Mother Earth News article: The truth about vegetarianism

I’ve been a subscriber of Mother Earth News for a while now and a reader of the magazine since I was a kid. I’ve always appreciated the thoughtful and interesting articles in it and this month’s issue has an interesting story called “The Truth About Vegetarianism.”

The story is based on the 2009 book The Vegetarian Myth. I’d just like to say that I don’t have anything against vegetarians or vegans. I understand why they do what they do.

I haven’t read the book yet, only the article, but it seems that the author is really interested in delving into the nature of the modern factory farming agricultural system. Lierre Kieth, a former vegan, suggests that the vegetarian path is not going to accomplish the goals that most vegetarians seem to have. These reasons include tend to revolve around health, protecting animals, helping feed the hungry and not participating in factory farming.

All those are honourable goals, but is being a vegetarian really going to accomplish them? Avoiding meat for health reasons, particularly if that meat is coming from the factory farm process, is quite sensible. I’m not going to go into those reasons, but I certainly understand them. I would prefer to consume naturally raised animals instead of genetically modified, steroid and anti-biotic injected, confined and often diseased animals.

I would also prefer to eat fruits, vegetables and other food products that aren’t genetically modified, coated in pesticides and herbicides or contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. Coli. Is that too much to ask? Apparently to factory farmers, it is.

Keith covers a broad range of topics in her five-page summary published in Mother Earth News, dealing with food security and factory farming. I tend to agree, from the reading and research I’ve done in the past, that these are far more serious issues that being a vegetarian is not really going to adequately address.

It is not easy to break the factory farming cycle, but we’re beginning to see rumblings among citizens that indicate people are becoming fed up with the crap we’re being fed, both from agribusinesses and politicians. I certainly don’t blame the small farmer who’s being driven to the edge of bankruptcy by what is a fundamentally corrupted food system.

The popularity and awareness of farmers markets has really increased in recent years. I’m not sure if gardening has as well, but I hope it has. We really do need to examine the relationship between what we eat and where it comes from to our personal health and the health of our land.

If you’re interested in your health, your family’s health and the health of agriculture, this article would be a good start. I’m definitely going to be picking up the book.

Published by

Alain Saffel

If I were to picture my ideal life, I’d be sitting in some far off land, sipping a coffee in a café, my backpack at my side, camera around my neck, motorcycle at the curb, pondering my next stop or maybe madly typing away on my laptop about my latest adventure.

2 thoughts on “Mother Earth News article: The truth about vegetarianism”

  1. I find the author’s premise counter-productive and deliberately provocative to grab attention and sales.

    Obviously, vegetarianism doesn’t solve all the world’s problems, but the typical vegetarian diet is far more sustainable and better for animals and the environment than the typical omnivore diet.

    It’s like saying people shouldn’t ride bikes because bicycles won’t solve all the world’s transportation and energy problems. Or saying we shouldn’t cut military spending because military spending is a drop in the bucket of the overall budget.

    Even moderately changing your diet to go vegetarian a couple days a week is a step in the right direction.

  2. Hi, thanks for the comment and a valid one too.

    Eating less meat is certainly beneficial in a number of ways, but even if we were to cut it out altogether, it’s not going to solve the fundamental problems with agriculture.

    When it comes to agriculture, the real problem is not the fact that we eat meat. I wouldn’t suggest that vegetarianism is an act without merit, but it doesn’t really address those fundamental problems of factory farming in all its aspects.

    And for those who might think that becoming a vegetarian is as far as they have to go, well, that just isn’t the case. It is a step in the right direction, but without action on other fronts, what does it accomplish?

    Here in Edmonton, there is a bicycle commuters group that has been successful in raising awareness of bike commuting. It’s great they’re doing it. It is a strategy that should be pursued in conjunction with a solid transit strategy, more fuel efficient cars, more telecommuting and decentralization of our business centres.

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