Friday, November 19, 2010

A Vegan Reading The Vegetarian Myth

A Vegan Reading The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith

I picked a book from the library just the other day, called The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith.  By the title she means vegetarian and vegan myth.  It's been lumped together in for the sake of style I presume.

Anyway, I might as well get to the point.  I read the book and am completely persuaded by her arguments.  There isn't really a reason for this blog anymore, because I have been converted.  I'm not a vegan anymore.

Okay, so I can hardly keep a straight face over here.  I am not actually finished the book, and I haven't even begun to be persuaded by her terrible arguments.  I had hoped that there would be more value in this book.  It does get tiring hearing garbage arguments from non-vegans basically so they can pretend to justify their behaviour.

In The Vegetarian Myth Lierre Keith hasn't really distinguished herself from that crowd, the ones who make embarrassingly illogical arguments.  Although she definitely appears to have reflected on her arguments; I have no doubt that she is deeply convicted ... she has made plenty of logical errors, and cited Michael Pollan, of ALL people, as an expert on evolution.  I am not one for ad homina, but COME ON!

I would sooner consider the pope an expert on evolution than Michael Pollan.  Michael Pollan talks about domesticated animals and plants (and genes in the end) as taking purposive steps to evolve successfully with humans; its as if those genes had foresight to know that humans were going to dominate the earth ... LMAO!  The point here is that anyone who takes his thoughts on evolution seriously clearly does not understand evolution themselves.  It's cute what Michael Pollan does with evolution, like a bed time story you might want to tell your children, if you want them to get it dead wrong when they are in grade 8 science.  "It's cute", like what Michael Pollan said when he read the desk jacket of The Selfish Gene (By Richard Dawkins).  It seems that he stopped there, thinking wow, 'this guy is onto something' ...

But let's get back to The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith. Here are the arguments she has presented so far:

1. I got really sick off of veganism so it's not healthy. - hasty generalization - 'Here's a bit on tryptophan and calcium BAM! Veganism is unhealthy.  And I know some other vegans who are unhealthy. BAM! Oh, and it's not like I need to say anymore but we have to kill in order to live.  That's a law of nature or something. BAM!'  Past the bold and the link, this is a charicature of her argument, but it's also the bare bones of her first argument.

2. So far she has created a straw man of the vegan position, as if vegans are vegan out of a reverence for life.  To be fair, she starts with fruitatarians.  BUT WTF!?!  Why would you start with fruitatarians?  I guess she is using that age old rhetorical technique of presenting her weakest arguments first.  That way you get lured into a sense of 'man this woman is on crack and mentally weakened from so much crack' and then BAM she blows you away with a knock down argument.

She goes on about the lives of plants, and seeds, and nemotoads ... and hey I understand that we have to kill in order to survive (i.e. at least plants and insects die from gardening and eating), but there is a relevant categorical difference between a cow and a seed (or a plant for that matter). 

3. She seems awfully hocus pocus at this point, and all about the circle of life kind of spiritual mumbo jumbo.  The vegan issue is sentience, and it's telling that she didn't address that first.

The most worthwhile nugget I have gotten out of this so far, is that she burries the remains of the animals she eats in the garden.  If an animal I take care of perishes this does seem like an honorable way to treat it and return it to the earth.

Anyway, I am sure there is another argument in the pages I have read thus far, but I am just ranting at this point, so it's a good idea to stop myself.  I am pretty worked up about how stupid Lierre Keith's position is so far.  With The Vegetarian Myth I just wanted some fruitful discourse on veganism ... that's the honest truth. 

I'll read the whole book, but I hope there are some arguments within it that actually give me reason to reflect!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for pointing out the infuriating inaccuracy of Michael Pollan's understanding of evolution. I'm reading Omnivore's Dilemma, and while I find the point of the book admirable (bringing much needed attention to the industrialized food system), the language he uses to discuss evolution annoyed me to no end. I just repeatedly felt like yelling "Evolution: YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG."

    Do you happen to know of any critiques that rail him on this point?