Nature is an ecoterrorist!

Posts tagged ‘the vegetarian myth’

Keith’s Myth: Same Dysfunctional Thing, Different Name

We’re on page 24. I’m going to skip past Keith waxing poetic about how blissful human privilege in a human supremecist society is and go straight back to the apples. (What is with her and apples?)

The fruit tree gives me my food and I give back the seeds to nature so other trees can grow. The last time I ate an apple, I counted. There were ten seeds. Set aside for a moment that those seeds won’t produce edible apples … [script emph]

We just got through several pages in which Keith details how she “needs” to use animal products to grow a garden, and specifically how she “needs” to farm animals in order to do so. It’s hypocritical of her at this point to insist that compost cannot be considered as “giving the seeds back to the Earth so that other trees can grow.” This is a tactic people use when their argument rests on very, very thin grounds—they take the extreme literalist route, because it’s easier to argue against and because it sounds more convincing, even though it’s not nearly as truthful or accurate.

I like to jab at her, but at least I admit that’s what it is: jabs. I cannot bring myself to deliberately misinterpret her words for my actual arguments, because that would be a) unsatisfying, b) not fun, and c) not nearly as powerful as the argument I could make. So, for you pseudo- and anti-feminists out there, yeah, I really do believe Keith’s behavior is similar enough to sexual abuse to be compared. Go watch your rape porn and cry about it.

The author clearly yearns for food—for a life—based on reciprocity, not exploitation, and he believes that plants count as partners, as participants.

Keith, on the other hand, knows this is false. She starved herself and called it “veganism”; how could anyone do anything else while vegan? Obviously, the only real way to survive is to use animals as property, even though in Massachusetts she could easily get a hunting license and travel up into Canada to kill several elk and/or deer and eat their bodies. She clearly has the money—according to her, she eats a lot of grass-fed beef and dairy, and that shit ain’t cheap.

Additionally, it’s telling that she never once contacted the author to find out if it was true. Most fruitarians like their trees, but that hardly means they’re delusional enough to attribute first-person experience of life to them.

Having included them in the “us” of sentience and agency, he can’t just take. He needs to know that he is giving back, part of a circle of exchange, instead of the one-way extraction that he identifies as death.

1. “The fruit tree gives me my food and I give back the seeds to nature so other trees can grow,” doesn’t imply sentience and agency. Come on, Keith, reading comprehension.

2. “… that he identifies as death.” We know that’s not true, because Keith farms animals and she says it’s not a one-way exchange—she loves the animals she owns uses traps takes care of! Only Keith’s lifestyle isn’t a “one-way exchange,” you see, because, um… HEY YOU’RE ANTHROPOCENTRIC.

That’s really the only feasible argument she’s giving me here, and that’s pretty damn sad.

But it also reflects the ignorance. He doesn’t know that apples eat, and what they eat is animals, including us. They need our excrement—the nitrogen, the minerals, the microbes—and our flesh and bones.

In actuality, this reflects Keith’s ignorance. I debunked the animal-requirement myth she’s presenting here in the last few installments—I’m not going to go over it again.

But I do want to harp, again, on two things: first, that she doesn’t actually give the trees her excrement—she insists on owning animals for that, even though there is no fucking way that animal products make up a really significant portion of the world’s topsoil. Second, she accuses others of ignorance all willy-nilly when the answer is out there for the taking—all you have to do is have a hunger for knowledge, real knowledge, and not merely take the easy way out. In a society that desperately wants to believe that domination and subordination are natural and necessary, the easy way out will always be the first answer you get.

There is a reciprocal relationship between animals and plants: predator and prey, until the prey becomes predator.

One of the basic concepts of “prey” is that, if you are eaten, you die. Your life—all of it, not just your fruits or a part of it—ends because someone else wants to eat you. I’m fine with that. But clearly, the “predator/prey” relationship that Keith is asserting between animals and plants looks nothing like the actual predator/prey relationship between wild animals. As such, I’m going to argue that Keith is wrong—that these relationships are not the same because they do not mean the same things for the participants.

Prey cannot generally lose a limb and survive, not just because of bloodloss and inhibited movement but because of the shock that sets in to avoid pain. Plants can, though. Losing a limb does not mean the same thing to plants that it does to animals—not from an objective or subjective viewpoint.

False equivalence is one of my pet peeves. Just because you say it is the same thing doesn’t mean it actually is the same thing; you have to describe how those things behave in the same ways in order for your argument to be valid.

It is only our attempt to remove themselves from that cycle that destroys it.

And what Keith chooses to do is exactly that: farming.

By farming, she shields herself from every aspect of a predator’s life. She doesn’t have to hunt, to practice, to learn to chase and climb and strike quickly with your teeth, and as such she doesn’t have to face the reality that humans aren’t predators at all—we’re bad at it, yo: our bodies say so. Even the fucking Masai have to train themselves up to catching gazelles. She doesn’t have to face starvation as a fact of life if she can’t hunt well enough—there is no failure rate, because her property can’t get away from her. She doesn’t have to face her own sociopathy—she can just ignore the fact that predators do not typically kill those they love, even if they are “prey animals.”

I ain’t gonna claim that grain farming isn’t self-deluded too, especially in that it provides a similar sense of security. I am gonna claim that the defense of grain farming isn’t usually made on the basis that humans naturally eat grains and that they have nutrients we can’t survive without. I am gonna claim that grains don’t experience being used as property because they simply don’t have the hardware for it.

Keith criticizes grains and then does the same damn thing, except with actual people who can actually experience betrayal and pain and horror, all the while pretending that she’s not farming because… something. I don’t know. She’s merely implied this entire time that it’s not the same thing by bitching about one kind of farming as though it is the only kind there is, and therefore she does not belong in the same category.

There’s more ignorance. He doesn’t know that seeds are alive.

Keith is again the one who’s ignorant here, and in fact she’s gesticulating rapidly at a row of dark iron kettles. Seeds are not necessarily alive; they only become “alive” once they germinate. They can be fertile, but one of the defining characteristics of life is that it requires metabolic energy expenditures. And one of the reasons that plants are considered “plants” and not, say, animals or fungi is that plants can lay dormant—in winter, in seed—without actually dying. Hibernation in animals is similar, but not the same, because animals still use energy the entire time they’re hibernating—that’s why bears stuff themselves and get luxuriously fat in the fall; because they’re going to be using that energy the entire time they’re in hibernation.

Seeds are not alive. Plants, in winter, are not technically alive. They can remain that way virtually indefinitely as long as they don’t have to deal with any physical or environmental damage.

I knew I was going to have to give a Biology 101 class here, but I was really hoping I wouldn’t need to. Dammit, fuckheads, love life and knowledge enough to never be satisfied with this kind of half-assery.

Since killing is the sacrilege in this moral system, he can’t acknowledge that in actuality he’s eating something alive.

Uh… maybe you need to familiarize yourself with what raw foodists and fruitarians really think.

For those who think that this might actually be true, allow me to burst your bubble. One of the basic reasons that most raw foodists will not eat animal products and instead stick specifically to plant foods is that they want to eat “living foods.” That’s actually another name for raw foodism—a “diet of living foods.” This is not metaphorical. All you need to do is Goodsearch “living foods” and pick damn near any page. Raw foodists and fruitarians specifically choose to eat produce because it is living.

Therefore killing itself, death itself, cannot be a moral wrong in a world of raw foodism. Ergo, Keith’s entire argument here has just been completely nullified. It didn’t have to be. She could have avoided this weakness in her position with just seconds of research—so score another one for honestly searching for information.

There is a relationship of reciprocity built into the human-apple exchange, but it’s not about humans planting their seeds.


Well, even assuming that there’s a “human-apple exchange” in the first place. I’ll repeat myself again: humans have not evolved to actually survive without a crutch in the climate and territory where apples naturally grow. There can be no biological “contract” between two creatures that never evolved around each other—because that “contract” usually takes the form of an ecosystem, and if you don’t have a place within the ecosystem, if you can’t survive within it without the use of technology and shelter and civilization, then you can’t be part of the contract.

It’s about humans grafting, planting, and tending the trees and extending their territory.

So the way to fight civilization, agriculture and colonization of the Earth is:

I. Civilization to allow us to go into areas we aren’t adapted to.

II. Agricultural cultivation of those species.

III. Colonizing the Earth with those species (and ourselves, of course) under the banner of “fulfilling the human-apple exchange.”


I was under the impression that one of the most basic parts of radical feminism is the rejection of colonization—of women’s bodies by men, of other countries, of other cultures, straight down to the fundamental idea that humans have the right to the entire planet. How is it that Lierre Keith misses this? How is it that Lierre Keith can be a radical feminist while at the same time believing that nature is inherently colonizing? That colonization is one of its fundamental behaviors? I’m not begging the question. I’m really confused here.

Fuck. Fuck, my brain is broken. Fuck, ow, I think she just gave me a stupidity-induced aneurysm. MEDIC!

Savage Rabbit will be able to come back later, once zie feels better and gets some chamomile in zir. Please accept this adorable picture of a bunny as compensation for the inconvenience. – Aslan

Keith’s Myth: On Cold Nights Like This, Hate Keeps Me Warm

I’m going to assume you followed the link here from my last post on The Vegetarian Myth. Good. Because this is what abuse is. This is exactly what Lierre Keith describes. This is the mindset of incestuous parents, of child-molesters, and you do not get to tell me that it’s different, because abuse is defined by behavior, and all behavior that follows that pattern of abuse is abuse. But some abuses have characteristics unique to them. Enormous trigger warning is enormous.

Incest is often said to be one of the worst betrayals, but not for the reason people believe it is. People mistake a “parent-child bond” as something sacred and special when really it is the most basic of animal instincts, the root of a family, the root of a community, the root of a herd, the root of a pack, the root of Stockholm syndrome, the root of loyalty, the root of comrades-in-arms. It’s this: when you live around someone, when you have a lot of contact with someone, you bond to them. Toucans will offer their captors morsels of food; a beaten dog will revel in an ear-scratch; a hunched-over, mutilated child will insist they love their father.

Beyond anything, you will come to love those you live with. This is not a magic-ball prediction, a prayer or a wish: this is a commandment. This is the way the world works. This is the single instinct inherent to being an animal, something that goes beyond false distinctions of “wild” and “domesticated,” beyond “human” and “animal,” beyond “predator” and “prey.” It is truth. It is survival. It is the single most powerful force in a living organism—not the desire to live, but the desire to be social. To be accepted. For your life to be harmonious.

It’s not seen often in “wild” animals because, ultimately, one of the ways that civilization facilitates and causes abuse is that it gives hurt and comfort the same four walls to live within. But take a wild animal and place them within four walls. Do not allow them to escape. Do not allow any other animal around them, especially not those of the same species. Feed them. Shelter them. Touch them. They will accept you and love you and love your touch and your presence.

This is not attributable to any virtue of yours. You are a monster.

One of the ways you have become a monster is that you have deliberately forgotten what you have done to them and what you are going to do to them, shoved it away in favor of their acceptance and love of you. You use them as property and pretend that the fact that you “love” them makes this untrue. You use their love of you to justify using them as property. You fucking corrupt love with your lies, your justifications, and your willful ignorance of the fact that “love” automatically excludes betrayal. You’re a monster.

When Aslan was eight and constantly skipping school, zie won a contest by getting straight As for two weeks in a row. But because zie was a “troublemaker,” the school officials gave the prize—a trip—to the next student down. Who did Aslan go crying to? Who did Aslan open zemself to?

It wasn’t zeir brother. It wasn’t zeir cousin. It was the monster raping zem with broomsticks; it was the monster selling them to pedophiles for $4,000 a day to support her spending habit. It was zeir mother. Zie came and cried to zeir mother, not because she was good, not because she was trustworthy, but because she was there. And because animal psychology does not know how to account for the abuse that civilization has created.

You’ll have chickens, too, and ducks, geese, guineas. They’ll eat the bugs. You’ll eat the fruit, the eggs, the meat. They’ll accept you—come to you for help and cuddle sessions—and you’ll love them.

Aslan. My best friend. My life partner, zie read this paragraph and zie said to me, “Oh my god, that triggers me. That reminds me so much of [Kelly].” Zie said:

My mother once beat me so bad when I was eleven that we had to go to the hospital. When we came home she apologized to me about causing me so much pain, and how she shouldn’t have exploded at me. I asked why she beat me if she was always so sorry, if this was the way she thought to treat children than I was never having a child because I would refuse to be like her. She said this:

“One day you’ll be old enough and have had children and you’ll see how silly that was for you to say. You’ll see that you have to hurt your children even though they’ll come to afterwards to cry about their pain. It’s what having a child means.”

Lierre Keith, like Kelly, justifies her betrayal of others with “the circle of life” instead of being a parent. She knows someday she will die, and decides that in the meantime she will steal what someone else’s life could have—should have been. She tells us she “accepts death,” but that she would rather be an oppressor than die. That she would rather be an oppressor than actually question what it means to make property out of others, and what it would mean to eat enough fruit.

She looks at how they come back to her for affection, again and again, and concludes that what she’s doing isn’t so bad. They accept her. They love her. Unawares of nature and the centrality of emotion to all things, she decides that their love redeems her.

Their love redeems her, the monster willing to and capable of betraying that love.

This is the story of every abuser I have ever heard, and of everyone abused. You keep going back because they are there, and because you have no choice, and because it is less painful to try to not love them while you are living with them than it is to give into your instincts. It is easier to ignore your fear and the creeping, bones-out distrust of them and give them a hug than it is to refuse. Inside four walls it is easier to have no self and fulfill your social instincts than it is to have a self and live alone.

That’s not a justification. It’s a condemnation of anyone willing to take advantage of that vulnerability of soul, of that animal instinct.

Only a monster says, “They still love me,” and uses it as an excuse.

And that is what Lierre Keith is, through and through. This thoughtless, self-indulgent excuse for an excuse has nothing to do with truth and the sharing of knowledge and everything to do with rationalizing abuse and betrayal. She uses the same excuses that my mother did in carrying out her warfare against me, the same excuses Kelly used to keep selling and raping and beating Aslan, the same excuses every child-raping soulless piece of shit has ever used.

They come to her for help and cuddle sessions.

Fucking monster.

Keith’s Myth: For the Love of Pele, Compost!

We’re on page 21 now and still not through with compost larnins.

Globally, phosphorous is available in extremely limited quantities. “Next to clean water,” writes Bill Mollison, “phosphorous will be one of the inexorable limits to human occupancy on this planet.” It exists in sedimentary rock. I didn’t put rocks in the same category of animals: I didn’t mind using them.

Homigosh—anthropocentrism! How dare Lierre Keith judge inanimate objects by human standards!

(Yes, I’ll get to the point in a minute. I just couldn’t pass up that jab.)

The problem was getting them. They had to be quarried—mined—then ground up, and transported. Without vast amounts of fossil fuels, would that even be possible? … I asked the question, and hated the answer.

“Bone meal from land animals is a traditional source, and most farms (up to 1940) kept a flock of pigeons as their source. Or I could theoretically get it from “seabirds and salmon [who] do try to recycle it back to us but we tend to reduce their numbers by denying them breeding grounds.”

Keith asked the question, but she asked it of the wrong person, and she didn’t go looking for any other answer.

Let me tell you a little story about pee that I learned when I was just a youngin from my Horrible Science books.

In the Medieval ages, human piss was supposed to be a lot of things. Non-human piss was, too. If you bathed in the pee of a prepubescent boy, you could cure some diseases (supposedly), and so too with the piss of other animals. It was also a big thing used in alchemy, beauty products, etc. etc. What can you expect? I don’t really remember, but I’m pretty sure all of them were dying of mercury poisoning.

Anyway, so some dudes got a bunch of human pee together in barrels and promptly forgot them for a couple months. They came back to find that the barrels that used to be full of pee were now not-so-full of some strange, faintly-glowing substance. OMFG IT WAS MAGIC.

Except not—it was phosphorous.

That’s right, folks. You can get phosphorous from pee, and you don’t even have to let it ferment inside your house. Just designate a plastic cup or something as “the pee cup,” and take it out to your compost pile and pour it on top. It will also keep centipedes from breeding in your heap, as I’ve mentioned before.

Sounds disgusting, you say? Unsanitary? I fucking dare you to even try to explain how completely, 100% sterile fresh pee is “unsanitary,” but manure, blood and bones isn’t. Chop, chop, now—I’m a busy genderqueer, and I can’t wait around forever.

Anyway, here are some more phun phacts about phosphorous:

– Phosphorous actually appears in nature, and at night can be seen glowing. It’s called “foxfire,” and it usually occurs because of decomposing trees and mushrooms (not necessarily decomposing).

– Many animal species use phosphorous as a cold bio-flourescence system.

– Phosphorous is extremely inflammable—and its catalyst is oxygen. It burns real fuckin’ hot and real fuckin’ fast. Don’t expose pure phosphorous to air or you won’t be around to witness the fireworks.

– Because of that potential for explosion, during World War II phosphorous was actually used for bombs—basically just lumps of a volatile phosphorous compound. My great-grandfather, who lived in a small German village during the war (well, he was German, after all) managed to save his house by actually picking up the phosphorous bombs and tossing them out—even though they could have gone off at any second. That’s badass, seriously, stories are awesome.

The problem isn’t that Keith asked the question; it’s that she asked the question and, after the initial, incorrect answer, she didn’t keep asking it.

And then there was K, potassium, available in ash, bones, urine, manure and some cover crops.

… “Some cover crops?” Potassium exists in all fruits and vegetables, ever. When eating 811, I generally get about twice as much potassium as the RDA, which might explain why you feel so goddamn energetic—potassium is one of the primary electrolytes your body’s nervous system uses in order to make its synapses fire.

Compost. Why do I have to keep repeating this? FOR THE LOVE OF PELE, COMPOST ALREADY.

I could pretend I’d find a supply of ash—woodstoves being as ubiquitous as maple trees in western Massachusetts …

Wait, “pretend”? If they’re that ubiquitous and ash was that easy to find and obtain, why would you need to “pretend” you’d find it? If you weren’t getting it from compost or carnism, wouldn’t you be getting it from the woodstoves? Because it’s necessary?

—and grow some cover crops, but I think by the time I got to K I was to intellectually exhausted to bother.

Ah. Because it would have been inconvenient. And/or she was running much too low on carbohydrates for her brain to function. Starvation’ll do that to ya—always make sure you get at least 1,800 calories every day! Minimum, not “around there.” Your brain needs carbohydrates to function properly, or it’ll start converting protein into carbohydrates to get the energy it needs.

Calcium is always a limiting factor in the soil. When the calcium is gone, growth stops. And again, the calcium would come from … [script ellipses]

… GREEN PLANTS? You know, since green plants are where the animals got all the calcium for their bones? Since it is physically impossible for animal bones to provide the calcium in the soil for more than even 2% of the world’s dirt? Since, you know, plants outnumber animals by an outrageous amount? Since, you know, we are QUESTIONING THINGS HERE, not merely taking the self-serving, easy answer?

Yeah, you know what Keith’s answer was: I should raise animals and kill them myself!

Or would I learn the grammar of my great-grandparents, and feed the trees with the bones of animals that lived beside me?

Now that is some vegan pioneering, right there.

I’m going to ask this honestly, because clearly she didn’t start doing this until well into the 90s (she only started eating meat in 2000, according to her timeline): why not build a farm sanctuary? You can take care of the farm refugees, love them, not exploit them, and then “return their bodies to the earth” in a way that wouldn’t actually require, you know, owning and dominating them?

Page 23.

The standard narrative of Man the Hunter was repugnant to me, with its biological determinism, its celebration of dominance, violence, rape, death.

Oh, my. I don’t even know what to say about this hypocrisy.

I rejected the assertion that hierarchy was inevitable, that the Cosmos had chosen humans as the pinnacle, that men had to be men. And I like to believe I’d have rejected this propaganda just as firmly if I were a man, though I know that privileges of power make that less likely.

Given how willing Keith was to accept a “nice” form of exploitation, proving that no, she hasn’t rejected this assertion, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that she’s actually perfectly fine with power/dominance as long as she’s in power, and as long as she doesn’t have to face the fact that it is power/dominance no matter how “lovingly” she owns them.

I don’t think that it’s productive to make these kind of what-if tales, especially since they’re clearly not true. Had I been born into a more prestigious place in life—say, born Aryan, or balls-out rich, or whatever—I don’t think I would have ever given up my power. Because my primary driving force has always been personal—if my family had not so soundly rejected me once I rejected the kyriarchy, if I had not been running my entire life to find a way to be someone different from my narcissistic mother and passive-aggressive, enabling father, I don’t think I ever would have gotten to this point. But then, here’s the thing: I can never know. What has happened has happened. Aslan will never know what would have happened if zeir fiance hadn’t killed herself, or if zeir mother hadn’t been a fucking pedophile.

We just don’t know. And acknowledging the ambiguousness of your own “goodness” is a vital part of maturity—because you’re just like anyone else: if part of your life had gone differently, you’d be just like Keith. Self-deceptive, self-indulgent, self-obsessed and willing to take the easy way out—a 180 worldview shift—instead of honestly and carefully modifying her behavior to see if she had been doing it wrong.

At a groovy Earth Day gathering, a line of costumed dancers was supposed to represent the food chain, starting with plants and ending with humans. But it doesn’t end with us, I kept insisting … What about the scavengers, the coyotes, the carrion birds? What about the insects, the maggots, the bacteria? We’re not at the end because it’s not a line, and if it ends anywhere it’s with the degraders feeding the producers. We’re just a juicy snack.

Correct. In natural circumstances, we’re not any different than a lemur or a bonobo: a juicy snack to a predator, another person to anyone else.

Keith continues on in this vein, saying that we’re eaten as well as eaters, but she keeps sidestepping the one, fundamental problem with her argument here: she. is. farming. She thinks that herding/farming is natural when it’s a system entirely created by artifice—but because there’s no factory farm, she refuses to see the walls, the fence, the pinning down, the rapist breathing down your neck. None of it exists because she has never gone beyond carnism, she’s just modified it to suit her whims.

Yes, in nature this is how it is. But Keith refuses to acknowledge that humans have put in a lot of energy to stop that from happening for precisely the same reason she farms animals instead of solely hunting them: they don’t want to face the fact that this may fail, that they can starve, that they might go home hungry, that they can disappear from the Earth and no one except those they loved will ever know they were gone.

This is one of the reasons I am primitivist—because I don’t want to change the Earth outside of the small community I live within. I don’t want to carve gashes into the side of the rock. I want to pass on and away, because as farming animals is stealing the free, untrapped lives they would have had, so too is marking the Earth stealing from all creatures—all those who can experience their lives—coming after me. It’s stealing from their quality of life, from their own richness, from their own awesomeness. Stealing an object is entirely different and, depending on the circumstances, neutral or good. Stealing from someone’s life never is. I don’t want to be like Keith—a sexual abuser, pinning down my victim so I can feel out places to kill them inside and out, benefiting from the fact that they can’t fight back, that they can’t get away from me.

But I had to accept death before I could take my place.

Funny, that. Looks like she only felt the need to accept the death of others before she got to take what she’s now justifying as rightfully hers by necessity.

I wish I could go back ten years and tell my younger self: the day will come when you have a flock of pigeons, and you’ll spread their manure and bury their dead among the berries and apples. And you’ll cry when you do it, but not just because it’s sad. Because it’s holy and it’s been done well.

You know how I keep saying that domination, the kyriarchy, is a religion?…

Page 24.

You’ll have chickens, too, and ducks, geese, guineas. They’ll eat the bugs. You’ll eat the fruit, the eggs, the meat. They’ll accept you—come to you for help and cuddle sessions—and you’ll love them.

I’ll get to how completely unnatural it is for a predator to do this—and why no predator will ever do this—later.

For now, I want to ask: why this choice? Why farming? Why exploitation? Why betrayal? Why sociopathy? Why objectification?

Keith lives in Massachusetts—I pegged it; I saw the picture of her and pegged the foliage to either the Pacific Northwest or the northern East Coast—where deer, elk and moose abound. Why not hunt? Why not, as I suggested before, make a rescued animal sanctuary, take care of the animals who have been used up, instead of trying to use them up instead? Instead of being the molestor’s ingratiating, pretend-friendly, poisonous hand?

There’s a post up on Unpopular Vegan Essays entitled On Ex-Vegans. Now, we know that Lierre Keith was not vegan, but it’s still valuable when he writes:

As a way to activate the smoke alarm on the “failure to thrive” health nonsense, ask ex-vegans and non-vegans if they are still vegan except for the particular animal product(s) in the particular quantity that they cannot thrive without. I have asked this question to many who plea “failure to thrive”, and while I have received many different responses (usually some version of avoidance or silence), I have not yet received the response “Yes, I’m vegan except for that.”

If such ex-vegans are serious and genuine about a “failure to thrive”, we should expect them to continue veganism in every other way they are reasonably able, and to continue to fully support the ethical reasons and environmental benefits they previously did. If they do, and they are genuine and sincere about their health issues, and consume limited, prescribed quantities of animal products with the strong reservation that a person who was prescribed a highly undesirable medicine took the medicine, I see no reason why they should announce that they are no longer vegan. Inherent in the concept of veganism – the way genuine abolitionist vegans define it – is reasonableness: Vegans avoid using or consuming animal products to the greatest extent reasonably possible.

While I’m almost certain that, based on significant reading of materials written by experts in nutrition science, absolutely no animal products are necessary for any human to thrive, I could believe in the sincerity of someone who embraces veganism in their lives as much as they believe they possibly can, even if they consume some “limited, prescriptive amount of certain animal products” with the regret and reservation of someone who undergoes a painful treatment to maintain their health. Sadly, I have yet to see one case among ex-vegans that would even remotely fit this description. What we have is not a failure to thrive, but a failure to justify.

Why farm animals? Why not hunt? I think hunting is fucked-up even so, but you gotta admit, it’s a helluva lot closer to the predator/prey relationship Keith thinks humans have with other animals than it is to the sexually-abusive-parent/child relationship she’s actually describing. There is exactly no reason to promote this kind of unhealthy, abusive relationship with animals, especially since she’s clearly moneyed enough to afford a garden, an orchard, a house, and to replace animals when their production rate goes down too much to justify keeping them around—especially since, while she may not be sex-selecting the pigeons, I damn well bet you she’s buying replacement hens and geese because she wants to eat the damn eggs.

This is what makes me believe Keith has no actual interest in fighting domination/subordination. Because there are ways she could survive without farming animals, ways to leave more of it up to nature, and she’s not taking that route.

Additionally, she clearly doesn’t think that fruits and vegetables are poison if she has a garden, so it’s not like she’d only be subsisting off of whoever she hunts. Though I gotta say, apples and berries are a pretty damn poor selection, given that they grow peaches up in WA and peaches are definitely closer to the fruits native to our actual, tropical environment. So what the hell is the problem with eating lots of fruit?

What is wrong with this person? Why does she come to anything that even seems like an answer and then just stop there? Where’s the fun in that?

Speaking of, I need a little fun myself, and while hilariously bad, this isn’t cutting it. See you next time!

Keith’s Myth Fails at Psychology

Let’s see… something interesting, something interesting… Hmmm… She thinks fungi are animals!

Did the lives of nematodes and fungi matter? Why not? … Because they were on the other side of an intellectual Maginot Line of us/them? But I was supposed to be one of the brave ones who refused to draw that line, who didn’t put humans above animals in a hierarchy…

Nematodes, humans, fungi. One of these things does not belong in a classification with the others. (Psst: nematodes are animals. So are humans.)

Soapbox time again: outside of humans fucking them over, I don’t really care about the lives of animals. Sure, I wish them well in a sort of abstract way, and I love the animals I’m friends with, but really, it’s just not any of my business. I absolutely reject the idea that humans are entitled to meddle—that’s how we got into this mess in the first place, after all.

One of the fundamental tenets of animal rights is that animals have sovereignty. They have the right to be left alone. Humans should not fuck with them, ever, at all, because we do not have the right to; we can interact on an individual/individual basis, but other than that, butt the fuck out.

In this way, my lack of caring for the lives of animals not impacted by humans in any way (not that there are many of those left. Thanks, human supremecism!) is a measure of my respect for them. Part of the legacy of human supremecy as an ideology has been that, because humans are better than anything ever, they have the right and the obligation to “save” animals—whether or not they like it. Of course, almost all of our attempts to “save” animals get botched and make things worse, and they’re always precipitated by something we fucked up in the first place. Humans are just dumb, yo, and the arrogance to believe that we can get a grip on this just makes us dumber—like a four-year-old who found the keys to a caustic chemicals lab. Thing is, we just don’t get it, and one of the benefits of evolution is that complexity can occur in practice without ever having to actually, you know, try to design it.

I’m not a savior. I understand that Keith sees herself as one (first to the oppressed, now to vegans), but I just can’t. I don’t get to care about the lives of nematodes because it’s fucking presumptuous and insulting of me to assume that my care would really matter, that it’s something that they (in their poor, deficient, non-human little lives) would really suffer without.

We are currently seriously fucking over billions of fucking animals worldwide, imprisoning them on a massive fucking scale. I care about that because if I do not, then I am tacitly supporting that oppression.

It’s not my place to care. I get no say. As long as one of my own isn’t screwing with them, they are perfectly capable of managing their own lives. And if one of my own species is—well, they best check themselves ‘fore I get there.

That’s complexity. That’s capacity. That’s humility. That’s knowledge.

… who reverenced the natural world…

I don’t “reverence” the natural world; that separates me and my actions from their direct impact on the natural world. You “reverence” something you’re exploiting when you’re trying to hide it—hunters have a “reverence” for their victims, and I’m sure Keith has a “reverence” for the animals she imprisons and later kills. Men “reverence” women when they don’t actually want to treat women like people. White USians “reverence” Native Americans and their cultures when they don’t actually want to stop fucking genociding them. Get in line, Keith.

I am impressed by nature. I am enthralled by it. I am awestruck by its complexity, something that goes beyond the black-and-white issues of LYFE AND DEFF. But I do not hold myself apart from it, so there’s no need for me to have “reverence” for it. That’s othering, right fuckin’ there.

… and all capital-H Her creatures.

Not comfortable with this. I have serious problems with idolizing women on the basis of their uterus and supposed ability to give birth in the first place; it doesn’t make it any better when you combine it with a derivative of monotheism, parent-owner status, and the obliteration of all the smaller ecosystems in the world.

One of the ideas that supports human supremecism is that the Earth and Nature is a monolithic mass. It’s not. Ecosystems are more like individual communities, countries even, and while they work together in a very limited way to sustain the atmosphere and the like, that doesn’t mean they are All One.

Part of “othering” is imagining the group you’re othering to be a monolithic mass—not like you, someone who’s an individual.

Page 19. Keith still refuses to believe that veganism is more complex and intense than the pale, anemic crap she swallowed. She also believes that humic acid is a “creature of mystery, very much alive,” because a scientist she quoted earlier says that it acts like a living creature. Ecosystems do, too, when looked at from far away. I am unimpressed by this distortion and lack of reading comprehension.

The soil wasn’t a thing, it was a million things, and they were alive.</blockquote?


Okay, seriously, I'm moving on now. It says more about her that she finds this so damning of her idea of "veganism" than it does about anyone else.

Page 20. Previously, she talked about NPK as a "Triple Goddess" of gardeners. Ugh, essentialist misogyny, again? When are people going to get that Gardner was a flagrantly sexist twit who made the "triple goddess" ideology—it actually doesn’t exist in pagan religions outside of your imposition—in order to safely and hygenically categorize women so that they were no longer threatening?

What did soil and plants eat [sic] and where would I get those substances? … Nitrogen was the big one. There are plants that fix nitrogen. Wasn’t that enough for my garden? Couldn’t it be? I begged. … No nitrogen-fixing plant could make up for all the nutrients I was taking out. The soil wanted manure. Worse, it wanted the inconceivable: blood and bones.

Hello? Compost?

There are a few things you need to know in order to realize why soil needing blood and bones is bullshit (lol).

1. I’ve done aquaculture and I fucking adore fish even though I don’t keep them anymore. One of the things you learn is that all organic substances break down into nitrates and nitrites—that is, nitrogen-containing molecules—and you need to know this because too much of some of them can actually poison the fish. Bacteria within a healthy aquaculture will transform fish poo, leftover food, and dead plant parts into relatively harmless nitrogen compounds, which can then be used by aqueous plants as sustenance.

All decomposing organic material breaks down into nitrogen compounds. Get thyself a good long-term compost heap—you don’t need blood and bones. Need phosphorous? Pee on it. (Seriously, it helps break it down and pee is sterile. Also keeps centipedes out of your heap.) Potassium is already present in plants—and much moreso in plants than in animal products.

If Keith had actually researched these things, she would’ve known better than to jump to that conclusion. Manure is primarily used because it’s quick, not because it’s better—same as grafting. If you want your compost heap to grow really, really quickly, go raw or high-raw for a month or two and toss every scrap of produce you have in the pile. You’ll wind up spending less on trash bags, too.

2. In order for the bacteria in the soil to require as much animal product as Keith believes, animals would have to die far more often in nature than they actually do. Blood and bones don’t plop down on every inch of soil even once every few months—especially when you’re considering insects as the most numerous animal species on the face of the Earth.

This is something fairly basic in evolution. For something to be evolved to, it has to have been consistently present throughout a long evolutionary period. This is why I don’t really buy it when people say humans need meat, eggs, dairy or honey because we evolved with it. If you actually look at humans’ capacity for hunting, and the viciousness of animals when you’re getting close to try to fuck with them, it’s not very plausible that humans would have gotten any of these things more than once a month at most, and more than a scrap even then.

Animals simply don’t die that often—and even if they did, it would be on the part of insects, and you’re better off getting “insect-friendly cultivation” going in your garden than you are using blood and bones. Which is a good idea. Do it. And question things, because Keith didn’t and look what I’m having to slog through now.

Manure, blood and bones are the easy answer for carnists, but unfortunately they’re not really truthful. But hey, why actually look at nature when you can get justification for the oppressions you participate in?

My garden wanted to eat animals, even if I didn’t.

I should really be taking notes on self-justification from this. Amazing, amazing. *golf clap*

I’m going to skip the rest of this half-assed “research” and get straight to the next egregious claim. Again, this should further cement the fact that Keith was a vegetarian, not a vegan:

It turned out I knew the woman who had owned the [dairy farm] goats and she was a decent person [sic]. Her animals would have been well cared for, indulged even.

Woooow. That is some rationalization, there.

FYI, this is why I’m an abolitionist, not a welfarist. No matter how nice the upholstery is, a gilded cage is a cage is a cage. And even so… what about the kids? Were they the ones in the fucking fertilizer? Did the humans fucking drag them away from their mothers? Has she ever met any of these goats kept on dairy farms? I have. They’re fucking traumatized. Touch-shy and too mild for goats—they’re scared of humans, all humans, even the goats used for “breeding.”

It’s easy to refuse to face abuse and its effects, but for someone who focuses on exploitation, quality of life, and real, meaningful freedom, abuse—terror, pain, despair, powerlessness, trauma, flashbacks, triggering, being trapped—is the salient aspect of all farming, including herding.

Hearing a carnist talk about “indulging” animals being used as property is just outright bizarre. How many reasons do you have to believe that’s actually true to the animal? And how few reasons do you have to actually develop some fucking perspective?

She mentions lettuce and tomatoes… I’m unsure if she ate anything else. Chica, eat a goddamn banana already! You’ll feel better!

Years later, I would have a discussion with an earnest young vegan.

How Nice.

“They take dead chicken parts and spread them on the fields.” His voice was shaking. He assumed I’d sympathize, that anyone with my politics would automatically be appalled. His eco-pure, non-violent, plant-based diet was being violated by the forces of evil, by death.

“Plants have to eat, too,” I tried to explain. “They need nitrogen, they need minerals. You have to replace what you’re taking out. Your choices are fossil fuels or animal products.”

“But—but—” Now his body was trembling as well as his voice. I knew what he wanted to say. It’s not true. It can’t be true. There’s a way out of death and I’ve found it.

“No,” was the only word he could come up with. Then he walked away.

Fuck. You. Lierre. Keith.

How are we supposed to know this is real, that this is what was actually going through his head? How are we supposed to know that any of this is true? How are we supposed to know that what we see here isn’t just more of Keith’s self-serving, insulting, arrogant, fucknecked projection onto others? Because it is. I am shaking with rage because of the way Lierre Keith treats everyone who doesn’t agree with her with condescension. Patronization.

She’s fine with not getting information. She’s fine with lying to him. She defends the use of animal products because she does it, herself, and she’s a fucking carnist too. She’s ignorant. She’s half-assed. The information is right out there in front of your face and she didn’t bother to turn and look because she still wanted to use animal products. And she never bothered to see him as he really is because that would break her ethical system right now, because right now Lierre Keith’s “ethical” system is based on the total caricature of all vegans and all animals and a distorted fantasyland delusion about plants and fungi and the rest of the fucking world.

Eruptions, what a fucking filthy person. The more I read this—the more I read the passages where Keith tries to portray herself in a sympathetic light—the more I really, really despise this person. She’s so fucking fake, condescending, ignorant, self-absorbed, uncritical, incurious and narcissistic I can barely stand it.


I’ll come back to this next time. My patience for this… this is wearing thin.

Keith’s Myth: Smug and Hostile

We’re still on page 16. Keith makes the argument that because she is not “smug and hostile,” despite the fact that she has repeatedly demonstrated the fact that yes, she is, we should treat her arguments as having more heft than most anti-vegans.

I know from experience that the issue of plants and their sentience is thrown at vegetarians by detractors all the time. I know how smug and hostile those detractors usually are.

What Keith doesn’t understand, though, is that her own contempt for veganism is shown by her consistent usage of the same simplistic, insulting arguments that those detractors use. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that I honestly don’t care how you say it—I’ve been known to laugh at insults directed at me if they were witty enough. If you give me a new argument, I will listen. I listened to anarchism and I looked around and observed that those anarchist criticisms of capitalism were right. I thought about anarchism and, even though I know that I, personally, and every person I know and love would vanish from the Earth this very instant if humans were to suddenly and magically return to a natural, primitivist state, you just gotta face the truth. A life where you don’t keep thinking about things is not a life worth living. It’s not interesting enough to keep living.

Keith believes that, since she tries to frame herself as not being smug or hostile despite her behavior, she should be taken more seriously than those other “detractors.” But the issue isn’t her tone (or rather, not just her tone). It doesn’t matter how nicely you speak gibberish if it’s still just gibberish—the content of the argument matters, and Keith isn’t making an argument significantly different from those other “detractors” she wants to be seen as separate from.

But ultimately, Keith sees vegans the same way as those “detractors” do: as ignorant, naive, and possibly “angry” and “unwilling to question their beliefs” if they don’t allow themselves to be persuaded by her. Like so:

I hear a plea in the words of vegetarians, a plea that borders on a prayer. Let me live without harm to others. Let my life be possible without death. [script emph.]

Keith sees herself as a savior. She wanted to save the world by becoming vegetarian, she wanted to “be an arrow into the heart of oppression”; now she’s decided that, because everyone is the same as her—again, she cannot conceptualize a vegan who holds beliefs different from hers—she needs to save the vegans, instead.

What is actually an inner mantra of, “Let’s figure out the best way for me to live my life so that I am true to what I believe is right and that I minimize the oppression of others this system forces upon us all,” a sort of self-promise or bargain—let me work together with me—Keith hears distorted and imagines it’s a prayer to her. To me, “I am responsible for the effects of my choices.” To her, “Help me, Keith. I don’t understand anything about nature and I am torturing myself over trying to change the world all on my own.” She doesn’t truly hear it because she doesn’t think anything reasonable, knowledgeable, and self-respecting can exist inside veganism: fundamentally, she does not respect vegans, or trust them when they say, “I’m quite sure this doesn’t hurt.”

The arrogance is simply astonishing.

Keith goes on to assert that because she’s grown apple trees, she knows what goes into them—apparently because she’s read the ingredients on the labels of organic fertilizer. (Note: fruit trees don’t actually need fertilizer with a good, veganic composting plan. I’d know—I’ve grown them, too.) “It’s not in my nature to skip the fine print,” she tells us, after repeatedly ignoring the fact that cellulose is not the only form of carbohydrate in the world, that lions and hyenas have vastly different gastrointestinal systems as compared to humans, that her own symptoms were indicative of simple caloric starvation than anything to do with her faux-vegan diet, and perhaps most importantly, that what you show is more important than what you say—that merely because you assert that you are not smug or condescending does not in any way detract from the smug and condescending behavior you have displayed, and that furthermore, asserting your lack of smugness and condescension does not entitle you to having your readers look the other way when you contradict such a declaration in almost every paragraph you write.

She continues on with the sob story. I’m not sure how this is supposed to prove anything at all—after all, I have sob stories of my own. I would be more lenient if it weren’t so clear Keith is trying to get us to sympathize with her in lieu of actually proving what she’s claimed. And even then, she continues with magical thinking:

There was knowledge that I sought, but then refused: I wasn’t the only one eating. The plants were hungry, too.

… ?

In my experience, people who animalize plants like this are the worst gardeners. I’m successful at gardening without having to simper about how plants are just like me. I love my plants, but I’m one of those people who won’t pet the corpse of one of my companion animals: there’s no point in it. They’re gone. Sentiment should be saved for those who can benefit from it.

In addition to that, plants don’t actually, uh, eat like that. They’re autophytic—they “eat” sunlight; they absorb water and the nutrients that have dissolved in that water through their roots and use it to reconfigure atoms and molecules into new leaves, buds, etc. Plants need nutrients from the soil—I’m not questioning that—but I think that calling this process “eating” is, first, an oversimplification that I wouldn’t expect from anyone with a large enough vocabulary to explain otherwise (and Keith is fifty or so—she damn well has that vocabulary) and second, a really cheap emotional tactic that won’t work here. All this simpering about how plants are hungry and whimper don’t you take pity on them whine they’re just like you moon eyes—it’s pissing me off. I feel as though Keith is directly insulting my intelligence by using this as if she thinks it takes the place of an actual argument. I haven’t seen any ’til now.

She goes on about how soil is living—yeah, I guess, good soil is, though she probably doesn’t realize that most conventional (pesticided, overfarmed, synthetic fertilizer’d) soil is actually just barely not dead soil—devoid of organisms. Then we get another doozy:

How far down did I have to dig to stop finding living creatures? Because if it was alive, I couldn’t kill it.

This is something that cannot be fixed by writing a crappy livejournal/highschool-research-paper mash-up. This is something that needs therapy.

What the unexplodey crap is this, anyway? Keith really doesn’t grasp that vegans aren’t vegan because of any opposition to death—I’ve met vegetarians who are, but you have to be kind of dumb to not realize the fuckuppery that goes into dairy, eggs, honey, vivisection, etc. too. So maybe vegetarians are actually vegetarian because they don’t want to kill; Pele only knows I used that as my bullshit excuse, too. Then I realized how full of shit I was and went vegan.

Most vegans I know are vegan because of this little factoid: animals have a nervous system to feel with.

Then the logic goes like this: you should not cage, imprison, exploit, slaughter, etc. anyone who can feel you doing that to them. Not because they’re intelligent in the same way you are, but because they can experience their own quality of life and that is worth more than every IQ point in the friggin’ universe.

Don’t torture anyone who can feel it. That seems pretty damn reasonable to me.

But of course, Keith lives in Magical Singing Inanimate Objects Land, so she doesn’t really have a solid grasp on this reality.

Holy eruptions, I mean, she actually thinks that plants feel hungry. Why? Why would a plant feel hungry!? It’s not like they can move to get food! What’s the use? So nature can frigging torture them, especially given what we know about the agonizing, horrible fucking nature of hunger and starvation in animals? Photosynthesis for plants is like vitamin D synthesis in humans—it happens automatically when sunlight directly hits our skin; it happens in plants when even ambient light and sunlight hit their leaves. There is no reason for plants to feel hungry, and every reason for them not to! Hunger makes you unhappy! Unhappiness makes you sick and frail! Sickliness and frailty makes you die! Lierre Keith, this is not Magical Singing Inanimate Objects Land!

I read that “[v]ery small animals are able to live a basically aquatic life in soil, in the water found attached to soil crumbs.


*sings* Every cell is saaacred, every cell is great…

There was a whole world under my feet, a world that included its own ocean.

Oh no she didn’t. Keith, the ocean is fucking awesome and so complex it would make your brain explode like a paradigm shifting without a clutch and you are soooo not gonna smack-talk it in front of me.

A world where the real work of life—producing and degrading—was being done. Animals like me were just consumers, hitching along for the ride. I couldn’t photosynthesize—turn sun into mass—nor could I turn that mass back into carbon and minerals. They could and they did, and because of them, life was possible. I was made humble.

And this is why human supremecism is bad: because it produces fucknecks for whom this is actually a surprise.

I’m hostile because this still isn’t an argument, and it’s nothing new to me, not even the inaccuracies. I’ve known about mitochondria for a while—they are the actual energy-producers inside your cells, and they’ve become symbiotic with eukaryotes (or maybe just multi-celled eukaryotes; I’m not clear). Mitochondria are the ones that actually produce energy for your cells, so, like, color me bored. If Keith is going to act like vegans are all dumber than shit, the least she can do is introduce things I haven’t already heard of.

She’s putting organisms in a hierarchy—something she rails against in the next paragraph—by assuming that “producing and degrading” is really impressive. Maybe this is the nihilist in me, but I’m not seeing that. All things are all things; I don’t understand the point of valuing the processes that single-celled organisms go through over a wildebeest that’s just living their life, or that wildebeest’s life over a predator who’s hungry and looking for a meal. Or a human’s life over any other’s. I don’t even place value on these things—they are. But I guess that’s primitivists for ya: maddeningly, convolutedly amoral.

I don’t even value an animal’s life over a plant’s, but here’s the thing: animals deserve to not be used as property because they experience being used as property. I don’t feel the need to go into a more complex argument than that with plants: they don’t need consideration because they do not individually, first-person experience the effects of any consideration and/or lack therein. Animals do. So, for me, even the “nice” farming that Keith espouses is fucking wrong. She’s talking about herding—animal agriculture with another label slapped on top of it. So no one gets to pull this “she’s anti-agriculture” crap on me.

But I had bet my whole moral system—and built my whole identity—on the idea that my life did not require death.

Way not my problem.

I’m going to leave off there, since I think that’s actually a good summary of this book, and skip to something interesting in the next installment. Because she just keeps going on about how stupid she was, and I’m exhausted with rolling my eyes so much at the implication that all vegans are like that because all people are fundamentally Lierre Keith. This would be an interesting autobiographical case study if Keith showed the slightest shred of actual self-awarenesss. Sigh.

For a good autobiographical case study/memoir, you should go read Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher. Great writing, very poignant, self-introspective. Ah, a breath of fresh air!

Keith’s Myth: Supports Eating Disorders, Supports Suffering, Supports Murder

Note: These are Aslan’s words, tightly transcribed.

Spark was fourteen when I first met her. We were on a popular eating disorder forum that will remain unnamed, and she was a lot like me—there for the community, but not very active on the forum. She was also too political to be widely accepted. The things she took an interest in on the forum were the music and the other kinds of “fun games,” especially since the forum wasn’t exactly opposed to illegal music downloads. She turned fifteen about six months after I joined the board.

She was anorexic with orthorexic tendencies; she would only eat foods of a certain color if they had “too much” sugar in them, and she refused to eat anything that “felt” stringy in her mouth because it made her feel unhealthy. Her eating disorder didn’t include anything bulimic, though—for Spark, “binges” consisted of eating a normal amount of food. Spark was also vegan; she posted in a thread posted about vegetarian recipes, I private messaged her, and we started talking.

Spark lived in Washington State and had a controlling, narcissistic mother; she was an only child and her father was a cop who died in a car crash (off-duty) when she was four. Her eating disorder first showed up when she was five. She was still underweight at the time, at 103lbs. at 5’4″. So despite the whole “severe eating disorder” thing and being on the eating disorder boards, the reason I kept in contact with her was that she wasn’t the stereotypical “ana,” as they like to call themselves. Spark was relatively happy (or at least cheerful) and she didn’t use her eating disorder to make herself a martyr. She was self-analytical. So we started talking.

Her eating disorder started getting progressively worse over time because her mother wanted her to graduate highschool by the time she was sixteen, and to go to a hoity-toity college by the time she was eighteen. Spark didn’t want to go to college; she wanted to drop out and get her GED. Spark liked the idea of living a life that was simple—but her mother wanted her daughter to be rich so that she could hold Spark up as a status symbol.

So when Spark hit 98 lbs., she shared with me that she’d found out about this new and awesome thing called fruitarianism. (I’d been raised by a vegan Buddhist, my brother, and a fruitarian Marxist, my cousin, so to me, it wasn’t new information.) She told me she’d stayed up all night reading the Wikipedia entry on fruitarianism and going onto forums to find out how she’d do it.

She told me that, it being Seattle, it might be a bit hard to do, but I told her to just be careful and not let anyone bully her. And to not eat a lot of nuts, or her teeth would go to shit.

Spark laughed and told me that’s why she liked me—because whenever she talked to me, there was no condescension and that unlike everyone else, I never told her that her veganism was a bad thing and that if she’d just eat meat or a slice of cheese her eating disorder would just magically go away. I understood that there was a reason she was doing everything she was.

I didn’t hear from her for another two months after that, but that was normal for me. I wasn’t online all that often—still don’t do it much, ’cause I like living my life in the real world.

Next time I got in contact with Spark, she was 108 lbs. and she told me that it felt amazing to actually gain weight for once in her life instead of being in a constant battle to lose it because it made her too much of herself to actually have weight on her. She said that she’d been eating a fruitarian diet and she’d been following my advice and not eating nuts, and that her hair was shiny again and that it wasn’t falling out in clumps anymore. She told me that most of her obsessions with food and all that were gone. She was able to eat without crying, and even though she started out eating only 1,000 calories a day because the idea of more scared her so much, she’d actually been able to work her way up to eating 2,500 calories a day. On fruitarianism, her anemia was gone. That was just in two months.

She said, however, that her mother had started to become more violent towards her since she went fruitarian, because she was fruitarian, and that her mom hadn’t liked the idea of Spark being vegan in the first place because she said that Spark being vegan made her look like a bad mother. Even though there was no reason for her to worry about that, since everyone thought she was just a normal mother.

It took about another month, but Spark had gotten to the point where a lot of her really strange eating behaviors (like having to separate food by color, or having to cut it up into extremely small pieces) just stopped, and she gained another ten pounds. By the time she turned sixteen, seven months after she became fruitarian, and she told me that she now had a heatlhy BMI according to the doctor. Her period hadn’t yet returned, but she didn’t care, and it was basically fine because she wasn’t anemic and was still gaining weight. She had gone up to 120 lbs. and told me she’d stopped having mood issues where she would switch from one mood to the other. Spark said she used to have issues where she would be hanging out with her friends and just snap at them for saying something completely inoffensive—and Spark didn’t know why; their voice just irritated her. Then about ten minutes later she’d feel okay again and be acting like it never happened. She stopped doing that, and she stopped being depressed any longer; and she didn’t obsess about her dad being dead any longer.

She felt good. She told me that; she said she just felt good for the first time since her dad had died.

So what happened was, she said it just felt good. And I said that was awesome and asked her what she was eating. Spark said that her main diet during the winter was mainly bananas and oranges and sometimes kiwis when they went on sale, and that she ate about two avocadoes a week, because she liked them.

After that, she PMed me and asked me, “What do you do if your mom is going to refuse to feed you?” And I told her, “A hunger strike usually works, and if nothing else… get her angry enough to hit you just once and call the police on her.” Her mother was known to hit her, so it wouldn’t have been very hard. She said, “Okay, because my mom just tossed out all the fruit in the house and she said I had to eat her food, because this was all part of my eating disorder and I needed to get over it.” And so I told her that I didn’t really know what you could do in that circumstance except just refuse to eat… because that’s what I used to do when Kelly tried to starve me into eating non-vegan too, even though it would kill me because I’m allergic.

So she did. Spark went on a hunger strike and after about a week and a half her mom relented. But she wouldn’t let her be fruitarian. Spark’s mom said that she could be vegan and have fruit juices but, “she couldn’t go back on that silly little diet she had been on,” the one that had been curing her of her eating disorder.

Spark was willing to deal with that, but she was drinking mostly fruit juices at first and subsisting off of mostly those because she still hoped she could be fruitarian, but mostly because she’d tried to eat a bowl of rice and it had given her crippling stomach pains. And so she started eating gentler cooked foods at first, like cooked potatoes, and she subsisted mostly off of mashed potatoes for a couple months. And she started eating more cooked foods and dropped back down to 110 lbs., and she became lonely and depressed again. And from there her and I lost contact except through MySpace pages because I had moved out on my own away from my abusive step-dad and left the eating disorder forums because someone was ranting about veganism and I told them they were stupid and the mods told me I needed to be “nicer” and I don’t do that.

The next time I saw anything of her was when she was seventeen and she told me she had moved out and that she was going to college and had her own place and her own job. And she broke contact with her mother and it was just her and her ferret. She moved from Seattle to a suburb of a fairly large college city elsewhere in WA. I didn’t check my MySpace again for two more years because I living in a tent with my best friend and I was like, “screw you, civ!” So, came back, and the last picture I saw of her was when she was nineteen and she looked like she was on death’s door.

And that’s what happens when you mistake what’s normal in our culture as what is right and everything else as an eating disorder. You kill teenaged women who never even read The Vegetarian Myth. Fruitarianism would have saved her life but her mother thought she was right because she was the mother and Spark was the child and animal products had to be consumed to the detriment of everyone. And that what’s Lierre Keith believes, that’s what Atkins believes, that’s what these paleo-dieters believe, that’s what WAPF believes. That if you’re at the top of the totem pole, you get the right to kill whoever is not you and whoever disagrees with you. Because might makes the property status, and that makes you right. They don’t see they’re hurting people and killing people because they only want what they want and they want everyone else to agree with them that it’s right. So they killed Spark.

And that’s all really.

Keith’s Myth: Advanced Equivocation Lessons

Back to the conflation of animals and plants despite the presence of nervous systems in the former and an utter lack of in the latter.

If it’s wrong to steal from a plant, why isn’t it more wrong to kill a seed?

Keith keeps going on about how animals and plants are exactly the same because one fruitarian said something that she was able to twist into this. But here’s the thing: even if they do believe that it’s wrong to steal from a plant, so what? Not all vegans are alike. That’s something that Keith continuously glosses over—that not all vegans are alike; that not all of us believe the same goddamn thing. I’m a primitivist, and my anti-civ anarchism informs my veganism. Bob Torres isn’t, and his pro-civ anti-capitalism informs his veganism just as much. There you go, an example of how vegans don’t agree on every friggin’ thing, even when it comes to veganism itself.

Keith’s book thus far has been basically a series of, “One vegan believes this. Let me argue against them and pretend as though I have refuted the arguments of every vegan.”

I don’t even think it’s wrong to steal from humans fer the sake of tiny chartreuse sweet potato leaves; why would I believe it’s wrong to steal from plants?

Aslan also wants to point out that the difference between “stealing” a plant’s life and stealing the life of an animal is vast and unforgiving—for plants, “stealing” a life means uprooting it (and even then, that doesn’t work for a lot of plants—salsify, anyone?) or, if you ask Keith, killing what is essentially a very large gamete. It has no life until it’s been germinated. It will not die if it is not planted in a certain period of time—only if it’s treated improperly. What Keith calls “killing” here is actually along the same lines of “mass murdering” millions of sperm, except on a slightly smaller scale. The difference is that a sperm has a one-in-trillions chance of becoming a full, self-sufficient organism; a tree’s seed has a chance of about one in several thousand.

But the “stealing of a life” as it applies to animals that Keith is advocating isn’t just the end of a potential potential life—it’s literally the stealing of an animal’s entire life. Not merely ending their life; she advocates farming animals for human use, stealing their lives from birth to death. What she is talking about is literally a pervasive violation of a life that could otherwise have been free-roaming and engaged—an ownership of someone. Because they’re property.

I am absolutely going to argue that eating the watermelon seeds is an act that is absolutely, fundamentally different from farming animals for food.

She continues on in that vein for a bit, and honestly, I’m done with that. I’ve already pointed out fifty different kinds of NOPE and I want to tackle something new now.

If killing is the problem,

It isn’t, you fuckwit! No one goes vegan from such a ridiculous standpoint—they stay a half-assed vegetarian, like you did, if they believe that. How many times have I heard, “Well they don’t kill the cows for milk” from dumbass vegetarians?

The problem is treatment. The problem is violation. The problem is that animals can firsthand experience what humans do to them and thus they should be left alone entirely, and plants cannot. If you knew anything about veganism, you’d know this!

If killing is the problem, the life of one grass-fed cow will feed me for an entire year.

Bullshit. (Sorry.)

First, that’s not physically possible. I hold a standard of 2,000 calories a day for any adult human, 365 days a year, regardless of how anyone may whine that it “makes them gain weight.” That’s 730,000 calories a year. Slaughter weight for grain-finished cows is 800 lbs. (Grain finished, mind—beef cows are grazed for the majority of their lives, despite Keith’s claims that this is not taken into consideration.) Grass-fed cows weigh only about 3/4 of this—600 lbs. Assuming that all of that 600 lbs. is edible, which is extremely generous, and assuming an extremely generous 1,150kcal/lb. despite the fact that cows are fed grains partially to boost fat:muscle ratio, that’s still only 690,000 calories—a full 40,000 less than what an adult human needs to survive.

But other than that, am I seriously to believe that Keith eats nothing but cow meat day in, day out, 2,000 calories a day, year after year? I know she doesn’t—she talks about eating dairy, eggs and chickens, too. Lierre Keith is essentially arguing her point by lying—by suggesting that she can do something, therefore she does, therefore she’s right.

And furthermore, what is all this “life of one cow” hoohah? Keith is perfectly happy to yammer on and on about how vegans are so hypocritical and evil for killing plants, but look how quickly the talk of plant life disappears when it would make her look good to deliberately omit them. Something you may not know about cows: they evolved on African grasslands, and they trample and kill North American ones. Their teeth rip up North American grasses straight out of the ground by their roots, and their hooves trample the ground and desertify the Earth. If she’s ignorant of this, it’s only because she chooses to be.

Fact is, no matter how badly Lierre Keith wants to obscure these facts, cow farming kills the Earth. What about the prairie dogs? What about the animals shot and killed to “protect” cows until they could be slaughtered for human food? What about the species utterly annihilated by the environmental degradation brought on specifically by humans’ sense of entitlement to cows’ bodies? Does Lierre Keith want them back, too?

But a single vegan meal of plant babies—rice grains, almonds, soybeans—ground up or boiled alive, will involve hundreds of deaths. Why don’t they matter?

1. Because plants do not have a nervous system. At all. This gives us just the slightest inclination that plants don’t actually suffer from bring “ground up or boiled alive!!1” Again, I fail to see why I should care about “boiling alive” something that doesn’t register being boiled alive.

2. Rice grains and almonds, at least, are shelf stable for extremely long periods of time without any form of sustenance, suggesting they’re not actually “alive.” And they’re not—actually, that’s one of the traits that establishes them as plants instead of animals or fungi.

3. Soybeans are frozen because their water content is too high for them to remain shelf-stable.

4. This argument still doesn’t work, and it didn’t the first thousand times a carnist used it on me, thinking they were being oh so clever.

“I won’t eat anything that has a mother or a face,” was one of my standard declarations. But every living thing has a mother.

I’ve never, ever declared this because it’s always seemed stupid and overly simplistic to me. And there doesn’t seem much of a difference between going from one black-and-white worldview—I won’t eat anything that has a mother!—to another black-and-white worldview—for someone to live someone else must die! It’s all very formulaic and boring and again, I’m going to suggest that it’s just Keith for whom this is even an issue and not, as she keeps suggesting, every other vegan in the world.

But I have an additional problem with this. What on Earth is “mother” supposed to mean? It’s clearly an emotional tactic—that hasn’t changed for Keith; she’s still using it as an emotional tactic, as you can see—so it’s reasonable to assume that the idea of “mother” as used here is actually bound up in a human-centric, Western-centric, patriarchal ideal of “motherhood.” There are three problems with that:

1. “Motherhood” doesn’t function that way in nature: are many species of snakes unworthy of rights because they aren’t very “motherlike” by our standards? For most species, “motherhood” is not the ideal we believe it to be—hell, for most human cultures, even.

2. Most human women don’t even follow this standard of “motherhood.” What about widespread emotional and mental abuse, even when neither the mother nor the child want to recognize it?

3. The oppressed, in order to “prove” they have the right to have rights, are always held up to these kyriarchal ideals far more than the people who claim they developed those ideals. The people in power don’t have to match their own standard—only the oppressed do, because the people in power know it’s an impossible standard.

A Hispanic woman has to be twice as smart, twice as aggressive, twice as hardworking and twice as right for half the credit a white man would get—but she must also do it without breaking any of the privilege-aura taboos of race, sex, class or language. No one on the privilege end ever has to fulfill the ideals they set up for standards of worthiness.

The “motherhood” standard is bunk. I’ve known a cat who, despite her supposed “maternal instinct,” treated her kittens as annoyances and didn’t even nurse them long enough, groom them or teach them to hunt. I’ve also known a cat who had kittens taken away from her and was the permanent “mothering” type—it didn’t even matter if they were kittens anymore: she’d grab them, drag them into a corner, and groom them into submission. (I also knew a neutered male cat who did the same thing—in fact, he was the one who took care of the first cat’s kittens and was their momma.)

There are more differences within species’ individual psychology than there are between them.

Some beings give their lives to produce their offspring. That means they can’t be around to nurture them, but does that mean they love their offspring any less?

Yes. Because they’re dead and they never met their offspring. You can’t love someone abstractly, and unless Keith is going way beyond this already-ridiculous “but everything’s, like, a being, maaan,” argument into suggesting mandatory ghosthood for parents or whatever… Well.

And suppose your mother didn’t love you:

I don’t have to suppose. I judge on behavior. Twit.

… does that mean your life is intrinsically worth less?

Less than what?

All plants’ lives are worth the same. All animals’ lives are worth the same—yeah, you can go fuck yourself with your entitlement, you stupid ugly deformed monkey. But animals’ lives are not worth the same—not lived the same—as plants’ lives.

Keith is making another red herring argument. I’m willing to wager that vegans don’t think that the issue is about whether or not you have a mother that loves you, but instead whether or not you are fundamentally capable of love due to having a nervous system and being capable of experiencing your life in a way plants cannot.

Then there’s the face part. Why does the possession of a face define who counts or who doesn’t? What it actually defines is who is most like humans, who more different: do they look like us?

Exactly. That’s why I’m vegan. It doesn’t matter how much an animal looks like me—it only matters that, unlike plants, they can experience their lives.

This is an argument against speciesism—but Keith is fundamentally a speciesist: she believes that it is acceptable to use animals as property in ways that it is not acceptable to use humans. It is not, as Keith is trying to twist it into, an argument against veganism.

There’s that anthropocentrism again, an ethical system based on how similar a living being is to humans.

I propose that Lierre Keith be officially banned from ever using the word “anthropocentrism” until she can prove she knows what it actually means.

You can call me “animaliacentrist,” and I won’t bicker about that—I am. The vast majority of animal species have something that no plant does: a nervous system to process pain, emotions and information about one’s environment, which can then be used to make decisions. But Keith is wrong in that I believe animals are better because they have a nervous system like humans—for one thing, if I were really so hung up on humanlike nervous systems, I’d be one of those dumbfucks who fails to realize the pattern of all body parts in nature: that the larger something is, the less dextrous and the less efficient it will generally be. That is to say, the larger a human’s brain is, the less efficient, dextrous and effective it is at doing its job. It’s the same with other organs and I don’t see any reason to think otherwise except that some humans think brains are “special.” Funny, that. Some men also think that penises are special, and use their possession of them to justify oppression.

Lierre, farming is inherently anthropocentric. You support farming. You even support farming domesticated animals in a territory they are not native to, for the benefit of humans. Que pasa?

Etc. Etc. I’m done with this argument. It’s worthless and if Keith had a shred of intellectual honesty in her body, she’d have realized that.

Perhaps if the asphalt was removed and the earth restored, the underlying reciprocity of the human-apple relationship would naturally reassert itself.

Or maybe humans would be forced to go back to the Northwest African rainforest, which would be restored, because we aren’t native or genetically adapted to the dry colder regions in which apples naturally grow…

Oops, pardon me; I didn’t mean to make sense.

But humans can’t live on apples.

Oh, hey. Another unsupported assertion.

Mind, I don’t think humans can live on apples—I don’t think apples are a natural food for humans. They’re not tropical, they’re too hard and will cut our gums, etc.

You know, she just keeps doing this. It’s the sixteenth page and while I’ve seen mountains of fallacious claims, hasty generalizations, unsubstantiated assertions and arguments that wouldn’t pass muster with some of the carnists I used to go to school with, she has not laid out a single new thing for me to think about. It’s all arguments I’ve seen before; she acts like she has the right to be bored when she uses these arguments and the exasperated vegans fire the same goddamn rebuttals back at them. She refuses to get that she can’t just repeat them ad nauseum and eventually people will magically just agree with her; she refuses to get that if she’s been hearing the same rebuttals over and over again, it’s probably because she’s been using the same arguments over and over and over and over and fucking over again.

She goes back to the argument about the fruit seeds, even though she’s said herself it’s irrelevant because “fruit trees are grafted.” (Mind, she doesn’t know why; she just knows they are, and that’s all she needs to use it for her argument. So there.) She keeps persisting with the warped belief that all of nature is built on an utterly unsustainable 1:1 seed:fully-grown-organism ratio, because otherwise she’d have to actually realize and admit that it’s not feasible to argue that humans are anthropocentric for eating fruit and composting the seeds. She keeps asserting that plants have the exact same kind of life as animals, and if you don’t agree then you’re wearing leather shoes, neener-neener! Except I’m not wearing leather shoes—they’re canvas and she just hasn’t bothered to even look at my feet.

She acts like it’s this horrible thing that the seeds themselves are eaten with nuts and grains. Does that mean that as long as I reproduce, I can be killed for someone’s whims and no harm, no foul? As long as we “do our ‘biological’ duty” then we have no stake or claim to freedom of association, mutual aid, quality of life, self-sufficiency—all anarchist ideals?

She mentions again that humans can’t digest cellulose, and we can’t. But cellulose (fiber) is a necessary part of our intestinal tracts—our intestines actually need it to function properly, and this is a widely-accepted and -observed fact. Cats don’t need to eat fiber to shit regularly; humans do, because otherwise our internal range balance goes out of whack and we end up either having horrible diarrhea or constipation—or an alternating combination of the two. Keith is actually going out of her way to ignore carbohydrates—but if we can’t digest cellulose, and grains and fruits are so low in protein and fat, then how the hell do we get any energy from those foods? Is she just going to like, ignore Japan and China and Thailand and every human culture that primarily sustains themselves off of rice? She simply asserts that seeds sprouting thousands of years later means they “wanted” to live; what about seeds that will never sprout at all? Did they want to live? Were those seeds suicidal? What about fetuses? If fetuses are born, did they want to live? If a woman miscarries, was the fetus suicidal—should we promote Fetal Suicide Prevention? Does this even make any sense at all to try to make this argument—to mistakenly conflate a natural occurance with intention, the same way some Christians will mistakenly conflate “what happens” with “God’s will”?

She doesn’t ask these things. It’s not that she doesn’t ask these things of her readers; it’s that she doesn’t ask these things of herself. I can’t figure out if she’s lying or if she’s just incapable of grasping the point.

Keith’s Myth: Someone Send Keith a Highschool Biology Course Text, Please

“The fruit tree gives me my food and I give back the seeds to nature so other seeds can grow,” writes one vegetarian. Yes, but he isn’t giving back the seeds to nature.

Keith displays here a kind of tunnel vision I find absolutely repugnant, and it’s almost universal among the evo-psych set: nothing in life matters unless it’s reproduction. Quality of life doesn’t matter, only quantity; makin’ babies and spreading your genes. Taken from a primitivist viewpoint—even a viewpoint that does not surgically remove emotion, inner health, empathy and community from nature—this is a horrifying ideology, and it is fundamentally sociopathic: people—again, those who experience their life—are important to nature only in how they can create more.

For someone like us, Aslan and I, who have lived as far outside of civilization as is possible right now in a region humans aren’t native to, it’s obvious. Outside of a system that obsesses over and is terrified of death and will do anything to forestay its touch—exterminating predators, medical intervention, legislation against suicide, assisted euthanasia and abortion—happiness is vital to health and survival. Unhappy animals do not thrive. They get sick; they are slow and unaware of their surroundings from depression; they don’t eat properly and become weak; they may even die straight off in a “failure to thrive.” That unhappy animals have so much stacked against them suggests that happiness, community and joy are a fucking powerful evolutionary imperative.

Keith’s beliefs also portray a profound misunderstanding of nature and life, despite her claims to the contrary. One can understand how the drive towards continuity is embedded in ecosystems and DNA: they are, after all, still here, which after so much time suggests that the tactics employed by these systems are significantly successful.

But continuity is not served by rapaciousness. This is why plague species pass through; they don’t stay stuck in one place forever, or they’d end up killing everything. Overpopulation runs directly counter to the interests of any species—it destroys their ecosystem, and ain’t a species in the world that can live without an ecosystem, not even you. In fact, Keith’s own criticism of that uncited and unnamed vegan’s post points this out:

On the ruminant side of the fence, the wildebeests and friends will reproduce as effectively as ever. … The animals will outstrip their food source, eat the plants down to the ground, and then starve to death, leaving behind a seriously degraded landscape.

I can do it more succinctly. In two words, in fact, without any fuss: “dung beetles.” WHERE IS YOUR PREDATOR/PREY DICHOTOMY NOW?

This is something that many people who fancy themselves scientifically-minded don’t grasp: the ecosystem can only function as a whole. A community is made up of individuals, but the community only functions with the input of all those individuals—democrats will definitely find this true. At the same time, the consideration demanded of all those individuals by the community doesn’t diminish in importance or scope their quality of life.

An ecosystem belongs to all animals who live within it; at the same time, those animals belong to the ecosystem, bound not just by their need for it but for other animals’ need for the same. Keith speaks of kas-limaal, “mutual indebtedness, mutual insparkedness,” but she never seems to understand just how unspeakably complicated that is; she just uses it as an excuse to insult vegans and rationalize what she has always been doing, just to a greater degree: the real fucking harm to real fucking people really fucking experiencing that harm.

One more thing before the next paragraph. An obsession with propagation is colonialist, because that is what Keith’s suggesting here: that for every fruit that’s eaten, six or more (!) trees should be planted to “pay back” the deal. And again, that’s unsustainable even without human interference. Colonization of the entire fucking Earth is not something anything but a sociopath—or an uncritical follower of the ideology of human supremecism—ever thinks of as realistic.

Why are humans allowed to take without giving?

Because humans like to believe they’re fucking superior to everything in the world; we’ve even designed most of our religions off of it. Keith definitely did, complete with “High Priest” Joel Salatin. The idea that humans are superior to nature and other animals is a fucking poison just like other prejudices that justify the subjugation and property status of others. Oh, wait. She was being rhetorical. I see.

Too bad. Keith has an absolutely warped idea of “giving” in the first place—her idea of “giving” to farmed animals (because, again, she is not advocating for a return to nature; she is advocating for “nice” and “sustainable” animal farming) is food and shelter. For that, she will take their lives, their children, their health, their freedom, their right to live naturally in their own territory and their right to live and die by their own means: the right for immediate death to not be an inevitability.

No matter what, the animals Keith supposedly respects as equals are treated as property. She doesn’t intend for them to ever be able to like, resist her and not end up dead or milked—that’s counter to the way she runs her game. It’s the same reason supposedly “respecting-nature” hunters use high powered rifles and high-tech bows: they don’t want to actually, you know, live naturally as predators, including getting your jaw broken from the prey you’re trying to take down. Keith knows what she wants and she wants the whole thing rigged.

Isn’t that called exploitation?


Fruit isn’t, as claimed, “the only freely given food.”

I’ll note that Keith has one citation here for the quote, but nothing for her outrageous claim that trees “want” all their seeds to germinate and grow—a logical impossibility in more than one way. This also makes her claim of a supposed “vegan” on a “vegan message board” who posted about putting up a fence in the Serengeti more conspicuously without citation.

She can provide a citation for an obvious claim, but not a dubious one. That’s… backwards.

Keith continues going on about how the entire point of a tree’s life is reproduction, yawn, like I haven’t heard that from pro-rape evo psychs. I’ll point out that the sprout ratio of a tree’s fruit is extremely low in nature, again. Oh hey, I found something hilarious:

And we take that offspring, in its swaddling of sweetness, and kill it.

AHAHAHAHAHA there is just nothing I can say about this. Next she’ll start going on about how carrots scream when I chop them up but I’m just too callous and not drunk enough meanhearted to hear it! This is especially glaring when she’s talking about killing individuals with actual nervous systems who can actually feel and actually object to what she wants to do with them.

im in ur orchard eetin ur bebbeez, sweet dlishus swaddlez n all

This is not what vegetarians want to hear, at least not the ones I’m calling moral vegetarians.

Well, it’s not what anyone who hasn’t starved themselves for decades would call an argument, so yeah, I wouldn’t want to see this kind of crap come up in any kind of non-comedy book. But other than that, no, please keep going—this is gold!

But the moral argument is the clarion call that rallies most vegetarians to the cause. It’s what kept me unable to examine or even question my vegan diet, despite all evidence that my health was failing.

No, Lierre. It’s not the ethical considerations that kept you from questioning your vegan diet—it’s that you don’t question things. I’ve questioned the diet I was eating when I’ve run into health problems; it’s why I won’t eat candy with artificial coloring, or artificial sweeteners, and why I decided to limit myself to one bowl of ramen a day if I eat any ramen. Artificial coloring spikes my anxiety/agitation level; artificial sweeteners give me crippling stomach pain; more than one bowl of ramen makes me exude salt, or something salty, from my pores and also makes my skin unmanageably papery—though not flaky.

People who don’t question their behavior when something is going wrong are not very smart people. Lierre Keith just compounded the problem by starving her brain of the carbohydrates it needed to effectively process and question information. She still is, actually, which is why this is such a trainwreck.

I wanted to believe that my life—my physical existence—was possible without killing, without death.

So Keith believed a really stupid ideological facet of civilization—that death is bad, terrifying, horrible. To counteract that, she started actively pursuing the other side of that myth—that because death is bad, terrifying and horrible, you have to inflict it on as many other people as possible to protect yourself from it.

No, seriously. Brown rice and soy (and bingeing on eggs and dairy) didn’t work for her, so her obvious solution is instead to eat a diet comprised almost entirely of animal products. What’s missing here? Would it be, perhaps, the questioning of beliefs?

These lead right to the second problem: there are no apples in nature. Apples are domesticated. Apples started as Malus sieversii, in the mountains of Kazakhstan and, once upon a time, they were bitter.

… This is true of most domestic fruits. Their progenitors are almost inedible by humans.

… Um… okay. That’s not actually true; apples have existed all over the world, similar to potatoes, because the fact of the matter is just that they are very good at serving the ecosystems they live within. It is an exercise in navel-gazing to find out where a food “came from” because, ultimately, nature doesn’t work like that—and Keith has proven once again that she doesn’t understand nature.

Hell, she doesn’t even provide a citation. Again, the Keith method of citation: provide them for obvious claims, but not for the most egregious and least credulous ones.

Furthermore, she seems to be suggesting the argument that if apples were selectively bred by humans from this state (which is a big fucking assumption, because why would humans bother with such an unappetizing food in the first place?), all other fruits must therefore have undergone the same process. And I would like to point to a vast continuum of individual “heirloom” varieties of fruits and nature present even in nature—including, especially, crabapples, which are fucking amazingly tasty (if a bit tough) when picked at ripeness. Bananas are a hybrid of two trees not native to human habitat; I never claimed otherwise. I am also not claiming that because bananas were, then all others were. That’s stupid.

We have ample evidence that a) plant types rarely occur solely in one region and b) all species, whether animal or plant, show enormous “breed” variation with relatively minor geographic/weather variations. One only needs to look at humans to see this intense geographic differentiation, even!

And on top of that, hi, all farmed animals are domesticated. Can’t use the “it’s domesticated” argument just for plants; it’s not reasonable or coherent.

“The fruit tree gives me my food and I give back the seeds to nature so other trees can grow.” Really? Dare you. Because most trees that produce edible fruit—and definitely apples—don’t come from seeds. If you actually were to plant the seeds, most of the wildlings that sprouted would be unpalatable to humans. Fruit trees are grafted, not sprouted.

1. This is the second time she’s cited one sentence from one article—she’s seriously padding her citations to make this book look “intensively researched.”


Doing those drawn-out bait-and-switch arguments make you look less credible, not moreso. If seeds are unimportant to a tree, then you shouldn’t construct an entire argument on how you need to plant the seeds—you can’t just compost them—to not be, I don’t know, ripping off the tree or whatever. An argument constructed off an irrelevant premise isn’t an “argument,” it’s a distraction.

FYI, the proper way to use that kind of argument is to give the refutation of the original, then say, “And even if that were true…” Even then, though, it wouldn’t save Keith’s argument—it’s just not really “rooted” in reality. *ducks*

3. If trees don’t come from seeds, then how do they spread in nature? (Some, like blackberries, grapes and raspberries, spread in a similar way to aspens—via root systems that may eventually split into two whole plants. But apples are not capable of this.)

4. “The wildlings wouldn’t be edible”? She doesn’t give a citation for this—she simply expects you to accept it and not question it. What a crock. Fortunately, I have absolute proof that she’s wrong.

Aslan’s raw vegan cousin came, like most of the rest of zeir family, from the southern U.S. And he grew peach trees, a humid-weather fruit more likely to appear in our native habitat than apples. Point of fact, actually, Robin [not his real name] grew peaches everywhere—they were an heirloom variety (most apples are not) and he would collect the seeds and bring them with him to hand out to neighbors and grow them wherever he landed to live.

That’s right, he grew peaches from seed, without grafting. And they were edible. So, Keith: come again?

This is why Keith shouldn’t talk in absolutes and dichotomies. She isn’t curious or honest enough to go looking for information that would give her an actual grasp on the subject, so she’s constantly asserting these ignorant, arrogant inaccuracies. It’s not hard to disprove an absolute, especially when so much of Keith’s argument is just banking on the fact that very few people will actually know better, or enough to question her.

5. Keith is right that most commercial fruit trees are grafted, but again, she’s making an argument from omission—either she doesn’t know herself why fruit trees are largely grafted, or she’s hoping you don’t. However, I am actually interested in plants and plant life and I love learning, so I know a bit on the topic.

Commercial fruit trees are grafted for many reasons.

First, it’s quicker and easier to get a fully-grown fruit tree from a graft—you won’t have to wait for it to grow from a seed, which is much more complicated.

Second, it’s less risky. Often, the host root—what the intended fruit-bearing plant is grafted onto—is already “established,” making it more stable and less likely to up and die. It’s also likely to be of a “sturdy” species and variety to add some extra stability and disease-resistance to a grafted plant. This is why graftings are done for many plants—roses, for example. My mother once bought a rose bush and the grafted-on part died after a few years; underneath was a peony, so it comes up peony every year now.

Third, often commercial fruit (and other plant) varieties are hybridized—meaning that two or more varieties were cross-bred. Hybrid seeds don’t “breed true” if they’re planted—they come up as one of the parents. Only grafting will produce a still-hybridized fruit. However, this should not be taken as evidence that all fruits are hybridized—for example, “heirloom” seeds come up true every time, which is why they’re so highly valued in some circles.

Fourth, seeds from fruit trees just don’t sprout very well. This is what I was talking about earlier—most seeds from fruit trees just aren’t fertile, because they were never all supposed to sprout. This is something that apparently goes way over Keith’s head—it’s sort of like hearing someone claim that your body intends for you to get pregnant every single time you have sex. Not according to the human body, no—given how low our sex:fertility:implantation:birth ratio is.

The “natural” food of humans doesn’t exist in nature. If we are now lost (and starving) in the inedible forest, maybe it’s because our moral map was wrong.

What is this unexplodey crap?

1. Even if apples don’t exist in a human-edible form naturally—which she hasn’t provided any evidence for—that doesn’t necessarily apply to the, literally, hundreds of fucking thousands of other fruit species in the world. Just because something is true for one thing doesn’t mean it’s true for everything else. I know this is an officially-recognized logical fallacy—I just can’t think of it off the top of my head.

In other words, apples and oranges, Keith.


2. If we’re lost and wandering in an inedible forest, it’s probably because we were stupid enough to move out of humans’ native habitat.

3. Or, alternately, that we followed Keith’s map. Sorry, but I seriously can’t trust anyone whose experience with veganism is “brown rice and soy” on how to eat.

To say there is a “freely given food” implies there is a giver—the tree, the cane, the stalk of wheat.

I agree with Keith here. I think that saying fruit is a “freely given food” is a bit over-the-top because, obviously, plants don’t have a nervous system to make any decisions with, much less with the ability to choose to give away food.

Instead, I prefer saying that naturally, eating fruits are a lot less energy-intensive than eating either grain, cane or animal product—the first two require farming for any significant amount and the third requires hunting, which we’d have to make weapons for since we haven’t actually evolved to be hunters, or we’d have to train ourselves for a long-ass time like the Masai.

So instead of saying that fruit is a “freely given food,” I can say that fruit is “a food that won’t require you to farm and/or step on you and kill you.” That makes more sense than the statement she keeps quoting, but it definitely makes more sense than Keith’s false equalization.

To believe in food that requires “No killing or theft from animal or plant” is to fail to recognize that the deaths of animals and plants are not equal and to be as dull and simplistic as I am.

No, sorry. She didn’t actually write that—I just couldn’t help myself. This is what she actually wrote:

To believe in food that requires “No killing or theft from animal or plant” is to recognize that plants and animals love their lives, and their body parts, whether fibrous or muscular.

Plants do not love their lives. They have no ability to feel because they have no nervous system. As such, they cannot love their body parts, either. I am unsure whether animals love their body parts, because that seems very odd and disordered to me, but I am quite sure that they don’t want to lose those body parts.

I am getting seriously irritated with how Keith keeps equating these two things without justifying it more than carnism-excusing spiritualistic mumbo-jumbo. And I am a fucking animist, here—I believe plants have souls, for the love of sweet potatoes!

She just keeps asserting that plants and animals are exactly the same—the same way she just asserted that humans were not ruminants and were therefore predatory carnivores like lions and hyenas. Just asserting this crap doesn’t make it true, but Keith seems to be hoping we’ll just ignore it—hoping that the fallacious combination of her sob story and the offered promise that you won’t be as stupid as those stupid childish vegans if you agree with her will make you uncritical enough to simply accept what she’s saying. We’ve been given this long-ass buildup of ad hominem to assure the reader that vegans are stupid so that said reader will eagerly side with Keith when she “debunks” the “vegan claims.”

I haven’t even covered the additional fact that eating animal products therefore kills many, many more plants than simply eating the plants themselves. Since we’ve already killed so much of the ecosphere, why not just convert all of that to farmland and completely abandon animal farming? Keith doesn’t offer an argument against this, because her argument isn’t against agriculture—it’s against plant agriculture and plant-based diets. She’s repeatedly supported animal farming, using animals that are not native to most of the world and destroy those ecosystems regardless.

But not their offspring? The argument fails right here. If we believe in their sentience, why not in the sentience of their babies?


Despite the royal “we,” I don’t believe in plant sentience, and I don’t know many vegans or fruitarians who do. This is like reading The Never-Ending Fallacy. Will it ever break into reasonableness? Who knows!? But probably not, because Lierre Keith is clearly trying very hard not to exit the realm of “complete fucking bullhonky.”

Keith’s argument failed a long time ago.

I’m done for today. All my Sanity Watchers points have been used up. Have at, folks.

Keith’s Myth: Tu Quoque

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.

Excuse me?

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…


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!

Keith’s Myth: Pens are Prisons are Pastures are Feedlots

… Page eleven. Surprisingly, taking this page by page allows me to digest this better and point out all the little shit along the way. It’s a good way to separate the individual strands of bullshit. Even though bullshit doesn’t have strands.

Smokers will tell you there is nothing like an ex-smoker.

No. Go straight to Hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

I have done my best to avoid to avoid a tone of moral superiority and aim for engagement. I hope I have succeeded. Ultimately I would rather be helpful than right.

No. I just… I can’t. It’s too much.

The underlying values that vegetarians claim to honor—

Translation: if you really honor those values, you’ll agree with me. Neener-neener.

—justice, compassion, sustainability—are the only values that will create a world of connection instead of domination; a world where humans approach every creature—every rock, every raindrop, all our furred and feathered siblings—with humility, awe and respect;

Slow down there, cowboy! I think we have a misunderstanding here. You seem to be of the mind that “creature” means “any object that exists, ever.” My definition’s different, see—a “creature” is an animal (or, potentially, extraterrestrial organism) who experiences their own life. And “life” means something too: it’s more than an existence. Raindrops and rocks are not organic; by definition, they don’t have life.

Here’s the thing. You have to have the ability to experience, first-person, what is done to you to qualify for the title of “creature.” It’s why I honestly don’t care about fetuses—they’re gestating so that their bodies can get to the point where that experience of life can be supported, and until they are actually experiencing it the point is moot. An animal has the right to be left alone because they experience their lives; an animal (and for the record, I’m not specifically talking about non-human ones here) has the right to not be forced into starvation when there are masses of food just lying around, but the fence wants you to give them money for it. Because the experience of life is valuable, and inherent in that is the idea that quality of life is worthy of being encouraged and not maliciously or capitalistically restricted.

Other things have “rights” by proxy, things that don’t have lives or don’t experience them. I can say that an ecosystem has rights, and what I mean is that humans have an “anti-right” to fuck with that ecosystem-symbiotic and for this purpose synonymous with every individual animal belonging to that ecosystem. In that sense, ecosystems are like a sovereign nation; its rights are the collective rights of every animal within it.

I can be impressed and delighted by rain, but I don’t attribute to it the rights deserved by organisms who experience their own lives.

… the only world with a chance of surviving the abuse called civilization. It is in this hope that such a world is possible that I offer this book.

I get the strong feeling that the world Lierre Keith says would happen if we all agreed with her would actually be entirely nightmarish.

I don’t want your revolution if anyone gets farmed. That’s not a revolution; it’s a ripoff.

That’s the end of chapter one.

Tag Cloud