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The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and…

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Lierre Keith

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2911863,634 (3.89)2
Part memoir, nutritional primer, and political manifesto, this controversial examination exposes the destructive history of agriculturecausing the devastation ofprairies and forests, driving countless species extinct, altering the climate, and destroying the topsoiland asserts that, in order to save the planet, food must come from within living communities. In order for this to happen, the argument champions eating locally and sustainably and encourages those with the resources to grow their own food. Further examining the question of what to eat from the perspective of both human and environmental health, the account goes beyond health choices and discusses potential moral issues from eatingor not eatinganimals. Through the deeply personal narrative of someone who practiced veganism for 20 years, this unique exploration also discusses alternatives to industrial farming, reveals the risks of a vegan diet, and explains why animals belong on ecologically sound farms.… (more)
Title:The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability
Authors:Lierre Keith
Info:PM Press (2009), Edition: 1, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:vegetarian, wishlist, food, sustainability

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The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith (2009)



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The author outlines the ridiculousness of the Vegan and Vegetarian mythos and digs into political, social, moral, nutritional, and most importantly, the sustainable aspects of eating... and ultimately our footprint, as a species, on planet Earth.

For this reader there was no huge revelations, since I'm well versed in the realities of agriculture and food at this point, and spend a great deal of time immersed in the natural and agricultural world, but the author nicely packages a fairly comprehensive discussion of the topic into this volume. There is a disturbing element to having all this laid out in one volume though: As you read it, it really underscores the pervasiveness of a community of folks that live their lives entirely divorced from the realities of the natural world and the cycles of life, death, and rebirth. I don't want to sound overly harsh, but it is a bit unavoidable. These are folks that look at nature from inside a bubble... through a pane of glass. Never really understanding it. Some is their fault, but it is a societal disorder, long in coming considering urbanization and how housebound most people in the 1st world are today.

The other disturbing element to the story as outlined by the author, is that though we know what we need to do to address the deeper ecological realities of massive over-population on this planet I personally am not confident that we'll take the necessary steps, and I don't think the author is either.

And that is where the biggest surprise of the book was found. The author was not afraid to summarize the corrective course of action that we would have to take as humans to make things better. Finally someone is bold enough, in a relatively mainstream book, to state that in order to ever have a sustainable, ecological, and ethical food system (or any system)... over-population really needs to be addressed. Severely. It will solve itself eventually, but it can either be messy and violent, or orderly and peaceful. Not many authors writing a mainstream book are bold enough to state it so plainly.

4 stars: There are three issues I had with the book: (1) The author slips into "appeal to emotion" a bit much, (2) It's hard to weed out the good science from the bad or mediocre, and (3) There is no index... which means you have to take notes, write in the margins, and highlight, or just have a really good memory. ;) Geez. Books like this *have* to have an index. I blame her editors. What a disappointment.

Great book. Folks, if you are confused as to why the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle is unsustainable, unnatural, relatively unhealthy, un-ecological, and ultimately more than a bit silly (but with non-silly implications)... this is a great book to to read. Even more importantly, it is a great discussion about environmentalism, food security, and agricultural sustainability, and of course, overpopulation -- topics that I am particularly passionate about, even more so than the main topic of the book.

Recommend. ( )
  ErrantRuminant | Mar 13, 2020 |
I'm a vegetarian. I'll get that out of the way. I really liked this book at first, because it was challenging my concept of environmental vegetarianism. Lierre talks about annual mono-crop agriculture, and how it's very very unsustainable. Cool. Did not know that. Because of Lierre, I've learned about perennial polyculture and permaculture farming. Awesome. I don't disagree with Lierre's ideas about how you could feasibly have a permaculture farm with animals, and it be humane to those animals to later on eat them. I'm ok with that.
That being said, the rest of this book is filled with misconceptions, mistakes, half-truths, and straight out bat-shit nonsense...that I found it very difficult to read.
http://www.theveganrd.com/2010/09/review-of-the-vegetarian-myth.html ( )
  weberam2 | Nov 24, 2017 |
This is NOT an anti-vegetarian book.
This is NOT a pro-human carnivore book.
My understanding of the book's message: humans need to relearn how to live local or the consequences are dire. And no, Local doesn't mean driving an hour from home.

Good book, could have used a better editor perhaps..
..though, if you take into consideration what her stated objective was for writing the book in the first place, she doesn't need an editor for her book, we readers do.

I think it could be helpful to, before reading too far into the book, what you the reader are hoping to get out of the experience. People I've encountered don't tend to respond well to having their beliefs (and by extension, identity) "challenged" and this book seems to have something to offend everyone.

If you're a vegan, you'll probably hate the book. You probably won't even finish the book, and if you do finish and you're still vegan then you weren't actually learning.

If you're an omnivore who considers yourself something of an environmentalist, but goes to -insert-grocery-store-chain-name-here- and buys meat products after reading the book, then you weren't actually learning.

If you're vegetarian, the Why of your choice to be vegetarian will probably influence your take on the book content.

If you're anti-1970s style feminist, you'll probably balk at the author more than her book's message.

If you love when authors cite their sources so you the reader can double check the presented info for yourself -regardless of whether you agree with the perspectives or not- you should read this book. ( )
  daemonkity | May 21, 2015 |
The author brought up some interesting points and I even believe her about the devastation that agriculture has wrought on our ecosystem. But I think she is being too idealistic in thinking we can change the landscape enough to reverse the damage of the last 10 thousand years (at least enough to support a population of 7 billion and growing).

I suppose I have a pessimistic outlook but I would prefer to stay closer to realism than idealism. We need to understand that even if we cleaned up all the messes we've created industrially, agriculturally, etc., there are emerging 3rd world countries with billions of people who are poised to strike the death blow to Earth as we know it. It's bleak but a very real danger.

Understanding that this book was aimed more at vegan and vegetarian democrats than meat-eating libertarians like me, I still enjoyed the very informative presentation. I had no idea that a vegetarian diet was so damaging to our bodies (or to the soil, for that matter). I respect what the author was trying to do and to the extent that we can do it, I'm on board. I will make a greater effort to consume more local food than previously and I'm glad I read this book. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
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. ( )
  wester | Mar 3, 2014 |
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