The Vegetarian Myth

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I finally read The Vegetarian Myth over my winter break.  I know I’m more than a little late joining the party — the book has been out for some time and received quite a few reviews — but I’m going to add my review to the mix anyway, for one simple reason:  It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I want you to read it too, if you haven’t already.

Lierre Keith is an extraordinarily talented writer.  I enjoy some authors because they’re diligent researchers and fill their pages with facts I didn’t already know — Gary Taubes immediately comes to mind.  I enjoy other authors for the logical, persuasive arguments they make on controversial issues — Thomas Sowell is one of my favorites in that arena.  Still others, like Tom Robbins, are simply a pleasure to read, thanks to the grace and beauty of their prose.

As I read this book, I soon realized that Keith is all three:  a tenacious researcher who can dig up the facts, arrange them into coherent arguments, and fold them into sentences that are pure brain-candy for anyone who loves words.  (Okay, she wouldn’t eat candy and neither do I, but you get the idea.)

If you’ve spent any time debating vegetarians, you know the supposed superiority of a meat-free existence boils down to three main beliefs:  it’s immoral to kill in order to eat, we must all give up meat to save the planet, and giving up animal products will improve your health.  Keith refers to these as the Vegetarian Myths, and during her decades as a dedicated vegan, she believed them.  But in this book, she destroys them one by one — by offering what she calls adult knowledge.  Knowledge, after all, is the reason adults don’t believe in the Easter Bunny.  As Keith puts it: “What separates me from vegetarians isn’t ethics or commitment.  It’s information.”

And the information is rich indeed.  In part one, Moral Vegetarians, she dispenses with the “killing animals is immoral” myth.  I found this section particularly enlightening, because I long ago conceded the point that vegetarians don’t kill to eat.  Okay, Mr. Granola, my food involves killing animals and yours doesn’t.  Good for you.  It so happens I don’t believe it’s immoral to kill an animal for food, especially since I’m healthier now, but if you feel morally superior ordering a soy burger, be my guest.

Turns out I was wrong to concede even that much.  As Keith writes:

The moral argument is the clarion call that rallies most vegetarians to the cause.  It’s what kept me unable to examine or even question my vegan diet, despite all the evidence that my health was failing.  I wanted to believe that my life – my physical existence – was possible without killing.  It’s not.  No life is.

She then explains why living without killing is impossible, beginning with a fascinating, detailed description of the cycle of life … and “cycle” is the crucial concept.  There is no food chain, with humans sitting at the top.  We are members of a food cycle, with all of us eating each other.  As Keith explains, even the soil is alive, with literally millions of organisms in each tablespoon.  Take the animals out of the equation — along with the urine, feces, blood and bone that the soil “eats” — and the soil will die.

Keith discovered this for herself when she decided to grow her own food.  She soon learned that her soil required nitrogen, and discovered to her horror that she had two choices:  natural nitrogen — mostly blood meal and bone meal — or synthetic nitrogen made from fossil fuels …  another form of dead animals.  As she reluctantly concluded, “My garden wanted to eat animals, even if I didn’t.”

Her garden gave her further fits when she realized she had to stop the bugs from eating the plants she planned to eat herself.  Chemical pesticides were obviously out, so she looked into “natural” pesticides — which she learned rip the guts out of the bugs.  She finally elected to keep some chickens that would eat the bugs instead.  Yes, she knew was simply outsourcing the killing to the chickens, and yes, she struggled with the double-standard.  Her personal odyssey, sprinkled throughout the pages, is at times equally funny and sad.

Much of the Moral Vegetarians section describes the killing fields of mono-crop agriculture.  Never mind the countless critters shredded by farm machinery.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  The real damage occurs earlier in the process.  To create those sprawling acres of wheat, corn, and soybeans, prairies and forests that were home to millions of animals are destroyed, taking the animals down with them.  Rivers are dammed, killing all the animals who depended on them.  That soy burger Mr. Granola chews so smugly requires at least as many deaths as my steak, if not more.

And as Keith explains in section two, Political Vegetarians, eating soy burgers won’t save the planet, either.  All those goofy vegetarian arguments about how many more people we could feed per acre if we all ate the crops instead of the animals who eat the crops are based on a flawed idea: that the animals who provide our meat are supposed to eat corn.  They’re not.  They’re supposed to eat grass.  Keith recalculates the calories-per-acare figures assuming we were smart enough to raise our animals on their natural food, and not surprisingly, the disparity shrinks to nearly zero.

And feeding the masses is only part of the equation.  When you raise animals in a pasture, you create topsoil — you literally can’t create topsoil without animals.  But when you raise corn, you destroy topsoil.  It’s mono-crop agriculture that uses extraordinary amounts of water and creates soil runoff.  Then, of course, there’s all that fossil fuel required to keep the crops growing as the topsoil disappears.  (Imagine the fun of explaining to your wild-eyed vegan friends that their “sustainable lifestyle” is enriching the oil industry.)

To make matters worse, our federal farm subsidies have created huge grain cartels and made our crops irresistibly cheap, destroying local farming around the globe.  Keith recounts this in detail.  But because of where she lays the blame, I’m going to pause and raise the couple of minor quibbles I have with an otherwise outstanding piece of work.

She is apparently hostile towards capitalism.  As a libertarian whose definition of capitalism is “keep the @#$%ing government out of it,” I agree that farm subsidies are an outrage.  But that’s not capitalism; it’s socialism.  The huge farm subsidies that spawned mono-crop agriculture and the grain cartels were the work of FDR, the hero of the “Progressive” movement.  As the old farmer told the filmmakers in King Corn, “You couldn’t make any money growing corn without the government payments.”  Duh.  Take the socialist federal handouts away, and much of the mono-crop agriculture will go with it.  So will the cheap corn we feed to cattle.

My other minor quibble is Keith’s interjections of feminism (some have called it male-bashing) into the narrative. I don’t see any reason for it, other than the fact that she considers herself a radical feminist and felt a need to express some feminist ideas. As she points out herself, brutality and patriarchy existed in plenty of hunter-gather societies.  And most of the radical, “meat is murder!” granola-chomping vegetarians I’ve met have been women who consider themselves feminists.  Maybe I’m missing something here.  But again, these are minor quibbles.

In part three, Nutritional Vegetarians, Keith recounts how her vegan diet destroyed her health.  I’m sorry to say much of the damage is permanent.  Her spine has degenerated, and it won’t come back.  She spends much of her life in pain.  I’m also sorry to say I know some vegetarians with ailments similar to hers, but unlike Keith, they refuse to connect the dots.

Now, 20 years too late, Keith has done the research.  Some of the information in this section will be familiar to readers of this blog, but it’s presented in great detail and, of course, beautifully written.  She describes how our digestive systems work … which would be pretty much like the digestive system of a meat-eating animal, not an herbivore.  She explains the biochemistry of the physical damage caused by eating grains and soy.  She knows this topic well, since she lives with the damage every day.

And of course, she now recognizes the many benefits of eating animal fat, as well as the shoddiness of the “research” that concluded animal fats will clog our arteries and kill us.  She craved animal fat during her vegan days, but rarely allowed herself to eat it.  When she did, she felt simultaneously renewed physically and tortured with guilt for giving in.  She describes the depression, the fatigue, the “vegan rage,” and the chronic forgetfulness that plagued her and her vegan friends.  And of course, none of them could admit that perhaps their diets had something to do with it.

At least she’s admitting it now, in a book sincerely I hope becomes a best-seller.  I could post literally hundreds of delightful quotes from this book, but it’s getting late, and like I said, I hope you’ll read the whole thing.  So I’ll close with this one:

Listen to your body, reader, a listening that must make your body known to you, less mysterious and more beloved.  The listening is hard.  You will have to hear past the propaganda of the agriculturalists, both the corrupt and the righteous.  You will also have to listen past the cravings those foods produce:  the addiction to opioids and intense sweeteners, the biological emergencies of blood sugar swings.  And you will have to accept “the soft animal of your body,” as poet Mary Oliver so sweetly says, not punish it.

Told ya she could write.

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113 thoughts on “The Vegetarian Myth

  1. Jimbo

    Based on the review above, I wouldn’t buy this book. Dietectics is a science and, judging from you’re review, there are too many scientifically flawed arguments in the book. Nitrogen in the soil, for example, can be replaced by leguminous plants or use of seaweed. Farmers in the 15th century were doing crop rotation to replace nitrogen in the soil, so it’s not exactly new knowledge.

    It’s unfortunate that Lierre has had problems with her back and it’s also sad to hear that other vegans/vegetarians have also had problems with their health but you would expect that. Difficulties with bone density may be caused by inadequate intake of calcium or genetic problems. Having worked in education for over 30 years, I know that most people, including many teachers and lecturers, do not have a good grasp of their own nutritional needs.

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  2. Alex

    Carnivore for 38 years vegan for 13. I lived my first 30 years eating anything I liked which included lots of cheese, eggs and burgers. I tried to be more conscientious the next 8 years eating hormone free, free range beef and chicken. When I was diagnosed with heart disease at 38, my uncle, an MD, and the only male in my family tree to live into his 90’s despite heart disease, gave me a book by Dean Ornish called “Reversing heart disease”. At that point I switched to a vegan diet and, anecdotally, lost weight and got
    way healthier than I’d ever been before.
    Not wanting to second guess my own health, I began following the medical research by subscribing online to various medical and research publications, Which leads me to my main criticism of the Author’s research
    on health. She relies too heavily on second hand research, primarily the research of the Weston Price foundation. Although I support this groups efforts to eliminate factory farms, they are in essence a lobbying group trying to push naturally raised products. Although they have research to support their claims, vegetarian oriented websites have nice contradictory evidence as well. This is because on a lot of points, the science is a little grayer than either side would like to admit. You really need to look at the research as a whole to even begin to get a picture of what is healthy nutrition. As a case in point, there are a lot of claims that eating a natural whole food diet with whole animal products is fine for a healthy heart. I think I’ve heard Dr. Mercola and others espousing this claim. They have various theories of why this is so and how the body works and why this is a good thing. What they should do though is take
    a group of willing cardiac patients, put them on a fatty whole food diet, along with an exercise program and stress reduction program, and see what happens. Certainly in Dean Ornish’s case he was able to show that a healthy vegan diet(as opposed to a twinkie and potato chip vegan diet) along with exercise and stress reduction had positive results. To my knowledge, this experiment, done with animal products is yet undocumented in the medical research.
    As a vegan I do have to watch out for the pitfalls of my diet. Sure its great at reducing the risk of heart attacks and cancer, but there are lots of documented cases of nerve degeneration from lack of vitamin B12, Vitamin D deficiency, some vegans have taurine deficiency. You need to make sure you get enough omega 3 fats. All these issues are easily remedied, but I worry about some of the many young vegans out there who may be unaware of these issues and I feel sorry for the author who probably was unaware of these issues
    as well and now its too late.

    Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          If you want to end the brutal treatment of nonhuman animals, you need to stop eating all farm products IMMEDIATELY! No soy, no wheat, no corn, period. Farming kills more critters than you can count — just imagine the poor little fellers being shredded by farm equipment, poisoned by fossil-fuel fertilizers, etc. There is death on your plate, you cruel, cruel, cruel bastard.

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  3. Cheryl

    I would not buy this book for this reason: If she has done damage to her health because of her diet, it wasn’t from being vegan. It was being malnourished. Those are two different things. Omnivores can be malnourished; vegans can be malnourished. The review seems to paint the picture of someone biting back hard (literally) at both animals and the group of people who respect them most: vegans. She could have written a more compassionate book about why vegans have to be careful to get certain nutrients (and it’s not difficult) but it sounds like she chose to sell out completely and write a book that, judging from the review, is non-progressive and easy in the sense that it cuddles quite warmly with so many veg-resistant peoples’ myth based belief systems about diet. It also sounds very simplistic, and that she wanted it to sell. That’s a great recipe for sales. If she didn’t take the easy way during her vegan years, she’s certainly taking the easy way out with this book. From the sounds of this review…Keith is making quite a few assumptions about people, about vegans beside her past self, and bit off more than she could chew while bundling it all together into something she’s calling a vegetarian myth…hmm…

    Vegans don’t think they can save the world. We think we can make it a more compassionate place. That’s the most anyone can ever hope for and it is worth the small sacrifice if you choose your diet wisely. What I’ve personally gained, though, are great improvements in my health since switching to a plant-based diet, and that wasn’t even my goal. These improvements range from no more acid reflux…to no more white spots in the nails…to the severity of my seasonal allergy symptoms cut into a at least a quarter…to having far more energy for hikes, pilates and every day life…to having very reliable digestive patterns… The key here is that I get a pretty wide variety and enough fat from nuts, whole grains and soy, B12 fortified cereal and soy milk (or almond milk which is often amply fortified, too), enough zinc and iron from a wide variety legumes whole grains…and lots of fruit an vegetables. But I never eat granola…

    She desperately wanted to remain a vegetarian and tried everything to remain healthy. I think it’s highly unlikely she simply failed to find the magic combination of plant foods that would have prevented malnutrition. Some people cannot remain healthy on an all-plant diet. We’re all different.

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    1. Ryan

      On the typical “American” Vegan diet it would be impossible to be anything but malnourished. Grains, starch and sugar cannot be a significant part of a vegetarian or vegan diet as they have no nutritional value that you can absorb. Add to that most people have intolerance to grains, gluten, soy and the list goes on. Only tibetans and a handfull of people in foreign countries can do vegan because they eat a wide variety of exotic raw foods that ARE NOT available here, freeze dried or canned is no substitute. Also many of them do not thrive on the diet either, you need only look at india to see that not all people are very healthy on this diet but there are always outliers. If you want to remove 20 good years off your life, become a vegan in america, I myself developed crohns on a vegetarian diet. The smug attitudes I have encountered when it comes to vegans is when I am just going about my day and bam. I think these folks must be oblivious to the fact that making a smart ass comment can lead to “abuse”. I can’t mention a cookout or food at work without getting the I can’t even talk to you crap from someone there who is a vegan. Nothing like creating artificial walls to enemies that aren’t there.

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  4. jcfreedl

    I have been a vegetarian for over 30 years, in all that time I have not “gained weight, broken bones etc.etc.
    I have also been verbally abused in ways you cannot even imagine. I have never preached to others about what they should eat or not, yet I see here in these comments the very smug attitude I have seen over and over again from those who eat meat.
    that being said, I do agree with much of what the author states, however, the problem is not eating meat or not eating meat, the problem is the “business of agriculture” that exists today.

    Many of you may not realize this, but overwhelmingly much of the corn and wheat that is grown IS used to feet animals that will be slaughtered and eaten by people. I live in a very agricultural area and I know this firsthand. Also, humans are really not only meat eaters, we are meant to eat a large variety of foods, we do not have sharp canines such as dogs do we have grinding teeth which is meant for foods such as grains.

    ultimately, if we all feel that we are destroying the planet with our habits, look at the base of those habits and make changes, striking out at each other with insults does nothing to change the habits of those who are destroying the precious planet that we inhabit. It is time that we start taking responsiblity for ourselves and stop depending on the big corporate farms and factory farms to feed us. And if any of you have ever seen a factory chicken house, I cannot believe you would ever buy the products that they sell.

    I have seen then and been through them it is unimaginable and a very sad statement about ourselves.

    we can do much more for ourselves than we think we can, such as caring for our own chickens (many towns will allow them) and conserving energy, etc, etc.
    Oh incidently concerning a previous posting about pregnancies- I conceived and gave birth to two children while being a vegetarian with absolutely no problem. you just have to know what to eat and stick to it. Laurel’s Kitchen is one of the best vegetarian cookbooks I have ever used, try it you’ll like it

    and to all of you — we all inhabit the same place , show understanding and compassion. namaste

    Totally agree on the factory farming. Cows are meant to eat grass, not corn. Monocrop agriculture is ruining the land.

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  5. jerry kabat

    I was a vegetarian for 35 years until about 2 months ago. I decided to end that lifestyle for a number of reasons. The breaking point came when a good friend, a vegetarian very careful about his diet who had been influential in persuading me to become one, died of colon cancer. I was shocked because I had been led to believe in the vegetarian literature and by other vegetarians that a vegetarian diet was good for the digestive system. In researching this issue, I found that carnivores are considerably less likely to contract colon cancer. Ain’t that a kick in the head. That scared me. I had a colonoscopy, and, thank God, the only issue was diverticulosis, a common ailment that usually causes no problems. Could that have been caused by my diet? I also have concerns about my balding head (2 older carnivorous brothers have all their hair) and lack of muscle development (something I value since I am a competitive athlete). I know I will hear lots of nay sayers from the PC crowd, but in the world of professional athletes and top amateurs, the vast majority are carnivores. The truth is the vegetarian diet is ideal for the granola heads who espouse a particular political/cultural perspective. Leaving that diet is one more way for me to leave that past behind.

    I had a lot of digestive pains during my vegetarian days. Never get them now. I also started going bald during my vegetarian days, but that’s probably a coincidence. Plenty of meat-eaters go bald too.

    I was never much of an athlete, but I’m stronger now at age 51 than I ever was as a thirty-something vegetarian.

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  6. gallier2

    A propos baldness, one observation I made while in Africa (I’ve been several times on Comoros and Gabon) was, how few elderly men are bald. Some are grey haired but very few are bald (the habits of blacks in Europe to shave the head completely is not widely followed in Africa). I don’t think it is a “genetic” thing, because when one looks at blacks in the US, a lot have male pattern balding (I don’t know from 1st experience as I never was on your side of the pond, but looking at what is visible from the media, it seems so, Bill Cosby, Michael Clarke Duncan, Samuel L Jackson, Sidney Poitier and many more which I don’t know the name).

    Could be a case of genetics loads the gun and diet pulls the trigger. I’ve also read speculation that vitamin D deficiency may cause or accelerate balding. Yet another bit of knowledge I wish I’d picked up 30 years ago.

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  7. gallier2

    Link of Vitamin D and baldness, makes sense! A bald guy can make more vit-D in temperate climates and has thus a higher chance of living long, giving an advantage in procreating… May be that’s the reason women don’t seem to be too repelled by bald old guys… 😉

    My wife married a bald old guy, so I’m eternally grateful for that trait in women.

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  8. THEEDITOR

    This a great book, really worth reading. It’s a shame when hardened vegetarians are so closed minded they can’t even read the contrary evidence. Too many people have been brainwashed by vegetarianism. So what I suggest is next time you take a flight, look out the window and think about what should have been there. The huge expanses of monocrop agriculture, the patch work of fields and how we have sacrificed bio-diversity for this. The loss of biodiversity and the destruction of the nitrogen cycle to many scientists posses a bigger threat to the planet than global warming.

    We need to embrace natures ecosystems and eat mindfully from every part of it not just live off grains and rob the top soil of all it’s nutrients. Desertification is a major threat to our future food sources, and large monocrop agriculture and desalination are a major cause of this.

    Reply
    1. John

      And what the hell does vegetarianism have to do with monocrop fields? Do you think the cows, sheep, pigs, chickens you eat don’t eat a whole lot more of them to live and grow? Good grief. Stop staring out of airplane windows or listening to unqualified bitter sick women and THINK.

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  9. Steven Ault

    When will you dickhead meat-eaters realise that vegetarians are more healthy, more evolved and more intelligent than you! The excuses you morons make for eating meat is laughable. Vegetarianism is the future so just deal with it!

    We will realize that when we actually see proof, as opposed to emotional outbursts by vegetarian zealots. I have several vegetarian friends, and they’re all suffering health consequences. I wouldn’t trade health status with any one of them. But of course, since vegetarianism is based on emotional thinking instead of rational thinking, not one of them is willing to believe it’s the goofy diet causing the health issues.

    So, those vegan dickheads who attacked Lierre Keith with a pepper-laced pie … is that your definition of someone more evolved and intelligent?

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    1. corey

      you vegetarians kill every living thing you eat but you refuse to admit that
      at a molecular level there is absolutely NO difference betweena cow and a carrot
      they are equal

      in fact you vegetarians with your continual eating of vegetation are robbing the planet of oxygen which is far more disastrous for the planet than we meat eaters

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      1. josh

        so there’s no molecular difference between you or a carrot either. should i eat you?

        That depends on whether you’re male or female and how good-looking you are.

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      2. John

        Don’t you realise that the animals bred for your food are eating far more plants than a vegan does? Do you think they grow on fresh air? As for there’s no molecular difference between a cow and a carrot. Cows can see, think, feel, etc. Carrots don’t.

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  10. Stace

    I’m studying Nutrition in a school where some of my teachers are meat eaters. However unanimously they all agree that a vegetarian diet is the healthiest option.
    Vitamin B12 (the vitamin that everyone claims vegetarians/vegans can’t get thus proving we aren’t meant to be vegetarian) is actually a very common deficiency in meat eaters. Why? Vitamin B12 is water soluble, and cooks out of the meat. So therefore the same meat eaters that say we aren’t meant to be vegetarian can apply that same attitude, and say we should then not be cooking our meat and eating it raw. Because on a cooked meat diet, you don’t obtain B12 either.

    I believe human beings can eat meat, I would never say our bodies aren’t made for it. However I think it was only during those long winter months when vegetation and nuts and seeds were scarce that we had to turn to meat (which takes long to digest, thus keeping us going for longer). And then in spring and summer we cut back on meat, thus going through a cleansing period. But we were never meant to eat it every day of the year.

    There is no disagreeing that on a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet you do see more health benefits.

    There is no disagreeing, really? Considering my experiment as a vegetarian was a health disaster, yes, I’m going to disagree. And you might want to check your anthropological references on diet. Hunting societies often turned to plants foods in the fall and winter, when the game became more scarce. Buffalo-hunting tribes ate buffalo all the time, and Inuits lived on caribou, fish and seal year-round, with virutally no plant foods at all. The “benefits” of adopting a Ornish or Fuhrman diet come from giving up sugar and refined carbohydrates, not from giving up natural meats. Now if you’re talking about giving up processed garbage meats, we’d agree.

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  11. Jamie

    I like how people say vegetarians are closed minded, but the minute somebody finds out I don’t eat meat they launch into a tirade of words against me. My dad said he experiences more criticism of his vegetarianism than he finds being religious.
    When I used to eat meat, I knew many vegetarians, and not once did they say anything derogatory about my choice to eat meat. But now that I am vegetarian, meat eaters love to criticize a ridiculous amount.
    I think it’s a generalization of meat eaters that veg-heads think they are morally above them.

    By the way, I’d love to believe meat is good for me, because it does taste good. Everyone wants to believe that, and they way they used to eat it way back in the day (once or twice a week, little to no toxin accumulation in the fat) it probably was good for them. But not now.

    And for the person who said meat eaters had less colon cancer than vegetarians, I’d love to hear the source on that. I googled for studies and it said the opposite. I took a nutrition program a few years ago and it definitely said the opposite.

    Of course your nutrition course said the opposite. Nutritionists are taught same old crap over and over, despite what the research actually shows. The reason your google searches bring up studies linking red meat to cancer is that researchers engage heavily in selection bias; they cite studies that agree with their beliefs.

    Now, if you’re actually interested in seeing contrary evidence, here it is:

    http://www.epic-oxford.org/publications/1506/cancer-risk-in-vegetarians

    http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/b/2010/08/29/does-red-meat-cause-colon-cancer.htm

    http://www.eatwashington.com/article/chew_on_this_no_link_between_red_meat_and_cancer/

    http://www.bmj.com/content/319/7203/186.2.extract

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  12. Maxwell Day

    Seems strange for so many people to have so much hate for people who are trying to better the way they, and others live.

    One of the fastest rates of turnover for a job is chicken slaughterhouse workers. Why make someone else slaughter animals for you if you can’t do it yourself? If I could not shoot a cow, skin it, and take apart its body it doesn’t seem right that I should make someone else do it for me. Picking out a slab of body part at a counter is all too easy.

    This reviewer has jumped onto a band wagon that is too full of meatheads (ha!), ignorant crowd-followers, close-minded lazy oafs, and people who have a hard time thinking for themselves without reflexively jumping on the defensive. Boring article and way too played-out message.

    As usual, you haven’t managed to come up with a single logical argument. Just more emotional pleadings passing (sort of) for debate. No, I don’t slaughter my own chickens. I also don’t grow my own crops, and we all know life as a migrant farm worker is brutal and not something any of us with comfortable lives would prefer to do, so by your logic (ahem, ahem), I should stop eating plant foods.

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  13. Chelbi

    I have been a carnivore for all my life and very recently developed acute gastritis, an intensely painful condition that causes the inflamation of the stomach lining. To combat the progression and possibly reverse the condition, i have had to switch to a vegan diet. No animal products, no spice, no grease, no fat. Trust me, this is the worst diet immaginable for a food afficionado like myself. I have had to switch to soy products to replace many proteins, but every time I eat soy, my boyfriend, who has read this book, smirks or makes some comment.
    I was interested in reading this book until I read this review. There seems to be many contradictory “facts”. I, along with most intelligent people, prefer to read books that have real logic with a credible author, not a radical feminist, environmentalist and from all i have read on her, has no real formal college education to back her “facts.

    Ahhhh, yes, the old “she doesn’t have a college education” excuse. Gee whiz, I mean if she didn’t sit in a classroom and listen to professors drone on and on and then read the books they assigned, she can’t possibly be capable of reading research and grasping it, right? (That’s why Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Graham Bell weren’t capable of dealing with science — lack of a college education.) Facts aren’t “backed” by a college education, you nitwit. They’re backed by research, which anyone can do.

    I doubt you’re actually capable of grasping this, but I’ll try anyway: You just criticized a book you admit you haven’t read, then used a completely illogical argument to explain why you only read books that have “real logic.” Conclusion: perhaps you should return to college and study logic.

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    1. Dave

      LMAO, but with mixed feelings. So why get into name calling? People don’t choose to be confused, but we do find ourselves entrenched in bad stories, muddy education and bad data from time to time, right? I think the character slams tend to alienate more than empower – which I think, is your purpose.

      As an ex-Philosophy Major from the University of Minnesota, I’d have to say that her chances of actually understanding logic after college courses, is a crap shoot in and of itself. Good luck on that.

      Have you ever thought of making a movie?

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  14. Tatiana

    I used to be carnivore, then became vegetarian, then vegan. While being on vegan diet, for 13 years, I was the healthiest and full of energy. Due to the certain circumstances in my life (compromise with my new boyfriend), I tried to eat meat again for a period of time -although I loved the taste, I developed all sorts of health problems I never had before (hormonal problems, pain in the joints, lack of energy, gaining weight), so I returned to the vegan diet and my body recovered.

    Lack of essential nutrients , that cause problems with bones, can be present in any diet, no matter if one is vegan, vegetarian or meat lover.

    Author of mentioned book obviously never heard about PERIMENOPAUSE and MENOPAUSE – that cause low bone density in every woman – due to the lack of estrogenes (and progesterone) that naturally decrease due to the aging, so diet needs to be adjusted to that fact and additional supplements taken to prevent osteoporosis.

    In addition – the biggest quantity of SOY on this world (more then 95%) is grown (with pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilizers that destroy the soil, water and air- and human health) to feed ANIMALS that are used for human consumption (as well as majority of other crops are used as food for this animals) – so in soy burgers does not finish a lot of soy, neither forests get cut because of vegetarians – but because ANIMALS for HUMAN consumption are fed on soy.

    When there will not be healthy food available on Earth any more, shall we move to Moon and Mars? It is well known that there is a plenty of fertile land and a lot of “organically raised” animals we can use to feed always hungry humankind…but only in our dreams, not in reality.

    Conclusion:
    do not believe in everything what is written in the books of too bitter, too angry, too radical and too disappointed people.

    If you feel great as a vegan, please continue. We’re all different. By the same token, I assume you’re willing to admit that living as a vegan or vegetarian doesn’t work for everyone. My vegetarian years were the worst of my life from a health standpoint. When I switched to a whole-foods paleo diet, the ailments I developed as a vegetarian went away.

    Reply
    1. corey

      soy is not good for male production of testosterone…it reduces it…
      no one should eat any foods that interfere with hormones and soy and soy products do

      Reply
  15. Jason

    I would like to read this book because I do like being open-minded and seeing arguments from all points of views. I read some pages that are up on the internet and the biased cherry picked information and generalization is a big put off. It really is sad and unfortunate that the vegan diet is what supposedly caused her health problems. But its unclear what exactly she was eating from all the reviews I read. Like you said we are all different too. Not all vegans think or feel like she did or like some omnivores point out just to ridicule them. Anyway, anyone can “research” anything and come up with “facts” to back up their own theories on almost anything. Being vegan or omnivore doesn’t automatically mean healthy or unhealthy. Its the way we eat and I also do believe one size doesn’t fit all.

    I’d suggest reading the book, checking her sources, and making up your own mind. Surely you don’t believe the vegan blogs and websites gave it an objective review?

    Reply
  16. Todd

    Interesting that you would post this study – http://www.epic-oxford.org/publications/1506/cancer-risk-in-vegetarians – to back up your assertion about cancer and the vegetarian diet, when it says pretty much the opposite:

    “Within the study, the incidence of all cancers combined was lower among vegetarians than among meat eaters…”

    I know you were meaning it to apply only to the colorectal cancer, but elsewhere you have written that studies show vegetarians have higher incidents of cancer than meat eaters.

    Looks like you’ll have to cherry pick your studies better in the future to support your thesis.

    You’re missing the point, perhaps on purpose. A theory isn’t valid unless the evidence supporting it is CONSISTENT AND REPEATABLE and the variables have been controlled. I “cherry picked” that study not to say vegetarianism causes colorectal cancer, but to show that we don’t have a consistent and repeatable result here. (I’ve never said vegetarians have higher cancer rates overall. They don’t.)

    We’ve heard over and over that meat causes colorectal cancer, and yet in one major study, the vegetarians had the higher rate of colorectal cancer. Others have shown meat-eaters have higher rates of colorectal cancer. Others have shown no difference. What that tells us is that meat has zip to do with it either way. It’s some other variable. Looking for the connection between meat and cancer is turning out to be as useful as looking for a connection between hair color and cancer.

    My guess is that the real problem is sugar, which makes sense since cancer cells can only feed on fructose or glucose. So I’d expect vegetarians to have lower rates of cancer overall … not because they don’t eat meat, but because vegetarians are a self-selected group of health-conscious people who eat far less sugar and junk food than the population as a whole. Separate out health-conscious meat eaters who don’t eat sugar (me, for example) and you’d also find a lower rate of cancer than in the general population. Populations who lived almost entirely on meat (Eskimos, Masai, the buffalo-hunting tribes) but never heard of sugar had virtually no cancer whatsoever.

    Reply
  17. meathater

    **not because they don’t eat meat, but because vegetarians are a self-selected group of health-conscious people who eat far less sugar and junk food than the population as a whole.**

    Not true. I’m a life long vegetarian. I started refusing to eat meat as a child. I’m also far, very far, from health conscious. I probably eat a worse diet than most meat eaters. It’s possible to be a vegetarian and have a diet that is high in fat, sugar, and even low in vegetables. Most junk foods are vegetarian (cookies, chips, ice-cream). And most high fat/high starch most comfort foods are vegetarian too (mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes, pasta). I laugh at these stereotypes of vegetarians. I have no interest in saving the animals, the planet, or even eating healthy. I eat what I like, and I just happen to not like meat.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I guess you’ve proved me completely wrong. Despite the utter lack of consistency in studies comparing meat consumption and cancer, your story and your opinion of what vegetarians consume compared the general population (which goes against the research) prove once and for all that meat does indeed cause cancer. Because as you’ve discerned, those vegetarian junk foods like ice cream, cookies, and chips are ONLY consumed by vegetarians. Meat-eaters, of course, never touch that stuff.

    I will immediately change the name of this blog to “Bean Head” and start urging everyone to give up meat and eat tofu. The lives of millions depend on it.

    Reply
  18. Chris DK

    This discussion on who’s right about catching cancer from meat or getting cancer in the bum from a vegan diet is off the point. I haven’t read the book yet, but I think it’s more important to focus on the fact Kieth rises that agriculture has ruined and depleted the top soil, and how do we solve this very serious problem. If we’re going to have any chance of survival in the future, we’re going to have to balance plant food sources and animal food sources. So we’re going to need both carnivores and herbivores. And that’s only if we will have the luxury of choosing a certain diet by then.
    Fighting over who’s the most open-minded or the most healthy is completely irrelivant. I am much more interested in how the hell I’m going to be able to survive if what we’re living on right now is basically fossil fuel, which we also soon have done the great job of depleting the planet of. I think small balanced communities with rotational crops will be the solution. But it’s very difficult now that there are so many greedy people on the earth. And our society works this way; the grediest have the most.
    So what do we do people?
    Another question; I have heard that hemp, eventhough it’s an annual, gives alot of nutrients back into the soil. Is this true??
    We can make very healthy and nutritious foods from hemp, build our shelters from it, paper, fuel and basically anything made from plastic.
    Solar panels spread over an area the size of France can provide the world with electricity. Geothermal energy can be used in places where the sun isn’t as strong. That’s the basis of the fossil fuel problem solved right there.
    Can healthier soils be created by planting trees in fields every so-and-so meters? And letting animals walk around freely on them during years on which the fields are resting (with no crops)?
    I’m no scientist, these are just ideas and questions.
    Please let me in on your thoughts and ideas on these points. Thanks.
    -Peace

    Reply
  19. gforce

    I find it really irritating that at least %90 percent of the negative reviews that I have read about this book have been written by people who clearly haven’t read it. If you are arguing that more grain is fed to animals that feed people than to people– then you haven’t read the book. The animals we eat are supposed to eat grass, and when they do they go back to being a vital part of enviornment, rather than a destructive force–that is lierre’s entire stinkin’ thesis!
    How many ecosystems were destroyed for that veggie burger you’re eating? How many birds, lizards, snakes, larger herbavor’s and the like were displaced or killed for acres and acres of grain? She’s asking the larger questions, and people are dismissing the book out of hand with out even reading it.
    now read the friggin’ book. Thanks.

    Of course they haven’t read it. The vegan fanatics troll the internet looking for references to it and post negative comments that don’t even address what she wrote.

    Reply
  20. AustinG

    I will be honest. I have not read the book.

    [Of course you haven’t.]

    This site itself was referenced to me by someone who is strongly opposed to vegetarianism. Now my thoughts:
    First off, FDR wasn’t the face of the Progressive Party. That was Theodore Roosevelt.

    [They both were. FDR pursued a Progressive agenda, and a much more big-government agenda than TR. He sure as heck wasn’t a capitalist.]

    Secondly, mono-crop culture was occurring before any subsidies were being handed out by the government to agriculture. Even as far back as the 1600s, tobacco was grown throughout the areas it would be most suitable for. Technology – notably the cotton gin – made cotton profitable and, thus, many plantation owners in the southern United States grew the crop in abundance. As farming technology improved, crop output was increased and farmers thought – much as they have for centuries – that more crops means more money for themselves, even if it drives prices down by exploding the market with cheap produce; So the farmers produced more of a crop they had the best equipment for at a quickened pace.

    [Subsidies turned many farms that previously rotated crops into monocrop farms. We wouldn’t have nearly as much of it without subsidies. Watch “King Corn” for an idea of how the subsidies affect farming.]

    I’m sorry for the suffering the author underwent after years of malnutrition, but attributing it to a vegan diet, which of course follows relatively strict guidelines in a country dominated by meat and dairy products, and denouncing the diet itself as the cause for her troubles is irresponsible when she may not have substituted the missing nutriets from meat and dairy with their vegetable, nut, seed, fruit, or grain counterparts. Now my statement on this is deduced by the summary at the top and comments left here on this page regarding the books content, for the record.

    [Proving once again you haven’t read the book. She was a dedicated vegan and tried all kinds of dietary substitutions because she didn’t want to admit her diet was failing her. If anything is irresponsible, it’s vegan zealots insisting everyone can be healthy on a vegan diet, when many clearly can’t. ]

    As for an environmental perspective, I have seen a comment or two on here that argue the benefits of growing cattle off of grass, as they are naturally intended to do. These comments, while true that cattle would benefit some of the land, don’t address the fact that most cattle are factory farmed and are fed off of corn (as well as other much less prevalent sources). It would appear (taking this from the summary above) that the author’s main point in arguing for the environment is to deflect the impact of factory farming and assault another issue, agriculture.

    Essentially, it seems that the main argument was to simply attack a system that nobody likes (agricultural mono-culture), rather than address and attempt to clarify the issues within meat production, whether those issues be of moral, ethical, emotional, or rational form.

    [She addresses that issue at length. So have I. We’re both in favor of raising animals in pastures.]

    For the ethical argument against a widespread belief by vegetarians that the slaughter of animals for human consumption is morally wrong, the acclaim that humans are part of the food chain is blatantly obvious. The difference between humans and other members of the animal kingdom is that we have the ability to choose through willpower, rationale, and emotional standpoints whether to consume the creatures we live with or not. Another, and most recent, difference is in the means by which we can attain other food sources that would avoid mass slaughter that brings along other serious repurcussions — in developed countries, we have access to such a variety of alternatives; if ever there were places for meat to be consumed, it would be more suited to countries that have not yet reached the point of post-industrialism.

    [Read the book. Take away the animals, the land suffers. Alter the land to raise crops like wheat and corn and soybeans, the land suffers. You can only raise those crops year after year by pumping the soil full of fossil-fuel fertilizers. Read the book.]

    Now, I prefer to mention this at the end so that this audience itself does not pre-judge my writing and points. I am a vegetarian and have been for a short two years (I’m 16 and wrote this with no aid, for the record and in case anyone wants to battle credentials or bias; I clearly win [haha] for I have none other than personal research on both sides of the issue) I cannot speak of significant changes, personally, and I will not insult the audience’s intelligence by citing ailments of others who may have suffered from malnourishment, rather than a demonic diet from the underworld.

    [You’re 16, you’ve been a vegetarian for two years, but you think you understand the reasons a 20-year vegan ended up with health problems? You’re going declare she must not have done it right because you haven’t become malnourished or suffered similar health problems in a mere two years? Good lord. Read the book. It may save you from a world of hurt 20 years from now. If you disagree with her, you can always ignore her.]

    A final word: If we could all just distance ourselves from the issue at hand, recognize the costs and benefits of self-sacrifice (or cherishing), and speak with objectivity, this debate could be more civil, maybe create possible solutions to our issues, and create a greater sense of unity. Let’s accept each others reasoning, be it based in reason, and not stereotype one another. Thanks.

    Reply
  21. Gabe

    I was debating about reading this book, but if the arguments you claim she’s made are actually the arguments she’s made, I really don’t see a point.

    Most of the arguments she presents are based upon the evils of mono-agriculture. What most people don’t seem to address, is that by consuming Animal Products, you’re using exponentially more resources. I don’t have an exact source (I only remember hearing this on a questionnaire with Obama many a year ago), but I believe the Ratio of “Pound of Grain” vs. “Pound of Steak”, was around 40:1. Even if that’s wrong, it’s undeniable that it’s going to take substantially greater quantities of water, plants, fossil fuels, and land to produce any sort of animal, vs the same amount of plants.

    While I myself am a vegan, I by all means advocate a diet consisting mostly of plant based foods, but also with Grass Fed, pastured livestock (basically, how animals were raised before 1920).

    But a diet where the majority, or even a large percentage of it consists of meat of that quality? You’d have to be very wealthy.

    Of course, you could find ways to make meat cheaper, but that would bring us to the factory farming system we have now, which I think any sane person who has actually done their research would agree is fundamentally worse than how Keith describes the vegan/vegetarian diet.

    I don’t think you should read the book, either. I think you should continue being ignorant of the actual costs of agriculture. That way you can remain convinced that your vegan lifestyle is superior both morally and environmentally, which — let’s be honest, here — is what you want. Remember the motto of True Believers everywhere: never read anything that might make you doubt your beliefs.

    Reply
  22. Janet

    I have grown very impatient with the critics of this book who HAVE NOT READ IT! The internet is full of ignorant and emotional aspersions of this book. It’s propaganda bestrewn by those who haven’t read it and likely won’t because they refuse to get too close to anything that might contradict their vegetarian ideologies.

    It’s one thing to be educated and understand the reasons one chooses a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, but it’s another to choose it, then dogmatically slam any evidence or discussion that goes against it. I figure it’s this attitude so openly shared (rammed down our throats) – as well as the propensity to be judgmental and defensive – that causes omnivores to treat vegans and vegetarians with contempt.

    Dear god, please keep your minds open. The most important message this book tells us is that we must get back to nature in our farming practices. Factory farming is ruining our planet. The factory farming of animals is inhumane and must be stopped. Regardless of your menu choice, we all need to make strides to coexist symbiotically with nature.

    Closed-minded zealots are annoying. If they’re looking for converts, they’re sure going about it the wrong way.

    Reply
  23. tommy

    I recently gave up Veganism after 3 years. I had many ailments I never had on the SAD.
    My girlfriend ate the same diet as me for the 3 years and shes doing fine, outside of high potassium which I THINk is from her thyroid issues.

    So, that being said, works for some, does not work for others.
    For me, It didn’t.

    Sure, humans are all different. I can eat walnuts, but a handful of them would put my mother-in-law in a coma.

    Reply
  24. Denise

    Trying to set any biases I may have aside, even the sustainable meat people such as Simon Fairlie argue that most industrialized nations would need to cut their meat consumption by 50% in order for a pastured animal system to work. That seems fairly incompatible with an Atkins type diet whereby we are getting a lot of our calories from animal products – any thoughts?

    That seems intuitively correct on its face, doesn’t it?

    But if you’ve read Keith’s book, she points to Joel Salatin, who she describes as a “High Priest of sustainable farming.” Salatin says ten acres of pasture will support annual production of 3,00 eggs; 1,000 broiler chickens; 80 stewing hens; 2,000 pounds of beef; 2,500 pounds of pork; 100 turkeys; and 50 rabbits.

    Unlike folks like Fairlie and others who I think make their assertions by mistakenly extrapolating from factory farm inputs data, Salatin has been raising grass fed cattle, chickens, pigs, turkeys and rabbits over five decades without ever buying a sack of feed or fertilizer — his numbers are real.

    So, would that entail massive upheaval? Probably, but that’s not a problem unless one thinks ADM, Tyson, the USDA, et al shouldn’t have to alter their business models. I think it would be swell.

    I’m filling in for Tom this week and happen to have posted on Salatin with some YouTube video. If you’d like to take the time to view them, I’d be interested in your feedback.

    Cheers!

    — The Older Brother

    Reply
  25. Denise

    Hi older brother,
    Well I guess that is the problem, I don’t see Big Ag going away anytime soon so we’re kind of living in a fantasy world to envision that all industrialized farms are going to magically disappear and be replaced by Pollyanna, I mean, Polyface Farms.

    I don’t see Big Ag going away soon, either. Not when they own the USDA in particular and chunks of the government generally. But that doesn’t mean it’s living in a fantasy world to think it can change.

    I just went to the first outdoor farmer’s market of the season tonight in Springfield. There were at least 4 local outfits selling pastured beef. Last summer, I saw 2. I bought a little tonight, and I’ll probably buy half a beef in the next few weeks. I wouldn’t have considered it before reading first Keith’s book and now Joel Salatin. The amazing thing — and I don’t know if most people can appreciate it when I say this — is that it appeals to me as a libertarian. So, change can happen at the personal, local level regardless of what Big Ag wants.

    At the macro level, keep in mind that our government is either going to go completely bust in the next decade, or have to change so radically that it will have the same effect. But government can’t change radically. It lives to serve the vested status quo. So one way or another, Big Ag and the entire corporate ag welfare/subsidy structure will collapse. At that point, the billions of hidden costs and transfers to the factory food industry will disappear, which will radically disrupt our food chain.

    As if by magic.

    Cheers,

    — Older Brother

    Reply
  26. Intelligibly Informed

    The following is for Tom Naughton.
    Sir, I respect your passion. Your love for this piece of writing is unquestionable. Unfortunately for you, a single book full of such research does not mean much. You are clearly drawn in by what you imagine to be fancy writing. However, in my brief scan of your blog, it became painfully apparent that you lack even rudimentary writing skills. That means basic, by the way. Have you heard of a comma? Now, its time for me to have some fun with the information which, so clearly, has changed your life.

    [Mr. Writing Expert, which “it” owns the time? Did you mean to communicate that “it is” time? That would be written as “it’s time.”]

    I guess the easiest way of educating you would be to start from the top. I think the first myth I would like to crush is one of yours. I am a vegetarian. I changed my lifestyle after reading articles articles by authors such as Peter Singer. I would be impressed if you could understand most of what he says as it was written in an intelligent fashion.

    [Hey, you missed a comma there, Mr. Writing Expert … unless you meant to communicate that Peter Singer was saying and writing at the same time. I’m also wondering, Mr. Writing Expert, why Mr. Singer wrote articles articles instead of just articles. Did he write everything in duplicate form?]

    Assuming that you don’t, the informed vegetarians I know all have heard of the cycle of life. It turns out that adults as well as kids watched the “Lion King”.

    [Mr. Writing Expert, are you aware that in America, we place periods inside quotes? That’s rudimentary — which means “basic.” (See how I put that period inside the end quote?)]

    Your first myth is that vegetarians believe they are somehow not involved with killing. Perhaps you are partially right and some vegetarians truly believe this. However, the vegetarian movement is mainly a revolt against our meat industry. Once again I urge you to read Singer. It is not the killing, but the unnecessary pain and suffering inflicted upon animals that we oppose.
    The second myth you attempt to quash is interesting. I do not think I have met one person who thinks that we must all give up meat to save the planet. It is true that we do wish to lower the total amount of meat consumed. This is because of the amount of grain that we use to feed the animals that our meat industry slaughters. Did you know that if the grain used to feed food-animals was converted for human use we could COMPLETELY ELIMINATE WORLD HUNGER???

    [Mr. Writing Expert, since you’re expressing a hypothetical, that should read “if the grain used to feed food-animals WERE converted for human use.”]

    I would guess, probably no.

    [Mr. Writing Expert, did you mean to express that you might guess, but probably won’t? If not, you’ve got a comma splice in your sentence.]

    I am not sure what your point was about animals being fed on grass. I think this is probably because you have little to no idea what point you are actually trying to disprove. If we stop consuming such massive amounts of meat we will not need that land to feed the meat we are not eating.
    I think your third point was about health. It is true that some people are not fit for a vegetarian lifestyle. Different people have different dietary requirements. That being said, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles can be more healthy than an omnivorous one. However, this requires research into what the body needs to eat to maintain a balanced diet.
    In conclusion, you are so uninformed it saddens me. I honestly do not care if you do or do not eat meat. I think our meat industry is cruel and so I have chosen to abstain. It is a personal choice. I have no delusions that I will make in great difference in the industry. I am an American who fully realizes that corporations control the world and the meat industry is a corporation. Any industry with that much power is simply to rich to be easily stopped. I urge you to read Springer simply so that you may become informed about the world.

    [Mr. Writing Expert, what does “to rich” mean? Does “too rich” mean the same thing?]

    Oh, and if you think vegetarians or vegans are truly unhealthy, you are dead wrong. Multiple Olympic athletes have successfully maintained a vegetarian lifestyle. Also, I am a collegiate athlete who has completed several triathlons.

    Well (comma) I must say (comma) you’re quite rare among vegetarians. If you don’t believe most other vegetarians are convinced meatless diets will save the planet (comma) or that vegetarians manage to eat without any killing involved (comma) I suggest you go back and read some of their many comments on the blog. If you honestly don’t care that I eat meat (comma) you’re also rare among the vegetarians trolling the internet (comma) most of whom who clearly care very much what other people eat.

    The point about grass is that cows aren’t supposed to eat grains. They’re supposed to eat grass. Raise cows on grass (comma) and all your computations about how many more people we could feed with grains — thus helping them to develop arthritis (comma) MS (comma) asthma (comma) and many other auto-immune disorders — go out the window. Raising cows on grass also produces topsoil (comma) unlike grain-farming (comma) which depletes topsoil.

    However (comma) if you believe that feeding people the grains we now feed to cattle will solve world hunger (comma) then you’re the one who’s seriously misinformed. Name any country where people are starving (comma) and you will also be naming a country that is now or until recently was hampered by a command-and-control (comma) centralized economic system. Food shortages aren’t the problem. The inability of centralized economies to deliver goods where they’re needed is the problem.

    If you believe the meat industry controls the world (comma) do you have any strong feelings about the grain industry … say (comma) Monsanto (comma) or ADM? Or are they okay since they help to produce your veggie-burgers?

    I don’t believe all vegetarians are unhealthy by any means. But when I was a grain-eating vegetarian (comma) I certainly was unhealthy. All the ailments I suffered in those days are gone now. So if you choose vegetarianism (comma) I really don’t care. It’s the trolls who believe everyone should be a vegetarian who annoy me.

    By the way (comma) could you please name the champion athletes who were raised as vegetarians from childhood (comma) thus going meatless while their muscle mass was being formed?

    Reply
  27. Annie

    Tom… You are really funny! I love your humor:-) I too am not a writing expert, so please forgive me, that in my 6 years of higher education, I seemed to have missed that class as well.

    I have not read the book. But hold on…. I want to now!

    The simple fact that you read the book after being a vegetarian shows that you are open minded. Did I miss something? The fact that you changed your mind when confronted with new information makes you brainwashed? Because this lady’s facts are not supported by the vegetarian agenda makes them false? WOW! I need a glass of wine.

    Reply
  28. HelloKittyNightmare

    I am a vegetarian, wanna-be vegan. I adopt the non-judgmental, non-pretentious, non-hateful perspectives mentioned in some posts which support the idea that none of us can say, “my diet will work for you because it works for me”. I think that those of us who are willing and capable of intelligent debate could possibly agree that it is the agricultural industrial complex that is a major root of the problem. So carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores, what is the solution? Does eating locally help at all? Is there a way we can all eat that lead to less harm? Smaller farms? I will try to read this book when I get the time. In the meantime, I recommend everyone see a movie called “Forks Over Knives” http://forksoverknives.com/. Lots of empirically-based scientific info. in there too.

    If you think T. Colin Campbell does honest and unbiased “empirical research,” I’d suggest you read some critiques of his work. He’s a master cherry-picker.

    Reply
  29. Andrés

    I haven’t read the book and I only have one person near me that is vegetarian, my daughters’ babysitter (since my older daughter —8 years old— likes her steak rare like me, I am not preoccupied yet). Hence, I am curious about the vegetarian versus vegan issue. Is there any specific nutritive issue about vegetarians (say, cheese, butter and eggs in abundance —I am not certain it is her case—)? Does she write about it on this book? Reading the reviews it seems to me that the main plot in the book is about veganism.

    Vegetarians who consume eggs and dairy products at least get some animal fats and protein into their diets.

    Reply
  30. Derek

    Vegetarianism is a variety of religious belief. It’s adherents can turn any evidence, or lack thereof, into a substantiation of their ideology. Or, alternatively, discount good evidence that would otherwise undermine their intellectual commitment.

    Reading the comments after the review confirmed this for me once again. Those who hold a belief for ideological purposes cannot be convinced with argument or fact because they will accept no evidence as sufficient to overturn their ideological commitment. It’s sad really…

    Reply
  31. John

    “And as Keith explains in section two, Political Vegetarians, eating soy burgers won’t save the planet, either. All those goofy vegetarian arguments about how many more people we could feed per acre if we all ate the crops instead of the animals who eat the crops are based on a flawed idea: that the animals who provide our meat are supposed to eat corn. They’re not. They’re supposed to eat grass. Keith recalculates the calories-per-acare figures assuming we were smart enough to raise our animals on their natural food, and not surprisingly, the disparity shrinks to nearly zero.”

    Yes, they’re supposed to eat grass but they don’t. You can’t recalculate mathematical models with different figures just to serve your thesis.

    Of course I can. The vegan zealots insist we should stop raising livestock so we can use the grains to feed starving populations. First off, people aren’t starving because of a grain shortage in the world; name any country where people are starving and you’ll also be naming a country that is (or was until recently) being stifled by a command-and-control economy or was run by a dictator who used starvation as a weapon. Secondly, animals are a sustainable form of food production, whereas monocrop farming isn’t. Grow corn and wheat and soybeans year after year, you deplete topsoil and poison waterways because of the fossil-fuel fertilizer that’s required. Raise cows in a pasture, you create topsoil.

    Reply
  32. john coughlan

    What makes me scream about vegetarians and vegans is that they always say”make sure that your getting this and that nutrients”.By their own words,they are admitting that their “diet” lacks nutrients.
    So picture this,we are in the middle of some forest somewhere,indulge me…somewhere,Ok anywhere!.Now exactly how do I “make sure”that I’m getting all the nutrients that I need?,
    Oh yes,their are some walnuts,some “wild”spinach,some mushrooms ,some berries and some roots, that’s if I’m prepared to dig for them and then some even need to be processed before I can eat them and then there is the question of “WINTER”.(I will give you a heads up on this folk)no veggies or berries in winter!and even if there was,the grounds frozen solid.

    But MEAT contains everything we need, yes even Vitamin C in the organs.Now as cute as Bambi is,a few weeks without food and all those sweet Disney memory’s will probably get blanked out by hunger and well,it would be a Bambi burger for me and probably most vegetarians and vegans unless they want to die?,in which case…they may find themselves on my plate too!.

    Reply
  33. Anna

    Funny… I read and hear all of the above- vegetarians, vegans, high-protein and all other dieters basically making the same weight-loss and health claims, while using pretty much the same type of arguments to avoid considering opposing information.

    Seems that all could benefit from this article:
    http://www.cracked.com/article_19468_5-logical-fallacies-that-make-you-wrong-more-than-you-think.html

    (especially the author, who seems to aggressively attack pro-vegetarian comments, while ignoring dubious “facts” and emotional comments stated by pro-high protein dieters (like the last one), and avoiding to comment all of the wrong facts in the book in question, like that oil and petroleum came from dinosaurs. The book itself is very well written, and I agree with a lot of it, but here and there there was such an obvious misinformation or bad research that it made me shiver)

    and this one too:
    http://www.atkinsdietalert.org/advisory.html

    In my opinion, all of these extreme, controlling diets that try to kick out whole groups of foods focus on something else than the real issue: the omnipresent industrialization of all the food we eat. In this context, “The Vegetarian Myth” is very valuable. Try also “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan.

    The AtkinsDietAlert site is run by PCRM, a group of vegans. Sure you don’t consider that site unbiased? They’re cherry-pickers to the ultimate degree, and they flat-out lied about what killed Dr. Atkins.

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  34. Greenhaired Faery

    It sounds interesting, as I’m an open minded vegetarian (who, mind you, has no care for animal rights or any “reason” for going veg). What made me go vegetarian was a craving by my body and my mind and my soul. I realized that eating veg, I felt lighter, healthier, more energized, I lost weight, I even got happier, and I’ve been very healthy eversince. I do not rely on soy products, nor do I eat junk food or candy. I NEVER crave meat or this “animal fat” (thinking about it makes me feel a bit sick). My nails and hair grow faster, I feel flighty and I feel well-fed. This book is good for people whose bodies dont fit their malnourished diets. Luckily for me, I made a good decision to become the veghead I am today. No one should be a defeatist and go back to omnivore because of this book. All information is subjective.

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  35. Happy Healthy Omnivore

    I’ve been on almost every eating plan known to man since I was 14. I went vegetarian for a couple years (ate mostly vegetables, beans, rice, whole grains, and some dairy and took vitamins), and my doctor finally told me to quit or I would get sicker. I became anemic, my hair fell out, my skin was always dry, and best of all… I gained a TON of weight! For years doctors stuck me on low fat, high carb diets. What did it get me? Diabetes and I gained 100lbs even though I was exercising and eating a restricted calorie diet of 1400 or less a day.

    A few years ago I took my health into my own hands and started eating in a way that made my body, and my mind, happier with me. Lean meats from grass fed beef, pastured poultry, fish, sustainable seafood, are all on my list along with garden veggies or stuff bought from farmers markets. Cutting out grains and eating whole foods has saved my health. Lierre Kieth isn’t talking out of her ass as some hardcore vegans/vegetarians claim. I’ve lost weight, sleep better, am more energized, and have less depression than I ever did before. However, just because I eat this way and feel better, doesn’t mean others can and reap the same benefits; our bodies are all slightly different.

    With that being said… Whether you are vegan, an omnivore, or a meat-a-tarian, we all know CAFO’s and monoculture is bad m’kay. The main problem isn’t the fact that some people eat meat and others don’t; it’s the food industry and how our government supports the idiotic system. Even though I don’t believe in veganism, that doesn’t mean I can’t be open minded to other people’s choices. What you shovel into your mouth is your business, but please be aware that the food choices we make can contribute to a corrupt system. Namely our “food industry” that promotes cheap grains, cheaply raised, inhumane meat sources, all in the name of making the all mighty dollar: They pretty much say to hell with the farmers and consumers! Vegans and meat eaters aren’t enemies. We should be allies in a war for real food.

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  36. vegan4life

    Yes I agree that eating a vegetarian diet is just as bad for the environment as meat eating, but what is better for the environment and your health is organic farming. Synthetic pesticides are far worse than natural pesticides used in organic farming. One was used in biochemical warfare (agent orange) and the other is not. A vegan diet is the healthiest diet you can have. If your diet was composed of only meat you would die, on the other hand if your diet was only fruits and vegetables you would live a long and healthy life. What do I care though go ahead and eat some artery clogging hamburgers.

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  37. Michael R.

    I have not and will never try a vegetarian/vegan diet. Humans were meant to be omnivorous, but for some reason, people are trying to spit right in nature’s face on this one. We DO have canines; we don’t have as many as a dog does. Our dental makeup is that of an omnivore. By the vegan’s canine argument, I could argue that we don’t have molars like cattle, a rumen, etc. See what I did there? Human digestive systems also have a harder time breaking up plant material than herbivores do, as again, we are suited for an omnivorous diet.

    Here’s another reality check for you veggies/vegans out there: Humanity has survived for thousands or millions of years without vegetarianism and veganism, and can continue to do so into the future.

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  38. Stefan

    I am a vegetarien for almost a year, and stopped eating eggs and dairy products other than sheep or goat milk, which i will also skip one by one. The reasons for going this direction are many, while health reasons are of utmost importance. I have felt better than ever since becoming vegetarien and my food variety has not suffered but rather improved since as i needed to look for sources of certain vitamins and minerals. however the rason for writting this post is that i am also convinced that beeing vegetarien, vegan, meat-eater, frutarien or what ever should not be a choice of the mind alone, but that of the body too. as every human is different, so is the body and the needs it has. of course certain vitamins, minerals, protiens aso. we all need the same, but the source it comes from is the body to deceide. it is no rocket sience that when u eat a yoghurt and get a blown up belly, don’t eat it, and don’t fool yourself by eating so called “lactose free” products, as they are not really lactose free, rather than that the enzym you are missing is incorporated with the product. It is like taking a pill before you can eat something that your body doesn’t want. Same goes for people with chronic anemia that need meat based sources for iron….eat meat…..aso. In the end if your body feels good with beeing a vegetarien, be one, or be vegan….or meat eater, but not without asking and listening to your body and some education. Let all the other live as they want to, as there is no absolute right or wrong for anyone…it depends on your body and nothing else. If I become a vegan eater ( meaning I might eat vegan but do not adopt fully to the lifestyle) will depend on what my body tells me. becoming a vegetarien was approved by my body (and doctor)….time will tell if it wants to be vegan too…..

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  39. EdCummings

    The promoting/selling of different diets such as vegan, high protein, high carbohydrates is wrong. Your diet would based apon what your activety levels are like. Too much or too little of any of the esstail nutrians will kill you. For example too much salt or too little can kill so can too much water thus you suffer from malnutrition (mal=bad). Were you source the nutritants is up to you. Homo sapiens, of course, fall into to the omnivore class. Through natural selection we evolved the teeth of omnivores, good for grinding grain, stripping leaves, and eating meat. We have long intestines (somewhere between carnivore and herbivore intestinal tracts), and a digestive system that will break down both acidic and alkaline based foods (protein, carbohydrates, and fat). Our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, also have an omnivore diet (not only do they eat plants and fruits but they hunt and eat monkeys, for example). Humans beat all other omnivores by a large margin (omnivore comes from the Latin: omni, or everything). People will eat anything including bacteria, fungus, plants, and animals. From the plants we will eat roots, bark, sap, leaves, berries, fruits, nuts, flowers, and seeds. We will eat any animal, including worms, insects, crustaceans, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals (and in some cases, people). We will eat their meat, fat, eyes, brain, organs (including testicles), bones and shells (for calcium), milk, and blood. Humans will even eat rotten food such as cheese and sour cream (due to decomposition from bacteria). Risen bread and alcohol drinks made by fermentation comes about from the waste products of yeast. So Im an omnivore and pround. Interesting fact humans are the only mamml who can digest the milk sugar lactose via the enzyme lactase through are whole life span.

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  40. Nicholas

    Regardless of all the bullshit u vegans spout unintelligently, NOT ONE native tribal people’s EVER lived on a vegetarian diet, EVERY HUMAN before Agriculture that lived in nature in the forest and deserts ate meat, it’s the ONLY way possible to survive in the wild, to get the required energy for our huge brains. There is NO WAY to get enough calories in a day by eating what little wild edibles there is in the forests, not to mention in the deserts. All I ever hear from u vegans is mindless science-less ranting about meat eaters, and how u are so much morally better, guess what, the lion doesn’t consider if it is moral to kill the gazell, it just is the way it is, to not eat animals due to moral beliefs is to deny what a human is biologically made to be, an omnivore. We do not have multiple stomachs to ferment the plants to extract all the nutrients like herbavores, nor do we have alkaline stomach digestive juices like herbavores. We are not obligate carnivores like the lion either, we have an acidic stomach juices like the lion but not as strong. That’s fine though, keep eating ur kelp and peas, more neat for me, nature will weed u out when our food supply shuts down in the coming societal apocalypse.

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  41. Peter

    After reading recent research on the cholesterol/saturated fat myth which turned my previous understanding upside down, I have recently been reading various blogs on the net regarding paleo and similar topics. As someone with no previous beef (pardon the pun) with vegans or vegetarians I can offer the following personal insight – vegans and vegetarians are a uniformly unlikeable subset of the population. The greatest service vegans could do for their cause is to refrain from posting hysterical, unscientific hogwash on the internet.

    One of the first ‘characters’ I stumbled upon was a rabid vegan going by the tag of “Durianrider” – look him up. Anyone who is sitting on the fence regarding this issue should check this person out. My mother was a healthy vegetarian so I had a soft spot (despite not being vegetarian myself) for vegetarians. However my mother was the living proof of one of the great failings of vegetarianism – you need to account for all variables. My mother was super-health conscious, hated sweets and exercised regularly. It is therefore impossible to say that vegetarianism is more healthy than a sedetary meat eater.

    Vegetarians need to stop trolling the internet for the slightest hint of anti-vegetarian sentiment. You come across as an organised propaganda group.

    Congratulations as you have now turned me into your equal and opposite though all the emotional, misleading stuff you post on the internet. Therefore, based on my subsequent research, let me give you some key words to search on Google. Once you have come up with logical arguments to these topics, you will make progress in converting others to your cause –

    1. Legumes + Protease Inhibitors or Anti-nutritional factors
    2. Maasai people or Inuits + Heart Disease
    3. Humans + Canines
    4. Rumen
    5. B12
    6. Worldwide Rates for heart disease by country (hint – India & Bangladesh are mostly vegetarian)
    7. How, When & Why Humans became smarter than other apes

    Ha, I don’t have to look up Durianrider. He’s tried to pick a fight with me a few times. I ignore him because I’m not going to give him the free publicity he wants me to provide by responding.

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  42. Andy

    Ethical vegitarians are on par with Christians. If your diet makes you a smug tooser you should take a step back take a hard look at your self and realise that neither is better or worse. Every human being eats animals or in the very least cost animal life through clearing even vegans. Micro organisms are literally crawling all over your food. Most vegans(apart fom India) are white, middle to upper class and quite boring. I feel it comes from a modern misguided guilt. Maybe we should feel guilty. Half the world is starving and the half we’re in doesn’t deserve to eat.

    A smug tooser? Must be one of those colorful Aussie terms I never heard before.

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  43. just a thought

    i think its sad that so much time an effort gets wasted on trivial pooh like this,rather than argue the toosers,lol, over whats the better diet how about sending some of the food wasted whatever its consistency to some of the poor kids who are starving to death around the world right now,no time for it,vegan or carnivore i think your all shallow,and once weve fed them try to educate them not to want to war against each other like their forefathers,then maybe the world might be a better place in their time.

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  44. Kat

    Tom demonstrates his sanctimonious bias quite clearly here. Deflecting the blame for environmental damage on vegans is quite a fresh approach, especially as it’s coming from someone who seems to take great pride in the fact that he’s extolling the perceived virtues of an industry that is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions. Well played, Naughton *cough* (and just for the record, I’m not a vegan as I don’t have the discipline for it, nor do I think all animal fat it bad for you, in case anyone had made that assumption).

    It seems that Naughton has been able to defend his position by assuming that all vegans/non-meat eaters are just as arrogant as he and that they are vehemently opposed to meat consumption in all manners, period. That’s not true, however. Eating animal flesh in and of itself is not the problem — the problem today is that none of the meat you get from the grocery store or fast-food joint was derived naturally. Meeting the demand of rabid (and in the case of Naughton, self-righteous) meat eaters means that billions of animals have to be raised for slaughter every year. To prepare them for the production line in a timely manner, the animals have to be injected with growth hormones. Traces of arsenic have even been detected in chicken meat, suggesting that it works in tandem with the hormones as the chickens will then “eat and drink away” the poison, thus fattening them up even further. If anyone here has even a remote concern for animal welfare, then one also has to consider that there are no regulations against animal cruelty in factory farms (or rather, factories that store animals, as they don’t merit being called “farms”) so it’s perfectly legal to boil animals alive when they haven’t been fully stunned, castrate them without any anesthetic, throw live male chicks into meat grinders, etc. Naughton is only fooling himself if he thinks this is all “natural” because, as with many of us, the willful ignorance can help us sleep better at night. As I stated before, meat itself is not the problem, but meat eaters (and I too have been participating in this) are not consuming something that can be deemed natural. Animal factories are profit-based and without scruples, so the legitimate ranchers and farmers that would be giving us real, wholesome, quality and, dare I say, kindly produced meat and dairy, are being pushed out of business.

    Keep tooting your moral horn Naughton, as I’m sure any opinion that’s contrary to yours would just be dismissed as “baloney” or some equivalent of covering one’s ears and chanting “la la la la la!” I’m sure the ranchers and farmers who are out of jobs would be really impressed!

    I almost get the sense that Naughton takes pleasure in learning about and then sharing Keith’s misfortunes from a vegetarian diet. I think it makes him feel as though he has the upper hand when preaching his nutritional preferences.

    Here’s a wild suggestion for you: try reading some of my blog posts before you decide I’m a fan of factory farming or consider it natural. That way you’re less likely to make an ass of yourself. (A grass-fed ass, I presume.)

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  45. Pip

    I’ve been very much entertained by the book review and the following comments. Thank you. I may get around to reading the book at some point…. I’ll definitely add it to my list anyway 🙂

    I’m more inclined to think a permaculture-based way of food production is the way forward if we’re to balance the needs of human-beings and ecology/biodiversity. I live in a very small country with a pretty high diversity in terms of habitat, mono-crops and agribusiness isn’t really a ‘thing’ here. Where there are hills with poor soil they graze sheep, in the lowlands where the soil is better it’s mixed agriculture (mostly dairy, some beef, chickens and grains/vegetables). The cattle don’t get grazed in winter though due to it being too wet, so that’s cattle pellets used as feed. If there hadn’t been the drive to “improve” grassland over the past 60years through reseeding with ryegrass and the use of fertilisers then the natural sward structure might better support year round grazing. If nothing else there would be better biodiversity (as far as I am aware, grassland improvement in this manner is pretty common in industrialised countries because it increases protein yield for the cattle to consume so improves beef/milk yield.).

    Sorry, waffling now. It’s the ecology that interests me (hence my feeling that permeculture is the way forward – I know a local eco-community that lives this way and I try and grow as much as I can in our tiny back garden).

    Thanks again for an entertaining read 🙂

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  46. Bob

    I think most of the health problems linked to diet are from excesses.Too much meat,grains,sugar,processed foods. While meat eating people might make jokes about vegetarians and vegans they never seem to adopt the shrill hate that vegans seem to spout. Some of the health claims are just plain stupid that vegans claim. Extremism in any group is annoying . I did find the author of this book to be in that category. She seems to go from one extreme to the other . I enjoyed this blog thank you.

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  47. Julie Cooper

    It is part of investigating life to try different ways of eating to promote health and longevity. pH balance is everything. Women are acidic in chemistry and should eat a bit more on the alkaline (that being most raw foods including citrus) side of things, and men are alkaline in chemistry and should eat a bit more on the acidic (that being anything cooked) side of things. Sugar, chemical preservatives, dyes, artificial flavorings are all detrimental to health. Water source is crucial to health. A good water source, of living water not treated in a water treatment plant, carries vital minerals for health. Of course untreated water can also carry many detriments to health if not tested, so test your untreated water. Emotion, genetics, even allowing one enough time for rest, all play a part in our “diet” toward health. No one gets out of here alive, so let’s focus on living in a manner that promotes healing.

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