Chapter two is titled Moral Vegetarians.
Start with an apple.
I can’t eat apples; they make me feel like utter shit—fatigued, cranky and faint. Same happens with apple juice. Apparently it’s not exclusive to me, either. Anyone?
A food so nonviolent it wants to be eaten, say the fruitarians, people who try to live by fruit alone, or die in the attempt.
Ooh, fallacious scare tactics already? Especially situated inside a complete misunderstanding of what fruitarianism actually is? Color me shocked!
Fruitarians are actually called “fruitarians” because most of their diet is comprised of fruit—and lots of it. It’s not unusual for a fruitarian to eat in a day ten bananas, four oranges, two pounds of grapes, two bell peppers, several kiwis, and maybe durian. (I’ve never tried it, but I definitely enjoy gineps and guavas.) This is as a start—and it only looks like a lot of food if you’ve never eaten that in a day. Doug Graham, for example, promotes a fruitarian diet that he’s lived on for a few decades and trained atheletes on (and they were wildly successful); one of his recommendations is to eat about 2% of your total calories from tender leafy vegetables (romaine, spinach, chard, lambsquarters, purslane, etc.). A head of romaine is about 50 calories, which meets the 2% mark of 2,000 calories. Again, it’s not that hard, either.
Fruitarians eat many different kinds of raw foods, be it cacao nibs, nuts, leafy greens, sprouts or sweet root vegetables; the reason they’re called fruitarian is just because the bulk of their calorie intake is fruit.
Furthermore, very few fruitarians I know eat a whole lot of apples. I mean, they aren’t exactly native to our naked-ape bright-color-loving habitat.
Some plants surround their seeds with pulpy sweetness wrapped in bright colors to tempt animals to eat them,
Which animals, Keith? Which animals are tempted by bright colors instead of the succulent smell of sweetgrass or the fascinating movement of prey? Which animals adore sweet carbohydrates from day one? Don’t dance around the subject.
… and, in the eating, to carry the seeds to new, potentially fertile ground.
Oh, wow. Lierre Keith has no idea how fruit trees work, does she.
I’ve taken care of orchards and fruit trees—I grew up around them. There are only a few kind of trees that bear seed that can be dispersed like this, and humans don’t eat a whole lot of them.
At least with apples, most of the fruit lands back on the ground; animals actually eat relatively little of the fruit from trees, even in wilderness. Much of the time the windfall ferments and crows, bears and flying insects eat some of it. But inevitably, the majority returns to the soil. It doesn’t even make sense for apples to spread seeds via animal dispersal in most cases—a lot of the time, the whole fruit rolls away from the tree as a windfall and takes root there.
The seeds of fruit trees are dispersed in many, many ways, unlike the simplistic method Keith describes here. They can scatter via heavy rain flow in very wet areas; they can roll downhill and away. Some, like blackberries, become “groves” similar to aspens.
Animals do the work that plants can’t do, rooted as they are to one spot: find a possible place for their young to grow.
Except that the rate of “success” is very, very low. An individualistic propagation-oriented way of looking at the natural world will be necessarily incomplete and ignorant because of exactly this: clearly, a tree’s seeds are not all supposed to sprout. It makes more sense to view it as a communal, semi-symbiotic approach (i.e. ecosystemic): the propagation of a tree is valuable, but not as valuable as ensuring the health of the ecosystem and limited area the tree is in right now.
Lierre Keith, the world is not as species-centric as you seem to think it is.
The first problem is that humans don’t plant those seeds. We discard them. We consciously remove the core to avoid the seeds and then throw them away—”away” in industrial nations meaning sealed in a plastic bag that gets entombed in a landfill.
I agree, this is a very bad thing, but in my experience, most vegans recognize the ecological and ethical problems of landfills. So if the vegans Lierre Keith has been talking to don’t know this, then they aren’t very observant in the first place, and actually kind of bordering on wilfull ignorance. Which, I guess, would make them wonderful conversion targets for Keith. I will point out again, though, that most of the seeds wouldn’t have been planted and sprouted anyway.
Or factories squeeze or chop the fruit for us, rendering it into juice or McPies, dumping the peels and pulp and seeds nowhere near a nice pile of manure in a clearing.
1. McPies? Are you shitting me? What “vegetarians” has Keith been talking to?
2. Since she’s making this entire assumption off of the basis of fruitarians, I must remind you that fruitarians don’t eat either “McPies” or store-bought fruit juices, which are pasteurized and therefore not raw. Most fruitarians make their own fruit juice. Not all fruitarians drink fruit juice at all, though.
3. A “nice” pile of manure is anything but. What kind of “clearings” is she talking about here? Are they animal-farming pastures which keep the animals imprisoned in too small a space to actually wander and their shit to spread, as is natural?
If Lierre Keith wants to pull this shit about how plant foods are so ~unnatural~ and barf, then the requirement is for her to not support something unnatural herself—like a pile of manure that kills plant life underneath and nearby and which never occurs in nature.
Or, if we’re extra eco-righteous…
If you can’t feel the vitriol from that statement, you need reading comprehension lessons.
… we throw the seeds on the compost heap, where time, heat and bacteria kill them. One goal of any good compost scheme, after all, is to kill any lingering seeds.
So, compost is morally wrong. Piles of manure are perfectly right. This is getting really bizarre. Definitely feeling some of that “confusion” she warned us about earlier.
None of this is what the tree had in mind.
Most seeds from a tree don’t sprout in the first place, and you’d realize that this very fact invalidated your entire point right here. Clearly, trees can’t be making a mistake when only two out of several hundred seeds, if that, will ever sprout or grow into maturity.
And furthermore, fuck this hypocritical bullshit! Being penned up in an unnatural habitat was never what animals intended. Being unnaturally bred, trapped and killed for food was never what animals intended. Being eaten by a fucking delusional frugivore is definitely never what animals intended. But this is just fucking peachy with Keith.
The fuck, you’re not allowed to use an argument that contradicts your own ideology more than the one you’re trying to argue against!
The tree isn’t offering sweetness out of the goodness of its heartwood. It’s striking a bargain, and even though we’ve shaken hands and collected, we aren’t carrying through on our side of the deal.
1. We aren’t natural here. Any ecological “contract” an apple tree would have must be entirely only with animals actually indigenous to the region.
2. Nature. Is. Not. Capitalist. ^&$%*!
3. It’s interesting that Keith believes she knows what a tree “wants,” which of course is drawn from a highly reductionist view of biology and evolution instead of actual observation and an understanding of nuance.
This is a form of what’s called “magical thinking,” which is common to those with eating disorders. It can, and usually does, take the form of, “If I eat more than 400 calories, something bad will happen OR I am wrong, evil and ugly.” However, it can also take the form of, as here, “If I eat the fruit from this tree, I am agreeing to a deal with it.”
It also has some sociopathic applications: “If I feed, shelter and protect this individual, they are accepting my entitlement to the use and/or consumption of their body.”
There’s a glaring anthropocentrism in this argument…
OH DEAR SWEET POTATOES IT BURNS!
I can’t deal with this much projection, hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness all at once. I’m going to go eat some oranges to see if it repairs my brain. If I don’t come back, clearly my spine fell apart on the floor from my EXTREME DIET. ‘Til next time, folks!