Marshall's Reviews > Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness and the Future of Life on Earth

Diet for a New America by John Robbins
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Jun 15, 09

bookshelves: ecology, culture, economics, health, non-fiction, politics, favorites
Read in June, 2009, read count: 1

This is one of the pivotal vegetarian advocacy books. Now I understand why. Reading this book made me a vegetarian all over again. My understanding of the issues that led to my decision to become vegetarian is only a fraction of what this book covers. I was truly astonished by what this book revealed. I really understood how so much of the meat industry depends on ignorance and deception.

It starts out by going straight for the heart. It talks about what animals are like--what they're really like, not the popular misconceptions. It really shows just how sentient these creatures are, how they can obviously feel compassion and pain. Then it shows just how awfully these sweet creatures are treated as they're raised for slaughter. It's horrific. Truly, terribly horrific. No living creature should be treated like that.

The next section is devoted to the endless list of health problems that have been tied to excessive meat consumption. He does fall into the fallacy that correlation implies causation, but much of the data presented here was nonetheless persuasive. My favorite part here was the dispelling of the myth that people can't get their protein needs without meat or animal-based foods.

The last section talked about some of the pesticides and poisons used in the raising of animals for slaughter, and the effects these have had on the ecosystem, water, and human breastmilk. But the very last chapter was a disappointment. In its discussion of the environment, it never mentioned global warming and the power of vegetarianism to limit greenhouse gases. It made claims that world hunger could be solved with the efficiency of vegetarian diets, ignoring, as such claims often do, the positive feedback loop of population growth caused as surviving children produce offspring they wouldn't have otherwise produced had they died of starvation. World hunger is insoluable without population control. The last chapter also makes wild claims that our economic woes can be solved with vegetarianism, not to mention world peace.

Nevertheless, this book is a win, overall. I can't imagine anyone remaining a heavy meat eater after reading this book, and I challenge every meat eater to read it, to see all the ways they've been ignorant about what they put in their bodies, and this enormous industry they employ in order for them to do so.
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