The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability

“This was not an easy book to write. For many of you, it won’t be an easy book to read. I know. I was a vegan for almost twenty years. I know the reasons that compelled me to embrace an extreme diet and they are honorable, ennobling even.”
― Lierre Keith, The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability

The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith was first published in 2009 and has been a very controversial book ever since. By writing this review, I do not seek to offend anyone though I do believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with what we eat. And all the people I know who are vegetarians or vegans look exhausted or I can see they feel exhausted so I have long believed that is not the solution. And there is so much more to this book than just it being against vegetarianism. Keith basically questions our whole way of living and that does make it a hard read. Also, often her opinions seemed like they were based on emotions and not on facts. I do understand her, I would be mad too and moreover, it is very hard to find facts when this definitely is not the truth that the food industry wants you to know. Keith criticizes vegetarianism and veganism from 3 different angles: environmental, moral and political, although they do connect a lot in between the book. Let’s start from this. Agriculture is not sustainable. We cannot keep living like this. We cut off forests, dry lakes, ruin the soil to grow anything else. I know we are used to seeing nothing but farms stretching as far as I can see and how s that right?  Even worse, that food does not grow naturally.

“Plants have to eat, too,” I tried to explain. “They need nitrogen, they need minerals. You have to replace what you’re taking out. Your choices are fossil fuels or animal products.”  ― Lierre Keith, The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability

There’s more. How is it sustainable with all the pesticides we keep releasing to the nature? How is it sustainable if our population has exploded because of agriculture? Cows for example do not grow on pesticides as you do not need pesticides to grow grass (though unfortunately grass is not always what cows eat).This was a fascinating read, although I have to give it just 4/5 stars because of the stream of consciousness and because from time to time it sounded like a political manifesto which I did not like.

How-To Read The Vegetarian Myth
1. I would love to urge all my vegetarian and vegan friends and readers to read this book and to keep an open mind to it. And this goes also for non-vegetarian friends, read this and think about all the chemicals you put into your body.
2. Writing style is very flowing and sometimes it makes you question whether the author has lost it, however it also makes this seem very sympathetic. Here’s a woman who really cares about the planet and who has listened to her own body.
3. Audible has a great version of this, might be nicer to listen than to read.

6 thoughts on “The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability

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  1. I think from just a nutritional point, there is still so much that the general population doesn’t know about in regards to eating healthy and that is regardless of the veg. vs meat question. On top of that, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to what foods are good for which people. It is probably a cliche to some to say that nuance is key when talking about our diet and the planet, but I think it really has to be nuanced if we hope to keep ourselves and our planet healthy.

    1. Indeed, and even I am not there yet. Better than some yes but often I still eat junk food or sweets fully knowing it’s very far from healthy. I think there must be one-size-fits-all solution though because what choice is there for 8 billion of us. But yeah. Battle on I guess.

  2. Hm. It would be an interesting read. I and all my family are vegetarians. My son is vegan – he is an actor who ‘rests’ by punting on the River Cam and he pushes weights as a hobby. None of us are exhausted – not since my blood pressure has been treated:). But I will agree that it is a complicated issue and needs to be as inclusive as possible.

  3. Good Review. I went from Vegan to Plant based only. I have Crohn’s so I had to make up my own diet. Trying one food at a time to see which ones caused flare ups. Now I’ve got a good routine down. It works for me and not everyone can follow it. Eat what makes your body feel good. Don’t eat crap. lol

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