Book Suggestion: The Vegetarian Myth

If you’ve been reading here for a little while, you know that I took a pretty rotten stab at being a vegetarian from age 9 – 27. Tofu-dogs, fake “chicken” and countless soy protein bars later, I have a full blown soy allergy that not only makes my face break out like a 13 year-old, but also throws my monthly cycles off, which reeks havoc on my entire body. If soy sneaks into my food chain on a semi-regular basis, like say a nondescript multivitamin, my body needs a full three months to get back on track. In case you’re curious, that’s a long time to wait with a pizza face.

The interesting part of the above saga is the self-inflicting angle. I chose to become a vegetarian, because I, at 9 years-old, thought it was a nice thing to do. Vegetarian meant healthy, grown-up and creative to my impressionable mind, and I wasn’t even a vegetarian to save the animals. I used to say, “I believe animals can be eaten, but I just don’t like the thought of biting into flesh.” I was about 11 at this stage. A solid 15 years from the point where I began wrapping my head around the cycle of life.

In my mid-20’s, I was tired with a pretty weak immune system and a tumultuous blood sugar level. I decided going back to eating meat was the right thing to do, and for me, it was. My health has slowly crawled back, gaining real strength over the past year, after finding The Weston A. Price Foundation and the concept of nutrient-dense foods. Things like lard, beef, liver, lamb and raw egg yolks from healthy animals, food that would have certainly made me say “ewwww” a few short years ago, actually turned my health around. This nutrient-dense diet, out of oodles of diets I’ve tried, is the only one I have found that truly heals.

I have very good friends who are vegan, some of the most compassionate people on earth. However, I don’t agree with them, at least not for my body’s everyday diet. I believe a vegan diet can detoxify, resulting in increased health for the short-term, but I don’t believe it builds. I do think I could have been a healthier vegetarian, maybe even a healthy vegetarian, but I would have had to have knowledge of raw dairy, which I didn’t. Unless raw dairy means Velveeta or soy cheese, and it doesn’t.

So that’s me, and knowing me, you might come to understand why I am recommending the following book. Lierre Keith wrote a dense but clever and extremely readable book called The Vegetarian Myth. She’s angry, and sometimes that’s a little hard to take. But, her anger is not without reason. Ms. Keith spent some 25 years as a vegan and was falling apart at the seams when a Medicine Man urged her to stop. For Lierre, quitting being a vegan meant abandoning everything she had ever known. She wasn’t “iffy” about eating animals, like my vegetarian years were. No, she spent her life trying to prevent animal death, which served as her source of connection to others and her entire life purpose. She led what she valued as an honorable life, until her body forced her to recognize that our amazing world relies on a delicate balance of eating and being eaten. As Lierre’s Medicine Man said, “the big fish eat the little fish.”
Throughout the book, Lierre explains her journey back to meat. A powerful lesson for me was the understanding she gained from trying to become an even better vegan by growing her own food. Her pickle started with the realization that only two things provide the nutrients for growing food: animal products and petroleum. That’s it. Two choices faced her, neither of which fit into her image of a healthy planet.

If your diet and mind-set is anything like mine was as a young girl, you probably won’t pick this book up. If it ain’t broke, right? Well, I don’t totally agree with that decision, but I understand. Instead, I’ve taken the time to recommend this book for those whose diet may not be working. People who are facing the same struggles I did in my mid-twenties, years I spent pretty desperate for understanding. I think this book offers an important perspective that we don’t often hear, one that would have certainly helped me and ultimately did. However, I had to find my answers without this book, but my journey, though different, led to the exact same place as Ms. Lierre. I understand her story. I have compassion for her struggles, and I genuinely appreciate her book.

xo – Organic Spark

P.S. In case you were curious who the two glowing eyes in the opening picture belonged to: heeeere’s Todd!


  • country girl

    This sounds like such an interesting book! I have a dear friend who is a vegan, and it takes all my willpower not to critisize or 'debunk' her diet while I see her teeth deteriorating and her energy levels dropping. But I know that people need to find their way on their own.
    Thanks so much for the book review!


    September 28, 2010
  • Chandelle

    I'd been vegan for several years when I read that book. It affected me deeply. At the time I was already feeling intuitively that veganism wasn't working anymore, but I definitely did come to it because of the animals, and the arguments in favor of eating "humane" meat never made sense to me. So I couldn't imagine moving away from it, but I was having some health problem as a result of having whole grains at the center of my diet.

    She did inspire me to take that issue more seriously and so I cut way back on grains and started eating pastured butter and yogurt and some fish from sustainable stocks. I get raw goat's milk from a friend's farm, and my family started keeping chickens in our backyard, so we eat eggs.

    But I still can't wrap my head around eating other kinds of meat. I don't feel that I can accept that responsibility and it doesn't seem right to pass it on to others. But I'm not generally opposed to eating meat. I encourage others to seek out healthier sources of meat and try to connect locals with farmers who treat their animals respectfully.

    I feel I'm doing well on a diet that includes lots of butter, yogurt and other fermented foods, vegetables and fruits in season, fish a few times a week, and minimal whole soaked grains. Cutting out gluten has helped a lot, and I do have to be careful with dairy, whether it's raw or not. Overall I just try to keep an open mind and follow my body's changing needs. I do care a great deal about the concept of "least harm," so I personally feel that I'd like to limit the number of animals killed on my behalf. But that book did open my eyes to the destruction of a grain-based diet and the necessity of including animals in sustainable agriculture, so I recommend it to others quite often.

    Sorry to be so long-winded! Thanks for your review.

    September 28, 2010
  • Kristina

    Wow. I have never wanted to be anything but a meat eater so I haven't struggled with these issues (will probably still read the book, sounds interesting), but you really got my attention with your comments about soy allergies. This could be the key to answering why on earth I can't get rid of acne. I will be doing research on soy allergy for sure. I'm wondering if soy lecithin is it for me, since I stear clear of other forms of soy, but sometimes I'll eat products with soy lecithin in them, like some chocolates. My bro in law has a soy allergy and it's been quite something to deal with, but acne is not one of his side effects, severe gastrointestinal issues are.

    Anyway, I'm glad you found your way nutritionally!

    September 29, 2010
  • Molly Chester

    Country Girl – You're so welcome dear! Hope the move is going well.

    Chandelle – Sounds like you have such a balanced approach. If I had eaten like that for all those years, I am sure I would have come out the other end stronger. And thanks for sharing Darling!

    Kristina – If soy is trouble for you, it can be trouble in even the smallest amounts. I know because that is exactly what happens to my body. It's like it accumulates! Thank you for sharing and supporting. And I hope taking the last bit of soy out helps you dear!


    Organic Spark

    September 29, 2010
  • Jennifer Dawn Rogers

    Thanks for posting on this important subject! I was just having a discussion about it the other day. I went through a similar journey to yours (and so did my mother). I plan to pick up this book right away!

    Jen (a/k/a The Domestic Diva)

    October 1, 2010
  • […] One of the most difficult things about our current food-scape is learning how to navigate basic, familiar foods that have somehow become very complicated. Is dairy good or bad? Is meat good or bad? Nobody questions mayonnaise, though. That’s always bad… or is it? People often ask me what they should be eating. Unfortunately, there’s not a simple answer to that question right now. I know that vegans believe that vegetables are the answer, but respectfully, I feel even that gets complicated. […]

    February 19, 2011
  • […] cleanse drama to help my liver out after years of sugar and soy abuse as an uneducated childhood vegetarian. At age 9, I was inspired by a funky vegetarian friend, Amy Byrd, who pronounced eggs as […]

    February 19, 2011
  • […] Most jarred dressings are filled with refined oils (often soybean oil, which is highly allergic to my body), sugar and even MSG, an emotionally irritating seasoning that literally makes food addictive. I […]

    February 19, 2011
  • […] I proceeded to eat salad for lunch and dinner until my face broke out like a pizza. As I have mentioned, Debby’s dressing helped reveal that soy and Molly, regrettfully, don’t […]

    March 4, 2011
  • RadiantLux

    I highly recommend reading The Vegetarian Myth if you are interested in discussing nutrition with people. Because the author was a militant vegan for so long, she knows all the arguments vegans use. The book is organized to knock down each argument one by one. You can see what a complete paradigm shift she underwent. I think the biggest myth she exposes is that a vegetarian diet somehow is death free. Those that think they are saving something by eating this way are fooling themselves. I was fascinated by her description of the life of plants and how they evolved to use chemicals to their advantage.

    March 14, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      I agree. I found it to be a very powerful book!

      March 15, 2011

Leave a comment


Email(will not be published)*


Your comment*

Submit Comment