Image credit: Peak Moment TV
Peak Moment's blog post about a conversation with Lierre Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth, kicked off a massive debate here on TreeHugger about the ethics of eating meat, the relative benefits and drawbacks of an agrarian diet, and just how much our dietary choices should be informed by our evolutionary past. Some commenters, however, wanted more detailed information regarding Keith's arguments, and her prognosis going forward. Now that Peak Moment have posted the full video of their conversation, it's likely to spark even more debate.Self-Identification Shapes Your Worldview
Describing herself as a "recovering twenty-year vegan" is unlikely to ingratiate Keith to advocates for a vegan diet, but she does touch on some interesting subjects way beyond what we should, or should not, be eating. Covering similar ground to my post about whether every environmentalist is wrong, for example. she discusses how hard it was as a vegan to analyze and accept information that ran contrary to her belief system: "Being a vegan is about so much more than what you eat. It becomes who you are."
This is, of course, true of any belief system—including those of us who advocate for a diet that includes animal products. As commenter Ruben noted on my post about why environmentalism cannot be a lifestyle choice, we tend to accept facts and data from those we perceive as being like us, and actively disbelieve the same facts if presented by people we consider different.
Can a "Former Vegan" Change Minds?
Whether Keith's argument for moving away from agrarian grain-based diets, and toward perennial polycultures that include animals, will change any minds remains to be seen. Certainly commenter Jason V, who had previously read The Vegetarian Myth, was less than impressed by her arguments on my original post—most notably the use of her status as a former vegan to lend validity to her arguments:
"Lierre Keith's 'The Vegetarian Myth' is filled with a number of factual errors and fallacious thinking. Reading the book and following up on the references for a number of her claims shows this, also her painting of vegetarianism (or veganism) as simplistic thinking is kind of offensive.
Her use of the 'I used to be a vegetarian so I know' is just BS. She also blames vegetarianism (specifically veganism) for her medical condition, however she doesn't really go into details about what it is and what caused it other than that it's a nerve or neurological condition (if I remember right) and that her doctor 'said veganism was the cause.'
Whatever the truth about Keith's claims, it's an important conversation to be had—so I am delighted to see the full video being posted so readers can judge for themselves. And I look forward to the (hopefully constructive) discussion that will most likely ensue.
More on Meat Eating and Sustainability
Why Vegans Are Welcome to Call Me a Murderer
I Don't Feel Bad for Eating Meat So Why Do I apologize For It?
Even Anthony Bourdain Says Eat Less Meat
Why Eating Guts, Brains, Feet and Genitalia is Green (Video)
The Offal Truth: Would You Eat Guts, Brains and Genitalia?
Why Graham Hill is a Weekday Vegetarian, and You Should Be Too
Vegetarian Diet Could Cut Climate Change Mitigation Costs by 70 Percent