Friday, 8 January 2010

Lierre Keith

This evening a quick trawl of YouTube turned up this six part broadcast featuring Lierre Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth, on the spookily named 'Supernatural Mom' site. As a decade long vegetarian with some 'vegan-previous' many of her arguments resonated with me.

Part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6.

Keith really does take the gloves off, and although I cannot verify much of what she says without references (I have ordered the book), her argument was sufficiently framed for me to be unable to simply refute it off-hand.

Most of her arguments were deeply compelling and noetic, I mean, when you look at a mono-cropped field, acres in size, of course you have destroyed whole ecosystems. Of course you are having to use pesiticides and insecticides to kill parasites (and non destructive fauna), that would otherwise swarm (mono-cropping of an area is a poor evolutionary strategy for a plant, shrub or tree).

This very issue incidentally, is the basis of Patrick Whitefield's hugely entertaining How to Make a Forest Garden. Whitefield discusses the lack of effort to maintain such a no-dig garden, the lack of any kind of pest control - the pest population is part of the ecosystem and is auto-regulated by natural predators, and, maintenance of the crumb-structure of soils. He also talks about the variety such gardens could add to our diet and so forth.

Keith covers pretty much every base including the consequence of vegetarianism and veganism on ones' health. In particular she addresses the poisons in grain and the hormonal implication of eating soy.

She makes some pithy comments (I like her talk of hammering on an anvil to make reality the shape you wish it to be), and really warms to her theme when tackled by a vegetarian. Some of her comments are really poignant - "Plants to want to be eaten either. They cannot run so they either develop thorns or chemical weapons they fight back....we can participate or dominate, but there is no way to avoid to death." She goes on to talk about how agriculture pushes all other life out of an ecosystem and how in contrast, letting 'natural' forests and wetlands restore, we could not only create superior carbon-sinks but eat the fauna.

The fact that Mike Eades has given Keith the thumbs-up should be enough for anyone to give the interview a listening. Of The Vegetarian Myth he says:
  • "But I can tell you that Lierre Keith’s book is beyond fantastic. It is easily the best book I’ve read since Mistakes Were Made, maybe even better. Everyone should read this book, vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike."

Damn high praise indeed. But if it is anything like this interview then it will be deserved.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I've ordered it.

On the Amazon UK site the one review is from a vegetarian who didn't realise what she was getting and wasn't happy!