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The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability Paperback – May 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


"Everyone who eats should read this book. Everyone who eats vegetarian should memorize it . . . This is the single most important book I’ve ever read on diet, agriculture, and ecology."  —Aric McBay, author, What We Leave Behind

"This book saved my life . . . [It] offers us a way back into our bodies, and back into the fight to save the planet."  —Derrick Jensen, author, Endgame

"[Vegetarian Myth] is one of the most important books people, masses of them, can read, as we try with all our might, intelligence, skill, hope, dream , and memory, to turn the disastrous course the planet is on."  —Alice Walker, prize-winning author, The Color Purple

"We may not want to face the facts, but Keith sees this as no excuse to stay in denial. If delivered as a speech, you could see that no one in the audience would be [seated] at the end. I have never seen such rousing prose." — (August 7, 2011)

"In The Vegetarian Myth ex-vegan Lierre Keith argues that saving the planet and ending the suffering found in factory farms can not be achieved by refusing to eat animals, it can only be achieved by boycotting modern agricultural practices, which Keith calls 'the most destructive thing that people have done to the planet.'" —

About the Author

Lierre Keith is a writer, a farmer, and a feminist activist. She is the author of the novels Conditions of War and Skyler Gabriel. She splits her time between Northampton, Massachusetts and Humboldt, California.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: PM Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604860804
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604860801
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (282 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3,439 of 3,674 people found the following review helpful By A. Perri on May 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
I want to be clear about a few things:

1) I am a female.
2) I give the idea of this book 5 stars, but its execution 1.
3) I have been a radical vegan, a rabid meat-eater and everything in between (currently in the in-between)
4) I am working on an archaeological PhD on hunter-gatherer diets, subsistence, hunting and transition to agriculture.

I picked this book up after reading Jonathan Safran Foer's "Eating Animals". I thought it would be interesting to read a different perspective on the vegetarian debate. I found Safran Foer's book to be much more geared towards the inhumane practices of meat while Keith's book is geared more towards diet/health.

I admit that it took a very long time for me to get through this book, for several reasons. I purchased this book hoping to get something out of it. I am not an upset vegan who wants to hate it and I am not someone who bought it knowing Id love it. I was just neutral. There were two main reasons for my disappointment with the book. One minor, one major. First, I found the second agendas (specifically the radical feminism) distracting and unnecessary. I have nothing against the feminist agenda, but this wasnt the place to put it. Second, I found the book absolutely riddled with bad information, faulty facts and just plain lazy research (if you can call it 'research'). As someone who intensively researches these issues on a daily basis, I found myself underlining items on nearly every page that I knew were just plain untrue or were 'cherry-picked' facts slanted to give a certain perception. This is such a disappointment as a really great case could be made for the author's view if she had only put the real work into researching the book properly.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Nadia555 on August 6, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book came to my attention in the most unlikely of circumstances - at a raw vegan food prep class at Jivamukti Yoga School. Fortunately, the instructor was open to good research, regardless of the source, and so this book made her resource list.

On a personal note, I'm extremely grateful 'The Vegetarian Myth' was written. It's a poetic, formidably intelligent book. This book is intensely personal, a life's work, and it is authoritative in its own right. I enjoyed and understood the mixture of anecdotal and scientific evidence. I found her references to be diverse and relevant (on completion of this book, I took the time to explore some of them and i'm not yet done). Clearly, the topic of the vegan diet is a controversial hotbed and Lierre must be commended for her insistence on finding the truth, regardless of who is alienated in the process -- this book is concerned with "adult knowledge" and "adult responsibility". Lierre contends that to understand the world, we must know it. Lierre's forays into farming, including her failed attempts at 'veganic' farming, led her to the heartbreaking, but finally undeniable, understanding that for life to be possible, someone has to die. Agriculture is anything but natural, Lierre explains here -- it is biotic cleansing -- so a vegan's hands are not 'clean'. It is instead a question of the suffering we can see and identify with (such as that of factory farmed animals), and the death we can not see but still 'benefit' from in very real and equally unjust ways. This book is not belligerent towards vegans -- it's more like a love letter to our earth. Factory farming is condemned for being the ethical and ecological nightmare that it is, but it turns out to be just the beginning.
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404 of 491 people found the following review helpful By Lucas Rockwood on January 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
As a vegan (since 2002), I quickly learned that you can't trust the vegetarians for information as they are just as likely to skew the truth as the Beef or Dairy Boards.

So I always love to read non-veg writing, and this book was worth reading for sure. Keith has done her homework and has some very interesting insights to share. I usually burn through books in 2-3 days, but it's taken me a full week to get through this one and I've got about 25 dog-eared pages.

Here's what was interesting:

1 - The need to admit that agriculture itself is screwed up and unsustainable (whether veg based or meat based)

2 - The reality that grains are a pretty bogus basis for a diet.

3 - The bitter truth that our planet can't support us, period (veg or non-veg)

4 - The potential problems with fat soluble vitamins

(note: if you haven't read the book yet, the above might not seem that ground-breaking, but seriously, Keith uncovers some new, very compelling stuff).

Here's where it was deeply flawed:

1 - We vegans are so few in numbers, writing a book about us is so uninteresting to most, that it had to became a book about vegetarians (in most countries, they don't even have a word for vegans, btw).

But it's not a book about vegetarians, except in title.

There are loads of vegetarians, lots of them who don't give much thought to their diet, and most of whom consume copious amounts of animal products (dairy, eggs). So the Vegetarian Myth is itself a myth that most vegetarians don't subscribe to. Vegans, yes. We get attacked so often, every vegan I know has had to create a core story to explain "why" (except me... I just shrug and smile).
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