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The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability [Paperback]

Lierre Keith
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 2009
Part memoir, nutritional primer, and political manifesto, this controversial examination exposes the destructive history of agriculture—causing the devastation of prairies and forests, driving countless species extinct, altering the climate, and destroying the topsoil—and 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 eating—or not eating—animals. 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.

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The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability + Primal Body, Primal Mind + Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food
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Product Description


"Everyone who eats should read this book. Everyone who eats vegetarian should memorize it . . . This is the single most important book I’ve ever read on diet, agriculture, and ecology."  —Aric McBay, author, What We Leave Behind

"This book saved my life . . . [It] offers us a way back into our bodies, and back into the fight to save the planet."  —Derrick Jensen, author, Endgame

"[Vegetarian Myth] is one of the most important books people, masses of them, can read, as we try with all our might, intelligence, skill, hope, dream , and memory, to turn the disastrous course the planet is on."  —Alice Walker, prize-winning author, The Color Purple

"We may not want to face the facts, but Keith sees this as no excuse to stay in denial. If delivered as a speech, you could see that no one in the audience would be [seated] at the end. I have never seen such rousing prose." — (August 7, 2011)

"In The Vegetarian Myth ex-vegan Lierre Keith argues that saving the planet and ending the suffering found in factory farms can not be achieved by refusing to eat animals, it can only be achieved by boycotting modern agricultural practices, which Keith calls 'the most destructive thing that people have done to the planet.'" —

About the Author

Lierre Keith is a writer, a farmer, and a feminist activist. She is the author of the novels Conditions of War and Skyler Gabriel. She splits her time between Northampton, Massachusetts and Humboldt, California.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Oct. 25 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book features an incredible body of research, it is well written and easy to understand. Any negative feedback is due to a lack of understanding or ignorantly hanging on to desired believes. It is a must read for anyone concerned about their health as well as the health of our planet. The author masterfully covered a variety of different subjects and concepts.

This book is thoughtful, thought provoking and well thought off .... in one word exceptional.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of food for thought for us all Jan. 29 2012
By Jodi-Hummingbird TOP 50 REVIEWER
This book is as the description says, 'part memoir, nutritional primer, and political manifesto.'

Lots of books talk about the harm eating processed foods and high levels of sugars and grains on our health, but this book is one of the few that combines this with information about the effect all these many grain crops have on our environment and on many different ecosystems.

The author talks about all the hidden death that is involved in the production of foods such as grain crops, and why vegan meals may involve far more death than the more obvious death of a single animal to provide a meal for an omnivore. Many animals are made extinct when land is cleared for grain crops and billions of small animals such as mice and rabbits are killed every year by harvesting equipment, for example.

The book explains that buying a soy burger may give you an emotional quick fix but it does nothing at all to deal with any of the bigger issues, is terrible for your health, and gives money to some of the biggest corporations that are causing some of the worst problems in worldwide hunger and so on. To be truly moral in our eating habits involves more than just extending morality to a few animals who are most like us. The rest of the world, all those billions of other lives, count too.

The author also writes about how our soils need to eat and what they need to eat is either fossil fuels or animal products such as manure, and that there is no way around this. That we are part of a circle of life and trying to separate ourselves from this cycle is causing a lot of problems for our environment.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit dodgy on the research Sept. 5 2012
The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith is well-written and appears to be well-researched, on the surface.
The book makes a lot of points about our food system, but the one that Keith most wants vegans to accept is that a decision to not consume animal products out of a desire not to kill anything is a dishonest one. Every means of feeding ourselves requires that organisms die. Monoculture, particularly as applied to the production of grain, relies on herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers. This results in the degradation of soil and the death of every living organism that lives in it or creates it. Vegans, according to Keith, rely on grains as a staple and therefore their lifestyle is just as damaging as a lifestyle that relies on animals for food.
That's an indictment of agriculture, and not of plant-based nutrition. I think people are increasingly aware that monoculture is degrading to the earth. Plants consume more than just nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K). Feeding plants with commercial NPK fertilizers starves the plants as well as the soil. People are also increasingly aware that the grain we eat in North America is overly refined, hybridized and genetically modified, to the extent that it's not a healthy food. In terms of solutions, it would be more reasonable to look at sustainable and natural methods of growing plants (and of raising livestock).
When Keith writes that all food choices mean that something must die, her argument against veganism loses momentum because vegetarianism or no, something must always die. In that regard, it doesn't matter what you eat.
Keith then goes on to assess the human digestive system and its bearing on our ability to eat plants.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Medicine July 31 2011
This book was written by a very courageous woman. It clearly shows the detrimental effects of BELIEF. In her case the belief that vegetarianism is good for you and all humanity. The consequence was that she wrecked her health. Her exploration into the effects of agriculture on our planet and on society at large is a painful eye opener. It explained to me the state of the world and society and the future looks grim until we ALL together make a choice for change and act on it.
Highly recommended.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener of a book July 18 2011
By Harrison Koehli TOP 500 REVIEWER
For me, this is perhaps my top book of the last decade. It is elegantly written, passionately argued, full of information, and absolutely heart-wrenching. Like many of my fellow suburbanites, for me life was city life. I took it for granted as just "the way things are": the landscape, the buildings, the food I ate. But after reading Lierre Keith's book, I'm reminded of something a hero of mine once wrote (Kazimierz Dabrowski): There is far to little imagination in our world. If there was more, we would perhaps ponder on civilization, its nature, origin, and consequences a bit more often. We would see that it is based on consumption and destruction; that it has no place to go but down. That our very way of life, founded on agriculture, is perhaps the primary reason we started going to war with each other, the reason we are so sick in body and mind. And perhaps we would imagine new ways, a new world, and bring it into reality.

But there is too little imagination. Instead, we eat food we are not designed to eat. We get cancer, arthritis, heart disease - the list is endless. We get depressed, anxious, and traumatized, becoming disconnected from each other. We accept the propaganda of our leaders in politics, business, medicine, academia. We kill that which is necessary for life on this planet, and we kill that life as well.

This book is so much more than a book about vegetarianism or veganism. It is the story of a planet that is spiraling down the drain, a branch on the tree of life that is about to be pruned - dry, withered, and dead. Not a pretty picture. And yet, this book is beautiful. Lierre presents a small taste of what could be, what was.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in health
Very thought provoking and a challenge to my old vegetarian beliefs. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in health, the environement and the welfare of animals.
Published 3 months ago by Esmeralda Carvalho
4.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading for all young women
This is an excellent, impassioned analysis of exactly why vegetarianism won't save the planet and is actually harming the ecosystem and the health of the people who practice it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by cellomerl
5.0 out of 5 stars The voice of sanity in an irrational area
This book is a meaningful discussion not just on vegetarian living, but on the current state of our agricultural system. Read more
Published 8 months ago by dr s a eberspaecher
1.0 out of 5 stars Lots of lies and bad information from a NON-Vegan person who ate an...
she admitted she ate eggs and dairy every chance she got... and she claims being a vegan for 20 years at the same time!? wow.. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Chrissy
5.0 out of 5 stars Food sovereignty
This is one of the best books atht I have read that connects food to health as well as to carrying capacity. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Murray Hidlebaugh
3.0 out of 5 stars Food for Thought
This book shows excellent review of our dietary standards and what's wrong with certain models of eating (vegan & vegetarian), exposing the truth behind these myths from social,... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Johanus
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible
I actually only read this book for the laughs. Although I laughed I know that a lot of people less informed can actually take this "advice" seriously.
Published on June 18 2012 by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars A trailblazing book
Even though this book is called the 'Vegetarian Myth', and it's focus was to dispell the strongly held beliefs that veganism is healthy and can save the planet, which if you read... Read more
Published on May 11 2012 by Dan
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book
Lierre was a vegan for 20 years. Her reasons for going vegan are the same as many other vegans: justice, compassion, and repulsion at factory farming practices. Read more
Published on April 1 2012 by Phung Minh Hoang
1.0 out of 5 stars Misquoting doctors research...
I haven't read this book, but I did watch Lierre Keith's live lecture discussing her book "The Vegetarian Myth". Well that's not exactly true... Read more
Published on Dec 30 2011 by Seeking Answers
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