Summary

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.
©2009 Lierre Keith (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
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Critic reviews

"Lierre Keith’s book is beyond fantastic." (Dr. Michael Eades, author of Protein Power)
"This book saved my life. Not only does The Vegetarian Myth make clear how we should be eating, but also how the dominant food system is killing the planet. This necessary book challenges many of the destructive myths we live by and offers us a way back into our bodies, and back into the fight to save the planet." (Derrick Jensen, author of Endgame and A Language Older Than Words
"Everyone interested in healthy eating should be grateful to Lierre Keith." (Sally Fallon Morell, President, The Weston A. Price Foundation)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By julien on 30-09-17

needs a sequel called "the feminism myth"

this book is very important, the scope of its subject is phenomenal, a proper eye opener regarding our food, how we produce it, our society and everything that is wrong about it. I have learned a lot and i recommend it to everyone around me.

however, the author is a recovering vegan feminist, and while she made the backbone of her reflexion about all the things that are wrong with veganism, she hasn't managed to apply the same principles of scientifique enquiry and intellectual honesty to feminism.

Apparently, all the terrible things she pointed out throughout the book are the result of the patriarcal society and toxic masculinity. its actually strange that, having done all the work to see the fallacy of vegan fanatism, she can't go that extra step and realise that she is again clinging to simple solutions to complexe problems, finding a convenient culprit to blame. at no point does she even consider that the human social structure might also be rooted in a 3 million years evolutionary journey...

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Lewis on 16-03-18

Mind Blowing

The content and message within this book absolutely blew my mind. So insightful and makes a ton of sense. It did lose me when the author strayed away from the topic of vegetarianism to talk about feminism but it was still well worth a read. The content is mostly referring to American farming and diets so not universally applicable to other western societies but it gets there eventually.
The narrator was not the best especially when using Americanisms for words rather than the traditional English.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By J. S. White on 19-02-12

Interesting take on sustainability

The author has a very interesting take on agriculture and sustainability. I think her expressed hatred of "masculinity" detracts from the other messages. In all of her assertions about "adult knowledge" and "accepting truths" and "evolutionary truths", she seems to have completely missed that we, too, men and women, are the products of evolution, and like our primate relatives, males tend to be bigger and more aggressive because those are the ones that reproduced the most - evolution in action. Not saying we're slaves to it, but if we don't acknowledge it, we can't effectively develop non-harmful means of expressing it. if we assume that it's all socialization, we'll spend our time 'fixing' the wrong problem.

She also engages in hyperbole (I hope) or ignorance (perhaps) or just plain lying (I hope not). The melting of the polar ice caps might release all that sequestered methane, but there's no current model I'm aware of that has the Earth looking like Venus. She also still seems to think that petroleum is from dinosaurs; yeah, we were taught that, but now we know it's probably not true - why doesn't she? There were quite a few 'facts' of this sort.

That said, when I've researched other claims, I find much important information. For instance, despite the epidemiological studies' claims, when scientists engage in causal studies comparing diets rich in animal fats vs low-fat diets, the low-carb diets usually win. I know weight loss results have been mixed, but health studies (like a recent study that compared low carb vs low fat for treatment of metabolic syndrome) the low-carb diet had profoundly better outcomes.

I was surprised to discover that grains do, indeed, contain opioids, and in quantities sufficient to cause some people to have issues with them specifically. Interesting stuff.

I don't know that I accept her assertion that the only answer is a return to some hunter-gatherer luddite pseudo paradise, but I think she makes good arguments for population control, re-factoring of the "food pyramid", and an effort to approach some form of long-term sustainable living.

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28 of 33 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Sean on 02-01-13

A bold work, and a catalog of modern neuroses

I really wanted to like this book. I looked forward to reading it after listening to Lierre's talk on YouTube, and observing how much vegans seem to hate her. But ultimately, it just has a few good excerpts, and I would be too embarrassed to recommend it to anyone I respected.

The book does indeed make some very important points about the nature of various flavors of "organic" and "traditional" agriculture. That's where the value is in her perspective: she overcame her irrational beliefs with regard to veganism and its environmental implications, and she has a lot to contribute in debunking that philosophy. There's also a lot of value in the more general points she makes about traditional agriculture being essentially extractive, like a "mining" of topsoil. This point is repeated 100 times in only the first few chapters, with lots of colorful stories and examples, and driven home very effectively. I think that this is an extremely important point to make, and she makes it clear that we can't go back from modern industrial farming to some sort of "traditional" or "organic" alternative with modern population levels, even if eating only plants was viable health-wise.

The most important criticism I have of this book is that along with its brilliant critique of traditional farming, it contains a doomsday message: that modern industrial farming will make the whole world into a big Easter Island, and that when the oil, natural gas, or whatever runs out, which is implied to be soon, it will collapse. She cites the Haber process for fixing nitrogen and the mining of rocks for phosphorous as examples of why this will happen. But no convincing scientific argument is made for why these should become impossible once fossil fuels run out. There is enough nuclear fuel around to keep us going for a few million years, even if we never invent fusion power. Does she think that humanity is going to just let itself collapse into anarchy and cannibalism rather than face the nuclear bugaboo? It seems like she would, but thankfully she is not in charge.

She also seems to reflexively hate fossil fuels as "polluting", but fails to see that humans are in effect doing what those bacteria she loves so much in the soil do. The oil, coal, or whatever was biomass lost to nature, and in a sense, humans are bringing it back into the circle of life.

I had to stop listening before I even finished Chapter 17. The author has figured out a lot about veganism and the nature of life on a human time-scale, but she has not extended this introspection to her wide array of other neuroses. She references and takes for granted a number of noxious and hateful ideologies casually throughout the book, including the gem of a line which caused me to stop listening: "Women the world over need access to contraception and abortion. But they also need liberty. That liberty will only be won when masculinity, its religion, its economics, its psychology, its sex, is resisted and defeated". Lierre hates men, capitalism, trade, "corporations", science, industry, and on some level I suspect, all people.

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22 of 28 people found this review helpful

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