The Vegetarian Myth Revisited

Aside from the recent abysmal nature of my blogging, my neighborhood dog-walking friend Kara emails:

You are on the cutting edge.

Indeed, I am. She forwards a great review of The Vegetarian Myth (reviewed here, here, here, and here) in an email newsletter from Fourfold Healing.

The vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith

Very occasionally powerful, life-changing books are written that give one the palpable sense that "if people would only listen" the world might be a different place. The vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith is one such book. In this book Lierre essentially tells two intertwined stories. One is the story of the deterioration of her own health as a direct result of adopting a vegan diet. The second is the related tale of the destruction of our planet essentially as a result of the widespread adoption of agriculture, specifically agriculture based on the growing of grains. Her central premise is that, unlike what we are all led to believe, the absolute worst thing that could ever befall humans or the earth is if we all adopted a vegetarian or, worse yet, a vegan diet. To many, this is such an unbelievable head spinner that they simply will not even be able to entertain the ideas that are presented by Lierre. The ideas, the argument she presents to make her case are powerful, coherent and irrefutable – grains and in fact a grain-based (i.e. vegetarian) diet are literally killing us all.

First, the ecological argument. We are told that the biggest users of fresh water and the most wasteful, ecologically speaking, food we can eat is meat. We are told that if instead of feeding grains to cows to get meat, which is anyway poison for us to eat, we should feed that grain to people thereby feeding at least 30 people with a grain-based diet for every one person we can feed on a meat-based diet. We are told to eat low on the food chain to conserve resources and be ecologically friendly. And, finally and crucially we hear people proudly announce they don’t eat anything with faces as a sign that they are living out their deeply held convictions about social justice. The facts actually tell a completely different story.

Imagine the Middle East 10,000 years ago when the only people living in what we now call Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, etc., were nomadic hunter-gatherer types. This area was referred to as a paradise; it was lush, fecund; Lebanon was the land of the cedar forests. The area between the Tigris and Euphrates was literally paradise on earth. Then came agriculture, specifically the growing of grains. As happens where grains are grown and irrigation is used, the soil began to lose its vitality, the humous layer was lost. The irrigation and the converting of perennial grasses and the animals that live on these grasses to annual crops is akin to mining the nutrients and the fertility out of the soil. Without sufficient animal manure and animal bodies to put nutrients back into the soil, without the annual flooding of the plains that is stopped when irrigation systems are used, the land loses its nutrients, the soil becomes more salty and, as evidenced in the Middle East, eventually, inevitably the land becomes a desert. Lierre describes this process in intimate detail so the reader is left with no doubt that in human history, whenever the transition from perennial grass- based land – alongside naturally flowing lakes and rivers, co-existing with verdant forests – is converted into grain based agriculture, the inevitable result is everything dies. Everything – the plants, the insects, the wild animals and eventually the people.

If this wasn’t reason enough for conscientious people to shun a grain-based diet, Lierre spends the second half of the book detailing the negative health repercussions from adopting a grain-based, vegetarian or vegan diet. For those familiar with the work of the Weston A. Price foundation or The Fourfold Path to Healing, this will come as no surprise. What will be eye-opening for many is a detailed chart that compares the physiology of meat eaters with that of herbivores. If you still have any doubts that humans are literally physiologically required to live on mostly an animal food diet, I recommend checking out this enlightening chart. Lierre has done her homework. She references many studies that have been done in the last 100 years documenting the superior health outcomes, the absence of chronic disease, and the total absence of cancer and heart disease in people who eat the food that comes naturally out of a perennially based grass and forest system. What do these people eat? What is the "human" diet, the diet that works back to heal the land? Conveniently it is one diet, called the GAPS diet. As probably more than a hundred of my patients can attest, those who have literally regained their health as a result of the GAPS diet, it is no surprise that the very diet that can heal so many sick people is the very diet that,when applied to agriculture, can heal a "sick" earth.

Get this book, read it, pass it to your friends, especially your vegetarian friends, for as Lierre often says in our current situation, it is not enough any more to just have good intentions. You also have to be informed about what it is you are fighting for.

By the way, some people have emailed me that they have not been able to get it from Amazon. Me too. I have an order pending; I initially read it on Kindle, but wanted a copy to mark up. Still waiting. At any rate, Lierre informed me via email today that she has had the 2nd edition for weeks and anyone can order directly from her.

She might even sign it for you, if you ask. Click here to order.

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  1. Jedidja on October 16, 2009 at 15:29

    Awesome ..just emailed her about shipping to Canada as none of our local bookstores carry it. Fingers crossed she will sign a copy too :)

  2. Garth on October 16, 2009 at 15:48

    My copy just shipped from Amazon this week – it’s been on order since early September. Can’t wait!

    Paleo Diet, Primal Blueprint, Good Calories Bad Calories, Fat and Cholesterol are Good For You – they were all eye openers. I expect this will add more ammo to my arsenal.

    My father is a commodities broker dealing specifically in wheat, corn and meal. He really doesn’t like the info I continue to ‘feed’ him. I’ve been 100% grain free for 10+ months, loving life and try to share the knowledge every chance I get :)

  3. Bryce on October 16, 2009 at 17:09

    Perfect, this just arrived from Amazon today! I’ve been waiting several months, just long enough for me to read and be extraordinarily frustrated by “stuffed” which had potential and fell dismally short.

    Looking forward to this one.


    • Richard Nikoley on October 16, 2009 at 17:51

      That’s a really excellent review, Bryce.

      Make sure you have your blog listed on my “Calling all Bloggers” post of last week, if not there already.

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