The Vegetarian Myth

MAY 2019: This video debunked many of the claims in The Vegetarian Myth.

I wish this book was around when I first looked into starting a vegetarian diet.

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability
The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith is a good book from a 20 year vegan who returned to meat. The author writes in a highly respectful and caring voice to those readers who may be following a vegetarian diet. The book covers environmental issues, nutrition, mental health, and the politics of big agriculture. It is not preachy at all. It is written in a conversational yet informative manner.

This book is not perfect. For some reason, there is no index in the back of the book. I’ll never understand why an editor of a non-fiction book would exclude an index. If I want to revisit the pages on serotonin and tryptophan, I have to thumb through each page hoping those words catch my eye. I would hope that if there is a second edition an index is added. I also didn’t like the last chapter. Instead of being a concise summary, it was just a rambling incoherent dialog with feminist opinions that seems completely out of place in a book on food. If you read this book, skip the last chapter.

Despite the last chapter, I think this is a very good resource for someone whoย is considering or having doubts about their vegetarian diet. This book is your second opinion. Because our diet can be our identity, we tend to seek out information that confirms instead of challenging our choices. This is called confirmation bias. It can be dangerous not to test your assumptions, especially if your early ones are incorrect.

It aint what you dont know that gets you into trouble. Its what you know for sure that just aint so. – Mark Twain

If you don’t have the time to read this book, let me point you to two podcast interviews the author did about the Vegetarian Myth.

Primal Body, Primal Mind Podcast – Scroll down to May 5, 2010. (interview removed from page as of December 2020)

Former 20-Year Vegan Lierre Keith Now Advocates Omnivorism (Episode 334) – Interview with Jimmy Moore. (search on iTunes, link down as of June 2019)


Add yours

  1. MAS, I read this one about 3 months ago and my feelings are very similar to yours. Outstanding book, well researched, and it should be a must-read for vegetarians/vegans. The last chapter with all the feminist rhetoric was really out of place, though.

  2. BLASPHEMY! Just kidding. Other than the environmental and economic concerns of following a vegetarian diet, I don’t disagree with eating meat(s). However, once you lose the taste for meat it is hard to go back. I am going to try grass-fed beef soon and maybe that will make me change my diet.

  3. @thomas – The book covers the environmental damage caused by agriculture. In order to grow grains, corn or soy, you must first clear the land of all its diversity to plant a single crop. The fields are then fertilized with petroleum based products. Animals and plants are meant to share the same land. Factory farms and agriculture separate the two and we are witnessing the damage to our land and health.

    The movie Fresh and the 2nd section of Omnivores Dilemma do a great job showing how to run a sustainable farm.

    Many ex-vegetarians return to meat via bacon. You can find bacon from local sustainable farms at every farmers market in the Seattle area.

  4. Thanks for the suggestion Michael. However, eating bacon would break my heart. Do you know how smart pigs are? They are smarter than dogs and cleaner too. One of the reasons I prefer beef/fish is because I associate them with being dumb, however that is not a valid reason either as mental development should not factor into their right to live. I have always wanted a potbellied pig as well.

  5. I 2nd you, MAS! I highly recommend The Vegetarian Myth… however I also was surprised by the last chapter. I’ve been wanting to write a book with much of this info – however in a form more accessible to the general pubic – less opinion and more basic language – maybe even something for children! We NEED to know and care where our food comes from! I’m going to FB you as I am also in Seattle ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. @Nora – Write it. A 2nd book would be great. Nora got the voice right and made many solid points, but it could be better.

  7. ๐Ÿ˜€ You mean, Lierre!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. Let me recommend, also, the interview/podcast at Our Natural Life (OLN) with Lierre. Very well done.

  9. @Elenor – Thanks for the tip. here is the link –> ONL050 In Defense of Omnivores

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