The reviews say everything - people either love this book or hate it - I loved it and I was a vegetarian for 15 years so I can understand why people hate it. I know that there was a time when I would have hated it, but I don't know how I could have countered any of the arguments presented.
The book is beautifully written and beautifully structured. There are 3 arguments presented for being vegetarians/vegans (the line is just drawn in a different place by every one of us dogs/cows/chicken/fish/eggs/dairy/leather shoes/from my garden etc): 1) A moral argument - we must not kill; 2) A political argument - we can only feed the world if we are all vegetarian; 3) A nutritional argument - it is healthier to be vegetarian/vegan.
Keith takes each one in turn and breaks them down with searing logic. 1) There is nothing in this world that we can eat for which nothing has died. She will even tell you how many wolves and bison have died for grain fields and how many rivers have been run dry and all life within them eradicated to irrigate those grain/soy fields. Rabbits, mice, buffalo, fish, birds - before we get into the millions of species in topsoil being trashed as I write.
2) How can the agriculture that has destroyed, and continues to destroy, the planet be a sustainable way to feed the world? Without ruminants performing biological functions of soil, plants soon die as the soil structure is destroyed. Are vegetarians OK that your food is made from oil, not soil? What will feed your food when the fossil fuel runs out? Areas where vegans and real food fans should be having heated agreement are explored - we all abhor factory farming. Ruminants can't digest grains and should not be fed them - ever (the same likely applies to humans however!)
3) The nutritional argument takes many different beliefs and knocks each of these down in turn. As a nutritionist myself, I always knew that there was NO nutritional argument for avoiding meat and fish, let alone eggs and dairy. During my time as a vegetarian I thought I could be healthy enough - I was wrong. Keith was even more wrong, as a vegan, and will suffer the health consequences for the rest of her life. Retinol, B12, vitamin D, K2, calcium, iron, zinc are not optional and they are difficult to get for vegetarians and some are impossible for vegans. As for fat and cholesterol - there are entire books written on those. In whose interests is it that you eat hydrogenated, deodorized, emulsified, bleached vegetable oils and not butter? Who wants you eating sugary cereal for breakfast and not eggs? Who wants you eating their grains and a ready made sauce and not sticking a free range chop from your known-by-name farmer under the grill?
"What separates me from vegetarians isn't ethics, or commitment. It's information." says Keith. And we can read this book and gain the same level of information. We can still choose to be vegetarian, or vegan, but recognize that it is a personal choice and not a moral high ground from which to attack others, because there are no logical arguments - it's a personal choice. Whatever we choose - let it be an informed choice. No one on earth can like the piercing messages of this book - we have destroyed the planet and there are way too many people to feed (possibly 100 times too many). We should all be as angry as Keith is with those who think it has been OK to trash the planet during their infinitesimally small time as guests here - for their own greed and personal gain.
Love it or hate it - I highly recommend that you read it.
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