A Quick Review of The Vegetarian Myth

I started to include this in my weekly Body Transformation post, but it just didn’t seem to fit, so I thought I’d post it separately.

I finished The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith this week.  It was a fantastic book and really opened my mind.

A quick and subjective summary of the main points in no particular order:

  1. Large-scale monocrop agriculture is killing us and our planet
  2. Vegetarians and vegans are on the whole burying their heads in the sand in naivete that it is possible to live without killing. That this naivete is in fact causing more death detriment by supporting the above-mentioned monocrop agriculture.
  3. Humans need animal products and in particular animal fats to thrive.
  4. All arguments for vegetarianism as an environmentally beneficial choice are basically bunk, since they are based on calculations of soy and wheat vs. meat raised on soy and wheat, both of which are broken systems, requiring the death of the soil and fossil fuel fertilizer.  (I’m wildly oversimplifying, but this is the idea.)
  5. Humans don’t need carbohydrates in our diets to thrive, and in fact carbohydrates (and not fat or just generalized overeating)  are the cause of many of the “diseases of civilization” (obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, many cancers, atherosclerosis, cirrhosis, etc.).
  6. A vegan diet will kill you. She assumes that vegans are all starving themselves so I kept wondering about vegans who make sure to eat saturated fat like coconut oil, but much of her railing against veganism is based on her personal experience of over 20 years of veganism which caused permanent physiologic damage, so I give her some room to be angry here.

The one somewhat unfortunate bit in my opinion is that she’s so angry and radical that I don’t think more than a very small percentage of folks will ever get through this book.  Not that she’s inaccurate, but just so far from conventional ways of thinking that I don’t this this book will ever get the readership of something like Omnivore’s Dilemma.

If you can stomach lots of mentions of patriarchy and an extremely dire (but probably accurate) view of the future along our current human trajectory, then please read this book, it’s fantastic. Dr. Michael Eades and Tom Naughton of FatHead (who I don’t necessarily agree with otherwise) have both written much more thorough reviews than I have here if you’d like to read more.

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