The Vegetarian Myth : Food, Justice, and Sustainability, Paperback Book

The Vegetarian Myth : Food, Justice, and Sustainability Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (9 ratings)

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 312 pages, b/w illus
  • Publisher: PM Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Political activism
  • ISBN: 9781604860801

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Showing 1 - 5 of 9 reviews.

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Review by
4.5

I have my issues with The Vegetarian Myth, one of the first being the title, which I find more polemic than the text itself. But on the whole she provides a great deal of solid information showing how vegetarian and particularly vegan diets are both ecologically destructive and personally unhealthy, how addiction to grains has influenced much of our human history, how eating meat and animal products can be a moral and responsible choice, and why we need to focus our fight against factory farms and large agribusinesses instead. She backs her points up with scientific citations as well as her own powerful experiences.

Review by
4.5

I find it hard to write a review that does this book justice. It is potentially very important, but there are some serious flaws too.This book really makes two points. The first one is that vegetarianism does not really solve anything. It does not stop us from killing other creatures, it does not stop world hunger, and it is not healthy. The second point is that the real problem stays unadressed this way, and the real problem is that agriculture and industrialization, helped by fossil fuels, have allowed us to put more people on this planet than it can handle in the long term. We need to do something about overpopulation, we need to stop using fossil fuel, we need to do it as fast as we can, and thinking we can do something about it by having another soy burger is fooling ourselves.I think those are important points, and I think they are valid as well. She does seem to have her facts straight - either I already knew them, or they made sense. Sometimes they even made sense of facts that had been puzzling me for a while, such as why people with low cholesterol have a higher chance of dying of violence.I think she is very brave to write this book as well. These are things that people do not want to hear and that do need to be said.Now for the flaws. As well-researched as the facts are, the argumentation is not as solid. She first spends some time explaining to us that just because cholesterol is often found in plaques, this doesn't mean that it has caused them, and then she tells us that polyunsaturated fats may be dangerous because they are often found in plaques. On a related plane, she does not always seem to have her action priorities straight. After telling us we really need to do something about overpopulation, she gets all worked up about the possible side effects of soy infant formula.I also think the tone is very "tree-hugging". I don't mind hugging some trees on occasion, but it gets too much.I would have liked an index too, it is pretty impossible to find things in this book.And one last thing that is not a fault of the book, but still might be a reason not to read it. I found this book seriously depressing. It paints a very dark picture of where this world is going, and it does not give much hope that we can change it before it is too late. I do think it's brave that she shows so much problems without a ready-made solution, but uplifting it's not.Still, altogether, I do recommend this book. If you can stand it.

Review by
4

I don't know whether or not a diet high in animal fat is bad for you or good for you at this point. I do, however know that carbs make me feel aweful. Even the whole grain ones. The book is well written and researched. I worry a bit about the facts being a bit skewed, but I also worry about the vegetarian side doing the same. Also, her solution to save the Earth and ourselves is to end agriculture which is never going to happen. Unrealistic solutions really are not solutions at all.

Review by
2

I really did want to like this book and it seemed to start off on the right foot. However, the more I read the more I realized that the "evidence" (frequently anecdotes) presented was often flimsy at best. Worse, there are many instances where items stated as fact (i.e. humans have no bacteria in the stomach) are patently false.While I do certainly believe that a paleo-style diet is a good choice for humans, other authors like Mark Sisson and Gary Taubes do a much better job of analyzing primary literature and leading the reader through scientific studies. My final impression of this book is that Keith has simply traded one extremist view for another.

Review by
4

This was one of the more controversial books we carried this year. A quick look at the online reviews will tell you the same thing - people are worked up about this thing. Lierre Keith is a brave, brave woman. I wouldn't want to pick a fight with every vegan in the world at the same time. <br/><br/>What I think has been lost in the furor is that her point - the heart of her point, at any rate - is very simple, and very hard to argue with. We take turns eating and being eaten - we consume today, but will be consumed in our turn. If you stop to think about this simple fact, and how it weaves all of us on earth together into an unending cycle of renewal and need, it can give you shivers. It's holy. And it's an idea that encourages us to be more reverent towards all of our food - not just the food with faces, but all of it, the seeds and fruit and leaves, and even the soil itself, richly and deeply alive. <br/><br/>To be reverent and respectful is to think about where your food comes from. It's not enough to give up animal products and think you're doing the world any favors. Monocrops and industrial agriculture, reliant as they are on huge amounts of water, fossil fuel, and chemicals, are not sustainable. And they're slaughtering animal and insect life all around them, so that even your vegetarian meal carries a heavy toll. And who is growing and processing your food, and how? How much fossil fuel is used to get it to your plate? It's at the very least a gross mistake for vegans to feel that their dietary choices have exempted them from considering these things. At worst it's a self-serving lie.<br/><br/>Honestly, I don't care if people are vegan or not. I have known healthy vegans and seriously emaciated unhealthy vegans, who really just needed to eat a steak or something. Keith's nutritional arguments in favor of meat eating are well constructed and meticulously footnoted, but I think it's a little beside the point. Which is hard to argue with: we are not, as a people, healthy, and we are quickly fucking up the earth. <br/><br/>There are some flaws in the book. People have taken issue with her flowery, personally revealing narrative, but I thought it was lovely and compassionate. She could have drawn from a wider range of books for her research, but that's a minor quibble. A larger point of issue is her attack on agriculture. It seems clear that the advent of large scale single crop agriculture brought with it a decline in ecological and human health. But the hunter gathering model, which she favors, isn't an entirely unagricultural enterprise. Many such societies managed certain resources - plants, berries, shellfish - for maximum yields, or controlled the environment in other ways, like by burning. If this is the model to strive for - semi-wild, with a diversity of plant and animal life mixed in (including meat and dairy animals) - then what we're looking at is starting to sound a lot like permaculture. Right? Maybe I'm just being too picky about terminology. <br/><br/>Anyway, there is a great deal to chew on in this book. I can see it stimulating some great discussions, and helping spur people to action. It's unfortunate that the online discussions I've seen have sort of devolved into mudslinging, though given the deep philosophical feelings of the vegan community, it's not surprising. <br/><br/><br/><br/>

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