We’re halfway through page 10 and Keith continues talking about the effects of her eating disorder.
Then there was the depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety have absolutely nothing to do with veganism—starving yourself does. Dieting is well-known to cause moodswings, irritability and a lack of emotional stability; fact is, any amount of starving your body will result in this, regardless of how small the deprivation is.
I’ve had depression and anxiety too—when I wasn’t getting enough calories. Fact is, starvation is one of the best conceivable ways to give yourself unbearable clinical depression, but people rarely realize that because they’re so fucking obsessed with fatphobia.
I have had two times in my life where I wasn’t suffering from constant anxiety: when I was homeless, living in a tent (and getting enough to eat!), and when I’ve been 811 raw. And I’m not special. It’s amazing how little heft people give this. They refuse to try it even for three weeks—Bob Torres, at least for a while, was recommending the “vegan three week challenge” but was ridiculously hostile to the idea of trying 811—given that they generally know they won’t develop mineral deficiencies or fall over dead from three weeks. Unless they’re starving themselves of calories and/or carbohydrates from fresh, ripe fruit.
I come from a long and venerable line of depressive alcoholics, so clearly I didn’t inherit the best mental health genetics.
So do I. This doesn’t mean much.
Veganism [sic] wasn’t the only cause of my depression, but it was a big contributing factor. Years went by when the world was made of a pointless, grey weight, endlessly the same, punctuated only by occasional panic. I would routinely dissolve into helplessness. If I couldn’t find my house keys, I’d find myself in a heap on the living room for, immobilized on the edge of The Void. How could I go on? Why would I want to? The keys were lost and so was I, the world, the cosmos.
THE WORLD IS BLACK
BLACK LIKE MY SOUL
BLACK LIKE THE BLOOD IN MY VEINS
BLACK LIKE MY HEART
THAT MAKES ME CRY THESE BLACK TEARS
DARK DARK BLACK —
That’s great and all, but again: Keith was vegan, by her own damn admission, at most a week. She was a vegetarian, and additionally, this is again standard for long-term starvation eating disorders. And furthermore, the sob-story isn’t striking a chord here; it’s just a ham-handed (lol) attempt to make the reader sympathize enough to abandon critical thinking.
And now I know why. Serotonin is made from the amino acid tryptophan. And there are no good plant sources of tryptophan.
On top of that, all the tryptophan in the world won’t do you any good without saturated fat, which is necessary to make your neurotransmitters actually transmit.
Keith doesn’t provide a citation for this, which seems to be fairly usual for her, even though it would have been rather easy to find a source in the medical literature that says this. After all, this is basic-functioning kind of stuff: unlike diets, which are fraught with ideology and implication, that neurotransmitters need fat to transmit is something that’s fairly easily cited.
So for all we know, she may be massively misunderstanding what she’s actually saying. The myelin sheaths of nerves need fat to form in gestation, and children need a much higher amount of fat—not animal fat per se, but coconut, avocado, olives, nuts—and parents have actually starved their children to death by having them eat a very-low-fat one.
The needs of a human body vary vastly over time and age; it would be straight-up unhealthy for an adult human to eat to supply the needs of a child. And humans need a really ridiculously low amount of fat, especially when you consider that it’s easily supplied by eating two or three nuts every day in addition to everything else. Omega fatty acids are a slightly different subject, but we’re talking about saturated fats here.
And speaking of which, plants do have saturated fat. Most of the plant foods we eat commonly have a fat content that’s mostly made up of polunsaturated, but seriously: so? If you believe it’s that important, it’s actually quite easy to eat a handful of coconut every day. David Mercola, one of the entrepeneur-nutritionist-quacks Keith cites, recommends and sells extra virgin coconut oil to consume every day—and you can’t deny it’s a major conflict of interest, but seriously. The assertions Keith makes are easily debunked with even a cursory glance through the results of a fucking Goodsearch first page.
All those years of emotional collapse weren’t a personal failing; they were bio-chemical, if self-inflicted.
Yes. It is absolutely fucking unacceptable to blame someone for having an eating disorder and tell them it’s because there’s something wrong, bad and evil about them.
It is entirely another thing to so completely avoid self-reflection and -questioning that you end up blaming it on “veganism,” especially when you weren’t vegan. And it only gets worse if you decide to write a really, really poorly-researched book fighting against a lifestyle you never engaged in, all the while lying to say you have.
Is there anything as boring as other people’s medical problems?
Yes. Reading a book about someone else’s medical problems when it’s clear that the author never bothered to question anything or tally up the symptoms and look for an alternative explanation.
But eating a diet of grass-fed animal products has repaired the damage a bit and made a moderate dent in my pain level.
Wait, so not starving will, over time, repair the damage done by starvation?… Really. Do tell.
FYI: it’s only been a few years since I met Aslan, and zeir starvation-induced problems only flare up on bad days, which are coming less and less often. Zie had zeir eating disorder most of zeir life, too. Judging by the timeline—wannabegan at sixteen for twenty years puts Keith’s meat-eating at thirty-six, and she was born in ’64. This book was published in ’09. It’s been nine years and she hasn’t had more of a benefit from that? Chica, you need to eat some fruit.
Yadda yadda, I’ll get to her claims about diabetes and insulin later, she doesn’t realize that the phytoestrogens in soy are much less potent than the animal estrogens in dairy, will blame soy for giving her cancer (good to know she’s already figured that out, then), she has to take betaine hydrochloride because she won’t eat dark leafy greens and she starved herself, she’s still cold and exhausted.
… Aslan’s cold and fatigue are almost entirely gone, and zeir BMI was, at one point, 14.
Don’t give me this bullshit. If you’re still feeling cold and exchausted after this many years, it’s because your diet isn’t repairing your fucking body. Human bodies, treated properly with lots of raw fruits and leafy greens, repair way faster than this.
She’s “depression-free,” whatever that means for her—I’m betting my idea is what that would look like is a lot different.
You don’t have to try this for yourself. You’re allowed to learn from my mistakes.
Oh, my. Why, thank you for being so magnanimous.
What would those mistakes be? Starving yourself? Not bothering to do any research to see that you had an eating disorder? Being hilariously melodramatic? Believing condescension is endearing and/or an acceptable argument?
Vegetarianism was the obvious path, with veganism the high road alongside it. And those of us who did it long term ended up damaged.
And of course we won’t actually hear about any of them, or what they ate, how much and how often. We won’t hear any of this. Lierre Keith is better than evidence and research and questioning. It’s her fucking religion—and even then, I know a lot of religious people that aren’t this… incurious.
If I’m questioning your lifestyle, your identity, you might feel confusion, fear and anger while reading this book.
In other words: if you do anything but nod blithely along while Keith insults you and makes a mockery of actual honest inquiry, you’re just defensive. Pele’s exploding tits, that’s not an argument—it’s a fallacy. The idea that, “well if you get upset then I must be right” is insulting on its face, and it provides Lierre Keith an excuse for intellectual laziness.
No matter what, you’re wrong and she’s right. If she insults you and you get pissed at it, then she’s right. If you’re unimpressed by her “research” and “citations,” that means she’s right. If you’re confused by the utter lack of serious critical engagement within and with this book, then Lierre Keith is right.
To a certain point, this is understandable. But Lierre Keith has repeated this point so often that it’s clear to me that this is the basis of her argument—deflection. Instead of owning up and actually being honest, Keith uses emotional-abuser fallacies to keep people from questioning what she asserts.
Personally? I’m irritated, as I always am, at the lack of intellectual, journalistic and personal integrity that Lierre Keith is displaying. It’s just even worse that she’s using basic privileged behavioral tactics to try to silence anyone disagreeing with her.
But take my word: you don’t want to end up like me.
Go Ask Alice much. A good argument cannot be based on a cautionary tale; you need to back it up. This is another fallacy—Misleading Vividness.
I’m asking you to stay the course, read this book, and explore the resources in the appendix. Please. Especially if you have children or want to. I’m not too proud to beg.
Fuck, I think I strained my ocular nerve from rolling my eyes too hard. It must have been veganism. After all, if I weren’t vegan, I wouldn’t be reading this unexplodey pile of words.