf and it’s disciples are completely responsible for all the soy/vegan-bashing of the past decade, with the reason being that their main agenda is to scare/persuade caring, compassionate people, who have either chosen or are thinking of choosing veg, into either continuing or resuming their consumption of animal parts and fluids. They bash, demean and fearmonger against the compassionate veg/vegan lifestyle to the point where their followers become hostile to it, which is their goal. They claim to be anti-industrial agriculture, eco-concerned, etc, but then instead of focusing their energies on eliminating animal agriculture (which is responsible for 80% or more of all industrial agriculture in existence due to the fact that the vast majority of all crops (including soy) grown, are funneled through animals for meat/dairy production), they instead attack the vegetarian lifestyle. It is a very selfish, sad agenda, and is yet another strike against the planet.

    • locavore Says:

      You really should inform yourself of the things which you choose to critique. The Weston A. Price Foundation is an indictment of industrial agriculture.

      • Tracy Says:

        Look, the Weston Price Foundation has a whole hostile diatribe on their website for vegetarians telling them why they should not be vegetarians. Why do they have so much emotionally invested in telling people NOT to be vegetarians? If they would take that nonsense down maybe people would be more interested in what they have to say.

    • char Says:

      Wow, that answer is so factually wrong on so many levels. You know, you sound like you’re not smart. I don’t mean to state that as fact, but when a quick Google search, a quick talk to someone involved (you do talk to people on the “other” side, don’t you?) in WPF would clear that up right away. Just because I say ” the earth is 2 inches tall” doesn’t make it true.

      So, let me clear up: WPF IS small farmers. They are AGAINST Cargill, Monsanto, etc. These are the large agribusinesses that destroy the earth, subjugate animals. These are the guys that turn the corn and soy surplus into CAFO feed… as well as vegetarian food. WPF is against THAT as well. Shouldn’t YOU be as well? Personally, I don’t want MY food to be part of the industrial CAFO process.

      My brother is a member. He’s not hostile to me. I’ve gone to some conventions where it’s all their “followers” (locavores) and they’ve been super nice to me. They honestly feel that we’re a lot closer to each other than to the CAFO-eaters. To be honest, I hear more hostility towards THEM by veg/vegans then vice versa.

      Oh, and the idea of grain and soy for animals? They’re AGAINST that. You do know that’s not the natural food for farm animals, right?

  26. ashley Says:

    Anonymous above is posting this same comment above me all over the internet. Word for word. I would really be interested to hear from people that ACTUALLY READ the book. Perhaps I’m old fashioned.

    Instead he/she is trying to “poison the well” with empty allegations that the author is a “WPF” front person. Give me a break! Read the book.

    • Dani Says:

      Anonymous may be posting this all over the Internet, but are they really “empty allegations.”

      What Anonymous wrote was that The Vegetarian Myth promotes the views of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a DC-based anti-vegetarian lobbying group. And if we actually read the book we find this is true.

      For instance, the foundation is prominently listed under “Resources” in the back of the book. In fact, Keith made the Weston A. Price Foundation the first resource listed, which she call, “Hands down, the best nutrition site on the web.” Nor is it denied that this is an anti-vegetarian, anti-soy pressure group. Keith writes that the Foundation “does political advocacy, like lobbying against the soy industry,” which is essentially Anonymous claimed.

      In my opinion, Keith’s reliance on the Foundation as a, if not the, leading expert on nutrition deserving of utmost scrutinies. The Foundation’s “political advocacy” includes promoting heterosexism and making insidious attack that make connections between homosexuality and the “primacy of traditional animal-source foods to human health,”

      From the Foundation so-called “best nutrition site on the web”:

      “There is no doubt that the origins and ’causes’ of homosexuality are diverse, and that long before the invention of processed food, many cultures accepted same-sex relationships as normal. At the same time, there is also no doubt that a diet of imitation foods can disrupt the hormonal development of the growing child, as demonstrated by the studies of Pottenger and many others, resulting in same-sex orientation that would not otherwise have occurred. Chief culprits are margarine, MSG (which causes injury to the hypothalamus) and soy formula (which floods the infant’s bloodstream with estrogens). We believe that it is important to provide this information to prospective parents who also want to be grandparents.”

      The above statement, which is the Foundation’s official position, relies on heteronormativity in assuming that being straight is healthy and desirable. While, in contrast, “same-sex orientations” is treated as a pathological and undesirable result of something we ate, if not some other “culprits,” “origins” or “injury.”

      Additionally, the Foundation’s reliance on heteronormativity is also evident in how it ignores, marginalizes and erases the fact that people with a “same-sex orientation” can and do have children. The Foundation, which Keith describes working “to educate the public about … the primacy of traditional animal-source foods to human health,” is apparently also working to educate the public about the primacy of heteropatriachry to human health.

      I would definitely categorize this clever playing to society’s homophobia — in essence telling parent that soy will turn your children into sick, childless homos — “fear mongering” of the worst kind.

      It’s doubtful Keith would accept the claim that she might be a lesbian because she ate a plant-based diet. However, regardless of Keith own sexuality, her endorsement of an organization that promotes heterosexism as part of its “political advocacy” work “to education the public” is troubling, too say the least.

      • adam Says:

        Great response!

      • linshelton Says:

        If you think the passage you quoted from westonprice.org represents homophobia on the part of Lierre Kieth, you are sadly mistaken, or deliberately taking it out of context. In fact that passage was a response to a letter written by Lierre to the WAPF protesting the apparent homophobia of WAPF.

        Her letter is here: http://www.westonaprice.org/letters/L2004sp.html
        titled “sexual preference” about 2/3 down the page.

        the last paragraph: “I am deeply disheartened and disturbed to find this attitude in Wise Traditions. I would like to give you the benefit of the doubt, hence I am writing in the hope that you can either explain what your position is or change that position to something more respectful of human diversity.”

        This was published back in 2004 so you’ve had 5 years to check this out and get it right. I hope you have the integrity to correct this mistake wherever you have made it.

      • Ida Says:

        linshelton,

        Please re-read the comment. Of course Lierre Kieth knows the Weston A. Price Foundation is homophobic. That’s the entire point. Kieth asked that the Foundation explain it’s position, which it did in very homophobic terms. This position is exactly what was asked for — by Kieth no less — that is quoted above. So, yes, Kieth has known about this homophobic policy for five years, but instead of correcting the mistake of associating herself with the Foundation, Keith writes a book based largely on the Foundations work and calls the Foundation THE best source for nutrition information. Kieth’s letter is not vindication, but rather incrimination.

      • linshelton Says:

        Incrimination? The statement that “There is no doubt that the origins and ’causes’ of homosexuality are diverse, and that long before the invention of processed food, many cultures accepted same-sex relationships as normal” is certainly not characteristic of a homophobic attitude because it recognizes that homosexuality IS normal in many cases.

        The part about the parenting shows a level of insensitivity and ignorance that I’d say is typical of the general public. It’s a real leap to generalize that single statement into making the WAPF out to be institutionally “reliant on heteronormativity”. If so, there would be more statements of this nature. I had to dig to find this one (it was buried in the letters archives from 2004), and haven’t been able to find any others.

        My guess is that Lierre Keith had to weigh the benefits of the WAPF’s pro-social justice, pro-environmental, anti-factory farming and nutrition education work against that single statement, and found they vastly outweighed it. I would also venture to guess that someone like Lierre would have far more impact from within the organization than the rants of people who are apparently opposed to the very existence of that organization.

      • Ida Says:

        First, advocating the position that soy will turn children into homosexuals is base on heterosexism and perpetuatic homophobia — this should be obvious and straightforward.

        I’m sorry, linshelton, but it doesn’t make the Weston A. Price Foundation any less heteronormative to say in some cases homosexuality is considered normal. I do not believe it’s up to you, Lierre Kieth, the Weston A. Price Foundation or anyone else, including myself, to debate in which “cases” a same-sex relationship can be considered “normal.”

        In her letter, Kieth says that she is giving the Foundation “the benefit of the doubt.” I believe all doubt was erased as soon as the Foundation made its heterosexist, homophobic position clear — as Kieth requested.

        I do not agree that an organization’s work can be used to justify or rationalize its oppressive policies, positions or actions. If Kieth thinks this political advocacy work to educate the public “vastly outweighed” the Foundation’s homophobia, then I think that’s a credibility issue for Kieth. What other forms of oppression is Kieth willing to overlook, marginalize or ignore to promote her personal agenda?

        If this was a vegetarian organization claiming that consuming products of other animals’ bodies was a source of homosexuality, then I believe most of the people who post and comment on this blog would be the first to condemn it. In fact, many have criticized heteronormativity as a tool for promoting vegetarianism — see Breeze Harper’s post Skinny Bitch, Pregnancy, and White Heteronormativityas an example. So I see no reason why anyone here should be sympathetic to the argument that Kieth is simply doing what she believes is politically expedient by continuing to promote and work with the Foundation.

      • linshelton Says:

        “I’m sorry, linshelton, but it doesn’t make the Weston A. Price Foundation any less heteronormative to say in some cases homosexuality is considered normal.”

        Of course it does. To say that homosexuality is considered normal in many cases is simply not consistent with a homophobic agenda.

        “I do not believe it’s up to you, Lierre Kieth, the Weston A. Price Foundation or anyone else, including myself, to debate in which “cases” a same-sex relationship can be considered “normal.”

        The WAPF person said nothing about relationships. The statement was about biological _orientation_ (again, the premise that sexual orientation can be biologically driven is not consistent with a homophobic agenda, which generally claims that homosexuality is a choice), and how pre-industrial cultures often considered homosexuality to be normal.

        “I do not agree that an organization’s work can be used to justify or rationalize its oppressive policies, positions or actions. If Kieth thinks this political advocacy work to educate the public “vastly outweighed” the Foundation’s homophobia, then I think that’s a credibility issue for Kieth.”

        If you think the WAPF is on a mission to oppress anyone because of one statement buried in the archives, well, good luck with that.

        “What other forms of oppression is Kieth willing to overlook, marginalize or ignore to promote her personal agenda?”

        How many forms of oppression are you currently ignoring while you get your panties in a bunch over something dug out of the archives from years ago?

        “So I see no reason why anyone here should be sympathetic to the argument that Kieth is simply doing what she believes is politically expedient by continuing to promote and work with the Foundation.”

        Are you so sure that Keith hasn’t already dealt effectively with this issue? I don’t see any other opinions of this nature on the WAPF site.

      • char Says:

        Ok, everyone here DOES know that soy has hormone-like tendancies, right? This isn’t even for dispute- these are the “isoflavones” that everyone goes nuts about. They write it all over the soy product packaging. The WPF answer, while ignorant, was not homophobic. I mean, it’s one thing to have a child that is a homosexual. It’s another to give that child hormones that do god-knows what. Homeosexuality being a disputable side effect isn’t bad. But if it DOES do that, then what else can it do? I just don’t think that flooding our bodies with false female hormone-like foods is a good idea.

  27. C Says:

    Ok, I wasn’t going to post a comment here until I read the book in it’s entirety. I went to my local library and they didn’t have it so I decided to read what was offered on Google books.
    After reading the beginning of the book, I would like to point out the way in which Keith is framing her introduction (or perhaps her entire book – the intro is in fact titled, “Why This Book?”), and also some important factual errors within the first few pages, to not only show how desperately she’s reaching to make her point(s), but how her credibility should be seriously questioned. I’ll skip the issue of vegans greatly relying on monoculture crops (which is not necessarily true) and grains that are actually grown in excess to feed “livestock” (not necessarily vegans), because that’s already been addressed above.
    To show how ignorant vegetarians/vegans are (one of the main points in the entire book?), Keith says that she read a post on a message board where vegans said that true carnivores didn’t really need to eat other animals, and that the idea that they did is meat industry propaganda.
    Just to be clear, she is relying on a conversation between unidentified vegans (yes, they were ignorant if that conversation in fact took place) on a message board, where anyone can express their views, to show how ignorant vegetarians and vegans, as a whole monolithic group, are. She then proceeds to ridicule this alleged post on some vegan message board (and yes it was ridiculous) to show how we vegans (and even vegetarians) are ignorant to the “nature of life”, as if we all think like these unidentified (fictional?) vegan posters. It doesn’t really matter what the details of the alleged discussion on the message board were for me to post this. What matters is Keiths (twisted) logic, and, again, the way in which she is framing her introduction (titled “Why this book?”).

    Ok, then, and this is classic speciesist language, she says that “we need to be eaten as much as we need to eat” and, in regard to consuming animals (WARNING – get something to vomit in), “these are not one way relationships, not arrangments of domination and subordination. We aren’t exploiting others by eating. We are only taking turns”. However I haven’t seen her suggest that we feed ourselves, or she feed herself, to carnivores… Self serving, twisted logic much? Anyone else see how ridiculous this is? As if any of the animals Keith eats were going to eat her had she not got them first. Then again, I haven’t read the book yet. Maybe she’s missing many body parts because she’s cut them off and given them to other animals so that her consuming animals would not be a “one way relationship” and therefore justified. It’s possible…

    One of the most confusing claims she makes, especially to a longtime vegan, is that vegan nutrition is not sufficient for optimal health and will actually end up damaging us. She makes this claim, she says, because she “knows” from her own experience, which, of course, is tragic. However it’s obviously not indicative of all vegans, myself, and friends and family members, included. She goes on to talk about all her health problems and, without one single source, attributes all of them to her vegan diet, from her spinal problems to hypoglycemia to anxiety and depression (even after admitting that she comes from a “venerable line of depressive alcoholics”!). Again, anyone see how ridiculous, and misleading, this is? To show how ridiculous her assertions are, and this is very revealing to me, she says seratonin is made from the amino acid tryptophan (correct) and that “there are no good plant sources of tryptophan” (-BUZZZZZ!!!- FALSE!!!). Ok, what about chocolate, oats, bananas, durians, mangoes, dried dates, sesame, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and peanuts?! It’s in those foods too! http://www.vitamins-supplements.org/amino-acids/tryptophan.php
    She then says that “all the tryptophan in the world won’t do you any good without saturated fat, which is necessary to make your neurotransmitters transmit.” Assuming that this is true, YOU CAN STILL GET SATURATED FAT FROM PLANT FOODS! Coconut anyone? Did she do any research? Or even a simple google search?
    I could go on and on about this but, since this is only a review of the first ten pages, and because this post is already getting lengthy, I’ll stop for now, until I can read the entire book. The way this is going, an entire review would be hundreds of pages long : (). Perhaps she’ll even convince me that I’m ignorant and I start consuming animals again. Hahaha!
    So long for now.

  28. Matt Says:

    Hi there everyone commenting and reading this site,

    I have read Lierre’s The Vegetarian Myth, and I have interviewed her on my radio show, Healing the Earth Radio, a couple times. You can listen to those interviews at http://www.resistanceisfertile.ca.

    On my experience of her book: I was a vegan for almost 6 years, and being a vegan was a big part of who i was, as was having prominent in my analysis a critique of captivity, domestication, industrial agriculture, etc etc etc. This is all still very important to me.

    At the time I was reading an advance copy of Lierre’s book, I lived in a cabin in the forest on the edge of my hometown. Surrounded by a wild ecosystem, getting to know the river, deer, coyote, forests, meadows, walking trails, etc., was an amazing experience. At the same time as I was surrounded by the wild, I was fueling my body on imported monocrop rice, quinoa, beans, etc., that was all destroying and perpetually displacing wild creatures and wild ecosystems elsewhere. The conflict began to strike me as absurd and irresponsible.

    Reading Lierre’s book and thinking deeply about the ecological impact of most agriculture changed my way of thinking about my diet, and led me on a path to taking the life of wild animals I eat. The consequent change in my physical and spiritual health is profound and I do not expect you to agree with me or understand unless you have had similar experiences. I am not alone in this transition, and I and many of my friends and family are nowadays much less reliant on imported food, clearcuts maintained as farm fields, and industrial infrastructure in general.

    Lierre talks in detail of her transition from being a vegan for 20 years. She struggled with the same questions I struggled with: when I bought vegetables from a local farm through a Community Shared Agriculture program, the only way the land was replenished after growing those vegetables was through applications of animal shit, blood and bones. Those animals (cows, in fact) are captive cows who are raised essentially as slaves, for their flesh, their milk, and yes, their shit. A truly closed-loop vegan agriculture is very hard to attain if we are talking about feeding large numbers of people over a long time, so I would invite anyone else who is vegan to also think about how much captivity is required to grow the vegetables you eat.

    Thinking about all this has led me to see that not much food is truly vegan. For example, the rice I used to eat a lot of (and maybe you eat rice, or other grains, too) – those fields need to be irrigated, and that irrigation often requires dams, and those dams kill fish and other species, and in the long run has led, and continues to lead to, extirpations and extinctions. Same thing with most farm fields – who do you think organized the bounty killings that led to the extirpation or extinction of the wild creatures around your home? It was mainly the farmers and agriculture institutions. And that same power dynamic continues, of human farmers threatening wild animals with death if they mess with their crops. So it comes down to which kind of violence do you prefer? Killing an animal yourself and getting elbow-deep in blood, or letting the animals be continually killed by cars, barbed wire fences, lack of habitat, and so on.

    My recommendation, from someone who was a very very staunch vegan, is to find a copy of Lierre’s book, let your guard down, relax your defensiveness, and read it with an open mind. And take time to ponder her perspective and information.

    • Proud Fruitarian Says:

      You said you were a “very very staunch vegan”.

      Well, there is a great difference between being a vegan and being an AR person.

      A classic example for this is the moment you revealed your specie is superior to other species (“A truly closed-loop vegan agriculture is very hard to attain if we are talking about feeding large numbers of people over a long time…”).

    • Eric Brooks Says:

      Matt, there is a -key- fact that you are totally failing to recognise in your personal analysis.

      If every vegetarian on Earth did what you are doing, it would destroy the planet -much- more rapidly.

      It takes 200 times more land mass to feed a hunter/gatherer diet than a vegetarian diet. This is because the animals and plants hunted and gathered are -much- more spread out than they are in organized agriculture.

      With 7 billion of us on Earth, that factor of 200 would mean an almost immediate collapse of every wild ecosystem on the planet if everyone lived as you are living.

      The reason that we must find a vegetarian biodynamic/percultural agriculture solution to our current diet/planet crisis is that there are far too many of us to switch back to a hunter/gatherer lifestyle.

      If we did, we would destroy the Earth with orders of magnitude more rapidity!

      • C Says:

        “With 7 billion of us on Earth, that factor of 200 would mean an almost immediate collapse of every wild ecosystem on the planet if everyone lived as you are living.”

        Eric, this is why Keith’s utopian vision is dependent on population control. Her ideal world would never work for our current, growing population. Therefore her position is straight up elitist.

        I actually have read the book but it would take some time to write a review, as there are so many problems with many of the points she tries to make, as well as the sources she sites.
        Perhaps I type one up and pass it along soon.

        I would like to say quickly that her chapter on Nutritional Vegetarians rivals the absurdity of the highly sensationalistic 1930’s film “Reefer Madness”. Keith sloppily blames basically all her health problems on her vegan diet when there is very little evidence to support her claim, and much evidence to the contrary, similar to the way the film erroneously places all the blame for many societal ills on marijuana consumption (which was, in turn, strikingly similar to the racist propaganda of William Randolph Hearst’s publications), when there is little, or no, evidence to support it’s claims. Basically, as Keith asserts, if all the missing vitamins and nutrients in a diet free of animal products doesn’t kill or debilitate you, you will just become so depressed that you’ll off yourself!
        Read for yourself and have a hearty laugh, just as my partner and I did.

      • char Says:

        Eric, your numbers are NOT for closed-loop systems. These are the numbers that have been spouted again and again and they refer ONLY to CAFO.

        Plus, a “sustainable” vegan agriculture can’t support the billions of people on the planet, either.

      • Eric Brooks Says:

        Char, a closed loop permaculture system for producing meat, dairy and eggs, takes far more land area than either a CAFO diet, a mono-culture veg diet, and especially more than a permaculture -veg- diet, the latter which is the best shot we have to save the planet. Keith’s vision would take so much land that there is not enough land on the Earth for it to work.

        So:

        Step 1: Get everyone to go veg

        Step 2: Get everyone to go veg – permaculture

        Step 3: Get everyone to go veg -perennial- permaculture

        Step 4: Pray like hell that step 3 will be enough to save us on the one planet earth that we have

        (Which is admittedly debatable – but a worldwide permaculture perennial meat/dairy/egg based diet would be far more untenable; indeed impossible to maintain with 7-9 billion people.)

      • Char Says:

        Eric,

        I hope your right about permaculture. But the thing is, I actually garden. I have yet to see any legitimate way to produce as much well, produce, on a closed-loop *vegan* system. The fertilizers used don’t work uniformly, the irrigation systems cause so much damage (Dick Cheney’s little fiasco in Oregon’s Klamath was for irrigation. For agriculture! I nearly died when I read about all those fish that were killed). Plus, how do you address pesticides. Seriously, I’m looking here for ANSWERS, good rebuttals to come back and say “we’re not just naysayers, look, we have legitimate alternatives, these will work!” But it’s disheartening when I read some of the posts here and I see that people don’t understand gardening and hence, agriculture. As much as I’d like to say “just put it in the ground and it will grow”, that’s not true. All the land is not arable. Most of it isn’t. Unless you use fossil fuel. But I’m sure we don’t want to do that, do we? If there are good alternatives, good *vegan* alternatives, I’d really like to know them.
        Look, if we can’t come up with ideas that work in practice, that are more fully formed than “animals suffer, eat more bread and lettuce”, that take into account the process of creating agriculture and it’s effects on the world, then veganism/vegetarian will go the route of other groups that became marginalized and faded into either obscurity or turned into localized subcultures. I just don’t want to grow a funny beards now, like the Amish…

  29. C Says:

    Matt,

    Why could you not put up a raised garden bed and only rely on your monoculture crops until you could supplement your diet with food you’ve grown? Did you consider that?
    The system of food production was not set up by vegans. Vegans are obviously concerned about causing minimal damage to animals, humans included, and the planet. That’s why, as Dani pointed out, vegans are, and have been, working on vegan organic, veganic, agriculture to minimize environmental impact. It can be done. Small scale, local, organic vegan agriculture is the answer, not dominating and exploiting other animals so you can feel like your living naturally to the utmost… with a computer… and internet…
    The truth is, for Keith’s, and your vision to become a reality, many people will have to die. Will you fall on your sword for that vision? Will Keith? The vegan vision is, and has been since the movement started, to repair the damage done by non-vegans by being more conscious about the environment, humans, and animals, and to create a sustainable way of living for all. It’s totally possible. We just need more compassion. It will certainly not come from killing “wild animals” for food, so you can live out your utopian vision.
    And no, you don’t need manure from other animals to grow crops. Checck the links Dani provided, let down your guard and relax. No animals have to die for you to be a such naturalist.

  30. C Says:

    And, Matt, did you ever consider foraging for vegetable food to ease your reliance on monoculture crops, since you were such a “very very staunch vegan”? Or did you just take the cruel way out?
    This person’s a vegan –

    http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/

    And he doesn’t live in a forest like you. He actually forages around NYC.

    Relax, let your guard down and look over his site. You probably won’t find as many factual errors as I had in Keith’s introduction. (HINT HINT)

    • char Says:

      Whoo, and you thinks THIS is sustainable for over a billion people? Let’s see even NY try this. Jeez, I’m starting to realize that most of you don’t garden, don’t know farming (or animals!).
      So, is all death cruel? Would you opt to keep everyone alive, all the time? How would the earth support that? Do you think that nature itself is cruel? Do YOU give back to the earth what you take?

      • Eric Brooks Says:

        Char, the point is, that a sustainable -animal- based diet takes far more land/water area than a sustainable plant based diet. So switching to any sort of biodynamic permaculture animal food based diet is clearly the wrong way to go.

      • Char Says:

        Could you point me to some sources for that? The only sources that I can find are those that compare SAD (Standard American Diet, don’t know if I’m using it *correctly* here, but I think that it fits) vs. vegetable. And again, the sustainable plant-based diet, it’s *not* vegan. The ones that I see are sustainable, but use animal products for fertilizer. Also, in some case, irrigation that diverts natural waters.
        But if you’ve got sources, please PLEASE gimme. This is the type of comparison that I’m talking about. This is the right track, because a side-by-side comparison of true vegan sustainable agriculture next to something of the order of Joel Salatin’s Polyface should clear up the matter quiet well.

  31. derarchimedischepunkt Says:

    If somebody practices a total ethical dismissal of the interests of nonhumans animals, what do you want to do? A person can say over and over again what he or she believes to be better for “us humans”, but still Animal Rights can’t be simply wiped off the table of our today’s ethical debate.

    I mean we shouldn’t just have to be the ones who look that an anti-vegan perspective, an “anti-vegan” person should also look at the aspects of ethical veganism. Veganism bases on the notion of an ethical attitude towards the animal question (…).

    I suggest Matt and co as a good read for example: Taking Animals Seriously: Mental Life and Moral Status by David DeGrazia, where you excellently can learn something about some basic moral argumentations pro and con animal rights, here is a review http://www.hedweb.com/animals/degrazia.htm and here the book partly http://tinyurl.com/r3pq6h .

  32. Anonymous Says:

    My apologies if this point has already been mentioned.

    In addition to my point in comment #21 I don’t think agriculture isn’t going anywhere and for a good reason.

    The Earth has over 6 billion people on it with some experts predicting it going to 12 billion within 40 years. There isn’t enough land and other resources to give everyone parts of animals raised in a more “natural” way for food.

    In fact, livestock production of all kinds uses more land to produce food than using land to produce food crops.

    Agricultural methods need to become more sustainable, but if someone wants to make a choice to reduce the impact of agriculture the most direct way to do that is to eat plant based diet.

  33. Kim Says:

    Soil Isn’t Just Dirt: A Review of The Vegetarian Myth

    By Mark Hand

    Review of The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith (PM Press, 2009).

    On the cover of Lierre Keith’s new book, The Vegetarian Myth, there’s a blurb by environmental activist and author Derrick Jensen that says, “This book saved my life.”

    I don’t think I’m prepared at this time to make such a bold pronouncement. However, I may change my mind if my health radically deteriorates and I decide to follow the advice on diet and nutrition dispensed by Keith.

    After reading the book, though, I am prepared to write this about it: The Vegetarian Myth tackles a set of related topics—the food we eat, how it’s produced, and how it affects us—with a substance and style that I’ve never read anywhere else.

    My summary assessment isn’t as dramatic as Jensen’s “This book saved my life” blurb. Such an opinion would be hard to match, given the consequences at stake in Jensen’s life. Another test of a book’s redeeming value is to determine whether it effectively challenges one’s long-held beliefs on a particular topic. For me, as a vegetarian, The Vegetarian Myth passes this test because it effectively challenged my strongly held belief in the merits of vegetarian and vegan diets.

    And The Vegetarian Myth has many other merits, including explaining the awesome destructiveness of agriculture—and the role played by the corporate giants in this sector—in a manner that I, as a layperson on the topic, had never read anywhere else.

    The heart of The Vegetarian Myth is composed of three chapters—“Moral Vegetarians,” “Political Vegetarians” and “Nutritional Vegetarians.” Keith defines moral vegetarians as people who believe life is possible without killing other animals. Political vegetarians believe a plant-based diet is more just and sustainable. Nutritional vegetarians believe that animal products are “the root of all dietary evil.”

    On a rudimentary level, someone could come away from reading The Vegetarian Myth, particularly the “Nutritional Vegetarians” chapter, thinking the U.S. meat, poultry and dairy industries will love the book—except those pesky parts where she states factory farming of animals is cruel, wasteful and destructive.

    In one such pesky part, Keith writes: “Factory farming is a nightmare, from every angle: ethically, ecologically, nutritionally. There’s not word besides torture to describe the experience of laying hens in battery cages, so crowded they can’t lie down or open their wings, driven insane by the bright glare of lights that stay on forever. Torture also describes what happens to pigs, animals that are smarter than dogs, so smart in fact that if they had digits instead of hooves they could probably learn some rudimentary sign language. … This tortuous life ends at the slaughterhouse, where, if not properly stunned and killed, they may be boiled alive in a rendering vat. No moral person can face these facts without a sickening of the spirit.”

    In the minds of the executives at these companies and their marketing gurus, would drawing attention to Keith’s fierce opposition to any type of factory farming—the exact type of farming in which each of these industries engages—outweigh the benefits of publicizing her impassioned case against vegetarianism and veganism?

    Would it benefit these industries to leverage Keith’s life story—from a meat eater in her youth to 20 years of veganism and back to a meat eater—to promote the supposed nutritional value of consuming their food products?

    Will these industries ever know The Vegetarian Myth exists?

    Released by PM Press and Jensen’s Flashpoint Press, the book likely will get very little exposure due to the publishers’ limited marketing budgets. But let’s say an executive with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association does get her hands on the book. What will she discover? She will learn that Keith believes humans need to embrace the consumption of animal products, including beef, or else face severe and chronic health problems.

    A vegetarian diet, most especially a vegan one, “will damage you. I know,” Keith writes. “Two years into by veganhood, my health failed, and it failed catastrophically. I developed a degenerative joint disease that I will have for the rest of my life. It started that spring as a strange, dull ache deep in a place I didn’t know could have sensation. By the end of the summer, it felt like shrapnel in my spine.”

    Keith says her spine now “looks like a sky-diving accident.”

    Six weeks into her veganism, Keith says she had her first experience with hypoglycemia. Three months into it, she stopped menstruating. She felt exhausted all the time and had an ever-present cold. Her skin became flaky and itchy. At the age of 24, she developed gastroparesis. She suffered from depression and anxiety.

    Keith, now in her mid-40s, says she wasn’t the only one in her circle of friends who developed severe health problems from going vegan. “All the friends of my youth were radical, righteous, intense. Vegetarianism was the obvious path, with veganism the high road alongside it. And those of us who did it long term ended up damaged,” she writes.

    Now that Keith has gone back to eating meat and dairy, how has it changed her life? She says her spine “isn’t coming back” but that eating a diet of grass-fed [my emphasis] animal production “has repaired the damage a bit and made a moderate dent in my pain level.” Her insulin receptors “are also down for the count, but protein and fat keep my blood sugar stable and happy,” she says.

    She hasn’t missed her period in five years and her stomach is “okay” as long as she takes betaine hydrochloride with every meal. She is now depression-free, but her cold and exhaustion are permanent due to her veganism, she says. And some days her breathing takes more energy than she can spare, all because she lived as a vegan for 20 years, she says.

    Keith would be a perfect spokesperson for a national campaign against vegetarianism and veganism, as long as the sponsors of the campaign understood and, even better, shared her distaste for what “civilization” has done to the planet.

    Second Thoughts

    Keith’s transformation from vegan to campaigner for the human consumption of animal products reads similar to some notable figures who renounced their staunchly held beliefs or past associations in order to bring attention to their current causes. Some recent examples include David Horowitz, who spent most of the 1980s renouncing his “communist” and Marxist upbringing and early adulthood and is now a right-wing political activist; Patrick Moore, an early member of Greenpeace who now serves as a shill for nuclear power; and Bjorn Lomborg, who also was a member of Greenpeace (although Greenpeace says it has no record of him being actively involved in the organization) prior to writing The Skeptical Environmentalist in which he argued that the world’s environmental problems aren’t as serious as many scientists’ claims and that environmental conditions “are going better and they are likely to continue to do so into the future.”

    One might argue that Keith’s conversion can be easily differentiated from these three examples because her goals—one of which is putting an end to global biocide as quickly as possible—are much more radical. But one could also argue Horowitz’s support of a more powerful U.S. police state is radical and far out of the American mainstream. And Moore’s support for a nuclear power renaissance certainly runs counter to the beliefs of Wall Street banks, which have been reluctant to invest in new nuclear power plants over the past 25 years, viewing the energy source as too costly and risky. Perhaps Lomborg is the least radical of the group, given his support of the global economic status quo.

    And yet, I agree with those who would argue that Keith’s fundamental critique of industrial culture is not represented anywhere in mainstream political discourse or media, unlike the beliefs of Horowitz (FOX News), Moore (Barack Obama/Stephen Harper) and Lomborg (BusinessWeek, Time, The Guardian).

    Some might argue that Keith has simply become an advocate of “happy meat”—local, grass-fed, sustainably produced, and humanely raised meat. But that would be unfair. If there were ever a movement devoted to the principles set out in The Vegetarian Myth and if it proved successful, such a movement would easily result in a spectacular reduction in the suffering and torture of animals, compared to what they experience today in factory farms and due to ecosystem devastation.

    The leading perpetrator of crimes against animals and the planet, according to Keith, is agriculture. “Liberal remedies will never serve a radical analysis,” she writes. “There is an inherent contradiction in understanding that systems of power must be dismantled while only embracing personal solutions. To put that more bluntly: if agriculture is a war, why aren’t we fighting back?”

    In The Vegetarian Myth, Keith uses her 20 years as a vegan to lend credibility to her campaign against agriculture. Along the way, however, she may alienate a large segment of the vegetarian and vegan populations, the groups of people who she hopes to convert to her cause. Describing these segments of the population as a “subculture” with “cult-like elements” will certainly raise eyebrows. It also could prove counterproductive.

    Throughout the book, Keith mocks vegetarians and vegans. She portrays them as adolescents. “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,” Keith writes. “It was the moment I stopped fighting the basic algebra of embodiment: for someone to live, someone else had to die. In that acceptance, with all its suffering and sorrow, is the ability to choose a different way, a better way.”

    In Defense of Animal Fat

    According to Keith, not only misguided and naive individuals like her, but entire nations have benefited from moving toward a diet based on large amounts of animal fat. The Japanese have been living healthier and longer lives since they started eating a more “Western” diet, higher in total fat and animal fat, she writes. The studies she cites run counter to conventional wisdom, which has told us that the health of residents in Japan and other Asian countries has grown worse since they increased their intake of animal fat.

    The Japanese have “increased their consumption both of total fat and animal fat over 250 percent since 1961—and they are now the longest living people in the world,” Keith writes.

    And in the United States, the past 15 years have seen a reduction in fat consumption of almost 25%, but our health has only gotten worse, according to Keith. Americans have done what the experts have told them—“ate less fat, more carbohydrates – and have gotten sicker,” she writes.

    Clinical studies, according to Keith, have found that low-fat diets increase anger, depression and anxiety. Low cholesterol levels occur more often among criminals, individuals diagnosed with violent or aggressive conduct disorders, and homicidal offenders with histories of violence and suicide attempts related to alcohol.

    Currently, 40% of Americans are killed by coronary heart disease. The rate of coronary heart disease has increased at the same time that the proportion of animal fats consumed by people in the United States dropped from 83% to 62% and the consumption of vegetable oils has increased by 400%.

    “You tell me what to blame: the saturated fats we’ve always eaten—for four million years—or the industrially manufactured oils that until recently were used in paint,” she writes.

    Unlike the general meat-eating population, a large percentage of the target audience of Keith’s book—the “subculture” of vegans and vegetarians—have studied the impact of factory meat production on the environment. This subculture has concluded that it is not only more humane, but better for the entire planet and more efficient to refrain from eating animal products. They’ve probably read that it takes approximately 16 pounds of grain and 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat in a factory farm. Much of this grain is grown in developing countries, where a large percentage of their land is used for cattle-raising for export to the United States, instead of being used to grow staple crops, which could feed local people directly. In a world where a child starves to death every 2 seconds, it seems impossible to justify such waste.

    Oops! Grains and staple crops are products of agriculture, Keith reminds us. “The truth is that agriculture is the most destructive thing humans have done to the planet, and more of the same won’t save us,” she writes. “The truth is that agriculture requires the wholesale destruction of entire ecosystems.”

    Unlike the general meat-eating population, a large percentage of vegetarians and vegans will not get lost or utterly confused when Keith states, “What’s looming in the shadows of our ignorance and denial is a critique of civilization itself.”

    “Critique of civilization”? The average American, who might have been nodding in agreement while reading the “Nutritional Vegetarians” chapter, in which she slams vegetarians and vegans, will grow suspicious when Keith speaks of bringing down civilization in order to save the planet and ourselves.

    “The words ‘animal rights,’ ‘vegetarian,’ and ‘vegan’ are some of the most mocked and emotionally loaded terms in our language, even in very liberal circles. One has to wonder if a multibillion dollar meat industry hasn’t had a part in making these words and the ideals behind them seem so laughable to so many people,” Sunaura Taylor and Alexander Taylor write in a recent essay.

    Looking beyond her case against vegetarianism and veganism, Keith’s book is essentially a well-researched indictment of the U.S. food industry—and, yes, civilization itself.

    The food industry has developed more than 100,000 new processed foods since 1990, she writes. She spends several pages discussing soy and how big agriculture has heralded soy as a panacea for everything from hot flashes to world hunger. “Soy contains so many anti-nutrients that it isn’t edible for humans without a lot of processing, substantially more than other seeds,” she writes.

    In discussing Asian cultures’ relationship with soy, Keith writes, “The Chinese ate soy as a protein source only when they were starving—when they also ate their children.”

    The Vegetarian Myth is at its strongest when Keith avoids using attention-grabbing “ate their children” polemical ploys. In the “Moral Vegetarians” chapter, she goes into wonderful detail about soil and how one tablespoon of it “contains more than one million living organisms, and, yes, every one of them is eating.”

    “Soil isn’t just dirt,” she writes. “A square meter of topsoil can contain a thousand different species of animals.”

    Grasping the Concept of Domestication

    Keith explains the reciprocal relationship between animals and plants and how she didn’t fully understand this relationship when she was a vegan. She writes about the concept of domestication and how it’s not well understood by people who claim to be against it.

    “I saw domestication as bringing animals and plants under human control and it was appalling to me, a short trajectory that ended in hens tormented in battery cages and primates brutalized in head injury experiments,” she writes. “Of course, my entire diet was composed of domesticates, with the exception of a serving or two of fiddlehead ferns every spring, but they were plants, so I simply didn’t think about it. It was the animals I wanted to save from human exploitation, and in the vegan outlook, exploitation begins with domestication.”

    In the “Political Vegetarians” chapter, Keith explains that where she parts company with them is when they conflate factory farming with any and all meat.

    She describes how a 10-acre non-factory farm “of perennial polyculture in a mid-Atlantic climate” could produce 3,000 eggs, 1,000 broilers, 80,000 stewing hens, 2,000 pounds of beef, 2,500 pounds of pork, 100 turkeys and 50 rabbits.

    “This is the amount of food that Joel Salatin—one of the high priests of the local, sustainable movement—produces on ten acres of his Polyface Farm in Virginia. The chickens get some supplemental grain; everything else eats grass,” she writes.

    If people ate nothing but the above, it would be enough food to support at least nine people for a full year and support them in full health by providing essential protein and fat, Keith writes.

    Political vegetarians, on the other hand, are planning a planetary diet in complete ignorance of where food comes from, she writes. “Advocates like Peter Singer and John Robbins want us to grow annual grains and no animals at all,” Keith writes. “Set aside the topsoil, water, climate, and typography problems. What is going to fertilize that grain? Peter, John: what is going to feed your food? Vegetarians like everyone else in urban industrial culture, have no concept that plants need to eat, that soil is alive and hungry. They seem shocked when I ask them what will feed their food.”

    With regard to the top environmental issue of the day in mainstream circles, global warming, Keith argues it all began with agriculture. “Ten thousand years of destroying the carbon sinks of perennial polycultures has added almost as much carbon to the atmosphere as industrialization, an indictment that you, vegetarians, need to answer,” she writes.

    Our Only Hope Is in the Soil

    To save the world, we must first stop destroying it, according to Keith. “Cast your eyes down when you pray, not in fear of some god above, but in recognition: our only hope is in the soil, and in the trees, grasses and wetlands that are its children and its protectors both.”

    Toward the end of the book, as she tries to rally the troops and unite the factions, Keith calls for a new populism and a serious political movement combining environmentalists, farm activists, animal rights activists, feminists, indigenous people, anti-globalization and relocalization efforts that fights for a new, and living, world.

    I assume Neal Barnard and my other former colleagues at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, where I briefly worked almost 20 years ago, will be able to respond to Keith’s “Nutritional Vegetarians” chapter with studies and evidence of their own showing that people live longer, healthier, and happier lives on a vegan diet.

    I’m not a dietician, so I can only use my personal experience and those of others I know to say that I have not witnessed vegetarianism and veganism produce the endemic harmful health effects that Keith chronicles in The Vegetarian Myth. I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 15 years and I’ve never been healthier. I’ve always been physically active. But since becoming a vegetarian, my strength and stamina have improved to the point that I’m a faster marathoner, half-marathoner, 10-miler and 10-kilometer racer today, in my early 40s, than I’ve ever been, including when I was a meat-eating, dairy-loving captain of my cross-country team in high school.

    However, I’m not going to rule out the possibility that I would run even faster if I started eating meat again. It’s certainly possible, but I don’t plan on giving it a test anytime soon.

    With regard to Keith urging vegetarians and vegans to eat meat and dairy or else face chronic health problems and an early demise, I assume such a move would only hasten the oft-predicted ecological collapse. There are not enough farms like Polyface Farm to support all of the vegetarians and vegans in the United States if they were to begin eating locally grown, grass fed animals. This means that these vegetarians and vegans would need to eat factory-produced meat in order to get proper amounts of protein, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. These are the same factory farms that rely on agriculture, and all of its devastating qualities, to provide the grains to feed their animals.

    My advice would be for vegetarians and vegans to monitor your health very carefully (as I’m sure you already do), and to adjust the types of food you eat if you begin feeling the same symptoms and enduring the same debilitating conditions experienced by Keith. And if you do go back to eating meat and dairy, try to avoid, if at all possible, factory-farmed food products.

    If you, as vegetarians and vegans, are able to read with an open mind the sections of Keith’s book where she slams the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles as naïve, unhealthful and destructive, I think you’ll appreciate the rest of The Vegetarian Myth because it gets to the root of the problems that are driving our culture toward ecological collapse.

    Our industrial culture, including factory farming, is destroying our planet. The Vegetarian Myth is a tremendously helpful resource that can help guide us away from the abyss and toward sustainability.

    Mark Hand can be reached at mark@pressaction.com .

    • I just got the book the other day and will read it. Mark Hand’s review is pretty long and explicit. Thanks for posting it. I need to read this book on my own, as I am curious about exploring Keith’s health issues and how she strongly feels it is related to her personal vegan diet.

    • Animal Rights - Humans Wrong Says:

      To be as radical as Lierre-Keith will never be, the problem is not agriculture but rather humans.

      If Keith thinks it is ok to slaughter others, than her solution should have been eating other humans (the most destructive creatures on earth), not innocent creatures.

      Ludicrous idea? Well, to expect the human specie to adopt Keith utopia is not less ludicrous. For Derrick Jensen sake, we are talking about humans, creatures like Keith, who encourage others to butcher innocent creatures out of caring and compassion. Thus, any solution that crowns human-KIND as the master specie of this earth has a dreadful future.

    • Holler From The Rooftops Says:

      mark’s review lays out my problems with the book, and also what I like about it.
      she explicitly and truthfully lays out the idea of liberal individualism vs. actual radical mass organizing, which I loved, but then delves into the same ‘individualist’ solutions herself…such as ‘don’t have kids’. or ‘live on a farm’…which plays into the lie that ‘all’ americans create 20% global warming gases…which we don’t.
      the working USA class creates no where near what the rich do, and the USA military is the biggest sole source.I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years, and daily lift nearly 3,000 pounds at work.
      and I smoke! know no vegetarians that are unhealthy in their 40’s compared to mostly meat eating 40 somethings, who are getting diabetes, and etc. Still this could mostly be a whole grain diet mixed with dairy and exercise. People that ‘eat more vegetables etc’ also tend to exercise more , not smoke, and are more involved in human interaction, more active is so many ways….Not sure.That a vege diet makes you so much healthier…somewhat for sure. Olive oil and avocados and really red and green food, make me not want to pick up a gun. That’s a good thing. heh. My spanish and italian friends on the med ‘diet’ of high meat and dairy fat, but in small portions, mixed with fruits and vegies constantly, are very healthy, and as you know if you have visited, look extremely well from their 40’s to 70’s. Compare that to what people over 40 look like in the midwest (where I came from).
      the book is a good read. Really. No matter how angry it makes you. I am quoting a big bit in my left newspaper.
      also interesting that ramsey of AK press, a vegan, put this out. on his imprint PM. shows what a true anarchist he is.
      I personally feel that she went from being a 20 fanatic on one subject, to being a fanatic on another now. Even though there are very grounded historically correct ideas in the book. it still takes leaps…like so many ‘american radicals’ do. That is tiring to me. We need to be bottom up organizing against all the systems that destroy us and the planet, as she says, not pontificating and arguing about ‘what could be’. My god we have no time left. And to postulate that ‘all grain growing on a mass scale must be stopped’….while our military has just killed one million human beings in the past ten years..while we head to a depression with already 20% african american unemployed to give one example…..does NOT get me into the ‘fold’.
      this is not anarchism, or left socialism, or radical organizing to me….if we take one topic…and go with it for the next five years…just typing…and just typing.

  34. derarchimedischepunkt Says:

    Why should this weighed out morally (!) so unequally: nonhuman animals, nature and humans? For me my ethical concerns can’t stop at the species border.

  35. Axel K. Says:

    Wait a minute, talking about a “vegetarian myth” such as the title of this book does. What about if we take a look into the history of vegetarianism?

    Pythagoras ran a school in which vegetarianism was practiced. Can we assume that his example was detrimental for a course agriculture could have taken?

    What about the vegetarian history in parts of India’s cultural history? Did it lead to Monsanto? Well take a look at the point blank side of vegetarianism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_vegetarianism in history .

    Vegetarianism can just as well be combined with alternative farming and growing practices. A site of interest is for example http://www.spiralseed.co.uk/veganperm/ .

    I am fascinated at how in ancient history people knew how to grow crops, just look at how the ancient Egyptians irrigated the fields https://www.geology.ucdavis.edu/~cowen/~gel115/115CH17oldirrigation.html .

    I don’t think humans can ever exist without farming crops and vegetables and fruit. I can’t afford my own garden, and how can everybody on earth life like “hunters and gatherers” (when there is not even 5 trees in my street). More realistically is the vision of an increasing ethical awareness for our environment, and this will also automatically bring forth new and different economical practices. I’d rather read a book about the future of vegetarianism, I mean Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi did make some points for world peace …

    • char Says:

      Oh, and Egypt was also super fertile at one time. Now it’s a desert. They diverted water and ended up messing up the ecology and shooting themselves in the foot. There was a reason for empires – to get other people’s food, once you’ve exhausted yours.

      Agriculture isn’t some neutral act.

  36. adam Says:

    A Quick Review from a vegan who has actually read the whole book on Google:

    I first learned about Keith’s book from Mark Hand’s review (see comment 34. I was quite interested in reading the book afterwards, just for the sake of challenging my beliefs and values–hoping that they had not become dogmas. But after I read the introduction and first chapter, I was appalled by the sloppiness of Keith’s categorization of “vegetarians,” “agriculture,” and “civilization.”

    However, after reading past page 50, I have found the book to be a lot better researched and nuanced than I had originally thought (due to the title, introduction, and defensive pro-“anti-civ” comments to this post).

    Despite my earlier comments, I highly recommend reading this book.

    Why, you may wonder? Because Keith raises food worthy of thought. I sincerely believe most VOC readers will appreciate *most* of what she has written but disagree with her simplistic conclusions. Her book is really a rebuttal against reductive, generalized claims made by veg*ns, not necessarily veg*nism itself (although, Keith may believe so). The dogmatic reactionary responses of some commenters of this post only justify Keith’s compulsion to write this book.

    To label “Vegetarian myth” as an anti-civilization book is a misnomer. Keith, herself, seems sceptical of the whole wilderness/civilization dichotomy, but nevertheless deploys the discourse to establish the enemy that is globalization and urbanism. Keith, however, comes close to falling into the grips of xenophobic ecofascism by adopting conservative positions on world population and trade.

    But just as not *all* animal agriculture can be regarded as ecologically destructive and flesh-eating destructive of one’s health, neither can *all* plant-based agriculture and forms of vegetarianism be condemned as belonging to a naive, childish idealism of a death-bearing material world.

    Keith generalizes all vegetarians/isms into a single category (i.e. neoliberal humanists who eat a lot of grains and commodity crops). Of course, the majority of grains and legumes on the planet are fed to livestock (as is fish meal); so it’s frustrating that Keith spends few pages attacking feedlots and so much sending vegans backlash. It should be obvious to a 20-year-long vegan like Keith that not all vegetarians follow the same diet. Many eschew grains and legumes all togetehr and will only eat perennial crops, such as raw foodists. And many vegans do grow their own food or buy into CSAs. The there are veganic agricultural methods which replenish soils and perhaps those who have worm bins (vermiculture) to produce nutrients from food scraps. And even if Polyface and other permacultural systems are sustainable, this does not mean that the non-human animals must or ought to be slaughtered and eaten.

    Worst yet, her “moral” case against vegetarianism, ironically, takes an all-or-nothing approach to taking the lives of (non-human life) and thus maintains the very humanism she is opposed to–unless, that is, she thinks killing and consuming human flesh is equally acceptable (perhaps she agrees with Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal”. Further, because she does not engage with the decades of scholarship into environmental philosophy and ethics, she completely glosses over non-liberal humanist approaches to animal ethics and the entire tradition of ecological feminist animal theory. And in her most despicable pages, Keith has the audacity to talk her vegetarian readers through the process of becoming a born-again-omnivore, so that they are eating “real” food, and reach a moral, spiritual, and intellectual maturity that is impossible as an herbivore. She tells her readers that their vegan friends are replaceable, but not their bodies, and insists that they will be calling their parents to tell them that they were right all along: vegetarianism was a foolish phase in their life.

    In the end, it is regretful that Keith had to frame her project of refuting reductive vegans “myths” because a lot of the objections she raises are very good. Keith’s own grudge against her past diet thus results not in allegiances between different movements (a multiculturalism/moral pluralism), but rather a re-establishment of dualistic thinking–a metanarrative in which one group is completely right and the other completely naive/evil. Vegetarianism isn’t just one of many sustainable diets, but a tactical dead end to “saving the planet.” Keith’s need to justify her change in diet (cognitive dissonance, anyone) and blame her past vegetarianism thus takes precedents over a more sophisticated and less antagonistic approach to productive food politics.

    Nevertheless, the reason I recommend reading the book is because, by reading through the book, we will only test our commitment to veganism and be required to come up with better, more sophisticated arguments and make us stronger. If we refuse to respond to valid criticisms Keith raises about “mainstream” vegan eating habits and false universalized claims about the ecological and organismal healthiness of *all* flesh-diets and animal-based food systems, we risk becoming just as dogmatic as those who uncritically defend their privilege and tradition of flesh-eating.

    • adam Says:

      I forgot to also mention that Keith blames vegetarianism for many cases of anorexia and depression. (p230)

      Yes, that’s right. Why? One word: soy. (This , of course, ignores that many veg*ns are allergic to or otherwise don’t eat any soy). She also seems to think vegetarian parents feed their babies soy formula and implies putting children on a vegetarian diet or eating as a vegetarian during pregnancy is practically child abuse. Non-fermented soy products certainly aren’t the best foods to eat, but they also aren’t the worst–and it’s likely that flesh-eaters and plant-eaters consume similar amounts of soy in our nation of processed foods (i.e. families that use formula are more likely to be poor than vegetarian; many vegetarians eat whole food diets rather than processed/packaged ones that include a lot of soy isoflavons).

      Keith’s fourth chapter, “Nutritional Vegetarianism” is hands-down the most egregious and obnoxious section of the book (and actually isn’t worth your time to read–unless you feel like laughing). Several dozen of her citations come from 5-6 previous books [Protein Power, The Untold Story of Milk, Good Calories Bad Calories, Against the Grain, etc (p290-95)], not primary sources. Worst of all, to prove her beliefs, she uses anecdotes (i.e. soy is bad for memory; Keith has a conversation with a vegetarian about soy, and the vegetarian forgets what they were talking about!). While Keith may be correct that animal-based diets are not always fatal/unhealthy, she is profoundly wrong that *any* vegetarian diet is deficient in nutrients and relies predominately on soy and grain.

      (oh, and sorry about the poor grammar and spelling above)

    • Anonymous Says:

      adam Says:
      May 20, 2009 at 11:24 pm, post #37

      A Quick Review from a vegan who has actually read the whole book on Google:

      Adam, how did you manage to get the whole book on google books?

      Keith’s book is listed there as only having a limited preview available:

      http://books.google.com/books?q=lierre+keith&btnG=Search+Books

      • adam Says:

        Anon,
        I didn’t read every page since some are not included, but I did read about 90% of the pages (all of the pages it displayed). Many google books will only allow you to access between 10-30% of a book/24-hour period, so almost an entire book can be read over 3-7 days.

  37. Axel K. Says:

    again I would rather spend money, time and effort on constructive publications

  38. chinook Says:

    i just wish that vegans would extend their circle of compassion to include not just farm animals, but wild animals as well, and whole ecosystems. because from an ecological perspective, it is far better to eat free-roaming bison from an intact, healthy native prairie, for example, than to eat crops grown where that prairie used to be. which way of eating supports more biodiversity? likewise, i know a lot of people who eat salmon, who are fighting like hell to remove dams on salmon rivers and restore habitat for the salmon and all the other creatures who live in the river. i also know people who want the dams to stay in place because they allow water to be diverted from the river to grow crops. so again, who kills more – the omnivore who eats salmon now and again, but devotes her life to maintaining and restoring the health of the river, or the vegan who eats irrigated vegetables and doesn’t even think about the river? water diversions for irrigation kill millions of salmon and other species every year – but those are invisible deaths that i can pretend don’t exist when i piously eat my vegan dinner! i mean, sure, you can also be vegan and work to save the salmon, and that’s great – but please understand that being vegan *by itself* is *not* going to save them.

    also, what would you say to an indigenous person whose health has been restored upon returning to a traditional diet, which may or may not include meat? would you tell someone whose people have lived sustainably on this land since the beginning of time that her traditional way of eating is wrong? i am not challenging your right to be vegan if you want to be – i just don’t understand why you have to try to enforce it on those of us who have made a conscious, ecocentric decision to be omnivorous. please remember that including animal protein in one’s diet does not necessitate factory farming, and it does not necessitate the torture and mistreatment of animals or the earth. i am completely against factory farming of any kind, including the mass production of vegetables and grains, but not just because of its impact on a few species of farmed animals. i am against factory farming because it destroys whole ecosystems. i make my decisions about what to eat and how to live based on how it affects mother earth as a whole. here’s one more example: asian carp are an invasive species in many midwest rivers, and they are decimating those rivers, destroying entire ecosystems. some people fish for the carp and eat them, and this is helping the river and all of its native biodiversity to recover. could you honestly condemn someone who does this?

    as far as i can tell, all lierre is asking any of us to do is to question our assumptions when we eat, and to honestly assess who lives and who dies when we grow our food – to remember the wild animals, soil creatures, forests, prairies, birds, rivers, migratory fish – who may die so that we can eat our “cruelty-free” vegan meals, and to take an honest look at how we affect them as well, not just the animals in the barnyard. because if we don’t think about these things, we will not change the way we relate to the soil, the water, and all of the earth’s living creatures in time to reverse our destructive impacts on them.

    • adam Says:

      RE: “would you tell someone whose people have lived sustainably on this land since the beginning of time that her traditional way of eating is wrong?”

      Chinook, please be very careful when you write such things. “since the beginning of time” suggests that these diets are essential to the health of indigenous people and the land as well as reduces them to “man [sic] in nature.” Many of these cultures had only existed for several hundred years before colonization, others went under constant evolution. And people didn’t even live in NA more than 18kya, so these cultures have by no means existed “since the beginning of time” unless you are of the Creationist persuasion. To say such reduces them to a “primitive” culture, as if they never “progressed”/”evolved.”

      For better or worse, *some* vegans may oppose traditional aboriginal diets on the basis of a universal morality. To condemn hunting/slaughtering animals on moral grounds from this pov would be no different than condeming a tradition of “sustainble” war/genocide.

    • derarchimedischepunkt Says:

      There is one thing that the side of argumentation that you are taking keeps trying to blurr out, which is the fact that those nonhuman animals that you/we call “farm animals” are actually wild animals that our societies “keep” (…) in farms.
      A classic on the issue of veganism and how vegan ethics connect to “domesticated animals” is: Thinking Like a Chicken: Farm Animals And The Feminine Connection By Karen Davis, Ph.D. http://www.upc-online.org/thinking_like_a_chicken.html . In that text the position Animal Rights versus Deep Ecology is being discussed.

    • Matt Says:

      Chinook is right on with this. Thanks for posting such articulate comments.

      There is one more point too that hasn’t been mentioned, which is the sentience of plants. Maybe others here already think about this; I didn’t think about it much for most of my veganism.

      Sometimes there is a tendency to create a dichotomy that places animals above plants, like it’s not ok to domesticate and enslave animals for our purpose, or in some people’s eyes, it’s not ok to even kill a wild animal who lives a free life up until the moment of death… but it’s ok to domesticate and enslave plants for our purpose.

      The amazing sentience, emotional health, and ability to feel pain that is inherent in all plants and trees is often overlooked by most of this society. Some raw foodist folks take it to an extreme of not eating root vegetables because it causes death. But I figure a more appropriate, responsible, and accessible way is to eliminate one’s reliance on domestication and slavery of both plants and animals.

      And this doesn’t mean that billions of people have to die, even though, as Lierre and many many other scientists and ecologists are pointing out evermore strongly, the earth is heading towards collapse and the likelihood of billions of people being displaced, if not dying, is very high for the next century.

      Some great reads on the sentience of plants are The Secret Lives of Plants, and especially Stephen Buhner’s phenomenal The Lost Language of Plants, and The Secret Teachings of Plants, Highly recommended!

      • Thanks Matt. I will check these out. While practicing veganism, I do think of these things (plant suffering) as well as how many insects are killed for my practice of veganism. I do feel that these topics are very complex and I am constantly trying to understand how to best approach a plant centered diet.

      • derarchimedischepunkt Says:

        Excuse me, Matt, referring to you saying “Chinook is right on with this”: Where you you place humans? on top and nonhuman animals and plants are below?

      • Anonymous Says:

        Whatever anyone’s religious beliefs are the brain does seem to be strongly associated with consciousness and sentience. Plants don’t even have central nervous systems.

        For the sake of argument, assuming plants are self ware just like people eating a vegan diet would result in far fewer plants being killed for our survival.

        I think it takes between 10 – 16 lbs of edible grains to produce 1 pound of beef.

  39. Anonymous Says:

    chinook

    i just wish that vegans would extend their circle of compassion to include not just farm animals, but wild animals as well, and whole ecosystems. because from an ecological perspective, it is far better to eat free-roaming bison from an intact, healthy native prairie, for example, than to eat crops grown where that prairie used to be

    Chinhook;

    There are over 6 billion people alive on planet Earth right now, with experts predicting it could double in 40 years.

    There isn’t enough land right now for everybody to eat free roaming animals from intact or non-intact ecosystems.

    Please don’t assume that vegans are pro big agriculture or that we don’t care about the environment. The exact opposite is true for most.

    • adam Says:

      Keith acknowledges this, and thus suggests there are 6 billion humans too many. However, I don’t know how saying/acknowledging this makes any difference. She does says the best choice we can make individually is not to have children (p266, 267), but thinks that such “personal solutions” aren’t sufficient to save the world.

      • Anonymous Says:


        Keith acknowledges this, and thus suggests there are 6 billion humans too many. However, I don’t know how saying/acknowledging this makes any difference. She does says the best choice we can make individually is not to have children (p266, 267), but thinks that such “personal solutions” aren’t sufficient to save the world.

        Charming. It reminds me of a passage Dicken’s wrote in his “Christmas Carol”. The Ghost Of Christmas Present just showed the horrified scrooge two emaciated child ghosts, “want” and “ignorance” as being the result of his attitudes. The Ghost then told Scrooge he should then think before he makes statements about the “excess population” because in the eyes of heaven ( relax, I’m not a Judeo-Christian ) he might be considered the “excess population”.

  40. [...] and vegan blogs and message boards. Here are a couple examples of comments recently posted on the Vegans of Color [...]

  41. Anonymous Says:

    I have no intention of offense to anyone.

    So far, reports from people who have read parts of the book and comments supporting the book have left me an impression on me.

    I am impressed by how weak arguments the arguments have been and how ignorant Keith/her supporters have been of some basic facts.

    Again, I’m not criticizing these people, I’m making a comment about their points.

    The points seem to lack a knowledge of basic facts and in many places seem to miss even a minimal depth of thought.

  42. Anonymous Says:

    I saw this quote today from Time magazine:


    Which is responsible for more global warming: your BMW or your Big Mac? Believe it or not, it’s the burger. The international meat industry generates roughly 18% of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions—even more than transportation—according to a report last year from the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

    and…


    If you switch to vegetarianism, you can shrink your carbon footprint by up to 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide a year, according to research by the University of Chicago. Trading a standard car for a hybrid cuts only about one ton—and isn’t as tasty.

    This article comes almost two years after the New York Times reported on findings by the UN that meat is a major global warming contributor:


    In late November, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report stating that the livestock business generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.

    I don’t think anybody would make the claim that the United Nations, The New York Times or Time Magazine is in the pocket of vegans.

    As a self published author without any science credentials Keith has her work cut out for her trying to convince the public that vegetarianism is hurting the planet despite what the United Nations, The New York Times and Time magazine has to say to the contrary.

    • Paul Bowers Says:

      anon,
      could you please link to the time or ny times articles? can’t find the cited quotes on either websites…

  43. walkabout Says:

    I became vegan out of respect for /individual/ animals. I won’t throw even one under the train on behalf of “deep ecology”, “sustainability”, “permaculture”, or whatever cute logo the boot stomping on an animal’s face happens to wear today.

    The surest way to take away the rights of a group is to conceive of them in the abstract, as an amorphous blob rather than a collection of individual persons. It is this way with racism, with sexism, with nationalism, and with speciesism. Rand and her ilk put a bad name on individualism; nevertheless, for justice’s sake, the interests and rights of the individual must come first, /not/ the collective. That applies to animals as well as humans.

  44. Louche Says:

    Wow, walkabout. “The surest way to take away the rights of a group is to conceive of them in the abstract, as an amorphous blob rather than a collection of individual persons.”

    This statement will stick with me.

    By the way, I don’t know if it is appropriate to post this here, but speaking of books related to veganism that others might want to check out, I am wondering if others in the anti-oppression path of veganism have read the activist handbook by Bruce Friedrich and Matt Ball.

    I haven’t read the book, but I am going to his talk here in D.C. on Monday. Written by heads of PETA and VO, I at first didn’t want to go despite the invitation… but I read an interesting review of his talk posted yesterday: http://www.examiner.com/x-6041-Denver-Vegan-Examiner~y2009m6d1-Bruce-Friedrich-talks-about-more-efficient-animalrights-activism

    Thought it was nice that the author ended by opening it up to debate and critical analysis, if praising the ideas presented.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Louche.

      I have high respect for both coauthors. Mat Ball/Vegan Outreach has a reputation for getting the facts straight and being down to Earth.

      I’ve been impressed with seeing Friederich in person. He is polite, handles himself rationally and seems to know what he is talking about.

      I hope his being professionally tied to the publicity stunt train wreck that is PETA will not discourage people from reading his advice.

      I’ve read some articles he has written on how to be a better activist. The advice is so solid and down to Earth you would never know it came from the leadership of that org

  45. ThoughtCriminal Says:

    Is this really “solid and down to Earth”? Or is it more characteristic of “that org” (PETA) which constantly turns off many non-white, non-upper-middle class folks?

    From the press release for the “activist handbook” bs –

    “Friedrich gives specific examples of what to say in “mixed” company when the topic of eating meat comes up. He suggests that meat-eaters should be fed faux meat rather than ethnic or other less familiar foods as their introduction to vegetarianism, and he argues against questioning waiters in restaurants about the ingredients in menu items.”

    So, first of all, don’t be vegan anymore when in company of others that don’t want to be inconvenienced by your veganism. Great advice, Bruce! Being a committed vegan in public must be so annoying to other people…
    Second, definitely don’t cause a fuss over your ethics by simply asking about ingredients; that’s a big turn off to non-vegans, you know? I don’t want veganism to look bad by actually being a committed vegan! But what if I had an allergy? Should I still not question waiters because others will think I’m an inconvenience? Also, while out at a restaurant, should I laugh at a racist (or sexist, ableist, etc.) joke because others are laughing too and will be uncomfortable if I don’t? Damn, I just want others to like me : (.
    And last, don’t feed “ethnic” food to meat eaters because they’ll (meaning anyone who is not “ethnic”) obviously want expensive, highly processed “faux meat”, right?..

    Sounds like the same accomodation, assimilation, and alienation tactics that are prominent in PETA’s ignorant campaigns. Same story, different book.

    I apologize for continuing this off topic discussion.

  46. J.R. Boyd Says:

    I saw Keith speak last week in Philadelphia at the Wooden Shoe. I am not a vegetarian, but most of the audience appeared to be.

    Judging from the reaction, I would say Keith makes a compelling argument. Nobody seemed to challenge her central thesis, which is that “agriculture” is imposed by people and destroys the natural ecosystems that form the regenerative basis of life on the planet. Also, because agriculture produces higher yields in the short term, it promotes population increases in a way that then feeds back into the need for still greater yields. This ties into the development of cities and industrial capitalism, factory farms, and so on.

    She favors hunting/gathering and limited pastoralism as ways for human beings to live in a complimentary way with natural life cycles. She argues that limiting oneself to consumer choices like vegetarianism not address the destructive impact that growing grain and other crops have on the environment. She would additionally argue that there is some scope for meat-eating within one’s natural “food shed”: for example, someone mentioned the environmental impact of eating packaged tofu from Whole Foods, versus eating locally raised chicken; the tofu and other non-animal products shipped from long distances would make less sense from this perspective.

    • john george Says:

      re: She favors hunting/gathering and limited pastoralism as ways for human beings to live in a complimentary way with natural life cycles.

      isn’t that nice? easy to say when you live in rural MA. not so easy for most people who live in big cities. and if we are to all eat animals we hunt, then how long until the earth is Easter Island writ large?

      it’s comical nonsense at best, dangerous denial at worst

  47. Jill Says:

    I read the book three times and reviewed it for the nonprofit foundation I work with (The Weston A. Price Foundation). I have not read all the comments (so many!) above so sorry if I repeat points.

    Both from her book and the emails I have exchanged with her, Keith is absolutely opposed to the factory farming of animals and all the horror and suffering that involves. She is also opposed to industrial agriculture, because it involves horror and suffering as well. Entire ecosystems are destroyed to clear land for grain agriculture (including grain fed to factory farmed animals). Species are extinct or endangered because of industrial grain agriculture. Countries are no longer able to feed themselves because of industrial grain agriculture and 160 of them depend on US and Canada grain exports for survival. For something to live, something else must die…every plate of beans and grains and tofu means rivers dammed, species extinct, microbes and soil life killed, insects killed, rodents and field creatures killed in harvest or picked off by predators following the harvesters through the bared fields.

    Keith argues that few people know how the natural world works. Plants need to eat, animals need to eat. They take turns eating each other. The herbivores are supposed to be eating the perennial polycultures and returning nutrients in the form of urine and manure, and their blood and bones. Carnivores are part of the cycle as well. Producers, consumers, degraders, predators, prey, herbivores, carnivores, omnivores all have their place. We’re omnivores and our bodies need animal fat and protein. Because she’s opposed to factory farming and industrial agriculture, she is in favor of eating from your landbase. Animals can be hunted and killed cleanly (perhaps more quickly and with less pain than when wolves or a big cat kills), or raised humanely and slaughtered as quickly and painlessly as possible (if we dismantle the current slaughterhouse system). I’ve been to Joel Salatin’s farm and others; I’ve seen the cows and pigs and chickens thriving.

    Sure, this view is anti-civilization because civilization (concentrating wealth and population in cities by pillaging the countryside) can’t be sustained. We’re almost out of places to deforest, out of oceans to vacuum, out of wetlands to drain, out of topsoil.

    In reviewing the book I went through the bibliography and references extensively. She cites mostly secondary sources, however, I am familiar with a large number of those sources, which themselves rely heavily on primary sources and studies. It is a “grand narrative” in that it is pulling from a number of solid sources to persuasively argue that vegetarianism will not save the planet but hasten its destruction.

    • Thanks Jill for your contribution to this dialogue. I have not read the book yet, but am very intrigued by the synopsis of the book and the varied opinions about the book.

    • Mike Says:

      Yes, some animals no matter what we do. Vegans know this. Veganism is about MINIMIZING harm.
      The answer is not to eat meat, but to make every effort to reduce accidental animal deaths from agriculture. It might be theoretical, but Keith’s world is no less theoretical.
      Her anecdotes about incompetent vegan settlements, vegans who did not understand the world, etc. do not count against veganism in general.
      She also was apparently dishonest about her Serengeti fence story. Read the link below.

      http://www.postpunkkitchen.com/forum

      /viewtopic.php?id=90752&p=1
      Closing, I believe we should try when possible to simulate the Garden of Eden (with no death).
      She claims on pg. 4 of the thread that she got this from a board that longer exists and it was serious on that board. However, the story she tells matches the Post Punk Kitchen sarcasm thread closely enough that her explanation is a little improbable.
      We should try to minimize animal death (her claims about “credible” plant sentience evidence simply do not change the fact that plants lack anything remotely resembling a nervous system), but have to accept that it is a necessary evil in the natural world. However, we should not artificially create environments where animals are killed just to feed a species that easily can thrive on a plant based diet.

      • linshelton Says:

        “Yes, some animals no matter what we do. Vegans know this. Veganism is about MINIMIZING harm.”

        A diet of grass-fed, humanely produced meat is also about minimizing harm. What is better at creating nutritionally optimal protein and fat while actually improving the soil and species diversity in the natural ecosystem? A well-managed native-habitat appropriate ruminant species, or a multi-national agricultural corporation with its machines, pesticides and fossil fuel (or CAFO) fertilizer?

        “The answer is not to eat meat, but to make every effort to reduce accidental animal deaths from agriculture.”

        How many animal lives must be taken for a pound of tofu? Probably hundreds, not counting insects, nematodes and microscopic animals, and not counting the generations of animals that will never come into being because their habitat was destroyed for that crop. How many for a pound of grass-fed beef? 1/500th. Do the math.

        “It might be theoretical, but Keith’s world is no less theoretical.
        Her anecdotes about incompetent vegan settlements, vegans who did not understand the world, etc. do not count against veganism in general.”

        If you want to cherry pick the best possible application of veganism as representative of the whole, (seriously, how many vegans out there don’t use industrial monocrop products like soy, grains, beans and most vegetables… anyone? No? Oh well, it’s the thought that counts) then don’t hold factory animal farming against meat eating in general.

      • Mike Says:

        I never mentioned factory farming. Besides, the vast majority of meat eaten is produced by this system.

        The argument about free-range meat causing less death than carefully grown plant food is not valid. Gaverick Matheny refuted Steve Davis’ argument.
        The actual article can be found here.

        http://www.springerlink.com/content/v0726k81713341m1/

        Read the website below to understand more.

        http://unpopularveganessays.blogspot.com/2008/01/contrasting-harms-vegan-agriculture.html

        Microscopic animals and even insects do not count as much. Few would argue it is the same to kill an insect (even if they try to avoid it) as to kill a dog or cat (even if that animal is not currently owned by anyone). It is simply senseless that she wants to discount any separation between indisputably sentient animals who have emotional lives and microscopic animals who probably have neither of these, or at least lack the latter. Plus, individual insects nearly live only a few days.

        Species diversity also is not important enough either to justify a system in which we deliberately kill animals to eat. The individual counts regardless of whether his/her species.
        Please remember that most of the grain and soy grown in the world is currently grown to feed animals. One cannot blame vegans for most of the damage.

        Of course, if you want meat protein and fat (which is not necessary), in vivo meat is being developed.

        Her solution cannot accommodate the world population (especially considering that she favors a mostly carnivorous diet). It is not realistic to decrease the population much. In vivo meat could possibly provide unlimited amounts.
        If we all start eating free range meat, then that is the system that will exist and a more life-affirming system (either careful agriculture or in vivo meat or even plant foods) cannot soon develop.

  48. Proud Fruitarian Says:

    “Plants need to eat, animals need to eat. They take turns eating each other. ”
    How comfortable for you & other humans to decide that… nobody is going to murder you & them. So might makes right, great…

    “We’re omnivores “.
    That statement alone makes your entire review dubious.
    Here is one article on this non debate:

    http://www.theveganlife.com/articles/comparative-anatomy.html

    “Nature” is not a moral place. And yes, industrial agriculture is immoral as well. This doesn’t mean it is justifiable to murder others or to behave like your specie is superior to other species.

    • dingledork Says:

      new “OMG, she sooo makes me feel better about not being a vegetarian” reviews. yay. and on that killer of the independent bookstore, amazon, even better. you’ll see in the video (if you care to watch) her mockingly describe her anti-vegan views which are not based in science but in personal anecdotes and then go on to what is scientific, which is her discussion of modern agriculture. perhaps she just thought the anti-vegan angle would create more buzz and sell more books so she decided to wrap her discussion on agriculture around that, or perhaps she truly just hates her former self that much, or both. at any rate, thanks ashley for the empty plug for positive reviews

      hmmm. someone’s trying to sell some books. of course we all know that the key to environmental health is more and more books written by this liar and her group of self-satisfied, over-privileged ecological narcissists and their never-ending and self-serving book of the month club. how many trees will be sacrificed to print their trite pablum before the world is free of them?

    • dingledork Says:

      ps. ashley, please don’t repost that same link here any more. twice is enough. we don’t need amazon or keith PR people smothering comments here with sales pitches

  49. ashley Says:

    sorry to upset you so much by simply posting a link to a video. Oh the horror!!!! Please take your frustration for the author and her book on someone else. I was only trying to help.

  50. ashley Says:

    I just found this audio from Wooden Shoe Books for anyone like me who is trying to learn more about this author. I hope dingledork will tolerate my right to post a link. ; )

    Runtime: (82:18)

    Thursday June 4 7:00PM

    http://www.archive.org/details/VegetarianMyth

  51. Thomas Leavitt Says:

    I haven’t read the book yet… someone just recommended it to me today, and I took a look in Google and found this thread… which has been very educational, even absent reading the book itself.

    The book sounds like an interesting, but very flawed, work.

    I can’t help but agree that veganism or vegetarianism, in and of itself, won’t save the planet, and I get the argument that ecologically conscious meat-eating is superior to a vegan diet sourced from industrial scale agriculture… but I don’t get how one couldn’t approach being a vegan in the same fashion, and still have a lower impact on the ecology.

    I myself, have made the argument that “organic” alone won’t save the world or make people healthier, etc., by simply asking them: if everything you buy in Safeway today were replaced by an “organic” equivalent, and people continued to eat and consume in exactly the same fashion, would the result be profoundly different? Conceding the benefits to farm workers, etc., the answer is: “no”. If we all turned vegetarian / vegan overnight, would the result be profoundly different? I think the answer is yes… and no: it *still* wouldn’t be sustainable.

    The problem is the *system* of corporate-commercial industrial agriculture (to mention just one facet). I think most vegans and vegetarians get this, and do their best to limit their participation in it. Is there a “solution” to the problem that involves being able to sustainably support 6 billion (or 12 billion) human beings? I don’t know.

    What I do know is that, right now, our species consume some ridiculous portion of all of the energy reaching the earth / resources of the entire biosphere, and leave only a fraction of it for all other non-human beings on the planet. To this extent, it is true that even as a vegan or vegetarian, participating in the system, as most of us are forced to do, we harm animals, and the eco-sphere.

  52. Patrick Says:

    All I can say is that (a) I’ve read the book (unlike most) and (b) I’ve tried the diet (unlike virtually all.) I was vegan, vegetarian, or semi-vegetarian for most of my adult life based on my conviction that it was “healthy.” It got me grossly overweight and type 2 diabetic. All efforts at sustained weight loss within a vegetarian, high-carb framework failed.

    Finally, I got fed up and decided to try a carnivorous approach. I’ve lost 42 lbs. in just a few months and all-but-cured my diabetes.

    I’m not insensitive to concerns regarding factory farming–in fact, I buy virtually all my own meat at local, small farms, and am gearing up to start raising my own. But the bottom line is that it’s hard to argue with results, and the arguments Ms. Keith makes from comparison of digestive systems are hard to refute.

    • Trolls Sanctuary Says:

      Don’t feed the troll…

      • Trole Ling Says:

        A person who writes a serious post about their personal experience is not a troll. Just cause you (and most here) disagree doesn’t mean that person is just writing to cause a ruckus. Jesus, just read the book. If anything, it’ll make your convictions towards veganism even stronger.

      • Pat Troll Says:

        Sounds like a troll to me.

        And let us not forget, a holocaust is on the line.

  53. Theresa Bauerlein Says:

    Interesting how many of you are against this book, basing your criticism on random quotes from the book that are totally out of context. I did, in fact, make the effort and read the book and I must say it did manage to shatter some of my beliefs in vegetarianism, or at least question the depth of my knowdledge in a ever deep way. are you afraid of that? is that why you don’t even read it? come on, people, vegetarians are suppodes to reflect MORE than the average person, right?

    • I have to book. I haven’t read it, but I have mentioned before that I want to read all types of views about anything and everything and see what I can learn from them, even if I may not agree with everything.

  54. Diana Says:

    Eat What you want!!!! Sexuality, your choice, tran orstraight or gay or lesbian.
    Her point in the book is that the TOPSOIL is DISAPPEARING and SO is OUR LIFESTYLE AS WE KNOW IT as well as ALL OTHER CREATURES that we made ExTinCt. It is OUR REsponsibility to repaIR the soil OR, PERISH like everything else we are helping to destroy as we live our fat happy comfortable lives.

  55. Dan Marshall Says:

    My understanding is that Lierre’s saying the vegetarian myth is that by being vegetarian we think we’re saving the planet, but as long as our vegetables are coming from agrabusiness that’s destroying the soil we’re basically re-arranging the deck chairs on the titantic. That is, vegetarians may not be destroying the planet as quickly as their carnivore friends, but the direction is inevitable.

    I find her to be weak on the “so what’s the solution?” question. I’d like to see her promote the concept of one child per family world wide. The Chinese did it. Why can’t the rest of us? Yes – there are plenty of obstacles but they’re all less significant than our current path’s ultimate destination.

  56. Daniel Says:

    I actually stopped being a vegetarian after reading her book last spring. I have read 20-odd ecological books since hers and she is right. The main damage to the planet that derives from food (obviously capitalist industry and the military are also destroying the planet) is agriculture itself. That is the main point you should be understanding from her book. You walk into a Whole Foods Market for instance and what do you see? Miles and miles of isles of stuff made from wheat, corn, soy, rice – this stuff could only grow to us, the city-dwellers who eat it, by destroying millions of square miles of forest and country to grow one annual grain – thereby rendering hundreds of thousands of species extinct from eating those vegetarian foods while we bemoan someone eating a chicken, which was the result of one chicken death, yes, but not the extinction of chickens as a species or the health of the planet. I just traveled for many weeks to visit farms around the country and find out how they grew their produce. Even the large organic farms are based on the destruction of wilderness, which means animals in their millions died for food that we consider “pure” and “vegetarian.” That is the main point. When the indigenous in their wisdom ate water fowl, fish and deer, they knew we needed fat, and they knew those animals had practically all the nutrition we need without us having to render extinct millions of species so we can have our grains and vegetarian foods. Obviously the main culprit today is capitalism – producing things to make a profit. To restore our planet to balance we will have to abolish capitalism and also return to a sustainable society. And agriculture is simply not sustainable as it puts humans before other animals rather than allowing us to live AS animals (and omnivorous ones at that) in the fabric of what nature provides us in each given locale where we live. Many of you can’t stomach the idea of a society beyond “civilization.” While you bemoan my eating a free-range chicken do you know your cell phone towers kill songbirds every time you make a phone call? Do you know how toxic those computers we all type on (mine too obviously) are to Third World women who assemble them? Civilization, meaning a concentration of humans in cities, the origins of all human empires and class systems, will have to go – to be replaced by small communities that live sustainably. The evidence is as compelling as evolution, but evolution has a hard time settling on American religious brains. Just as vegetarians have a hard time accepting evidence about agriculture and meat-eating, because of the personal identity vegetarianism provides its adherents, a social psychological phenomenon. I am sure as the world goes more and more down the drain, and humans try more and more to create sustainable ways of living, vegetarianism and veganism will vanish as well. Get educated!

    • Stop Humanity Says:

      You were a vegetarian who thinks humans are the upper race (so it is ok to exploit and torture other species in the egg and dairy industries) and now you are a flesh-eater who has the same racists views. Not much of a change.

      Do you really think vegans don’t know that a civilized vegan world is still a disgrace? Get educated!

      By the way, it is “amazing” how every few days, a new(?) person writes here about him stopping being veg*n. Coincidence?

    • Eric Brooks Says:

      Interesting Daniel,

      And what is it that you eat now? What is your current diet’s relationship to agriculture?

  57. Eric Says:

    Total fat consumption has not gone down. Percentage of fat in the diet has gone down due to increased consumption of processed carbs, but total fat consumption has actually gone up. To claim that Americans have been trying low fat diets over the last 20 years is simply wrong, and is one of the low-carbers more tired arguments. Why does this stuff persist…in a new book much less?

    http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/NutritionInsights/insight5.pdf

    • Treadnot Says:

      Eric, take another look at the pdf you linked to. As of the last year for which that report gives statistics (1995), total fat consumption HAD gone down since 1965; it’s just that, as of about 1990, the absolute amount of fat consumption had stopped declining, and then had started creeping up. BUT: for men, average total fat consumption had decreased from 139 grams of fat/day in 1965 to 101 in 1995 (after dipping as low as 89), and for women, from 83 grams of fat/day to 65 (after dipping as low as 62). That looks like an absolute reduction in fat consumption per day for men of 37 grams, or 27.3%, and for women of 18, or 21.7%.

  58. drew3000 Says:

    Have not read the book, but am interested in the argument if only because it could shed light on how people who believe these things think. Regarding the notion that civilisation is the root of evil could be correct on one level, I suppose there could be some truth in that there is certain behavior and motives that most people across civilisations classify as evil. But I doubt this is what the author is looking at. Among the anti-civ luddites there seems to be an idealized view of the natural world. That is somehow exists in a magically produced harmony instead of individual creatures behaving according to their own instinct for survival and advantage. Much of animal behavior when practiced by our own species is categorized as evil.

  59. Review of The Vegetarian Myth

    After reading reviews of Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth I simply wanted to ignore it as none of her arguments against vegetarianism were convincing. Then, I got a free copy, and decided to write a review for our vegetarian readers who may be asked by the eager carnivores“What do you think of the Vegetarian Myth”?

    First of all, I am offended by the title “the Vegetarian Myth” as it is an assaults against a compassionate life-style which does not need a defense. Most vegetarians in the United States are well educated, peace loving minority group that deserves support not mockery for their food choices due to “their ignorance”. Imagine if Ms. Keith’s next book would be titled as “The Homosexuality Myth”? How would it be received?

    If you have not read such pioneer books as The silent sprig, The diet for a small planet, Eaters digest and Diet for New America critiquing modern agro-technology, you may be impressed by the topics Ms. Keith addresses in her book such as how the mono-crop agriculture has robbed the top soil and it effects all the species on earth. She attacks the grain-centered agriculture as culprit of the modern civilization and stresses that conscious eaters have to find a better solution within their local communities to solve the world hunger. However, the topic land erosion and how to feed the planet has been better explained by the well-researched Diet for a small planet, by the famous vegetarian, Frnces Moore Lappe , few decades ago. If Ms. Keith re-reads this book, she may better understand why eating the grain/factory farmed animals is not an answer for a sustainable world.

    I will skip all three arguments: the Moral Vegetarian, the Political Vegetarian and the Nutritional Vegetarian which encompass most of her book, partly because some of these arguments (such as the one where she links vegetarianism to the Holocaust) are absurd and others (such as “human intestines are not made for cellulose”) have been countered by more sound arguments or simply debunked. All of these arguments are so single-sided and flawed that most readers will not be convinced enough to check her sources.

    Thirdly, I wish to point out her motive for writing this book. Lierre Keith tells us that she wrote the book ti offer a solution for a more sustainable and just world. But some people believe that she wrote it to make an easy buck. Others even stretch that the Dairy or Meat Industry paid her to write it (unlikely, since it is not published by a mega buster). Whereas, I think real motive (which she may not admit) was to share her unsuccessful attempt at claiming a life-style which she was incapable of supporting. I know some converted vegetarians who went back to eating meat and are honest enough to admit that this life-style was not suitable for them. Some got sick because they did not know how to prepare interesting and nutritious vegetarian food. Others say that they missed the taste of meat. In this book, more than anything else Ms. Keith communicates her emotional need for meat, her comfort food which she was raised on.. Not to my surprise, other ex-vegetarians are using her book as a passport and resume their carnivore diet without having to feel guilty.

    As for the solution, Ms. Keith states that answers need to come from local communities on personal scale and not from reformed agriculture. Sorry, Lierre, your going back to hunting and gathering is just not a practical answer for the modern folks. As a city dweller, I take a child-like pleasure in picking berries from urban gardens, but I would hate to see an inexperienced hunters taking shots at wrong objects as Dick Chenney did few years ago.

  60. Bigby Suvins Says:

    First off as a vegetarian for 12 years and vegan for part of that, I will come out and admit that Lierre Keith’s book did in fact convince me to end this lifestyle. This was my identity we are talking about. Being vegetarian was essential to who I was and essential to my concern with social justice issues. I am currently a director of a youth empowerment nonprofit and am involved within the activist and social justice community. I am these issues. I came into the book skeptical but bought it, having heard nothing about the book. I thought the book would be a good challenge and would help me reaffirm my beliefs and confirm my convictions. After the first two chapters I felt panicked a bit. I hated Lierre Keith for making me question who I was and what I stood for and what I ate. I put the book down for a whole month but was constantly thinking about it. It consumed me. I picked it up again and finished it. I no longer hate Keith but she has destroyed who I am. But I now realize I was living a lie. This work will me to rebuild again. This book did change my life. It is the most powerful book I have ever read. I encourage everyone to read this book. Most of her facts and supporting sources are easily looked up and almost all are 100% accurate. Some of her evidence is definitely debatable and open for discussion but much is not. Oh, and people who keep talking about the human predator and who eats us, well you obviously don’t know much and didn’t read the book. We get eaten by worms and plants. We die so plants and worms and soil (etc.) can live. That is her point. The cynicism on this site is incredible. If anyone wishes to debate the themes of this book I would be happy to do so. But read the book first before you take me up on the offer.

  61. Bigby Suvins Says:

    One more thing: those who criticize her conclusions are blinded with rage and ignorance. The post above me talks about how the hunter gatherer lifestyle isn’t the answer. I would disagree to an extent. I think it could be an answer for many. She is also advocating, in so many words, permaculture. Could this save everyone? Well yes and no. There are too many people on this planet. We all know this. If done correctly it could work, but would mean everyone sacrificing in the western world and commitments from many to not have kids. This is oversimplifying it I realize. But, the vegan solution which can only be summed up as “more of the same” (which means monocrops usually) is much much worse. There are some vegan permaculturalists. Because of this book, though, there are a lot less. Sustainable farming doesn’t help the planet, it keeps it status quo. It flatlines the way we are. The answers are tough but the progressive movement needs to agree on something before it leads to (or further escalates) the racist dominant practices against the “third world” countries which will also eventually land on us. Veganism cannot be an answer to the problem. It is quite simply part of the problem.

    • Eric Brooks Says:

      I criticize her conclusions and I am not blinded with rage at all. I am simply well informed by a lifetime of study of food and sustainability that began when I became a vegetarian/vegan.

      That lifetime of knowledge tells me that Lierre Keith is completely full of it, because I know facts that completely contradict what she is arguing for.

      Keith’s main problem (which is frankly also a problem with many permaculturists) is that she myopically looks at her own life and what she sees succeeding, and then makes the completely incongruous leap to believing that because it worked for -her- this is how we would best run the planet. It same same mistake that libertarian economists make when they apply Adam Smith’s ideas the the macro-economy.

      It simply does not work. Moreover, such economics cause mass suffering and devastation. And so would Keith’s prescription for the planet… Powerful conceptual theory does not always translate to the real world.

      I am happy to debate you point for point and show you the truth of this.

      Pick one at a time, give it your best shot. I’ll read that section of the book and then respond.

      (Sorry I am not going to read the entire thing, because it would be a profoundly foolish waste of my time and I also don’t want to promote the book by purchasing it.)

  62. Anonymous Says:

    Lierre dispells many ‘myths’ about food/acreage/water, etc. – clearly those repeating the myths have not read her book. Sure some Indians, etc. have been vegetarians – and have suffered poor health in respect to non-vegetarian Indians.

    Vegan, vegetarian, or breatharian – whatever, fact is saturated fat, cholesterol, et al or not indicators of disease or cancer…issues of lectins, leptin resistance & the development of insulin resistance are key – all issues related to carbohydrates.

    I’m not sure why vegans have such a disrespect for nature – to not see it as sacred as it is. It’s the typical western approach of domination – you think the way the earth has been for millions of years is ‘wrong’ and you can fix it by not eating animal! Ricdiculous and to me troubling – why are you so disturbed that death exists? Seriously. Are you angry at lions? Or the Massai, or the other handful of native hunter/gatherer tribes who are having their traditions encroached upon by agriculture….do you really think they are morally wrong? Egads!

    Reading a lot of these posts reinforces much of Lierre talks about with regard to the ‘cult’ like aspects of vegans & the prospective brain damage.

    • Anon2 Says:

      Anonymous, since I did not read the book, are you saying “Lierre talks about… ” AND she also talks about vegans with prospective brain damage? OR are *you* saying this? IF so, what are your studies on this….or is this anti-veg{an} rhetoric?

      BTW, most vegans I know are not so disturbed that death exists.
      They know, and live a path to reduce suffering on the planet for animals and humans

  63. Eric Brooks Says:

    ‘Anonymous’, the stuff you have just written has almost no basis in fact whatsoever.

    I challenge you to cite Keith’s sources. Sources which I assume she has foot-noted in her book.

    Please name the source material that she gives for these claims with web references so we can look them up.

    As to respecting nature, I have been an environmental activist my entire life, grew up in the mountains, and deeply respect nature. I have a deep understanding and knowledge of ecology and ecological science.

    And this is precisely why Keith’s book alarms me so greatly. It creates a totally false impression that a diet with less meat is not better for the planet.

    But, in fact, it is -so- much better for the planet and for fighting the climate crisis, that it is absolutely -crucial- that we get as many people as possible to eat as little meat as possible, as quickly as we can.

    And vegetarianism is perfectly healthy. I have been a vegetarian for 25 years and my health is better now than it was before I became a vegetarian, even tough I was very young when I ate meat and dairy.

    The -real- data bears all of this out, and has been doing so for decades.

    If you and Keith are going to challenge that, you need to direct us to actual legitimate sources that prove your point.

  64. [...] the same concerns as Renee: the treatment of farm workers (as well as slaughterhouse workers); the sustainability of veganism; PETA (there have been so many posts slamming PETA on this blog I can’t even link [...]

  65. steve Says:

    Keith’s argument that we are designed to eat meat is solid. I don’t like the fact that other living things must die for me to live, but that is the reality. Making artificial distinctions between the life of plants and animals and tying that to ethics is ridiculously anthropomorphic.
    Here’s how to decide if you are an omnivore or vegan. First, try to find one creature other than humans on the face of the globe that cooks its food. Since cooking is essential to (most) veganism, this should tell you that this form of diet is not natural nor is it healthy. We are designed to eat raw foods as found in nature that we can digest and that are not toxic. Meats, organs, eggs and a few fruits, nuts, and veggies qualify. The mainstay of vegetarians, grains, do not. Secondly, find one human EVER that has been able to survive in the wild without earing meat. You can’t.
    Where Keith’s book disappoints is in its admonitions. She dismantles our way of life and leaves us with no practical recourse, just guilt and frustration. Her conclusion that we should not have children (arguably the greatest joy a person can experience) and stop driving cars doesn’t cut it. The suggestion that we should buy locally and support small farmers is a good one, but cannot be widely applied by civilization at this time.
    Finally, she attempts to argue that evolution explains our existence. I am not a religionist, but neither am I an evolutionist. The science and facts just do not fit. She has swallowed the evolution argument with the same gullibility people swallow the cholesterol lowering argument (which she quite successfully demolishes.) It is hard to understand where her sense of ethics comes from if she believes we simply burped up out of modified volcanic muck over billions of years.
    The ethics of atoms (our supposed progenitors) and survival of the fittest does not comport wth her sense of caring for others. Also, if she is a lesbian advocate, it is hard to reconcile the logic of that with evolution. Human evolution would be driven by reproduction. Reproduction for humans requires meiosis, not mitosis, i.e., man and woman. To deny that is far more mythological than the “vegetarian myth.” (See asifthinkingmatters.com for more on the origin of life question and how it can be solved with logic)
    In spite of the negatives, Keith’s book is a must read for any zealous vegan who seeks truth and feels they have reached an ethically superior position.

    • Anon2 Says:

      Steve, VOC will not give me enough room to rebuff all of your posting ( I would need a whole page ) so lets just take the evolution point. I either don’t get your point or need to add something. You say “Also, if she is a lesbian advocate, it is hard to reconcile the logic of that with evolution.” I think I dont get your point. Evolution revolves on change, some small gradual and some sudden which means, over time, the dominant traits will survive to be passed on. But not always AND mankind has stopped evolution from happening with its assumed medical science and vanity. So in terms of sexuality for species, evolution will create asexuals, heterosexuals, homosexuals and everything in between and beyond. This is evolution and this is natural. This also happens in several animal species. Now in terms of human reproduction, homosexuality alone cannot reproduce other humans..but for all we know perhaps humans 100 million years from now will all be self-replicating like some animals. This is very possible and human reproduction might not require meiosis. In fact you can read that asexual reproduction often offers some species survival advantages ( and Im not just talking plant species). Google “Asexual Reproduction” and you can see it too is evolutionary.

      • steve Says:

        Anon2, you assume that which needs to be proven. Evolution in the atom-to-man sense is pure speculation, and, incidentally, quite illogical and unscientific. All of your conjecture about what “could” happen is just that, conjecture.
        Fact is, homosexuality could not drive evolution even if evolution were true since the evolution hypothesis requires reproduction. If you think you can rebut my other arguments have at it. Reason and facts only please.

      • anon2 Says:

        Steve, Its obvious from your response that I believe you don’t believe in evolution. So lets check some things:

        1) You have your own definitition of evolution, yet here is one of the accepted definitions

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution

        2) Change is unpredictable, it could happen and it could not — that is evolution. The one thing constant in the universe, however, is change, and these changes, biological, environmentl etc, affect the change in all living organisms. You can choose to believe this or not.

        The fact is anything can drive evolution. The evolution hypothesis requires ANY type of reproduction not just heterosexual reproduction. From the wikipedia reference “However, asexuality is advantageous in some environments as it can evolve in previously-sexual animals.[68] Here, asexuality might allow the two sets of alleles in their genome to diverge and gain different functions.[69]“…so regardless of whether there is sex (m/f fertilization ) or not…evolution still happens and can be advantageous.

        Also, since based on your response, I dont think you looked at links, Check this:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asexual_reproduction#Examples_in_animals

        and read about Sharks. Yes replication and change can occur without male/female combinations. if those changes over time..lead to better survival of that species…that is evolution.

        More interesting…if you don’t believe in evolution, Theres nothing anybody could contribute to counter your opinion.

      • steve Says:

        Anon, you are playing with definitions and speculations, not providing proof. Mere change is not evolution. Of course things can change TO A DEGREE. I can change my jumping ability, but that does not prove I will one day be able to jump over the moon. Evolution is a jump over the moon thing, not just change. Provide your proofs that life can arise from inorganic elements and that a new species can arise with new organs or that cannot interbreed with the parent stock. You can’t. Thus your belief in evolution is entirely about faith. Also, please explain the mechanism by which homosexuality would drive human evolution. The relevancy of evolution to the topic at hand is that veganism requires faith in evolution. Eating foods we are not designed to eat–cooked grains–in the belief that we can “adapt” (evolve) lies at the root of many modern degenerative diseases. Don’t treat a machine as it is designed and it fails. A great site on these topics is asifthinkingmatters.com

      • Anon2 Says:

        Steve, truth comes out…Your reference link is apparently to a creationist (yes I visited your link and thats a strong theme amongst the site ).

        Oh one more thing If you believe as you stated “The relevancy of evolution to the topic at hand is that veganism requires faith in evolution.”, I believe you know nothing about veganism. You should examine all the very religious vegan groups ( Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, etc ), that practice veganism and very much believe in creationism or some form there of. Veganism does not require faith in order to be compassionate to animals ( human and non-human alike ).

    • steve Says:

      Anon, you seem to be consumed with labels and definitions, mere words that humans create. The site I referred to is not a “creationist” site in the pejorative religious sense you imply. Yes, it provides proof that evolution cannot be true, but isn’t that one of the points of our discussion. Now then, back to the point. It does not go unnoticed that you have still not laid out even one of the proofs I asked for and which you need to suport your faith in evolution.
      You are right that not all vegans are evolutionists. But you are, and so is Keith, and that was my point. Also, you have evidently not thought through your veganism, nor read Keith’s book. Veganism does not stop any killing whatsoever. If you eat, you kill. Also, if you think you are more humane than a carnivore by your support of agriculture that has displaced vast wild areas resulting in the killing of whole species of creatures, you must rethink your position. Read Keith’s book and read the books on the asifthinkingmatters.com site if you are interested in truth, not just supporting your biases and faith. None of my comments diminish the ethical anguish many people feel about killing to eat. I suffer it, so do you. In that sense we agree. We differ in that I have come to learn that veganism is naive in that it really does not solve anything other than assuaging conscience about creatures we humans have the audacity to attach certain labels to, like “plant” and “animal,” in order to decide which ones to kill.

      • Anon2 Says:

        Steve, vegans of color is not about debating evolution. You said “We differ in that I have come to learn that veganism is naive in that it really does not solve anything other than assuaging conscience about creatures”. Imagine if I made this metaphor “I have come to learn that preventing domestic abuse is naive as it really doesnt solve anything…” Wrong. It solves a lot for the person involved. Pls rethink your veganism…it is not about you and your conscience…it is about eliminating suffering for the animals…if you doubt this…go ask the cow,sheep, etc…if they enjoy and want suffering. Dont for a minute think that not answering means acceptance.

      • steve Says:

        Anon, we agree that it would be nice if there were no suffering in the world. But, as I said, in order for us to live, other creatures must die. Being a vegan does not solve that. You obviously have not read Keith’s book and that is what this thread is supposed to be about. You seem oblivious to the pain and suffering of plants and to the billions of other creatures that suffer and die in order for you to have your vegan “cause,” and to make way for agriculture to grow your executed and tortured veggie burgers. Do you not understand that creating agricultural land kills, maims, and causes the suffering of millions of wld indigenous creatures–even the ones with legs and voices? You have constructed a mythological moral world to ease your conscience. But the vegan world has no basis in ethical (or health) reality. It is a fantasy constructed of labels humans create to define who gets to die in order for vegans to live.
        I wish it was different. I wish there was no death and suffering.
        But that is not our world. That doesn’t mean we can’t do what we can to be as humane as possible to ALL living things.

  66. In case anyone is interested, I have recently written a fairly lengthy in-depth review. I would suggest some of the skeptical people give the book a chance without prejudging it. Many of the arguments being discussed are not representative of what the author is arguing. Thanks.

    http://www.selfdestructivebastards.com/2010/01/review-vegetarian-myth.html

  67. Marie Elisa Says:

    Lierre Keith has classic symptoms of Hypothyroidism: feeling fatigue all the time, feeling cold while everyone else does not, flaky skin, hypoglycemia and GASTROPARESIS.
    I know because I am a hypothyroidism patient who also has gastroparesis, and surfing the Web I came across this site.
    Someone, please, tell her to get her diagnosis of Hypothyroidism established. It is important to get her therapy started, because this disease has long term consequences, like cardiac and bone problems.
    This disease has nothing to do with vegetarianism. I have never been a vegetarian. About 10% of women can develop it. It is a chronic, serious disease, of which most people are not aware.

    • let's not Says:

      Let’s not tell her. She’s the sort of being that needs recycling as soon as possible. Let her blame wacky things and perish fast.

  68. Check out this evolving critique (it will be chapter by chapter) of The Vetetarian Myth on the PERMAVEGAN blog…very thoughtful and indepth…one of the best challenges to the Keith Myth I’ve come across yet…

    http://permavegan.blogspot.com/search/label/The%20Vegetarian%20Myth

  69. Anonymous Says:

    I think this action only makes vegans look bad and will not do much for helping Keith reconsider her views.

    However, I just thought I would post that a recent appearance Lierre Keith was pied in the face.

    I’m assuming that the pie was animal product free:

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/03/14/18640886.php

    • dingle Says:

      Who cares about Keith reconsidering her views? She’s crazy and the crazy can’t be talked out of it. If she imagines a new God and condemns all non-believers, after worshiping her old God and condemning all non-believers, then there’s nothing any of us can do.

      I don’t know how it will play out in the long term, but it seems to me sides are already lined up on Keith and this hasn’t changed anything in regard to that.

      I support the pieing. I think she had it coming.

  70. jim Says:

    Author Of The Vegetarian Myth Attacked By Militant Vegans

    March 13th, while speaking in the auditorium at the 15th Annual Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair, Lierre Kieth was assaulted by pie throwing goons. The 3 pies were laced with hot pepper and therefor had an effect similar to pepper spray, blinding the author for a time. The painful attack was was carried out by three masked, militant vegans unhappy with the substance of the authors new book, The Vegetarian Myth.

  71. animalactivist Says:

    Well, even though it WAS international ‘pi’ day, it has been fascinating to watch the spin spiraling out on this story… kind of like the way manure is sometimes sprayed out on to an open field.

    I don’t personally condone pie-ing, as allegedly harmless as non-dairy vegan pie filling is when prepared for such purposes (isn’t that precisely the point?) OK… except between consenting adults.

    But a good lesson from this incident might be the usefulness of making sure a recipe is also delivered, so that rumours of ‘spiking’ can be swiftly disproven!

    No, I wasn’t there. I don’t even live in the same country. But I’ve seen the video and it turns out that there were three pies, not one. Keith first received a plant on the top of her head from behind, then two from the side. Nothing was ‘ground’ into her face, as is being claimed in some conversations.

    And she was able to look up within a split second and resume a brief engagement with her audience, before choosing to exit. Outside, while talking to the police whom she had asked for (this seems to have upset a fair number of attendees at the anarchist event far more than the pie-ing), she is looking directly into a camera.

    Anybody who has ever experienced pepper spray (which some are suggesting the pie experience was an equivilant to), will know that your facial muscles aren’t going to be relaxed, or you head up with the whites of your eyes showing as you talk about your experience only minutes later! Of course ANYthing in the eye can be irritating. I’m simply suggesting that it’s just as likely that some very deliberate exaggeration is being generated around this incident…

    Certainly the vitriolic hyperbole being directed at the ‘vegan movement’ (what?… you didn’t know either that we have elected representatives looking out for us at anarchist book faires?) by outraged meat apologists, is absolutely rife with hypocrisy. Those who really believe that pie-ing Keith was the equivilant of inflicting an outrageous assault on a vulnerable individual, should really broaden their horizons… go visit the slaughterhouse where their dinner is dying, and take a long hard look at what it’s like to be hit in the head by a ‘lazy’ stun gun, hung upside down by one leg while you’re still conscious, or be gutted by a butcher knives, and experience the fear, trauma and smell of death.

    I feel badly for Keith. Not because she got to experience a little frothy dessert topping in her face, along with a hearty dose of humiliation, but becuase she may not be smart enough to figure out her mistakes in time to make a real difference.

    Here are just a few flaws in her arguments for those interested in serious critique…

    http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2010/03/15/correcting_the_vegetarian_myth.pdf

  72. Anonymous Says:

    I was a vegetarian for a total of six years, in two separate three-year stints. I found myself tired and craving seafood and perhaps some occasional (grass-fed, free-range) red meat toward the end both experiences, and I believe that there are viable evolutionary and physiological reasons why. I feel that I’m coming to the conclusion that as much as I would love for it to be healthy for humans to be vegan, it’s probably not a realistic nor mature conclusion. (I’m an animal and planet-lover, too.)

    The first thing I’d like to state and state clearly (as Keith does), is that I’m completely against factory farming. I believe that animals should be cared for and raised in a cage-free and free-range environment and fed their natural diet. Also, I don’t agree with animal testing.

    The second thing is that I’m most worried about is the vegan community evangelizing this diet to others (esp. young girls prone to anorexia) when most of them aren’t nutritionists or experts in how to analyze data (Keith wisely addresses this—epidemiological studies aren’t causal and therefore shouldn’t be used by vegans to make arguments, draw conclusions, or unduly influence others), esp. when veganism results in low energy, depression, (vegetarians and vegans have much higher suicide rates), and malnutrition (even with the use of supplements, the absorption process is not the same as when consuming animal products, and she gives numerous references that you can check out).

    I’ve read Keith’s book and I have to say that while I think she’s prone to hyperbole sometimes, the essence of her message makes sense. From an ecological perspective, she basically points out that our problems are due to massive over-population and overuse of resources, not eating habits. *If we could divert most of our efforts into reducing global population over the next 100 years, we’d effect the most positive and lasting change.

    From an ethical standpoint, I might suggest watching naturalist David Attenborough’s spectacular series entitled “mammals”, (available on netflix)–it’s a great place to start–it allowed me to reflect upon the natural cycles of life and death in nature–and this includes, unfortunately, death and killing for food–not gratuitous killing and over-feeding, which is something that humans have been guilty of only in very recent times, but hunting a sustainable percentage, which is something we’ve been doing for 3.8 million years. The argument that we are more naturally vegetarian that carnivorous because we don’t have long incisors anymore and we have “long” intestines falls apart, too—we are clearly omnivorous. In Richard Wrangham’s book Catching Fire, (Harvard,2009), he notes that we’ve been cooking our food for about two million years. Hence our incisors wore down; we didn’t need them anymore because our food was soft–not because we weren’t eating meat. We were most certainly eating meat since this is what allowed us to grow such huge brains and eventually become upright. Again, there is tons of archeological data supporting this that you can verify. Our intestinal length *shrank by 60% as we evolved from the purely herbivorous, tree-dwelling species to the homo sapien. Hence, any argument claiming that at least some meat consumption isn’t part of our biological history and idea nutritional intake is ignoring four million years of evolution.

    I, for one, am not willing to gamble that it’s ethical to advise others to reverse millions of years of evolution within one generation. Perhaps we could gradually eat less meat until we don’t need it anymore for optimal physiological and mental health, say over a million years? I would love that as much as anyone else.

    Here are a few key points she makes in the nutritional section–not comprehensive by any means, as I’m just doing this from memory after reading the book–1) we were designed to have some animal protein to ensure proper consumption of omegas, healthy brain functioning including trytophan production (allowing for enough serotonin and mental health versus depression), 2) to eat much less sugar (the staples of the vegetarian diet—grains, beans, potatoes, etc. turn to glucose, eventually over-use and damage our insulin receptors, and lead to hypoglycemia and type II diabetes), etc. 3) SOY. Ay. After what she and many others have to say about the detrimental effects of eating soy, all I can do is hope that I haven’t ruined my fertility. One of my friends who was a vegan for two years and a vegetarian for six suffered from depression, low energy, and developed fibroids. This reflects what Keith states as possible deleterious effects of soy consumption.

    She duly notes that it’s of course easy to make the mistake of eating too much sugar or highly processed foods on a non-vegan diet as well.

    She notes numerous studies where formerly disease-free populations started developing diseases when exposed to the mainstays of a diet based on agriculture—flour, corn, grains…

    I’m not sure that I buy her 65-35 ratio of animal to plant sources for caloric intake, because I personally feel healthier eating the reverse. However it appears to be true that in many of the native populations studied these were normal ratios. It also may have to do with lifestyle and climate. I think that the idea of hunting, eating a lot of meat, and then being relatively inactive for a while to digest may apply to some of the groups mentioned such as the Masai and the Eskimos (a virtually cancer-free population).

    At any rate, I’m just writing out some ideas in no particular order, it’s an ongoing learning process for me, too, but I hope it’s helpful to some. I would start by analyzing the data very carefully (i.e.–The China Study–epidemiological studies or controlled studies? The latter are the only reliable ones…)

    • Paul Gilbreath Says:

      First. Of course starch ‘turns into glucose’. That’s the point of eating a long-chain sugar, for energy. Consider that Japanese Buddhists and macrobiotic vegetarians eat a primarily rice diet without damaging their insulin receptors.

      Of course, you’re also leaving out the fact that all staple plant starches contain sufficient quantities of all essential amino acids.

      Apart from some dabbling by yourself and your friend, you haven’t explored veganism very thoroughly, and all you offer here is conjecture and anecdote. So here’s an anecdote for you: I’ve been to animal rights events and know a dozen or so vegans personally, and haven’t run into the depression and lethargy that the diet supposedly causes. It’s easy to make wild logical leaps — my friend was vegan and unhealthy, so vegan diets are unhealthy! — when you eat like 99 percent of the population. When you lob accusations at a ‘weird’ diet, you have the privilege of never having to back them up. Usually.

      But when you do it here, in the face of all the contradictory evidence (hello, real vegans here, you can ask us) it just comes off as silly.

      On the question of evolution, I suggest that you read Steven Best’s essay here . On nutrition, see http://veganideal.org/content/real-food-comes-plants

  73. Eruc Brooks Says:

    To your first point. Veganism is perfectly healthy as long as you do it right. A really good guide to follow that has most of the basics for how to go veg is the cookbook Laurel’s Kitchen.

    I too was totally exhausted and dragging for my first two years as a vegan until I discovered the -key- info that many vegans should take zinc, especially if their soy intake is high. This is because soy is high in copper and if your body becomes copper toxic it will make you constantly tired and run down. Zinc counteracts copper and solves the problem. However only take the minimum daily RDA of zinc because it is easy to overload on zinc which is pretty unhealthy.

    I am also wheat allergic and getting off of wheat helped me -immensely-.

    I now eat whole grain rice and rice pasta, tons of veggies, potatoes, lots of legumes, lots of olive oil and some daily flax oil, and a bit of beer and wine, some dark chocolate relatively often, and I am healthier than I’ve ever been in my life. (By the way chocolate is high in copper too.)

    The supplements I take are; sublingual B-12, Zinc Picolinate, Dry Vitamin D, and 500 miligrams of vitamin C (the type made with rose hips) twice per day.

    The upshot is, if you try to go veg again, take some zinc and follow Laurel’s Kitchen and you’ll likely be a much happier camper ;)

  74. [...] forum. I'm getting lazy now too. But here are the rebuts I'm aware of, just for reference: Link Link Link Link [...]

  75. Anonymous Says:

    Lets face it. This is an obscure book. The only people giving it life are vegans who don’t like the message and members of meat-centered diet cults / veg*n haters who are paying to have their own prejudices sold back to them.

    Keith bragged that before she was pied her Amazon sales ranking was 4500 but afterwards it shot up to about 400. Guess what? It sank back down to 1700 in about 10 days.

    Dr. Neal Barnard of the PCRM has a book about using whole food vegan diets to treat diabetes. It was published at least 4 years ago and it is in the Top 100 at Amazon.

    4 years from now Keith’s book will be forgotten by the small number of people who even know about it now.

  76. Jenni Says:

    I have been giving this topic a lot of thought since I first heard about this book. I have been vegetarian for over 15 years and aspire to be vegan but keep giving into cheese and butter cravings. Without conscious effort, though, my diet has been evolving closer and closer to veganism: I can not longer tolerate eggs even though they used to be one of my favorite foods, and I rarely can eat dairy these days without remembering where it comes from which stops my desire for it.

    I enjoy studying nutrition as a hobby and have read quite a bit on the subject. When thinking about this topic, trying to have an open mind I thought, “what if I’m wrong? what if everything I’ve put all the proverbial eggs in the wrong basket?” and then I let that stew for a while. I became a vegetarian primarily for environmental reasons (but loved the nutritional benefits and feel moderate compassion to the suffering of animals, though it was not my primary motivation), so what if my diet really is worse for the environment than eating pasture-fed or wild meat?

    Here’s what I came up with after stewing on that for a while. I cannot physically kill an animal. Just can’t do it. I don’t want to live a lifestyle where people who can do it purposefully take the life of an animal for my consumption. It’s possible if I were starving to death I might be able to, but it doesn’t feel like I ever could even under those circumstances.

    Perhaps I was meant to be a vegetarian. Back in my carnivore days I had the hardest time preparing meat because I couldn’t bring myself to touch it raw. I couldn’t stand to eat any meat with bones or gristle or anything that reminded me of the animal it came from. I could only eat it comfortably when I could disassociate myself from what it was — which meant eating a lot of fast food places where the meat didn’t resemble it’s live state.

    People mention the “humaneness” of Polyface Farms, but after watching the chicken slaughter scene at Polyface in “Food, Inc.” , I can’t understand why that is considered humane — it may be better than hanging the cows by one leg but not much better. It’s life might have been better than a caged chicken, but no doubt it was much shorter than it should have been.

    Someone above mentioned not wanting to give up driving a car or limiting kids, but I would choose having less kids and not owning a car over having to go back to eating animal flesh. Even if vegetarianism is worse for the environment (which I’m not convinced of as yet), I simply cannot go back to eating animal flesh. It just feels so wrong on so many levels and my body responds in horror at the thought.

    The only peaceful way I can see for eating meat is letting the animals live out their natural lifespans and then eat it when it dies of old age, or maybe eat the animals killed accidentally (like roadkill).

    Some questions I still have on this topic: Would these “natural” or born-again meat eaters be willing to eat animals that we have a surplus of, like rats and mice (that aren’t bred for the purpose of being eaten, but caught naturally)? What about other animals not normally thought of as food by western standards, like skunks, raccoons, dogs, cats, etc.? And if there is not much difference between plants and animals, then as I see it there is not much difference between animals and humans, so what would be wrong about eating dead people (assuming they had already died by other means other than food production)?

    • kervennic Says:

      As far as i understand it, keeping food stored is quite unatural. If you have worked a bit in a small farm, you have seen that it is full of mice unless you make heavy use of poison or have many cats. You can choose the chemical way, i personnaly saw cats slowly dying after eating a poisoned rat and i think this is an horrible death. This is why poison is no good. If you are a vegetarian, you say, well we are not predators, we do not eat rats (you wonder if you could do it…), we let the cat do it, as well as the wolves should eat deers i forests. The problem is that then you have a kind of artificial ecosystem. If you do not have any animals in the farm (like the ideal vegan farm without the need of manure and chemical fertilizer, wonder if there is one in the whole world), you are ok with many undernourished sick cats after a while: they will just die out and new offspring will regularly starve to death after a few month so that you have a balance with very little rat in your farm and can store grain or food. But farmers i know do not like the view of these dying ghosts who predate on any bird they see, including their own chicken if they have, and keep asking for food all the time. They choose a solution that you will find horrible: they but the very young cat offspring in a bag and put the bag in water of fire. This is sad but the all system is totally man made and at one point man has to take the responsibility unless he castrates all cats, including all the feral ones (good luck), manipulate cats to get only the desired offspring or evermore complicated manipulation.

      In industrial farm you do not have this problem: silos are now metal, well locked, but they can still leak, so you still might need such solutions here and then. For them, poison does a better job (though rats are really tough animals).

      But this is to illustrate the problem: if you do not have this in your silo, you have it in your field, with field rats you have to exterminate with chemicals (that is usually what they do). Rats and rabbit are good illustration of this natural urge to create something to eat what is on place. There are reasons for that.
      This is what lierre keith is talking about. This process is hidden, not visible in the final products, but it is there, and you cannot claim you could avoid it. The other way is to accept the process, to be honest and work in a farm to observe it and try to make it more human, more ecological and avoid wastes.
      This probably goes with the reintroduction of animals on farm for manure and land care. And it will be hard to tame the wolve to do all the dirty job instead of us. And maybe we are also predators, but with some empathy, which is clearly making things more difficult…but doable without degrading our humanity. I do not think traditional peasant were so unhuman people because they were killing their chicken. The funny thing is that they have also lost the habit. I saw one i know, a hunter, chicken killer, unable to kill a lamb for a village gathering. He called an iranian emigrated from the iranian countryside, who was alos at the party and asked him to do the dirty job… and went running behind some heystack putting his hand on his ears not to see and hear the lamb being slaughtered….

      This is a bit what we have become, urban people

      • Eric Brooks Says:

        Kervennic, your argument about ‘pest’ animals logically contradicts itself. Since far more monoculture grain is used to feed meat animals, meat eating only makes the ‘pest’ problems due to grain storage worse.

        And again, growing all meat animals on natural grazelands is simply not remotely sustainable with current global populations, so that does not solve the problem either.

        The best way to eliminate ‘pest’ problems is to plant highly complex permaculture agriculture zones which have a wide variety of different types of plants for human consumption which satisfy the full spectrum of human dietary needs. This eliminates the large swath mono-crops that allow ‘pests’ to grow exponentially in number. This is because in a diverse ecosystem in which the plant and incidental animal species are highly varied, no one species rises to predominance and all species are kept in check by the others, and by the natural limits on each species’ unique food sources.

        This works best when the plant foods are perennials instead of annuals, because harvests of annual crops are what makes storing foods in large bins necessary; whereas perennials can be grown and harvested on a more as-needed basis.

  77. Steve Says:

    Quote from the site Fat Head

    About being pied, Lierre Keith writes:


    That really helps. And the silver lining in the cayenne cloud is that my book went from 4500 on amazon to 1503 yesterday.

    About 4 weeks later it is back down to # 4,439.

    4 years after being published “The China Study” by Dr. T. Colin Campbell is ranked about #115 on Amazon.

    That is the difference being a research scientist with a formal education and 70 grant years of peer reviewed research funding makes versus being a writer with a liberal arts background.

    The message of “The China Study” is that disease goes down the more people eat a predominantly plant based diet.

    Amazon Sales Rank For “The Vegetarian Myth”

  78. Kera Says:

    Some of the points in the book are definitely worthwhile, especially the arguments against factory farming and modern food production. The problem is that I’m finding a lot of people use the book as an excuse to be ethically/morally lazy. I am not perfect by any means. My number one ethical concern is to reduce the intentional infliction of pain/suffering on sentient creatures. If I meet someone who turned omni after reading this book who only eats meat, eggs, and dairy from small family owned farms they have visited themselves and seen with their own eyes that the animals are comfortable and healthy until slaughter, then I will shake his or her hand. If more people would do that, then factory farms would be seriously hurt and I would be very happy (not as happy as I would be if everyone were vegan). But the truth is everyone I have met who has read this book and gone from veg*n to omni resembles any other average American consumer in their food habits. They may prefer to buy their meat and dairy from Whole Foods where the labels “Free Range,” “Cage Free”, and “Grass Fed” are emblazoned on the packaging like “Low Fat” used to be, but mostly they will eat out in restaurants (the hip new steakhouse in Tribeca, the chicken and rib place uptown, etc.), buy animal products without much thought, and eat what they want with a new sense of moral superiority because they’re armed with the statistics in this book. Basically, I’m finding that people are returning to eat what they want and become reabsorbed into mainstream culture without any guilt because they now have this book that tells them vegans are ruining the environment . . . you might as well enjoy a juicy steak! What I’m saying is they’re not following the arguments of the book . . . they’re not returning to “local, sustainable” meat and dairy . . . they’re just returning to meat and dairy period.
    I guess to those who read this book and decide that an omni diet is morally superior to a vegan diet, please visit the farms and factories that manufacture/produce the animal products you consume. All of them. I just think that’s the least we can do for those whose entire lives are spent preparing to become our meal.
    The argument that “well, plants can feel pain. If we don’t eat animals because they can feel pain then we shouldn’t eat plants. It would be absurd to not eat plants or animals. Therefore go ahead and eat everything” is an old one. No one has ever found plants to possess nociception. It is well established that fish, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians all have nociception (insects, bivalves, arthopods are unclear–so I err on the side of caution and refrain from eating them). So I’m going on that. When someone shows me a plant that has nociceptors, I’ll stop eating/using them and their byproducts, too.
    I applaud anyone who researches the source of their food and learns how it is produced. And I mean no disrespect to anyone here. I’m only speaking my truth from my experience. What matters to me is how the animals are treated by the companies who take our money. We should all do a better job following the money.

  79. Steve Says:

    An anarchist / animal rights group bought the domain of the same name as the vegan bashing book “Vegetarian Myth” to contradict the many factual errors in the book

    http://www.vegetarianmyth.com/

  80. Gregory Lemieux Says:

    I only recently came upon this book and as a vegetarian, wanna-be urban homesteader with an interest in permaculture, I would echo many of the comments made here stating that the author is misguided and incorrect. I’ve been skimming through a bunch of reviews and discussion on this book and I’ve yet to see the work of a particular research institute presented that I think speaks to the concerns of both the primitivist and vegetarian ‘camps’ (although I feel that even contextualizing it as such does a disservice to most people). The Land Institute is working on developing perennial food crops to help tackle many of the problems cited above: feeding a burgeoning population, mitigating and even rolling back the degradation of the world’s soil, fostering ecosystem diversity around and within the ‘food crop’ area, etc. I do not believe they would necessarily consider themselves permaculturists, but I find there efforts closely aligned with that agricultural technique. Here’s the website: http://www.landinstitute.org/

  81. beforewisdom Says:

    Erik Marcus recently posted about an article Keith wrote for Mother Earth News(http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-community/the-truth-about-vegetarianism.aspx):

    http://www.vegan.com/blog/2010/08/02/lierre-keiths-truth-about-vegetarianism/

    In it he pointed to an excellent review of her book that ripped it to shreds:

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R3M4LC3USB5H3S?ie=UTF8&ref_=cm_cr_rdp_perm

    My favorite quote from that review


    The author sites 207 references in this book.
    62 of those references are websites (~30%)
    18 are newspapers and magazines (~7%)
    32 are journals (~15%)
    95 are other books (~46%)

    First of all, think about that. 30% of the references in this book come from website information. Five of those 62 website references were Wikipedia. Wikipedia! One was Google Answers. I wont let my freshmen students use Wikipedia as a reference in their papers, why would it be acceptable for a book? Like websites, newspaper and magazine information needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Of the 32 journals less than half come from well known, peer-reviewed sources. The remaining 46% are books, which can truly say anything the author cares to print (as this one does) and only show that the author is getting her information from another source (and another opinion) aside from the primary one. The point of this is to make clear that this is a book that is sold as (and which many positive reviews hype as) providing scientific, factual, intellectual knowledge on the vegetarian/diet/health debate. In reality less than 8% of the book is coming from peer-reviewed, fact-checked sources which can provide unbiased, neutral information.

  82. steve Says:

    To: beforewisdom
    The quality of references have nothing to do with the quality of the logic Keith uses in her arguments. What, are we supposed to decide what to believe based upon where references come from, as if expert testimony provides the final word on anything? Experts can be found disagreeing with one another in the most prestigious peer reviewed publications.
    Putting aside such snobbery, here is some logic no vegetarian can defeat.
    If you were in the wild with none of the artificial cooking and farming gadgetry, what would you eat, what could you eat to stay alive? The answer to that questions cuts to the quick as to what we are designed for.
    No person has ever survived in such a circumstance for any length of time without eating other creatures. I too wish it were different, but wisdom demands that we face reality, not attempt to force our emotional whims upon nature.

    • Eric Brooks Says:

      Steve, your claim is obviously complete bullshit.

      For the purposes of eating, the human body is essentially the same as other primates and many primates survive perfectly well, and in a completely natural state, by eating nothing but fruit, nuts, leaves. etc, with almost no meat in their diets whatsoever.

      Your misconception is brought about by the fact that modern humans have so profoundly damaged the global ecosystem by demolishing all of its complex forests that, if a human walked out into that stripped bare world with no stores to shop at, and no agriculture to depend on, there would indeed be little to eat but other animals.

      But that condition has nothing whatsoever to do with the way humans were naturally built to live.

      Just like chimps, humans can easily live on a vegetarian diet in the wild, when that wild is not degraded.

      • steve Says:

        Eric–We are not chimps nor a chimps vegetarian. Moreover, there are still totally natural pristine areas in the world that hold primitive people living off nature. Explain why not one has ever been found that subsisted, or subsists, vegan.

    • beforewisdom Says:

      @steve post #87

      You can’t make a logical argument unless you start with some facts or assumptions. Logic is about the anatomy of an argument, not the veracity of an argument. An argument can be perfectly logical and perfectly false at the same time if the the facts it is based on are false. Criticism of references is extremely valid as it calls into question the assumed facts of her argument.

      • steve Says:

        beforewisdom–Agreed, but then you need to point out the errors in fact, not merely, ad hominem-like, attack the sources.

  83. Anonymous Says:

    Steve,

    “What we are designed for”? Really?
    How about this?: What if you were in “the wild”, naked and without any tools or weapons (i.e. gadgetry or artificial means)? Would you run down an animal with your slow human speed, pounce on it with your comparatively weak human power and rip into it’s flesh with your flat teeth (compared to actual carnivores or omnivores) or pathetically blunt and soft (compared to actual carnivores or omnivores) human fingernails, having it’s blood flow into your small (compared to actual carnivores and omnivores) human mouth? Then would you eat this animal raw without cooking gadgetry? If the answers are no then it’s rather hard to believe that humans are “designed” (by what or whom?) to consume animals.
    And where the hell is this “wild”? A tropical area? The artic? A forest in eastern Europe? The woods behind my apartment complex? Or are you just romanticizing survival “the (generic) wild” to justify your unnecessary consumption of animals while not in “the wild” when there is no conflict?
    Also, perhaps you’ve heard of an activity called gathering or foraging? There are countless numbers of wild edible plants that humans have been relying on for sustenance for our history.
    http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com
    Regardless of this, and even if you counter or dismiss my argument, many of us simply do not need to consume other animals and we simply can make the choice not to. Do you live in “the wild” steve? Do you find yourself stranded in “the wild” often? If no, then please recognize the logical fallacies your are relying on for your rationalizations and think harder before commenting. Thanks!

    • steve Says:

      Anonymous–Okay, I’ve thought real hard and appreciate you teaching me with your great depth of learning. But I still can’t seem to get it through my thick skull why we are the only creature on the planet to cook our food. I’m also flumoxed by the fact that no primitive people have ever been found who do not eat meat. I am in a dither trying to cerebrate the eons of time before agriculture and fire when humans had to eat the raw stuff you say we are unsuited for. Cogitating your argument that vegans do just fine on their fabricated modern foods and synthetic vitamins, amino acids, etc., I am reminded of prisoners of war who survived for years on water and rice. We are concerned about health here, not just survival, aren’t we?

      • Anon Says:

        These vegans are pretty removed from the modern world: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/life/2005/01/07/stories/2005010700080200.htm

        “We shared a meal that consisted of jo (barley) roti baked in an earthern oven, lettuce leaves, roasted potato, spring onion, boiled cauliflower and wild mint. Women cooked in an open hearth, burning fallen twig collected from the trees in their courtyard. There is a strict taboo against tree felling. The simple meal was fresh and extremely tasty. The following week the trek continued into the villages of Baldes, Samit, Garkun, Darchik and Hanu. The few thousand Brok-pa Aryans have over 5,000 years lived in these hostile terrain at 15,000 ft altitude, subsisting on a vegan diet.”

        Also, I have to address this:

        “Cogitating your argument that vegans do just fine on their fabricated modern foods and synthetic vitamins, amino acids, etc., I am reminded of prisoners of war who survived for years on water and rice. We are concerned about health here, not just survival, aren’t we?”

        You’ve never met a raw, high-raw, or whole-food vegan then. Rest assured that there are as many ways to be vegan as there are non vegan, but I can personally attest to my health improving once I took a ‘less is more’ approach to nutrition and dumped the processed, vitamin fortified foods. Our concept of nutrition is influenced by culture… to my knowledge, there are no well funded, long term scientific studies of raw vegans to properly debunk the B12 supplementation mythos. However, the anecdata of vegan’s personal experiences remains the same, studies or no studies. Even if my experience was a fluke, I simply know too many people to say that we all need pills, seaweed, nutritional yeast, or any other vaunted source. I get my B12 from, very simply, plants. Many of us do. Some might not be able to do so, but let’s not commit nutritional essentialism. Bodies are different.

        P.S.: I don’t have the article handy, but at least one (discovered frozen) Ice Age human’s body contained the residue of fruits and nuts, not meat.

        • STEVE Says:

          Anon–Thank you for that reference. I am skeptical about people surviving exclusively on lettuce, onions, potatoes, tree hugging and the like in -20 degree climates. It would seem that if veganism is the proper dietary standard, then there would be abundant examples of non-meat eating primitive cultures detailed in the scientific literature, not just in publications with an agenda, such as the Hindu reference. There would also be examples of extended survival in the wild of those lost in the wilderness eating only vegetation. The bottom line is that when it comes to survival (in our natural state), humans lose their eating “principles” and become opportunists. If there are fruit and nuts available they would be eaten. Unfortunately these are seasonal and geographically restricted. So too would we dine on anything else we could eat and digest in its raw state–including the most nutrient dense foods–non-plant creatures.

  84. Anon Says:

    http://www.ivu.org/history/native_americans.html

    I found this article interesting, in particular the high regard that the first nations had for corn. Perhaps we’ve become too grain-phobic?

    • STEVE Says:

      Anon and Anonymous–Thank you for the references. I would argue that the majority of our genetic history is preagricultural. What your authors call ancient is really not. In fact, on a time line 550 miles long going back to the begining of life on Earth, the cooking and agricultural era would represent but a few inches. For the majority of the 550 miles we would have eaten what we could find in nature, digest raw, and survive on. That would not be grass, fruit, grains, beans, cauliflower, or celery. Wish it were different, but it is not. Granted we may have experienced some epigenetic influences since the agricultural age, but that has not changed the basic genome.

      • Eric Brooks Says:

        Steve, your response totally ignores the immense importance of punctuated equilibrium. Some dramatic evolutionary changes take place very rapidly. And the epigenes you mention, along with myriad unique protein expressions dependent on complex genetic/epigenetic/protein/environmental interactions is profoundly important to contemporary species expression.

        It is simply not credible to argue that the human species remains more adapted along ancient hominid expressions compared to more recent ones.

        • steve Says:

          Eric–The “puctuated” evolution to which you refer is entirely speculative, since evolution in the macro sense is entirely speculative as well. Our genome does not change to accomodate our eating whims. Genomes are highly complex information systems, and such systems obey the Second Law and degrade over time, they do not complexify and improve. I have already addressed this flawed fundamental assumption (evolution) of vegans way up the line in this string.

          • Eric Brooks Says:

            @Steve – Nonsense. Punctuated Equilibrium is an incredibly strong and widely accepted cornerstone of current evolutionary theory, which was developed by Stephen Jay Gould, arguably the most respected evolutionary theorist since Darwin himself.

            • STEVE Says:

              Eric–Please, we are to believe that a THEORY is fact based on the authority of Gould and Darwin, and consensus opinion, rather than facts and sense? Citing authority and group think proves nothing. Show me the facts that prove life can spontaneously emerge from inorganic matter. Show me the biochemical step by step facts proving that any creature can, or has ever, developed a new organ or transmutated into another sort of creature, that if left to its own devises will not return to the original wild type. Show me the facts that prove that macroevolution (not mere variety within a type) obeys the absolute laws of science, such as the Second Law and information science. Get the “Solving The Big Questions” book at asifthinkingmatters.com to see why both evolution and religion are false, and what the only rational and scientific alternative is. To base something as important as nutrition on the quicksand of a cockamamie idea like evolution is a dangerous proposition.

              • Eric Brooks Says:

                @Steve,

                I’m glad you made clear you don’t believe in evolution.

                Since you don’t believe in the theory of evolution, you are simply a nutball, and there is no point in continued debate with a nutball…

                • STEVE Says:

                  Eric–To the contrary, a nutball is someone who “believes” and has “faith” in something for which there is no clear logical or factual evidence. You were invited to present your proofs that life emerged from inorganic matter and transmutates (aka “evolution”). Instead, you name call. A clear sign of intellectual desperation.

        • Marcel Perez Says:

          Eric, do you have an email or facebook we can chat about this, im a vegan and i support you 100% …THANKS.. my email is mapr89@hotmail.com

  85. beforewisdom Says:

    Yet another article that shows Lierre Keith did not make an informed or serious effort to get the facts right in her book. This time is pawned on her claim that plant based diets do not have tryptophan:

    Tryptophan, Milk and Depression by Virginia Messina RD

    http://www.theveganrd.com/2010/09/tryptophan-milk-and-depression.html

  86. beforewisdom Says:

    Author and Registered Dietitian Virginia Messina RD reviews Lierre Keith’s book “The Vegetarian Myth”

    Review of “The Vegetarian Myth”

    http://www.theveganrd.com/2010/09/review-of-the-vegetarian-myth.html

  87. Chris Says:

    I have actually read Keith’s book. Her main position is nothing new. I did learn one thing I did not know before reading her book. Keith is a misandrist. Here’s a quote from page 57.

    “This leads to the question of who controls women’s bodies. Those of us who are actually women? Or are women just another resource for men to use, in their endless quest to prove their toxic masculinity and breed soldiers for civilization’s constant state of war?”

    Question…… Can one imagine a book published in recent years with a similar statement with the genders reversed?

    Like all sexist feminists who are ONLY concerned with the human/civil rights of females, they blame all wrong doing on men. Cherry picking the facts perpetuates their irrational belief that women are victims who do not participate in society. Scapegoating the male of the species allows women like Keith to avoid self examination.

    I am not surprised that Keith was a vegan for 20 years nor that she is now scapegoating the lifestyle. Both belief systems have a high degree of irrational thinking.

    In spite of my lack of respect for her intellect, I agree with her that veganism and vegetarianism lack moral integrity. This is a problem of the movement’s own making given the extremely rigid definition of “animal exploitation”. Although I support the overall egalitarian position, the definition of animal exploitation need rethinking. To do otherwise by standing fast on this tenet smacks of dogma. This is why the movement is considered a new religion by some, myself included.

    If the majority here want to debate on how many fairies can dance on the head of a pin, go right a head and ignore the basics facts of nature, ecosystems, and agriculture.

    I don’t know about you, but when my beliefs are challenged by facts I change my mind. What do you do?

  88. Chris Says:

    I am posting this again since my first post was completely removed. Not sure what was unacceptable. I criticized Keith as many do here. I did not use profanity, nor did I breach any freedom of speech laws of the US (freest in the world ) or Canadian law (not so free). I will post what only a portion of my earlier post and see it it passes the censorship of this site. Here is part of my previous post, which is a direct quote form Keith’s book “The Vegetarian Myth”.

    “This leads to the question of who controls women’s bodies. Those of us who are actually women? Or are women just another resource for men to use, in their endless quest to prove their toxic masculinity and breed soldiers for civilization’s constant state of war?”

    Is it just me, but is this a misandrist statement? If the genders were reversed, would it considered a misogynist statement? Would a book with this statement even be published?

    My original post was more on topic, but I suspect that it was the specific quote from the book that was so objectionable that my entire post was censored. Let’s see what happens with this a more politically correct version. If this does not make it past the VOC censors then the message is very clear.

  89. [...] on a thread here a poster writes: “This is a bit off-topic, but I just have to say that I find Lierre Keith’s [...]

  90. Lierre Keith, the author of this book, has come closer to literally doing that than almost any writer I’ve ever read. Not only does her passion for her subject bleed through in almost every sentence, she is a superb lyrical prose stylist.

    • Eric Brooks Says:

      Can you tell in what way Keith’s bleeding passion and prose mitigate the fact that her books assertions are complete load of crap?

  91. D. Says:

    Lierre Keith is a layer. Period.

    She never was vegan for twenty years.

    During those 20 years, she “binged” (her quote) on eggs and dairy in every chance she got.

  92. Jessica Says:

    Hi,

    Just on a technical note in regards to sustainable farming. Is what she says true regarding the topsoil? That we need animal manure to build it?

    I saw the video footage of the vegan farm, and compared it to Joel Salatin’s farm, and I have to say that the grass on Salatin’s farm looks a whole lot lusher and healthier (you could attribute to the climate/location).

    If so, then why not let the animals procreate naturally, like they are biologically programmed to do anyway, and then eat them? And if we do that, then case closed. Her argument that the polyculture farm is the only sustainable method is true. And we can start moving away from reliance on factory farming, industrial agriculture and fossil fuels.

    • Eric Brooks Says:

      @ Jesse

      Hi,

      No, Keith’s claim is false. There are permaculture forestry, agriculture, and ‘green manure’ techniques that work just fine.

      Also keep in mind that wild birds, other animals, and fish, can be allowed to interact with veganic forestry and gardens, providing all of the benefits of not only their manure, but also their entire bodies when they die, into the system.

      So instead of eating the animals and fish, why not simply allow them to be fully cycled through the ecosystem, giving -more- soil nutrient and carbon storage benefit.

      Look up:

      Green Manure

      • Jessica Says:

        Ok. Then we can ignore the environmental argument for eating meat because it’s possible to raise vegan foods sustainably, without relying on monocrops, fossil fuels or depleting the soil.

        And so, the choice to go vegan/vegetarian/omnivore/carnivore etc, (and the means in which those food products are farmed) comes down to ethical, political and nutritional beliefs.

        So the question is. Is there a “right way” for everyone? Or is the choice entirely subjective to each individual?

        Seeing as there are so many people with so many varied diets and beliefs… I’m thinking the latter.

        • Eric Brooks Says:

          Beyond that even.

          A vegan diet is vital to saving the planetary ecosystem, because a permaculture meat/dairy based diet cannot possibly be scaled to the entire planet. We would need several planet Earths to make that possible (or billions fewer people).

          Vegan diets require massively less water and square feet of land space even in permaculture, so it may (and I emphasize may) be possible to sustainably feed 7 to 9 billion people through mostly vegan organic agriculture. (Though likely even with a vegan civilization we will need to scale down our population.)

          And we still have the situation that in the -real- world most people who eat meat/dairy will be fed by factory agriculture to meet that need, and so the real environmental impact of a meat/dairy based diet is, and will remain, profoundly bad for the planet.

          So not only is Keith wrong, she is ridiculously wrong. We need to go vegan as much as possible to save the Earth.

          The simple way to put it, is that you reduce your negative impact (pollution, erosion, depletion) on the land, water, and seas 10% by going vegan, and reduce your contribution to greenhouse gasses by at least 20%.

          • Jessica Says:

            Well, people aren’t going to turn vegan overnight. Even if it is the best environmental solution. And I’m not convinced that it is. Maybe there are less greenhouse emissions, but you have to take into account effectiveness of green vs animal manure in renewing the topsoil, labour intensity of farming, and also alternative food sources such as ocean fishing and wild animal hunting, which, if done sustainably, can save agricultural land and have zero environmental impact.

            So, I think priority #1 is to get those animals in factory farms back out on the land, eating grass like they are supposed to. So what Keith is advocating (polyface farming/home-grown food) is a step in the right direction, both environmentally and ethically. It helps us get away from the nightmare that is factory farms, fossil fuels and monocrops.

            Then, if we find that isn’t enough to save the planet – and we find that vegan farms are more sustainable – those farms can be converted into vegan polyface farms later on.

            • D. Says:

              Jessica, have you seen Gary Yourofsky’s incredible speech on youtube?

              I hope you will.

              • Jessica Says:

                D,

                I just watched it now. And actually, when I see that there are so many meat alternatives I don’t think turning vegan would be so hard. As long as they are healthy to eat long term.

                The animal abuse makes my stomach turn. There are unfortunately some very sick psychotic people out there. But I do make a separation between the unnecessary act of animal cruelty and the necessary act of killing an animal for food (if meat eating is necessary).

                The thing is, this speech contradicts everything in Keiths book! So, now I don’t know who or what to believe!

                • Jessica Says:

                  Also, I’m thinking about it now. And what Yourofsky and Keith say are right about different farming industries. You have too look at the whole processes used in the industries – not just the products that you think are most “ethical”. And then choose whether or not to support those industries.

                  In the dairy industry. Obtaining milk, cheese and yogurt involves the stealing away and slaughter of baby male calves.
                  In the Egg industry. Obtaining eggs involves the slaughter of baby male chicks.

                  You can’t separate the obtaining of the animal product from the killing of the innocent animal because to get one, the other must happen. It’s how the industry operates, and by buying animal products, you are supporting that industry and everything it involves, including killing. You have to look at the whole picture. It’s like saying “I want the taste of cigarettes, but I don’t want the lung cancer”. Unfortunately, it’s a complete package. So vegetarianism is really no better ethically than a standard omnivorous diet.

                  I can’t believe I never even realised this. Thanks for the speech.

                  • Eric Brooks Says:

                    Many see the terms vegan and vegetarian as essentially the same and would call what you are describing a ‘lacto-ovo vegetarian’.

                    • Jessica Says:

                      Well, those many would be wrong. Sorry.

                      Vegetarianism is the exclusion of eating animal flesh from the diet. It doesn’t necessarily extend to animal products like eggs and dairy. So it is entirely different to veganism.

                    • Eric Brooks Says:

                      I have been a vegetarian for 27 years and can tell you that the consensus in the vegetarian community is that lacto-ovo should be added to the word vegetarian to make clear that a person is eating dairy and eggs; and that otherwise the terms vegetarian and vegan essentially mean the same thing.

                      And you have what authority and knowledge base exactly, to disagree with millions of vegetarians?

                      You clearly aren’t even a vegetarian, so what, if anything at all, would you know about the distinctions between the terms for vegetarianism?

                      Give me a break…

                    • Tara Says:

                      Just as a point of information, I don’t know a single vegan that would ever consider vegan and vegetarian to be “essentially the same thing”. I was a vegetarian for 25+ years, and have been a vegan for almost 2 now, and it is a fundamental shift as broad as the difference between omnivores and vegetarians.

                      Just needed to point that out. In terms of the rest of this discussion, I tend to agree with the rest of what you are saying Eric. But that comment was very much in error. Only vegetarians view the two as similar, just as people who eat meat say that they are “practically vegetarian” if they only have meat once a day….that’s about how close a vegetarian is to a vegan. Huge gap there.

                    • Eric Brooks Says:

                      @ Tara – Where are you from? Here in California (kind of a ground zero for vegetarianism) almost all of the vegans I know have been working collectively for decades to do away with the old distinction between the terms ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’.

            • Eric Brooks Says:

              First, on soil building, there are non-manure based methods that build up soil nutrients and carbon incredibly rapidly, much more so than traditional animal manure based farming. To see examples, look up on ‘key line’ and ‘carbon farming’ on the internet.

              Second, on pastoralism.

              The point that you are missing is that it takes far more land to do what Keith is suggesting; so much that if we switched to her mythological pastoral utopia for animal production it would quickly overwhelm and wipe out the entire planet. This is precisely why factory farm animal agriculture exists in the first place, because it is the only way to meet our high level of meat consumption without taking up every square inch of the Earth to do so.

              The truly achievable alternative is to get people to go organic and eat as low on the food chain as they can manage. It is not an all or nothing proposition. Meat eating and veganism are two ends of a spectrum. The key is to get people to transition as far toward the vegan end as possible.

              Finally on oceans. Earth’s oceans are already totally and rapidly collapsing because we are vacuuming them of so many of the living beings in them for food. It is absolutely -vital- that we get as many people as possible to stop eating fish and other marine life immediately.

              If the oceans die, the planet dies.

              • Jessica Says:

                Keith’s book explains that factory farms developed due to a surplus of grain that was created by government subsidies. The shift from grass-fed to grain-fed cattle meant that they no longer needed the large fields and could be confined in small areas, making farming more efficient (and also awful for the animals).

                She also addresses the land problem by saying that we need to reclaim the prairies and stop relying on monocrops. This land could be converted back into grassland for cattle and animals to graze on – so instead of moving the grain and feeding it to the factory farm cows (which is unnatural), regrow the grasslands and move the cows back onto them. You could completely cut out both the unnecessary farming of monocrops, the reliance on fossil fuels AND the unnecessary factory farming and feeding of grains to animals which is unhealthy and unnatural.

                So I disagree that land is the problem as it’s being wasted as we speak.

                So, if we were to take a macro approach I maintain that step 1 is get rid of the monocrops. That is the ultimately the source of the problem. Replace them with sustainable farms that may or may not include animals. AND, then we can strike a balance between human population size, environmental effects and meat-eating/veganism.

                And, in terms of a micro approach – what she’s saying is spot on. Grow your own food. Buy organic. Buy local. In terms of greenhouse gases, it’s better to have a couple of chickens in the backyard eating bugs and worms than drive to the store to buy your vegetables (which have come from who knows where). Plus, if you don’t have the time or energy to keep up a vegetable garden at home, the chickens would be lower maintenance. And if we are talking about environmental impact, having chickens in the backyard would be better than buying those packaged meat-replacement products which have been produced in factories far away and so have high food-miles/greenhouse gases.

                So to be honest, this debate is getting kind of messy. I think we need to systematically approach food choices from different angles: environment, ethics and nutrition. And depending on the angle taken we’re going to reach different conclusions as to what is “best”.

                • Eric Brooks Says:

                  Jessica, what you need to understand about Keith’s book (and what you have just written which is based on its ideas) are simply completely wrong. The only thing true in Keith’s book is her description of CAFO agriculture. After that description of current facts, she goes off into complete fantasy land speculation that fits her anti-civilization mentality, but has absolutely no basis in reality whatsoever.

                  There is no ‘wasted’ land anywhere waiting to be switched to permaculture pastoral meat production. This concept is complete fiction. Near every square inch of land available for agriculture is being used for -compact- factory monocrops and -compact- factory animal production.

                  As soon as you try to change this paradigm to pastoral permaculture meat production, the amount of land you need to produce the meat -vastly- increases; so much so that you would have to have at least 3 or 4 planet Earths to have enough room to do it.

                  Contrarily, the amount of carbs and protein that you can get out of a back yard with intensive permaculture orchard and vegetable based agriculture is -massive- compared to letting ‘a couple of chickens’ run around in that same back yard.

                  And a properly designed orchard/vegetable farm which does not use monocrops does not take much work to maintain at all.

                  I actually kept chickens when I was a kid. Because they have to be kept penned in a small area, wherever they roam they create nothing but bare dirt and are an incredible waste of land.

                  It is widely understood by anyone who knows anything about food production that Keith’s conclusions in her book are complete nonsense.

                  Please learn much more before spreading Keith toxic and dangerously inaccurate ideas.

                  • Jessica Says:

                    Eric,
                    1. The land is being effectively wasted if the food it produces has no nutritional value whatsoever. Keith’s argument is that the produce from GMOs, monocrops, CAFOs and factory farmed animals has little to no nutritional value. What is your opinion on this?

                    If there is minimal nutrition being produced by the current method. And we can increase the total nutrition (and the living standards) of cows by moving them back onto reclaimed (from monocrop) pastoral land. Then overall, more people can be fed. It’s a matter of quantity vs quality, but overall, there is BETTER nutrition, BETTER environment and BETTER ethics.

                    2. Bill Mollison, the original inventor of permaculture, incorporated chickens in his design as a labor-saving way to ward off fruit flies, insects and bugs. This is exactly what Keith did.

                    Based on her beliefs that meat is a necessary part of the diet. Her system is the most sustainable and ethical. Your beliefs diverge and are different because you think that eating meat and meat products are not necessary.

                    But your two solutions are the same. Keith says permaculture including animals to satisfy nutritional, environmental and ethical needs. You say permaculture without animals to satisfy nutritional, environmental and ethical needs.

                    So, the question is. Do people need to eat meat? Some (most) say yes, others say no. Some say we need to eat less. Some call themselves vegetarians and only eat animal products and disregard the killing that is involved in that process.

                    To satisfy the people who believe meat is necessary. Keiths farm is ideal. Not to mention, an eye-opener to people who think that a vegan or vegetarian diet is ethical and ignore the processes involved.

                    And Eric, after all, we don’t live in the perfect world. You have to prioritise and make compromises depending on your location. For example. I live in a unit in Montreal. I can’t grow my own food. ALL my fresh vegetables in winter, even organic are imported. So are any vegan substitutes. Therefore, MASSIVE fossil fuel use. Whereas there are dairy farmers just down the road. But dairy involves killing animals. So what should I do? Kill the baby animal, or rape the earth for gasoline to import my vegetables?

                    Please stop being condescending and rude and get off your self-righteous high-horse. We are ALL here trying to get the best possible outcome and find solutions to the problem.

                    And by the way, where do you source your food? If you have the ideal umbrella solution, that can be applied to everyone, regardless of circumstance or environment. Why aren’t you sharing it?

                    So far, all I understand is that you are supporting the status quo. Animals in feedlots, GMOs, monocrops. At least Keith is coming up with positive alternatives based on her beliefs.

                    • Eric Brooks Says:

                      Jessica,

                      The information that you are getting from Keith’s book is simply wrong.

                      On health.

                      I have been a vegan for 17 years and I am perfectly healthy, and almost all of the vegans that know have been vegan for a very long time and are also perfectly healthy. There is no validity at all to Keith’s claims that veganism is bad for human health. There is no scientific proof of her claims whatsoever.

                      On food value.

                      Keith is -ridiculously- exaggerating the case when she claims that most or all of food nutrient value is lost in the factory farm and CAFO process. Yes, this kind of food is less healthy but not enough to make it possible to feed 7 billion people on a pastoral meat based diet. Some food vegetables have lost up -to- around 40% of their value through factory agriculture. (Often the loss is considerable but not quite that bad.) Meat has conceivably lost a similar amount of value. But remember, if we were to try to feed every person on earth with a pastoral meat based diet it takes far more square acreage of land mass to do it. This brings us to the next point.

                      Scalability – Mollison’s permaculture.

                      Yes Bill Mollison used animals in his systems, and those systems are sustainable, but not for enough people per acre to feed meat regularly to everyone on the planet. Mollison only focuses on the local small ecosystem that he is designing, not the whole planet and its capacity. Mollison did a great job of creating permaculture and proving that agriculture can be done sustainably. But that was just the beginning. We now need to further evolve agriculture to account for a planetary scale that will sustainably feed current populations. It is simply impossible to do that with pastoral meat based diets. As I said before, it would take at least three extra planet Earths (and possibly as many as ten) to have enough land on which to do that.

                      The reason for this is that CAFOs are -highly- concentrated. They are designed to take up as little land acreage as possible. When you switch to even -permaculture- pastoralism, you have to -vastly- increase the square acreage overwhich that new agriculture will take place. So let’s generously say you increase the pastoral system food value by a full 50% through permaculture. Great. You still need somewhere between 1.5 and 5 planet Earths to meet the demand (the actual reality would be somewhere around 3 planet Earths. So on a planetary scale, it is simply not sustainable to feed everyone on a pastoral meat based diet.

                      Letting wild animals run in and out of a permaculture system is fine. But as soon as you start eating those animals, you start wasting huge amounts of energy. This is because those animals are constantly eating and burning energy themselves; most of it is lost. So when you eat a duck instead of beans for protein, you have just unnecessarily wasted most of the food and energy that the duck ate and burned while building up the very limited amount of nutrients and energy that are actually stored in its body. The energy loss is massive. So when you eat plants directly instead of processing them through animals you only use about a tenth of the water, land acreage, soil, and inputs for your diet. And you therefore also produce far less negative impacts on the environment. In the case of greenhouse gasses, vegans generate at least 20% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

                      Feeding everyone on the planet on a pastoral meat diet, for all of these reasons, is absolutely impossible and would be disastrous to the global ecosystem.

                      Most importantly, since going vegan so vastly decreases greenhouse gas emissions, it is vitally important to get as many people as possible to do so, so that we can reverse the climate crisis in time to avoid a massive global catastrophe.

                    • Eric Brooks Says:

                      On your other two points.

                      Fossil fuel.

                      Where you live has nothing to do with it.

                      If you eat a vegan diet that is not organic/biodynamic it still uses much less fossil energy and produces much less wastes than meat and dairy. This is because you have to feed far -more- plants to the animals than you would eat yourself for the same nutrient value. If you include the plants that are grown to feed the animals, then even a non-organic vegan diet uses vastly less fossil fuel.

                      If you switch both the vegan diet and a meat diet to permaculture methods, you make both much more efficient (except as I noted before on square acreage used). Vegan permaculture uses -less- square acreage than factory plant farming. However pastoral permaculture meat production uses -more- acreage than CAFO agriculture.

                      My diet.

                      Might diet is vegan and as organic and locally based as possible. I buy organic/biodynamic vegetables, grains, legumes and oils (as much as possible from local farms) and then cook with these ingredients from scratch every day. I eat almost no packaged processed foods at all.

                      Instead of yelling in self righteous rage at my supposed arrogance, why don’t you look in the mirror and see your own arrogance and actually listen to what the people on this list have written voluminously to debunk Keith’s incredibly inaccurate book?

  93. Jessica Says:

    Eric,

    Regarding the nutritional value of meat raised through the monocrop/CAFO factory farming system vs the permaculture/pastoral method, you are basically asking me to take your word against Keiths. And if the meat-permaculture method was more efficient, why would food producers retain the CAFOs?

    And I disagree, you have to take fossil fuels into account. That is after all the entire basis behind the locavore food movement.

    What I am trying to say is that going vegan doesn’t necessarily mean reducing impact to nil. For example, if you look up on Goodguide.com, compare the total environmental, social and health ratings of organic chicken compared to Yves Meatless Chicken Burger. Organic scores 8.8, Yves scores 6.2. In all categories, the chicken is better. In this case, what is the priority? Health, society and the environment, or killing an animal? And FYI, tofu is just as low scoring as the Yves. Lentils score 10 if fresh, but are lower than chicken if dried. The vegan ideology doesn’t live up to reality unfortunately.

    SO, is the priority the environment or animal ethics? Because it appears we can’t do the best in both categories. And people go vegan for different reasons. Sounds like you do it for environmental reasons, in which case, it appears that you should be eating organic chicken instead of your lentils!

    I don’t believe I am being arrogant. It is not such a simplistic solution as getting everyone to go vegan. There are numerous factors to take into account, including climate, location, available resources, etc. I mean, try telling an Arctic Inuit to go vegan!

    From your own words: “Please learn much more before spreading Keith toxic and dangerously inaccurate ideas.” Replace “Keith” with “Eric Brooks militant veganism”.

    • Eric Brooks Says:

      1) CAFOs are far more efficient in regard to square acreage used and also with regard to producing large -quantities- of meat (of inferior quality). And your response still doesn’t address the fact that there is not enough land on planet Earth to do what you and Keith are promoting. Are you even reading what I’m writing before you respond?

      2) I -am- taking fossil fuels into account. Again are you even -reading- what I wrote and understanding it? Let me spell it out for you yet again. Because of the VASTLY higher amounts of plants which must be fed to the animals, meat agriculture uses VASTLY higher amounts of fossil fuels (and fossil fuel inputs like nitrogen) to produce food. So directly eating plants instead creates VASTLY lower greenhouse gasses.

      3) You are using the same insidious and totally bogus parlor trick that Keith uses herself: comparing -factory- monoculture vegan foods which are highly processed and/or trucked over long distances, with locally raised -organic- chicken. That is a ridiculous comparison. If you were to instead compare locally and organically produced balanced vegan protein foods, with locally produced organic chicken, your argument would completely fall apart, because local organic vegan agriculture clearly has less environmental impact than even organic chicken farming. The former produces far more food value per square acre, uses far less inputs and has far less negative impact on the biosphere.

      And you are still not even addressing the square acreage that needs to be used for pastoralism. It is simply not sustainable on a planetary scale because it would take up too much land. Period.

      What ‘s your answer to that problem?

      I keep raising the issue – and you keep totally avoiding it, because you know damned well that you don’t have a leg to stand on. If acreage used makes pastoralism unsustainable, then your entire argument clearly falls apart apart on its face, doesn’t it…

      3) Yes, my assessment over Keith’s is far more valid because I have been an experienced professional environmentalist for 26 years and therefore, unlike Keith, I actually know what I’m talking about. Comparing my view equally to Keith’s is like comparing climate scientists to climate deniers equally in a news report or debate. It is a ridiculous comparison.

      4) This discussion is moot, because as we have debated, it has become clear to me that you are a paid shill for industry purposely trying to undermine arguments against Keith’s book. You started out acting like you weren’t sure, and now you are making clear and blatant statements saying that meat eating is better than veganism for the environment. (A position which even the mainstream United Nations totally disagrees with.) So you are either an infiltrator, or you are so unable to think for yourself that you have fallen like a bowling pin for Keith’s ridiculous nonsense, and now that you have a food ideology that you like, you are sticking to it no matter what anyone says.

      Either way, get lost. Your input is not consistent with the purpose of this blog which is to provide a forum for -legitimate- discussions about veganism.

    • Eric Brooks Says:

      And by the way, I looked up goodguide.com …

      It is funded and run by a bunch of Wall Street oriented investor capitalists.

      Hardly a trustworthy source for comparing the sustainability of animal foods to vegetarian foods since the animal food industry is such a huge cash cow…

      • Jessica Says:

        First of all. Answering the vegan/vegetarian question:
        Maybe some people within the vegetarian community want to change the definition. But how am I (or anyone else) supposed to know that? The current conventional definition of “vegetarian” may or may not include the eating of animal products. It just means a person who doesn’t eat the flesh. Lacto-ovo, vegan, ovo-, etc are all subcatagories. Search “define: vegetarian” in a search engine, go to wikipedia, look up the oxford dictionary. They will all tell you the same thing. I will accept your new term once it becomes official.

        No I am not a vegetarian. I tried it for a month and felt very lethargic. So as a compromise, I have decided to reduce the amount of meat that I eat and at the same time I am working new vegan meals into my diet. Mostly for ethical reasons.

        This is why militant pious vegans annoy me. I know plenty of well-meaning “almost vegetarians” that have tried it, it hasn’t worked for them, and so they are forced to eat meat occasionally when they feel weak. And they feel AWFUL about it. Or if they come from a traditional background, it is very new to them. Or, if their parents/spouses are unsupportive. Or they don’t have access to vegan foods. Or, they have no time to cook vegan foods from scratch. And ultimately, if someone bullies you into something, you’re not going to feel good about it. This change needs to be a personal choice.

        • Eric Brooks Says:

          This is because they are not doing some key things that must be done when switching to a vegan diet to ensure vibrant health.

          These are in order of importance:

          1) Take vegetarian B-12 supplements to ensure that you don’t run short on B-12 and get serious nervous system damage. Yeast is -not- a good source of B-12.

          2) Take the RDA of zinc (especially if you eat a lot of tofu). Foods like tofu and chocolate are heavy in copper which can become toxic in the body and create a -very- drawn out feeling of exhaustion. (I personally felt totally exhausted and worn out my first two years as a vegan, until I learned about zinc and started taking it. BUT – only take the minimum recommended daily allowance (RDA) because overdosing on zinc is very unhealthy.

          3) Take vegetarian vitamin D (NO MORE than 2000 IU [international units] per day) . Most northerners don’t get sufficient vitamin D and vegetarians who don’t get sufficient vitamin D can have the same rates of heart problems as meat eaters. As with zinc, taking too -much- vitamin D is not healthy and can leach calcium out of your bones; so keep it to 2000 IU.

          4) Eat organic and highly diverse whole foods (home cooked as often as possible) just as any good heath nut would. Crappy vegan diets aren’t much better than meat and dairy diets.

          5) Eat kale and collard greens a lot; very important sources of calcium for vegans.

          6) Balance grains and legumes (beans, lentils, nuts) to get whole proteins in each meal. The new literature saying that balancing grains and legumes/nuts is not necessary are simply wrong. You’ll very likely find that if you always consume beans/nuts with grains/carbs you will be more satisfied at the end of a meal.

          7) Take added vitamin C. Most of us don’t get enough.

          If new vegans follow these guidelines – especially regarding zinc and whole organic foods, they are much more likely to feel vibrant and energized as vegans.

          It is also important to note that most new vegans feel bad for around 3 weeks to 2 months after going vegan, It is a big transition and there are addictive aspects to eating meat and dairy that need to be gotten over. Also, you will tend to lose some fat (which stores toxins, some of which are released as the fat is lost – also contributing to tiredness) So be patient, and perhaps eat cleansing foods like wheat grass in those first few weeks.

  94. Jessica Says:

    And in regards to the rest of your responses:

    1) Yes. We agree on something. The meat from CAFOs is inferior quality. That is why, if the monocrops were reclaimed as permaculture/pastoral land, and the cows were moved back onto that land, we would have less meat, but it would be better quality. So, people would also need to eat less. AND the animals would be given MUCH better lives.

    As an aside. What is your position on monocrop land? Do you think that the harvests are nutritional?

    2) I think you are the one not listening to me. As I said before, in Montreal, vegan food doesn’t grow in winter (bar maybe 10 types of vegetables, not enough for a nutritious diet). So it must be imported. Therefore, it uses fossil fuels in the transport. BUT local livestock DOES grow because they can still operate in winter time, and they eat grass, which uses ZERO fossil fuels.

    3) See above. Vegan foods don’t grow here. But chicken does. That is my point, we don’t always have every option available. If vegan foods DID grow here, I would agree, they use less input/land/everything. But they don’t. So, in winter, I have to make a choice – local meat or imported vegetables. I asked you as an honest question. What should I do?

    As for the pastoral issue. I don’t advocate that as a global solution. I realise that it takes more land than the current situation. I am saying, in areas such as natural prairielands and in places where it is not worth planting vegetable farms due to climate, pastoral livestock is an alternative way to use that land. It results in lower yields, but better quality. I have met people that have decided to “eat less food, but good food” and I think replacing factory farmed animals with free range is one way of doing this. Eat less meat, but at least you know what you are eating had a better life. So there are ethical gains also.

    If you are anti-monocrop. What do you propose is done with the prairie land up here in Canada? How would you put it to best use?

    4) Well, once again. It’s your word against hers. Maybe you are an environmentalist, or maybe you just don’t want to lose an argument and so are giving yourself credentials that you don’t really have. In any case she is also a self-professed environmentalist. So the term doesn’t mean anything.

    5) You are putting words in my mouth. I agree that veganism is better than meat eating IN GENERAL. What I am saying is that sometimes veganism is not the best choice for the environment nor the most efficient use of land. Eg. winter months, when it is not locally available. NOR is it always possible. For example, you didn’t tell me how you’re going to get Arctic Inuits to switch over to veganism. You evaded that question. SO, the two ideologies of veganism and environmentalism, although they have a lot of overlap in their ideas, are NOT in line with each other.

    Also, I am still not convinced that even in climatically suitable areas, the solely vegan agricultural system is the most efficient use of land. Relying on wild animals to remove pests is an unreliable source whereas live-in animals (for example chickens) can be used at will to do this job. Also, they can be contained, so their manure is easily collected and used. And the use of chickens doesn’t mean the exclusion of wild animals. You can use both. Plus, if you are growing trees, in an orchard for exampe it’s harder to grow plants under the canopy, plus, growing plants there would restrict access when harvesting season comes. But animals can happily hunt in that otherwise useless space. Picture an apple orchard – the surrounding land is always left as grass – animals could easily graze and hunt there in the day and be put away at night. As long as you don’t let them overgraze and damage the land, it would also save energy because you wouldn’t have to mow the lawn.

    And no, I won’t get lost. You are extremely rude. This forum is about discussing Keiths book and it is not exclusive to vegans but to anyone that is interested in the lifestyle/ideology (see the threads, many people admit to not being vegan). But apparently, in your mind, it is just about attacking people and making yourself feel superior to everyone else. And looking back on the threads, I find a LOT of people that have been swayed by Keiths arguments. And NOBODY that has agreed to your hard-line posts in their entirity. You have failed to convince anyone that you’ve talked to, and seem to just enjoy being “right” rather than respectfully and constructively help people learn more about veganism. It pushes me more towards Keiths book – the part where she says Vegans are angry people.

    6) Well, that website was recommended in the book “Ecological Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. He is an internationally respected author. I did an entire university course that was structured around on one of his other books. So I think it’s credible. You’ll have to prove to me that there is industry bias before I believe you. It’s much easier for you to slander me and my sources than actually admit that you are wrong. And I don’t see how you can say I support industry when everything I have advocated involves removal of monocrops and factory farms. You are just saying that because you know you are losing the debate. Looking for petty excuses. You are not doing your reputation any good.

    Anyway, in your next reply. Answer these three questions for me instead of avoiding them like you have done previously:
    1. Living in Montreal. In wintertime. Is it more environmentally friendly to eat imported vegan foods (even organic) or local organic meats?
    2. What would you do to the monocrop (ex-prairies) up in Canada and factory farms if you had your way?
    3. Do you think that if the arctic inuits were to switch to veganism, it would be better for the environment?
    4. What is the reason you became a vegan? And what is your priority: veganism or environmentalism? I believe they are two mutually exclusive ideologies.

    I look forward to your reply.

    • Jessica Says:

      And here is an example of what I described before. An apple orchard, now incorporating chickens and grazing animals as a means to increase their sustainability through Integrated Pest Management. Higher yields. Less disease. Less pesticides. And free eggs!

      http://www.fishkillfarms.com/ecofarming.html

    • Tara Says:

      I have a question for you:

      You say you can’t store or find access to any stored local plant based food in the winter, and yet the cows you say are less impactful are eating….what?

      My family (not immediate) raises grass-fed cattle that they specifically selected for their ability to survive the harsher winters of the north (they had to import them by the way, because there are so few breeders of said cattle on this continent…what a conundrum). Those cattle still have to be fed grains that he has brought in, no matter how well he plans out his over 250 acre grass management, he always ends up bringing in their food from elsewhere at some point in the season.

      So I’m a bit curious about where you are getting the info that the cattle that you are chewing on has somehow managed to avoid any of that altogether in what would be an even harsher winter than my own family works with.

      • Jessica Says:

        I imagined that farmers would manage their grass/crops and store enough to feed cows in winter months. I know of ‘closed-loop’ dairy farmers in upstate NY that manage to get by without importing extra grain.

        I said that in winter, the selection of locally produced plant food is minimal. The farmers markets close down, so to get fresh local organic produce you have to specifically order baskets comprised of about 10 fruits and vegetables, mostly root vegetables (and meat). So relying on local plant based food is not enough nutrition or variety for three months.

        For everything else, you have go to the grocery store, which could come from anywhere. Anything there must be either imported or stored from the summer months. If it is stored, then there’s energy (packaging, waste, heating, canning, jarring, freezing, preserving, recycling etc) involved in that too.

        So, from an environmentalist perspective, eating the local meat that comes with your veggie basket might be the best option to minimise impact.

        From a vegan perspective, there is no decision. You go for the grocery store. But you may/may not be having a larger impact because you don’t know where the food comes from or the amount of energy that has been used in it’s processing (unless you rely on something like goodguide.com to help you, but unfortunately, that’s just not good enough for Eric).

        Point is, veganism and environmentalism are similar, but they’re not the same thing. So when buying food, prioritise depending on what is important to you.

        FYI, you should watch “No Impact Man”. A guy in NYC wants to reduce his family’s environmental impact to zero. He ends up going vegetarian, relies on farmers markets for vegetables, and a closed-loop farm for dairy products. Lives a very simple existence, and eats some very boring food! A similar climate and conundrum to what I am in.

        • Tara Says:

          You wrote “So, from an environmentalist perspective, eating the local meat that comes with your veggie basket might be the best option to minimise impact.”

          Um, no.

          From an environmentalists perspective, one would first need to get out of the mindset that everything should be provided for you year round, rather than making provisions, storing, canning, jarring, dehydrating your OWN foods that were locally grown during the natural growing season.

          But then I noticed in an earlier post that you suggested that chickens are available in winter. Not if a farmer is raising his animals according to sustainable and reasonable practices they’re not. Neither is milk….not unless they are pushing the animals and forcing them to breed out of season, which puts that much more strain on the surrounding environment.

          So I’m really unclear on how you think your meat and dairy is all that fantastic when your very premise relies completely on supermarkets and people making special trips out of season to bring you all this food you could have saved and stored from the actual growing seasons.

          Do I expect everyone to have a large cellar or pantry to store a winter’s worth of food? No. But then I also don’t expect people to waggle their fingers at others who’s food models require some transportation. So does yours. As well as the extra pressure on local lands during what is supposed to be their resting seasons.

          Hell, even my family doesn’t slaughter cows during the winter. Not sure how you think that’s a natural part of the cycle, or the best time for anyone to do such things.

          And given that you are low on imagination beyond thinking things either have to be bought “live” (as in no one has stores of food for a more varied diet) from the local farmer’s market or the local grocery store, its no surprise that you insist that as a vegan they MUST go to the grocery store, It would be a wrong assertion, but consistent with your arguments so far.

          • Jessica Says:

            What is the difference between storing food myself, and going to the grocery store to buy the food they have stored? If anything, they would do it on an industrial level so it would be more efficient. So a better strategy would be to go to the grocery store and buy things only made in Quebec.

            Quebec is home to a number of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms. Some of these offer meat in winter with their vegetable baskets and yet still manage to adhere to the guidelines. I don’t know all the nitty-gritty details. But it is one way to eat fresh and local all year round.

            And I think you have the wrong idea. I’m not waggling my finger at anyone. People need to eat. Nor do I believe meat and dairy is “so great”. I’m just saying that in some circumstances, eating meat could be the most sustainable choice, and so, in these cases, it comes down to a choice between vegan or environmentalist values.

    • Eric Brooks Says:

      1) This is simple. Grow your foods in the growing season and store them through drying, canning, pickling, cool storing, and freezing for eating during the winter (as humans have done for many thousands of years). Also some foods like kale are pretty late season foods. Jessica, it is because you don’t even think of such obvious simple stuff that has made me so -incredibly- frustrated with discussing this with you.

      2) Replace them with food forests and multi-crop farming as was done by Mayans and other foundational cultures. Mayans still grow maize, legumes, squash and food vegetables, all together; and in diverse varieties.

      On food forests see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBShBeC1f-Q&playnext=1&list=PLEA0B7C10722F6349

      3) The Inuit question is typical, lame debate trickery. Of course Inuits who live directly off the land have to eat animals. What the hell does that have to do with the other 99.9999 percent of the 7 billion people living on the planet?

      4) I first became a vegan because I decided it was wrong to kill animals when it isn’t necessary for survival. However the longer I was vegan, the more I realized that the point is to reduce one’s destructiveness (and ones impulse to accept violence) in the world, as much as possible. As I matured as a vegan and learned the details about how profoundly better veganism is for the environment, these environmental reasons for veganism became even more important to me than the ethical reasons.

      All of the stuff out there claiming veganism is worse for the environment than ‘natural’ meat eating is extremely deceptive propaganda. It is now widely accepted that the lower we eat on the food chain, the better we are for the planet.

      See http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet

      • Eric Brooks Says:

        For Part 2 on food forests and permaculture see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IBT5odmZq0&feature=related

      • Jessica Says:

        1) As I say I live in a unit and so can’t grow my own food. So it would be a matter of storing local produce – in which case, I may as well just buy local products from the grocery store. If I had a garden, I agree that would be the best option.

        2) I am familiar with food forests. And I agree that they may be the most sustainable form of growing food. Though the models I have seen included chickens in the design. :P

        Plus, my Aunt (also in California) is converting her property into a sustainable permaculture community farm. She is incorporating animals for food (admittedly, she believes people need to eat meat) and also hired a goat to eat some poison oak on the property.

        3) I disagree. The point is, people live in different areas and have different resources available to them locally. So you need to take it case-by-case. For example, you could say the same about any coastal fishing village – is it better to use the ocean to get food, or instead, start harvesting the land? Which involves destroying the natural ecosystem and using it to suit human needs. In other words, do you preserve the land or preserve the oceans? I would say, strike a balance and use both resources sustainably.

        4) That is also what pushes me towards vegetarianism. The concept of “unnecessary death”.

        And I agree with what that article is saying as a general solution, but not for absolutely every case.

        ANYWAY! Despite all of the passionate arguing, I think I have learned something from this debate, especially regarding your knowledge on vegan supplements and vegan permaculture. So I am glad we had it!

        So, I am going to stick to the “Meat-and-Dairy-Minimalist” approach – work more vegan and vegetarian foods into my diet and lessen my intake of meat and dairy. I don’t eat a lot of meat anyway, so it won’t be that hard. And I will look into dietary supplements to help me with this.

        Eric, what is your opinion on soy/tofu? How much is safe to eat?

        • Eric Brooks Says:

          Soy and tofu are pretty great but should largely be seen as a transition food in our current times.

          Here are key points on soy:

          1) Any soy not certified as organic is likely genetically engineered (which is extremely dangerous to human health and very bad for both the environment and farmers’ livelihoods); so avoid all soy that is not certified organic or at least ‘GMO’ free.

          2) These days, even organic soy is almost always a factory scale monocrop, so until it is more sensibly incorporated into permaculture, it has serious environmental drawbacks, especially because monocropped soy requires a lot of attention and inputs.

          3) Many people have pretty serious soy allergies so if you think it is making you feel bad don’t eat much of it.

          4) A -lot- of soy is being grown right now on vast plantations in South America which is promoting rainforest destruction and the destruction of subsistence farming.

          4) On the other side of the equation, people in Japan eat huge amounts of soy and it appears to be quite good for them.

          5) Soy is one of the few plant foods that has a protein profile that is ‘complete’ like animal proteins.

          So putting all of this together, since directly eating soy is profoundly better for the environment than eating meat animals that were fed a much larger amount of the same soy beans, switching to tofu and other soy products is a great way to make the first transition to vegetarianism and to greatly reduce your impact on the planet.

          However, because soy itself also has some very bad impacts on the planet, and because of potential allergy problems, once a new vegetarian gets past the initial desire/need to replace meat directly with meat-imitating soy products, then the next step is to diversify into myriad other beans, legumes and nuts (combined with whole grain foods) that are more sustainably and/or locally grown.

    • Eric Brooks Says:

      I said ‘professional’ environmentalist, meaning that for most of my working life since 1985 it has been my -job- to carefully study environmental issues and ecology and work for positive environmental change. Hence, I know this stuff like the back of my hand.

      Keith is not by any stretch a trained environmentalist, doesn’t have the slightest clue what she is talking about, and is making ridiculously wide ideological guesses about it all, mostly based on totally nonsensical garbage she read from the inane, anti-vegetarian, Weston A. Price Foundation.

  95. Jessica Says:

    Eric,

    I will agree with you there. I think that a lot of people don’t know how to handle veganism or vegetarianism (or even the omnivorous diet for that matter). Especially when there information out there that contradicts itself on what vitamins and supplements to take, how to prepare food, etc. For example, I’ve read blogs that swear by nutritional yeast. And I don’t believe going vegan is as simple as replacing the chicken with tofu. So many people make themselves ill with the diet. But you have convinced me that it is possible to get adequate nutrition with this diet.

    In terms of the environment. I’m still not convinced that veganism is always the best and most efficient use of land. There is always going to be land that is not suited to arable crops (e.g. between the apple trees in the orchard, or due to steep inclines, climate, accessibility, soil fertility, etc). If this land is not used to it’s full potential by raising animals on it, then it means that land somewhere else must be (needlessly) cleared and harvested in order to get the equivalent amount of food. This means deforestation, destruction of ecosystems, higher food miles, more pesticides used, etc.

    The same goes for fish and seafood. If we don’t use that resource to get food, then we need to harvest land somewhere to satisfy that caloric requirement. Granted, we must not over-fish the oceans and rivers. It has to be done sustainably.

    I think a vegan diet is a generally good for the environment. But, in considering my previous points, I think I have proven that it is not always the most sustainable diet or way to manage the earth.

    • Tara Says:

      Jessica wrote:

      “I think a vegan diet is a generally good for the environment. But, in considering my previous points, I think I have proven that it is not always the most sustainable diet or way to manage the earth.”

      I don’t think you’ve proven any such thing at all. Only in the most extreme cases (the Inuits) have you even presented a situation where meat eating might be easier on the earth. And, to paraphrase Jonathan Foer from one of his discussions on the topic of food: People who have this conversation seem to always feel the need to speak only of the extremes as though this proves something for the rest of us. Very few of us ever LIVE in those extremes (in this case, frozen tundra, with little to no access to fresh foods for most of the year). Most of us occupy the space in between those extremes. Those spaces are what the discussion should include, not the extremes people love to trot out and show as “proof”.

      • Jessica Says:

        Tara, with all due respect, did you read my last post? I didn’t even refer to the Inuits so obviously not! I gave two broad catagories:

        1. Raising animals on land that is not suited to arable crops.
        2. Sustainable fishing of oceans and rivers (not just by Inuits but by everyone).

        My argument was that if we do not use these resources available to us, then we would need to harvest land somewhere to get those calories. And that would mean the destruction of ecosystems (rainforests, etc) to satisfy the vegan diet.

        What do you think?

        • Eric Brooks Says:

          1) There is almost no land on the planet that is not suited to arable crops. This is a ridiculous myth promoted by the incredibly environmentally damaging ranching and biofuels industries. All lands that are currently depleted should be either restored to full wildlife habitat, or remediated through aggressive permaculture methods so that diverse plant foods can be grown on them and so that they begin rapidly storing large amounts of carbon in the soil.

          2) The word’s oceans have reached such a dramatic state of complete collapse that there is literally no such thing as sustainable fishing on a large scale. The oceans are in a total state of emergency. Nearly everyone on Earth -must- to the greatest extent possible, stop eating marine life immediately or nearly all life in the oceans will likely die off. And this would likely kill almost all life on land as well, including us. This is deadly serious. Don’t eat fish and other marine life.

  96. Tara Says:

    Eric wrote:
    “@ Tara – Where are you from? Here in California (kind of a ground zero for vegetarianism) almost all of the vegans I know have been working collectively for decades to do away with the old distinction between the terms ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’.”

    I’m referring to the vegans I know all over the country, as well as in the UK and Europe. I’ve not heard any vegans try to blur that line. In fact, I’ve seen many bristle at the use of the asterisk because it is used to lump both philosophies into the same category.

    FWIW, I’m in the northeast. Major city…one where I have four vegan eateries within a 5 minute walk of my apartment, dozens within a short bus or subway ride, and a few hundred just inside the city limits.

    And as a newer vegan (just a couple of years), but a vegetarian for over 25 years, I frankly don’t think the lines *should* be blurred. I used to think so….when I was all about dairy….but now that I have more of an understanding of what that leap entails and WHY, I don’t think the two mindsets are interchangeable *at all*. I know I would resist any effort to combine the two. Sorry, but I would. They are not the same. And I say this as one of the more moderate voices on this (for example, I have actually used the term “Veg*n” in sentences as a way of distinguishing those two groups from those who eat meat, but ONLY when it comes to diet and recipes, nothing else.)

    • Eric Brooks Says:

      Keep in mind that those of us moving this language change forward are not arguing for blurring the line, but actually making it more defined.

      The problem is that to call oneself a ‘vegetarian’ when one is eating dairy and/or eggs is simply a gross misstatement and allows people to feel like they are having a positive impact, when in fact they are doing just as much harm to animals as meat eaters.

      So the point is to make the terms vegetarian and vegan be as follows:

      Vegetarian: Eats no animal products (including dairy and eggs)

      Vegan: Eats no animal products and also avoids all nonfood products derived from animals.

      So when discussing diet, vegan and vegetarian are essentially the same.

      The point is for those who eat dairy and eggs to simply stop calling themselves vegetarians because it doesn’t make any sense. But if they insist on it, they should add ‘lacto-ovo’ at the end to clarify what they are saying.

      Almost all of the vegans I know adopt this terminology emphasis as a way to stop dairy and egg eaters from thinking of themselves as vegetarians.

      Way back in the day people who ate fish (and even some people who ate chicken!) used to call themselves vegetarians. We weeded that out bigtime because it was so inaccurate.

      So getting dairy and egg eaters to also stop calling themselves vegetarians is simply the next step in that evolution of how we use language to describe our diets.

      • Tara Says:

        Ah, that makes a lot more sense. I misunderstood and thought the movement was to combine the philosophies as well as the words, not to make them more distinct. I agree with what you’ve said here.

        Thanks a lot for the clarification!

  97. Tara Says:

    Jessica wrote”

    “What is the difference between storing food myself, and going to the grocery store to buy the food they have stored? If anything, they would do it on an industrial level so it would be more efficient. So a better strategy would be to go to the grocery store and buy things only made in Quebec.”

    Now you’re just completely contradicting yourself.

    What’s the difference? Well, you seem hell bent on making sure your food isn’t trucked in from somewhere else. How else are you going to prevent that from happening if you would rather walk into a grocery store and buy their “more efficiently” packaged foods (that “efficiency” being obtained through the use of fossil fuels, by the way) that are then shipped and trucked in from who-knows-where?

    You really can’t see what the difference would be? Seriously???

    If not, then I gave you way too much credit during most of this discussion.

    • Jessica Says:

      Tara,

      If I can buy locally produced and preserved goods at the grocery store. Explain to me how it is better for the environment to package and preserve those same goods myself?

      Say Local Farmer A (LFA) has 100 regular customers. If LFA invests in preservation equipment, then it saves 100 customers from having to invest in privately owned preservation equipment. Granted, LFA might need larger equipment capable of processing larger amounts, but in the meantime the needless and wasteful production of 100 sets of preservation equipment has been avoided.

      If I am missing something, then rather than insulting me, please just explain to me how I am wrong about this.

      • Tara Says:

        Jessica it was *your* assertion that only an incredibly limited spectrum of plant derived foods were available to you locally, not mine. So now, its just a skip to the grocery store and you find a diverse array of locally grown plant based foods?

        Ok.

        I was addressing your complaint that only narrow group of plant based foods were available to you during the winter months. I assumed that was the case, since you said it was. And yes, if your local producers are producing summer, spring and fall foods, then they are probably using up a lot more resources than you realize.

        • Tara Says:

          To clarify, if your local farmers are producing summer, spring and fall produce during the winter months, then they are using up more resources.

          But….again….this was based on an earlier assertion by you. If you have a wide array available to you, then your own original point about access is itself undermined.

          • Jessica Says:

            Tara, Ok, clarifying this.

            Local farmers offer food baskets all year round and operate farmers markets during the warmer months. So to buy local *fresh* produce during the colder months, you have to buy a basket. They only offer winter crops in this time so you are limited to about 10 f+v and meat.

            This is the only way to eat *fresh* and local all year round. Fresh is obviously best environmentally because no energy has been wasted in storing, preserving or packaging. It also holds the highest nutritional value.

            To get more variety in winter I need to rely on either stored local goods OR imports. Staying local leaves me with two options:
            1. Buying (or growing, but I don’t have a garden) excess fresh food in summer and storing it myself for winter;
            2. Going to a store to buy locally produced and stored summer goods.
            As I have discussed, (I could be wrong, but) I think the most efficient way is to allow farmers and grocers to “bulk”-store their own goods and I purchase them when I need.

            This way I am staying local, but have subsisted on a combination of fresh and stored goods.

            I’m not saying that eating local is always the most environmentally efficient way to eat. If less energy is involved in importing than storing goods, then obviously eating imports is a better choice. But seeing as I can’t quantify how much energy has gone into the life-cycle of each process, the question stays open.

            For example, which do you think is better – local stored or fresh imported goods?

            • Tara Says:

              Local stored, of course.

              But no where in your posts (including this last one) do I see that you are buying locally stored goods. It would be a rare farm indeed that cans and stores its own summer excesses and sells it year round to its customers.

              UNless that’s what you are saying is what you are doing, the rest of your comments about stored goods makes no sense in terms of this equation.

              And exactly how much “energy” are you thinking home canning, dehydrating and jarring actually takes? You make it sound as though its a mini industrial nation in someone’s kitchen, which I think is a gross misrepresentation of how much energy it actually takes to store produce from the other three seasons for use during the leanest season. I’m honestly baffled by your constant use of the phrase “energy use” each time you gloss over taking personal responsibility for storing your own food. The only energy it uses up is personal….which would certainly be a factor for many people. But (again) those many people usually aren’t the same ones suggesting how environmentally unfriendly other people’s choices are.

              But overall, I’m done with this. This whole discussion had long ago entered trolling territory, and this round and round only solidifies that.

              Have a nice day.

              • Jessica Says:

                Tara,

                There is no need to be rude. I have treated your comments with respect. I expect the same. Otherwise, please just don’t reply.

                And I’m sorry but I think you are the one being most offensive and aggressive. I’m not attacking anyone, just QUESTIONING them and the reasons why they do things and make certain choices. There’s no need to get emotional. This is a discussion on what is the best options available are. By going through the process of thinking and reasoning things out, the GOAL of changing behaviour in order to satisfy certain ethical values can be met. So it doesn’t matter what my current eating habits are.

                In any case, I’m not a strict locavore, but I do buy local produce. My first stop is the farmers market, then supplement that with goods from the grocery store. If I notice something is local there, I’m more likely to buy it. I don’t eat a lot of meat or dairy. And I’ll buy organic if I can afford it. Bring my own bags, and always choose things with less packaging like bulk and whole foods.

                Energy use of stored goods = resources, electricity, time, money, emissions, etc involved in the processes – production and recycling of tin cans, jars, cooking, canning machines, dehydrating machines, freezers, purchasing, maintenance.

                When considering energy used for all of these processes – to satisfy hunger for a 5-6 month winter every year. The energy adds up. If you think it is so easy then I assume you store all your food every year.

                Anyway, I’ve had enough of this conversation also. I will try to find other discussions with more open-minded people.

                All the best.

  98. Great video of Lierre (Liar) Keith getting a pie in the face at the
    Anarchist Book Fair in San Francisco…..
    Look it up on Youtube…………………..

    Seriously I used to know Lierre and I STOPPED working with her
    for a multitude of reasons.

    Seems she has failed as a Feminist and needs someone & something to blame
    her troubles on so has become a darling of the anti veg movement.
    When I knew her she was eating an unhealthy vegan diet as opposed to a healthy one, lots of processed meat replacement crap………..
    When I visited with her the food she offered & cooked was ALL highly processed crap………

    So for me personally I have been vegan or vegetarian for about 30 years and
    it was on of the first real radical steps I took in my life.
    I also raised a daughter vegan for 14 years.

    I am a Radical Feminist still and I have also become more anti civ/anti industrial / pro primitive, this includes localization – buy/grow local, permaculture.
    And yes I am and was raised working class/poor/ mixed heritage/ancestry/race/etc.

    As someone with strong anti civ leanings I seriously laugh when I tell
    these ex vegans & veggies (who are now USING anti civ/primitivism as an excuse
    and justification to start eating meat) that I AM a anti civ/primitivist
    Vegan/Veggie………..
    Hah haaa they dont; know how to handle that one
    cause I am NOT supposed to exist……….(Kinda like I’m not supposed to exist as a Radical Feminist.

    Anyway well when society collapses as it will because we won’t
    stop BREEDING & CONSUMING I know that folks like Lierre will
    STARVE because her & her buddies will have eaten all the animals – including
    the cats and dogs………..
    And will come running to folks like me who have knowledge of plant based
    foods – roots, nuts & SUSTAINABLE living………..

    The last word here for me is:
    You CAN NOT have any sort of Social Justice if you
    are STILL enslaving others species and the planet.
    Animal rights also has to be human rights.

    • Luna Says:

      FemRage

      I am simply stunned. How you could be a feminist, especially a radical one, and applaud the assault of a woman is just beyond me. And it was an assault. The pie was laced with cayenne, which got in her eyes and caused much pain. The three male cowards rushed her from behind, smashed it into her face and eyes, and ran away. This is what you’re applauding?? Disagreement is fine. But abuse and assault is not ok unless directed at the enemy. And however much some people may disagree with Lierre, she is not the enemy. It is unconscionable to promote the assault of a woman. Shame on you. Do you hear yourself in this email? It sounds like you are wishing bad things to happen to Lierre? The tone is just vile. Doesn’t have to be this way. Lierre’s book, if you read it, is compassionate and is an attempt to reach out to vegetarians like she used to be. She is simply pointing out that a plant based diet while making some of us feel better still kills beings, destroys the land, and will lead to our extinction. She says the same of factory farming. You cannot have any sort of social justice if you advocate the assault of a woman and verbally abuse a woman as you have done here.

  99. Jana Says:

    Femragetruthteller,
    I’m a bit confused by why any feminist would support an assault on another woman. Women on the radfem blog o’sphere are showing compassion for Casey Anthony, who may or may not have killed her child. Yet, you can’t find it in you to show some solidarity with a woman for speaking her truth, whether or not you agree?

    I very much agree with you that animal rights must also be human rights. I would just add that humans are animals too and showing kindness for ourselves and others of our kind, imperfect as we are, is one of the hardest things to do. Or so I have found.

  100. michnele Says:

    Femragetruthteller, putting aside whether you agree or disagree with Lierre’s argument, posting a video of men assaulting a woman using a pie laced with cayenne pepper and calling it great is really misogynist. Just wow. Like many women who have been intimidated by men at radical gatherings, the promotion of a culture of assault on women really angers and scares me. Seriously, I don’t see how anyone could think this is okay, whether or not they are vegan.

  101. Lilya (4-Ever) Says:

    I am a friend of Lierre’s, and have spent time with her in the past couple years. She eats BY FAR the least processed diet I have seen; she doesn’t eat out *at all*. Even if you don’t agree with your ex-friends ideas there is no need to insult her feminist work or mock her name. The reason feminism hasn’t gotten anywhere is because we haven’t put sisterhood into practice.

  102. Bev Jo Says:

    Well, “Femrage,” you sound like the example Lierre gave in her incredibly accurate, well-written book of the irrational, misplaced rage that vegans have from being nutritionally starved. Are you a man that you so celebrate a disabled Lesbian who is in constant pain (from eating vegan for 20 years) when she is attacked by three cowardly men who’ve hidden their identities? The video shows the force with which they hit her, though it doesn’t show the cayenne forced into her eyes. If they had waited until there were less witnesses and tried to rape and beat her, would you be celebrating that too? I’m guessing you would.

    Since you identify as a feminist, I’m wondering what kind you might be to enjoy a Lesbian being attacked by men. You are so vindictive and full of misplaced hate. In what way are you “feminist,” let alone radical? You don’t sound like you have a clue what “social justice” is about. You brag about reproducing and then say you are against it. What really is your problem and who the hell are you to call Lierre a “failed” Feminist? She is the oppostive of failed, with her mind and politics and ethics clear and intact, and still an activist Radical Lesbian Feminist after all these decades.

    Could your problem actually be jealousy? What are you doing for anyone? Lierre never stops in her political work and she is literally saving lives. You dumped her as a friend? Who do you prefer? No matter how much in pain or exhausted Lierre is, she is always there when friends need her support. I am proud to call her my friend.

    Lierre is a good, reliable friend with excellent politics and she is a tireless worker for trying to save the Earth. She eats incredibly carefully — better than anyone else I know — so I believe her when she says she ate carefully as a vegan. Everything she said in her exquisitely beautiful book is true in my experience with seeing how incredibly physically (and often mentally and emotionally) damaged long-time vegans are. She’s absolutely right about the harm not eating organic meat and saturated fat causes. And she’s right about soy causing cancer and destroying thyroid glands.

    Lierre’s book is literally saving lives. Her politics are also what could save the Earth from further destruction by agriculture. None of us who care about animals want to hurt them, but plants feel as much. We have to eat someone to survive. (The roots you talk about eating are the lifeforce of living, sentient beings who feel.) Lierre recommends eating in the least destructive way possible, as ethically as possible. Her way is not only best in the long run for saving as many species as possible, it’s the best way for the earth.

    Bev Jo

  103. jane hathaway Says:

    You’re not any kind of feminist, let alone a radical feminist, to direct any more over to view a video of any female being attacked. That’s basic! And I wonder about that hateful comment even having been approved here. I, as a radical feminist, ask you *both* to apologize, and for that wretched comment to be immediately removed.

  104. D. Says:

    WTF??!!

    How is Lierre’s attack has anything to do with feminism or her being a woman?

    When the CEO (or whatever it was) of MacDonalds was pied, what is also because anything other than what he promotes?

    Lierre was attached because she encourages what she sees as the master species to enslave other creatures.

    Remove comment? What a speciesist remark, .if the victims of Lierre’s were human children, all this outrage would never have happened .

  105. aiysha Says:

    It is deeply sad to see anyone who identifies as a radical feminist celebrating an attack by three people on a woman. Any assault of this kind is unacceptable and should be declared as such.

    You don’t have to agree with what she says but it seems that people here are triggered because their food ‘religion’ is under attack. It’s what fundamentalists do all the time..

    If you had read her book you would know she does not advocate enslavement of other animals by human animals at all. She believes in the age old relation of the predator/ prey cycle. We are all food. There are so many people here who clearly suscribe to the Christian hierarchy of ‘being’. I do not. All life is sentient. When a forest is clear cut to make way for agricultural foods such as soy and wheat, literally billions of lives are lost. All those lives in the soil not to mention the ones we can see are gone forever- all because you want to feed seven billion humans?

    This book is way before its time for the ‘white civilized mindset’. Most land based indigenous people have known the truths that Keith has written about for a long long time.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Give me a frigging break.

      It is a pieing. Clowns do it to eachother in the circus. Comedians do it to eachother on tv.

      It is not an attack.

      • Jana Says:

        It’s one thing to attack MEN. Most women have trauma histories and to be attacked by a bunch of masked strangers can result in serious PTSD.

        • Anonymous Says:

          Your rebuttal disempowers women, by making the tacit assumption that women are victims.

          Lierre Keith is a human being with the same rights and the same -responsibilities- as any other person (male or female).

          To the extent that she is failing in those responsibilities by distorting truth and creating serious harm, it is totally legitimate to call her out and shame her in public for being a deceptive and destructive hypocrite. That’s what a pieing is about.

          I doubt very seriously that anyone would criticize a pieing of Margaret Thatcher, Madeleine Albright, or Condoleeza Rice for committing the deceptive and destructive acts in which they engaged.

          Lierre Keith is using blatant falsehoods to promote the mass murder of animals, mindless destruction of the planetary environment, and a mass elimination of huge numbers of humans (which also, could only be achieved through murder, in the final analysis).

          A pie in the face is quite legit to give her a serious reality check.

          • Jana Says:

            Keith was *assaulted* by three masked strangers with cayenne pepper as they said, “go vegan,” and “meat is murder.”

            Keith has dedicated her life to dismantling patriarchy, including the global war machine, and stopping the murder of the planet at whatever means necessary. I would say that puts her in a different category that the persons named above.

          • Jana Says:

            “Lierre Keith is a human being with the same rights and the same -responsibilities- as any other person (male or female).”

            Many, many women have histories of sexual abuse and/or assault. We endure this moreso than men. because we live in a patriarchy.

            Attacking a woman with three masked figures sneaking up from behind is going to be damn scary, even for women who “just” watch where they’re going at night and always watch their drinks because they know what can happen.

    • D. Says:

      Yes she does encourage enslavement – read with a non-speciesist mind and you will see it.

      What a coincidence – between all the billiards species on planet earth, her species is the master species.
      Why her solutions are meant to make sure the human species – the most destructive species ever – survives?

      • Jana Says:

        No. Humans are a keystone species, though. It might be best if we died off, but it also might be best if we acted like adults, took stock of the problem, and cut waaaay back on the population. How to do this in a humane way is outlined in Deep Green Resistance.

  106. xrodolfox Says:

    This last inundation of Keith Lierre’s primitivist supporters obfuscates the simple facts that make Lierre so fundamentally dangerous: avoiding animal products can be healthy, if not optimal.

    For veganism to be an ethical choice, first, veganism has to be healthy enough to be a choice at all. If veganism were to kill humans, then veganism would hardly really be a choice.

    For me, that why I react with so much vitriol at Lierre. From lived experience, her “facts” and “experiences” are totally inconsistent and counter to what I’ve witnessed and experienced. Lierre’s claims aren’t just marginal problems. I know that all vegans can’t be healthy, just as most meat eaters are unhealthy, but my experience with vegan phisicians, nutritionists, athletes, and my own vegan family, shows that veganism can be healthy, optimal, and easy.

    The fact that veganism can be easy, healthy, and optimal, makes veganism an ethical decisions. I don’t eat animals because I don’t have to to thrive. I don’t feed my children animal products EVER because my children do not need animal products to thrive (and my children’s medical records are proof).

    Thus, all of these Lierre Keith supporters flooding this message board spouting their views all miss the mark with me. They do not speak to my lived reality of how simple, easy, convenient, healthy, and frankly, optimal for fitness and health, being vegan can be. There is nothing special about our family genetically or in will power. I do not understand how it cannot be a choice.

    That’s where Lierre lost me. That’s why to me, part of my fight for animal rights is to let everyone know that I’m vegan and thriving. I’ve been vegan for more than half of my life, and I make sure that every time I win a local triathlon or open water swim, the folks giving me the prize and everyone cheering on sees my “GO VEGAN” emblem posted on my derriere. That why to me, veganism is one of the many simple choices that helps me live consistently with my ethics. Being vegan is by no means the entire means by which I fight to dismantle speciesism/patriarchy/capitalism, but it for sure is a way in which I know I can easily avoid participating in the routine slaughter of animals.

    I do not think the Lierre should be pie’d with pepper. That’s a red herring (logical fallacy alert!) that the Lierre supporters, all of whom are from outside this board, have jumped on. I’m sure that there are primitivist meat-eaters who have done despicable things that have nothing do to with the argument of the ethics of being a primitivist meat-eater.

    No matter how much these outsiders tell me that being vegan kills people, it reeks of lies to me. If so, at least one test, in the last nearly two decades of being vegan, for either myself, my wife, my children, or our friends, would’ve shown something. If so, I should really not have medaled in the Motor City Mile swim two weeks ago for the second year in a row.

    Either the facts of my lived life are incorrect, or Lierre lies. Frankly, I believe what I’ve witnessed and lived than the poor logic and claims that Lierre makes in her book.

    • Rami Says:

      Well said, Rodolfo. For me it boils down to this. I try not to deliberately cause sentient beings to suffer unnecessarily. The issue of necessity is crucial here. I am of the opinion that animal products are not necessary for me to enjoy excellent health and live a long time. Mme. Keith is arguing the opposite. The preponderance of scientific evidence is on our side, Rodolfo. If it were on her side, if consuming animal products were indeed necessary for our health and survival, chances are I wouldn’t be vegan. I’d still try to minimize animal suffering, but when it’s a matter of my own survival… It this were 200 years ago and going vegan would necessarily lead to a B12 deficiency, I would argue that animal products WERE necessary for human survival and wellbeing. But it’s 2012. A vegan diet supplemented with B12 and perhaps D and DHA is almost certainly optimal by virtue of the fact that it is the most nutrient-dense. We already have the scientific information. But Keith and the WAPF folks are disputing it. They are like the Holocaust deniers of nutrition. And they are gaining traction, not because of the validity of their claims, but because, as Dr McDougall said, “People love good news about their bad habits”.

      Since going vegan in 2006 I have been quite interested in nutrition, precisely because I wanted to see for myself if I was getting everything I needed from plants. And I am. I am getting an over abundance of all vitamins (including B12 and D from fortified foods and a daily supplement) and minerals. No powders, no mock-meats, not even tofu. Whole plant foods provide everything we need, and plenty of it. But to people like Keith and her admirers, the numbers and the science doesn’t matter. To them it is a religion.

  107. Geeee wizzzzzzzzzzzzzz !!

    It was a pie !
    Speaking as a Rad Feminist – I DO WISH it had been OTHER Radical Feminists that had done the pie in the face.
    And yes I have been tear gassed by cops before – so blahhhhh to you !

    Stop treating that pice of meat like a woman sister/sistah….
    You can NOT say ‘Stop violence against women’,
    but support, justify the rape, enslavement and slaughter of FEMALE non humans.
    Make the links people – humans are NOT the most important thing on this planet.
    This is exactly what meat eating Feminists and other meat activists activists are doing.

    I thought this was a VEGAN page ? Yet there are many anti vegan sentiments
    and support of Lierre going on here.
    Given that Lierre is anti vegan now – what the heck is going on here ??

    When I knew and worked with Lierre she always needed to be the ‘victim’ and
    thrived on having someone/something to hate and was VERY good at emotionally abusing other Feminists, especially younger Feminists.
    Now it’s vegans.

    I don;t want to see a world full of Organic feminist meat stores.
    I can hear it now:
    ‘But we treat our females (slaves) so well before we slaughter them’.
    It’s okay to enslave other creatures because we are Feminist”.

  108. Chuck Says:

    “Agriculture is a relentless asdault against our planet?” OMG, how could she find a publisher for this complete horse shit?

    Dead animal carcasses, millions are dumped into our rivers and oceans every day. The land is raped, just like the animals that will be tortured upon it, 24/7 to destroy forests and millions of by-standing species of animals, hundreds of millions of children starve, there were will be children who starve without ever knowing a hot meal or a clean bath, for what? So greedy priviledged pseudo-intellectual writers, with no scientific training of any kind, can stuff their filthy pie holes with more rotting flesh. Sick!

  109. C. Says:

    Turns out that Keith was actually never even vegan. She has admitted this herself.

    So much for the “I was vegan for 20 years and it fucked up my health” angle.

  110. Anonymous Says:

    Lierre Keith author of The Vegetarian Myth claimed to be vegan for 20 years, she never was.
    Here is a radio interview where she admits to binging on milk and eggs every chance she got: http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/64995. She admits it soon after 4:45 mins in.
    Her book claims that veganism is absurd.
    Which is ignorance of world history.
    Many ancient and modern cultures and religions are vegan and vegetarian.

  111. Diana Says:

    My doctor actually suggested my husband and I go vegan. He is a professor at a medical school and current on research. He was convinced by the Campbell and Esselstyn research supporting a diet of plant based foods. We were originally following the Eat to Live plan by Dr. Fuhrman. This plan advocates a vegan diet as well based on tons of research, but does allow small amounts of animal products if one wants. I found his book impressive and it contained research to support all his recommendations. But my doctor suggested i try fully vegan until some of my health problems resolve. I have now been fully vegan for a month and I feel better.

    Sustainability is also something I am interested in as well and what I have read explains that we are depleting fertile farmland through agriculture, but also that much of the agricultural industry is aimed at producing feed for animals we eat. It explains that animals eat more than the average human would eat. By reducing the amount of animals breed as food we would reduce this agricultural need greatly.

    This is my understanding so far. But of course I would be interested in researching this further.

  112. Thanks for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and I am
    waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.

  113. Nick Covacevich Says:

    I listened to her whole argument against veganism and she is totally absurd. True, we had better teeth before so much REFINED grain and sugar but we did not live as long on an omnivorous diet and COMPLEX carbohydrates are essential for our body. Her connection to feminism and how girls reading will slow down population growth and that we need to be organ-eating feminists, that plant sources of nutrients are inferior and/or non-existent are all half-baked pseudo-science bilge. She’s just a narcissist who wants attention. Imagine trying to sustain the whole human population on meat without agriculture! Impossible! In fact it takes a lot more plants to eat animal products than if you eat them directly. Should we slow down population growth and grow everything organically….yes! Do carbs cause cancer? Bullshit! Not complex ones and in fact she should read The China Study (a book with tons more scientific research than her stupid book). Animal protein is the main culprit. Get rid of your candida, drink and cook with spring water, eat plenty of complex carbs, get plenty of fat from avocadoes, coconut, nuts, and cold-pressed oils (no overheated, trans, or rancid ones), eat vegan sources of protein and fresh fruits, vegie juices and berbal teas, and fortified nutritional yeast, and you will be just fine. Our brian does not starve for lack of animal fat. She’s an absolute quack! Her book has as much validity on diet as the Nazi Alfred Rosenburg has scientific validity on race and eugenics.

  114. Nick Covacevich Says:

    Furthermore I hate asshole meat-eaters like her who promote flesh consumption with pseudo science since it helps meat-eaters think what they are doinfg is ok. Ok so she is against factory farming. That’s very nice of her and she gets a couple of brownie points for that. But telling people you need meat will just get people to eat more tortured animals since they can’t afford organic, grass-fed meat and even then you can’t be sure that the naturally raised animal was killed humanely!. I hate this fucking bitch and hope she dies from a stroke, heart attack, parasite infestation, gout, colon/breast cancer, or some other animal-product-consumption-caused disease. Same goes for the idiot that wrote other pseudo science diet books like Eat Right For Your Type, The Atkins Diet, and so on. They have nothing to back it up and are only causing harm by miss-informing the gullible and stupid average uneducated American.


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