Posts Tagged ‘Lierre Keith’

The Myth of Magical Meat

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Whenever someone leaves the fold of vegans and joins the mainstream of omnivores, it causes a lot of reaction on both sides of the vegan/omni divide.  How does one quit believing that animals feel and want to live? How does taste or even an orgiastic eating experience dim the knowledge, once one has attained it, of what the animals must endure to end up on your plate?

Letting go of one’s principles is no small thing to undertake.  I could imagine having one’s doctor tell you that veganism is ruining your health. I was often told running was not good for me when I was younger, so I searched out a doctor who actually ran — most of the physicians who were naysaying my running were a good deal overweight and not exactly the picture of health themselves. Physicians in general are not noted for their nutritional education [see articles below]. Constant hunger that was part of the difficulty for some while eating a plant-based diet.  With such abundant plant food, it is hard to envision. Perhaps all hunger is not for food, but for something else missing in one’s life.

Ingesting Death and Deception

Some seem to find returning to eating flesh a miraculous experience. Pretty amazing since, according to Registered Dietitian Ginny Messina of the Vegan RD blog, “…you have to actually digest and absorb the nutrients in food before you’ll feel any of its effects. And if you are consuming nutrients to reverse a deficiency, it will take weeks to feel the benefits.”  Yet for Tasha, over at Voracious “I had only eaten a small piece of cow flesh, and yet I felt totally full, but light and refreshed all at once.” She states:

The world receded to a blank nothingness and I just ate, and ate, and ate. I cried in grief and anger, while moaning with pleasure and joy.

Brings to mind the scene in When Harry Met Sally, “I’ll have what she’s having” – only, no, I do not want what she is having. An ethical stance means eating with the least harm to others.

Even more miraculously, Tasha’s hair completely changed in a few weeks, despite the fact that it takes months for hair to grow from the roots.

The changes that I experienced were manifold and occurred so quickly and decisively I almost couldn’t believe it. ……..(after) 4 weeks I noticed three very strange things: my mysterious lower back pain that had been bothering me for nearly a year had vanished, even though I hadn’t changed my shoes or done any physical therapy; the skin on my face was plump and full and the fine lines that I had figured were just a sign of being nearly 30 had faded so much they were barely discernible, even though I had not changed anything about my skin care routine; and finally, I noticed my hair was thicker, shinier, and much fuller than it had been in years, even though I hadn’t changed anything about my hair care routine.

Sound familiar?  Sounds like the miracles promised in Dairy Deception, right? Lustrous hair, amazing strength, improved general health – even better mental health. Sounds like the Media Mavens have run a successful campaign, with the medical community in compliance with the deception. But after years of indoctrination into the myth that meat means strength, it is not all that hard to understand. Despite the recent spate of information decrying the harmful effects of animal products, some of these misguided souls have found it wonderful to embrace the imagined magical qualities inherent in the death of animals and their body parts. Lierre Keith stated in her book The Vegetarian Myth*, that upon eating a cream cheese topped bagel:

Oh, God, something in my brain woke and moaned. I couldn’t stop.

Who is the One with the Myth?

I am sure that is how Ms. Keith felt, but honestly, I have never had that reaction to a bagel or any other food product. Ms. Keith relates in her book that her spine was ruined by a vegan diet,  but fails to explain exactly how this happened. And she had been unable to sustain a vegan diet, admitted to eating a “dairy orgy” dip well into her supposed veganism.

Then Jennifer of Vegan Lunchbox went through personal changes. I applaud all the above for being honest about what they were undergoing — if only they would. It strains credibility when instant cures happen and one claims they can feel meat “pulsing through every cell” after ingesting carrion, as did Ms. Keith.  The only thing actually pulsing was the blood of the animal through his heart while he lived. And that pulsing is precisely what these folks stopped. Jennifer now is a self-proclaimed “nutritarian,” no longer identifying with veganism.

My own experiences are so opposite these folks that it makes it difficult for me to imagine their plight.  I actually got much healthier and gained weight as a vegan. I turned on to food for the first time. There was so much variety and, no longer on a strict diet for genetically high cholesterol, I was free to indulge. My cholesterol went down to a healthy level – not overnight, but after six months, when it was tested. And it has remained so.  Slowly, I was able to breathe better, as allergies disappeared without my even realizing it.  I live in an area with high incidence of diabetes and obesity; many very young people are enchanted by my stories of healing through veganism. They have tried eating animals products; for them, it has been deadly. And so far, all the men in my father’s family have died from heart disease and clogged arteries due to their ingestion of animal products. But the real reason for my veganism was not improved health – it was finding out what the animals were asked to endure for something not only non-essential, but harmful to all concerned. No, thank you.

Honest Appraisal of Health

This year has been a tough one for me personally.  I had health issues for the first time in many years. Luckily, no one suggested it was due to my veganism, most likely because I was taking care of a preschooler who was catching every bug that showed up in his new preschool life.  I spoke to the school administrator, who told me that even very young new teachers often have a  lot of absences the first year, until they build up immunity for the usual host of preschooler-infecting bugs.

Like Tasha at Voracious, my mental outlook was not as sharp, either. I thought briefly about my veganism — could it be why I was catching the bugs from my grandson? Why I was not as cheerful as usual? Why I was not sleeping so well? I always was very proud of my resistance to illness and my general health — what else could it be? I had a momentary sinking thought – what would I do if my health was on the line? I knew of vegans who are healthier by far than any omnivore I know and have remained healthy and high energy for decades.  Soon a quick search into my life caused me to face a few realities:

  • I was not exercising as much as I had all my life
  • I was not paying much attention to eating a balanced diet
  • Above all, I was undergoing some internal stress due to the illness and events surrounding my father’s death earlier in the year.
  • I was not taking care of myself
  • My life was completely out of balance

Constantly researching all the horrors going on in the world today, especially towards innocent beings, can be exhausting, especially if there is no counterweight towards the positive.  Listening to informative but rather distressing podcasts all day long can leave one feeling drained. Handling personal attacks for the work one does is difficult and disturbing. I knew I needed to get moving, start paying attention to self-care (see Vegan Survival Kit), and setting some limits with child care and other assorted duties. You have to learn to set limits on the amount you take in on behalf of others; it does them nor you any good to go over that line. Good reminder for working in the field of animal rights, too.

You Can Still Be Vegan if You Want

Dan Cudahy, in his recent article, On Ex-Vegans, asks why some of the ex-vegans did not take the vegan path, whether due to their health or other issues, which is to do the least harm.  If you are having health issues due to your diet, that diet is not your veganism — your attitude towards other living beings is where the veganism lives. Why not research the minimum you need to be healthy, confer with vegan dietitians such as Ms. Messina, and then do the least harm, in keeping with your principles?  But instead, some of these folks toss out their veganism with seeming relief and virtually roll in their new blood-soaked, mainstream diets. Tired of being on the margins of society, these animal consumers find the pressures of the mob mighty refreshing.

Whatever one decides, it is their decision, but it does impact other living beings.  I am always sorrowed to hear of vegans threatening other people for leaving a life of non-violence; I guess they cannot see the irony there. I am not terribly interested in ex-vegans, because it would seem they were not really vegan in the first place. A recent article by Kye Martin over at Chicago Now drove this point home, Why I hate telling people I’m Vegan. In that article, Kye relates:

Raise the beef, cut it up… sell it.  Fine by me.  I have no problem with what you’re doing, I simply choose not to partake.

Really? You have no problem with slaughtering animals? Raise the BEEF? Don’t you mean the steer, the cow, the animals, the living being? Oh, no — here I go being preachy and everything that makes people so uncomfortable. But it is not really about me and my comfort or you and yours. It is about the animals. And I DO have a problem with people who kill them for no reason but their own tradition and pleasure. It is madness.

Focus on the Ex-Omnivores!

Good news for Kye. She no longer has to announce she is vegan! She is not. If you limit yourself to a plant-based diet, that is not veganism. If you really don’t care about people harming animals, that is not veganism. So no, I am not too interested in those who once called themselves vegans or hate to announce they are vegans. I would prefer to pay attention to a much larger, more dynamic, world-changing and ever growing category: ex-omnivores!

Keith, Lierre, The Vegetarian Myth, Flashpoint Press – available on Amazon


American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – lack of medical nutrition in medical schools

New York TimesTeaching Doctors About Nutrition

Ginny Messina’s article, Do Ex-Vegans’ Stories Make the Case Against Vegan Diets?

Dan Cudahy’s article, On Ex-Vegans

Read more:

Please, No Pies!

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Lately I have been noticing that the pie has been the chosen medium for garnering attention to animal rights issues, and while I can understand the need to let something fly once in awhile, there has been some unfortunate fallout from some of these pie-tossing incidents. Three recent incidences illustrate my concerns.

The first incident took place on September 21st of last year, 2009. In that incident, a large adult, dressed in a chicken costume, went onstage at a children’s event for South San Francisco Days, at Orange Memorial Park.  There was a child onstage at the time, and there were numerous children in the audience.  The large adult dressed in the chicken costume then proceeded to throw a pie in the face of an actor dressed up as Ronald McDonald.  In this one instance, we have disrespect for children, for chickens, and for an unknown man who has very little to do with animal exploitation except to be in the employ of an animal exploitation industry.  The point of the pie was to emphasize PETA’s request that McDonalds use only suppliers of chicken that employed Controlled Atmosphere Killing, which the PETA blog states is a more profitable and efficient way of killing chickens. They are not asking McDonalds to quit slaughtering chickens, just to use a more profitable and less troublesome way of slaughtering chickens. Once again, PETA is missing the whole point; it is not just how the animals are killed but it is objectionable that they are killed at all. It also does not say much for PETA that they would sponsor that kind of behavior in front of children. What it did accomplish was to set the bar very low for rational discourse regarding a very serious issue of injustice and make a mockery of the devastation that is caused by the demand for animal flesh.


Then on January 25th of this year, 2010, a PETA supporter sent a pie to the face of Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to protest her continued support of the clubbing of baby seals.  While I am in no way a supporter of the slaughter of infants of any kind, a pie in someone’s face does little to help those baby seals. The seal slaughter touches a particular nerve with the public because of the beautiful eyes of the seals, their completely defenseless state, and the brutal and bloody scenes this activity leaves in its wake. What sending flying pies does is reduce animal rights activists to a problematic category at best.  It causes all animal rights activities to get lumped into a very unfair category.  It does nothing to reduce the destruction of the seals which has been going on for decades. A recent search about the seal slaughter revealed a long history of protest against the annual killing with no cessation of the activity. When the demand for seal skin decreased, a market was created to use the animal bodies for another commercial purpose.  Without a shift in thinking about animal life, these kinds of horrendous practices will continue.

I went to PETA’s blog to see if they could explain their reasons for pie-ing people, and found a column they host called, Ask Carla. Someone had asked the question about why PETA throws pies at people. This was her response, and I quote,

Vaudeville pie throwing ala the Three Stooges can hardly be considered violent in this day and age.  Nobody gets hurt, and better natured recipients laugh it off and crack jokes. Confining animals to tiny cages, beating them, starving them, poisoning them, chopping their beaks, tails and toes off without anesthetics, slitting their throats and ripping their skin off while they are still conscious– now that is violent.

So it is supposed to be funny? The Three Stooges? Really?  The Three Stooges and this kind of terror for animals?  Why would anyone want the recipient to laugh it off? Why would PETA want the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to laugh it off?  As a former public servant, if someone had thrown a pie in my face rather than choosing to write to me or speak to me over a disagreement about a policy, I would have considered that person unstable and recommended treatment for them. There is such an incongruity between the first part of that response and the last part of that response that laughing it off seems to have nothing to do with chopping off tails, toes and beaks. It is appalling that anyone could put those things in close proximity with levity and pie tossing.

Then this past week, I noticed an alert asking for people to volunteer to throw pies at a radio station for hosting the author of an anti-vegetarian book. The ire of the group was against a woman name Lierre Keith, who has written a book entitled, The Vegetarian Myth.  Ms. Keith was a vegan for twenty years and then reverted to omnivorism.  I learned about the book and its author in a snarky column meant to denounce veganism. I left a response on the article that had been asking for pie throwers that read:

Throwing pies in people’s faces discredits the serious issues at hand. How can you expect to be taken seriously or demand respect for animals if you are so disrespectful yourself. Veganism should be a non-violent stance that means respect for others, even if their attitudes are negative towards the movement. Unfortunately, the fallout splatters on the entire movement and makes us look like buffoons rather than rational people with an important issue. You will get press, and you will harm the movement towards respectful treatment of animals.

There had been a prior pie incidence, wherein Miss Keith had been the recipient. This was an additional attempt to pie the radio station that was hosting her. A fellow Examiner who represents Low Carb Diets, Jimmy Moore, has so far posted three articles about the incident and as you can imagine, most of the articles were very supportive of Ms. Keith and very negative towards vegans. Please listen to an interview Jimmy Moore did with Lierre Keith regarding the pie incidence.


Thank you to Jimmy Moore for presenting a more rational vegan’s viewpoint and thank you to TJ for interjecting somethng on behalf of vegans who are non-violent.

So the result of the attack on Miss Kieth was to increase support for anti-vegan advocate, increase book sales of an anti-vegan book, and decrease respect for the vegan movement. Not very positive. Let’s keep vegan advocacy positive- reaching out to teach other people about the benefits of veganism for the animals, for the earth, and for the health of all of us.

Article about 9/25/2009 pie toss with photo

You Tube video of McDonald’s pie toss

Ask Carla article defending pie throwing by PETA

Article about pie toss at Gail Shea, who supports baby seal slaughter

Response to request for pie throwers

Jimmy Moore article

NZ Vegan Podcast

Gobble Green

Abolitionist Approach