I have just read a very interesting book called The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability by Lierre Keith. Lierre was a vegan for nearly twenty years. She tells her story of how veganism destroyed her health. She came to understand that vegetarianism was not the answer to: glowing health, feeding the world’s hungry, stopping animal cruelty, or saving the planet. This was a painful realization which she articulates with compassion.
I was a vegetarian for six years. When I was nineteen, I read Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe. It changed my life. I thought I could do one simple action, stop eating meat, and I would change the world. Unfortunately, vegetarianism didn’t work very well for me. I think The Vegetarian Myth is a good book to read. I wish at nineteen the book had been available to take the fire out of my own zealous beliefs. It could have saved me much suffering.
The Weston A Price Foundation has a Website Tour for Vegetarians. There are a number of excellent essays on the topic. These articles will give helpful suggestions that will protect the vegetarian’s health from common pitfalls.
If you would like to have more information about The Vegetarian Myth, I have a link to Lierre Keith’s website.
Updated January 9, 2010: The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen was a very influential book for me in the 1980s. It was my favorite vegetarian cookbook and I used to recommend it to everyone. This is a link to Vegetarians Who Eat Meat. Apparently Mollie Katsen, a 30 year vegetarian, is now eating grassfed meats.
Updated February 26, 2012: Many vegetarians and vegans talk about feeling great after changing their diet. Part of this may be psychological. If you feel guilty about eating animals, not eating animals relieves the guilt. But some of this great feeling may be physical. Please read Vegans Are Cannibals: The Truth Behind the “New Vegan High”. Using the term cannibal is hyperbole. The article is really talking about autophagy. Read the comments too. There can be much help in the experience of others walking the same path. What do you think?