“You have saved my life.”

That’s Lierre Keith, describing the email she gets from her book, The Vegetarian Myth (see previous link for reviews & to get the book). She’s talking about those 80% of vegetarians and vegans who fan-mail her; those relatively new to it (all life is style, nowadays), suffering from anxiety and depression.

Good for you, Lierre: best of all, cut off or cull the supply of new victims; double-edge-sword, create advocates for sensible eating as added leverage against The Myth! Many of the old-timers will sacrifice their own health for the sake of misery-loves-company. They confuse misery and bliss — like a damaged soul confuses love & hate.

Alright, let’s just admit there’s selection bias here. Certainly there are vegetarians and vegans who are fortunate — and I wish them well — to have no such problems, and they aren’t emailing Lierre. Prolly not fans of her book, either.

But the fact is there are those who suffer. And there’re those commenting on this blog and elsewhere, proclaiming how meat eating is so satisfying for them. That means something simple: the argument that anyone and everyone ought to Go vegan! is falsified. It should end. No, they do not have and so certainly should not proclaim to have the diet to end all diets. And Paleos should not claim that either. Everyone is individual. People fare differently; paleo is merely an excellent place to start. Our job is to convince them it’s the best place to start. That’s how we got here, evolved, so give that a college try, first.

Oh, I almost forgot. That bit is at around 56 minutes into her interview with Sean Croxton, right here. Go listen.

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  1. jon w on December 30, 2009 at 21:37

    good stuff. it will be linked along with the book review whenever I respond to vegans dealing with “guilt” and cravings.

  2. Cynthia on December 31, 2009 at 04:52

    Thanks for the link.

    You might also be interested in Devon’s story- she went vegan to improve her health and running, but found herself damaged by veganism in numerous ways and went back to meat eating. see her post Although she is not paleo, she is a whole foods sort of cook and gluten free. Her recipes are awesome and the food porn is great too. I was really sold on her recipes when I tried her onion/arugula/cranberry stuffed chicken breast and mashed butternut squash with coconut.

    Her running career is going well (represented the US in last year’s 100K world championships) and makes for inspiring reading. Despite all the running she does (maybe 100 miles per week) she doesn’t eat tons of refined carbs like you’d believe all endurance athletes must do. Slowly, the nutrition beliefs of the endurance world are changing too.

  3. Dave on December 31, 2009 at 15:01

    Just found your blog through boing-boing. Great stuff.

    I do agree that being a veggie is not for everyone. I’ve been one for 15 years and have had no problems and it cleared up a few health issues. Having said that, its fine to be a meat eater, but just do it in a minimal fashion.

    Old school diners eat meat at each meal–having one small portion of meat a day is fine. Or better yet, a few times in a week. Takes care of the meat urge but does not drain the planets resources as badly. Trust me 6.5 billion American styly meat eaters will do us in in no time!

  4. Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life on December 31, 2009 at 16:08

    I loved the interview between Sean and Lierre. I’ve never been tempted to go vegetarian, but it’s so eye-opening to understand why people do make that choice, and how that choice can hurt them. Lierre’s research and her book are such wonderful resources for anyone who wants help arguing against vegetarianism/veganism. I love Lierre’s stance that the motives for going vegetarian are right, but the information is wrong.

  5. Jim Purdy on December 31, 2009 at 20:02

    “the diet to end all diets?”

    Why is it that so many of us get all fanatic-like about our latest diets, even when we keep changing our diets?

    Just like newly converted religious True Believers, the dietary True Believers go berserk when their latest diets are challenged.

    As the post says, “Everyone is individual.” so let’s be more tolerant and less inclined to burn each other at the stake.

  6. Dan Linehan on January 1, 2010 at 14:24

    @ Cynthia,

    We really don’t have any idea what sort of vegan diet she was eating, do we? Vegan diets can range from total junk food to near paleo and raw food centric. There are high-fat and low-fat versions, as well as high-protein and low-protein versions. Which type was she doing? Do you know?

    Until we more know details about what sort of vegan diet she was on, the post you linked to isn’t very helpful. I don’t think it is appropriate to lump all vegan diets because an 80-10-10 vegan diet is obviously very different from a high protein / high fat centric one.

    We also don’t know if she was supplementing, taking vitamin D, B-12, etc.

  7. Ken Oatman on January 2, 2010 at 06:52

    The fact that meat “is satisfying” or “smells good” isn’t a compelling reason to cite it as necessary to human health.

    Sorry to be gross, but if a cannibal was frying up a dead baby and it “smelled good” or “was satifying”, I don’t think that would reason to start eating dead babies.

    Or, maybe this is too post-paleo to grasp. The truth is that people are weirdly, deeply emotional about their food choices, and it would take excellent psychotherapy to root out why people do what they do.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 2, 2010 at 10:03

      “The fact that meat “is satisfying” or “smells good” isn’t a compelling reason to cite it as necessary to human health.”

      Perhaps not in and of itself.

      That’s why you’ll never see me use that argument. Meat eating is the only way we could have evolved the large brain / small gut relative to our primate ancestors. Kleiber’s Law is the valid argument for human adaptation to meat.

      That it smells and tastes good is merely a connected and very fortunate benefit.

  8. Vicki on February 12, 2010 at 04:11

    Ken- animals kill other animals for food. Dead organisms feed soil which feeds plants & trees. If it makes you feel morally superior to talk about killing babies, keep talking. I am a proud hunter & proud gardener- I hold no malice toward the animals or plants I consume: I am simply grateful for the nutrition they provide my body. Like other mammals that hunt, my eyes are in the front of my head. And like other hunting animals, my diet is supplemented by natural raw plant matter. It too dies to nourish my body. Short of ceasing to exist, I will continue to consume other living organisms so that I may live.

    • tim marshall on March 19, 2010 at 16:32

      ken pointed out well that your logic has narrow application,your statement ” I hold no malice toward the animals or plants I consume” could still be applied to consuming humans. could someone who has done such claim they have no malice towards them ? only in the sense that they also have no regard for them. its ethically devoid (literally,you arent considering the ethics of it, dont construe my statement as an attack, or superiority, its not ) to give neither your (humans or nonhuman animals) consideration

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