Just finished reading "The Vegetarian Myth" by Lierre Kieth. Maybe I can't say I finished it...because I didn't actually read it through to the end, kind of skimmed the last section.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. Kieth tackles the political, environmental, moral, and nutritional beliefs/myths that surround vegetarian and vegan eating. Her personal experience from carnivore to vegetarian to vegan and back provide a nice story line amidst all the research.
Instead of chapters, the book is broken into sections; each supported by a mountain of research. These are my favorite points or take home messages of the book.
1. In order for people to survive, someone/something must die.
2. Agriculture is destroying the planet. Govt. subsidies that support corn, soy, wheat... encourage this destruction.
3. Soy is bad for you. Don't eat foods made with soy unless they are fermented. (Soy Sauce, Miso)
4. The planet is overpopulated. We can no longer support it through sustainable farming. Sorry.
5. You may be "healthy" on a vegetarian diet now, but where will your health be in 20 years?
6. Buy local and sustainable when you can. This includes produce, but also poultry, pork, beef, eggs.... get to know your farmer and his farming practices.
While I cannot fully relate to Kieth's personal story, I can remember the days and meals when I did not consume animal protein or enough fat; I often felt hungry and unsatisfied. Our meatless meals of black bean burrito bake, black bean burgers, oatmeal with peanut-butter, cereal with skim milk or soy milk. None of these meals provided enough protein or fat to support a healthy metabolism. No wonder I was hungry within 1-2 hours. Many of these recipes I've blogged about; believing them to be healthy. At the time I did not fully understand how they were sending me on a blood sugar roller coaster. Suppose I will have to take them down, or find a way to revamp them. Lets just say life is a journey with lots of learning along the way.
Working with vegetarian clients or even "flexitarian" clients I can see the symptoms of protein deprivation: Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue, Poor hair and nail growth, Insomnia, Osteoporosis, Frequent illness, Cravings. By increasing their protein intake, these symptoms disappear. Maybe not in the first few days, but within 1-2 weeks they notice a difference. This doesn't mean they begin eating steak overnight. I might have them start with a little organic yogurt, some wild caught fish, eggs, even whey protein powder. Each person has their own reason for choosing vegetarianism, so it's important to work with their beliefs, educate them properly, and reintroduce foods at the appropriate pace.
For anyone questioning starting or stopping a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle I do highly recommend reading this book.