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Lierre-keithToday my guest is Lierre Keith. She is the author of The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability, which has been called “the most important ecological book of this generation.” Lierre and I will both share our experiences The Vegetarian Mythwith vegetarian eating (Lierre was a vegan) and why we needed to move away from these diets to regain our health. Lierre’s viewpoint goes way beyond the taste and nutrition aspects of food, to looking at the whole big picture of environment, politics and our own wellbeing. Lierre a writer, small farmer, and radical feminist activist. She is the author of six books and coauthor, with Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay, of Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet. She’s been arrested six times for acts of political resistance.





The Vegetarian Myth: Why a Vegetarian Diet Might Not Be Best for Health or the Environment

Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Lierre Keith

Date of Broadcast: September 16, 2014

DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world, and to live toxic free. It is Tuesday, September 16, 2014, and it’s a beautiful day here in Clearwater, Florida. It’s overcast, so it’s not too hot or starting to come in to autumn.

After a long summer, you just get to that point where it’s so nice that it’s even 10 degrees cooler. And that’s how I’m feeling today. I’m just very happy that we’re coming into autumn and winter, which is the most beautiful time of year here in Florida.

So today, we’re going to be talking about food and specifically, about the vegetarian diet. My guest has written a book. Her name is Lierre Keith. She’s written a book called <em>The Vegetarian Myth</em>, and we’re going to talk about her experience, and my experience of each of us being on a vegetarian diet, and why it didn’t work for us, and some of the scientific reasons why we both think that it’s not the right diet for human beings.

This book has been very controversial. And so I would just ask you to listen and just decide for yourself if this information that we’re talking about today is right for you. This is actually, as it turns out, part 1 of two parts, because I have read this book from cover to cover. I read it when it first came. It is one of the books that has the most yellow highlighting in it and scribbles all over the margins as I agreed with her over and over and over from my own experience and my own research.

And so we’re going to talk about the vegetarian diet today. Next Tuesday, the 23rd, we’re going to talk about the other half of the story which is talk to about how our connections with nature and food. Both of us have a lot to say on that subject, so we decided to just do a second show and talk about that next week.

But today, we’re going to talk about the vegetarian diet starting right now.

Hi, Lierre.

LIERRE KEITH: Hi. Thanks for having me on your show.

DEBRA: Thank you so much for being here. Go ahead.

LIERRE KEITH: That wasn’t me.

DEBRA: Let’s start with your story about your experience with the vegetarian diet, and what led you to write this book.

LIERRE KEITH: I became a vegan when I was 16. I was a very impassioned young person. I cared a lot about the state of the planet, and the state of human justice as well. And I met another teenage vegan. And that is the way that actually most people become vegetarian or vegan, is that they meet somebody, and they are convinced by the arguments and the information.

And I was convinced in about two weeks. This was information that I had never been exposed to, and when you hear about the horrors of factory farming, it is very compelling, and it should be. There’s really no reason for anything should be something like that.

So I was overwhelmed by what I had been participating in just by eating. And it’s a very compelling argument.

So this other young girl and her family, they were vegan, and they were able to answer all my questions about it, and I had no counter-information. It was the best that I had at that point.

So I went into it, just full course.

So I was a vegan for almost 20 years. My health declined and then collapsed. And I still did not realize that it was the diet that had destroyed me. It is really hard when you are in that world to engage with counter-information.

A part of the problem with being a vegan is that it becomes your identity. It becomes who you are. It’s not just the diet. It’s not even just the philosophy. It becomes your sense of self, and of course, you surround yourself by other people who agree with you on that and also makes this a part of their identity.

And when you get to that point where you’re willing to start questioning or you’re willing to start engaging without that information, it was like a friend. This is a story I’ve heard over and over [inaudible 00:04:29] community. You’re driven from the garden.

And so you know that as it starts to sail. People just go through such a terrible time. First of all, your own sense of yourself collapses, your own sense of morality and ethics and is this supposed to be the right thing, why isn’t working, I must be doing this wrong, this incredible turmoil, but in the back of all of that you know that half of your friends are no longer going to speak to you if you tell them that you’re considering changing your diet.

I’ve seen marriages break up over this. It can be really terrible.

So all of that is going on, and in the meantime, I’m a very curious young person, and I do start investigating more fully. What are these foods that I’m eating? Where do they come from? And what is the cost of […] all of this?

And of course, every time I step outside of that charm circle of vegan ideals, I’m coming up against completely counter-information about the level of destructiveness of the foods that I’m eating. None of this meshes.

So I lived with that kind of tremendous disjuncture between these different branches of knowledge and how they come together or not. And you do live in incredible turmoil.

So a lot of times, this is causing a dissonance. You set it aside. And I think for a lot of us, we really reach that final point when we’ve done permanent damage to our bodies. And I can’t pretend anymore. And that’s a terrible day. I’m sure you know yourself, nobody gives this up easily. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

But on the positive side, it meant that I was finally free to engage with all that information that I had been collecting over 20 years about what true sustainability might look like, about the number of animals that were actually dying, depending on what food I was eating, and the fact there was no way out of that.

I really wanted my life to be possible without any stuff [inaudible 00:06:30] sense of being and as complete as possible.

So all of that I was finally able to absorb and start really engaging with.

So that’s ultimately why I wrote the book was I had to explain to myself what I had done, why it didn’t work. I got bored having the same conversation over and over with people. So if I just write it down, I can just hand them the book because it’s not an easy conversation.

And the other problem is that it can’t be done in slogan. It’s a huge, vast body of conflicting facts that people have to engage with on their own. And it can’t be done in five minutes. It’s a much longer set of conversation, and people have to be willing to engage, and not everybody is, or you have to do it in your own time.

I’ve heard from people who took them a year to read my book. And I understand that because it took me 20 years just to put it all together.

DEBRA: I understand it too. It’s a very wonderful book, and it has a lot of information in it. And there were so many times because I was on a similar journey two years. I was reading all the same books that you are reading. I was studying. I was asking all the same questions.

And so to get to your book, it was just like, here’s somebody who agrees with me. And it was so wonderful in that way, but it did take me a long time to read the book. And I can see that for someone who holds dear the basic principles of vegetarian and veganism that it would be very difficult to even consider some of the things that you say in the book.

And we’re going to talk about some of those things today.

I just like to, for a couple of minutes, just tell my story about being a vegetarian because I never was a vegan. But I didn’t eat meat, I think, for about seven or eight years. And I was convinced that it was the right thing to do nutritionally, but what ended up happening was that my health did deteriorate over that period of time. And there was just finally a day. I went to England and it was very hard to find vegetarian food or vegetarian restaurants or anything. I was traveling, so I couldn’t make my vegetarian food.

And so I just decided one day that I would just eat a piece of meat, and my body felt so much better. That I just continued to eat meat.

I want to make it clear. I’ll say this, speaking for myself. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t eat vegetables. And I eat a lot of vegetables, but the problem is that vegetables themselves nutritionally don’t provide all the nutrition that you need in order to be healthy. And we’re going to talk about that.

And also, some of the foods that vegetarians commonly eat are no so good to be eating either, and we’re going to talk about that.

We need to go to break. So I’ll tell you after the break.

You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and we’re talking today about The Vegetarian Myth with Lierre Keith. And we’ll be right back.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Lierre Keith. She’s the author of The Vegetarian Myth: Food Justice and Sustainability. And there’s a lot of information on this book about the vegetarian diet, and how it actually isn’t and cannot be sustainable either for human health or for the environment.

And we’re going to talk about a lot more about the sustainability part of it next week, next Tuesday, in part 2 of this show.

And today, we’re talking about The Vegetarian Diet and some of the things that she has to say about the diet. And we’ll talk about sustainability next week.

I do want to say that my second experience with being a vegetarian was much later in my life when I had a friend living with me who was a raw food vegan. And he insisted that I just do his diet with him while he was there, so that I could see how great I would feel being a raw food vegan.

Well, not only did I not feel great being a raw food vegan, I was getting acupuncture treatments at the time. And after two weeks of this, my acupuncturist said, “What are you doing to your body?” And when I told him, he said, “Please immediately leave my office and go get a cheeseburger, a bacon cheeseburger.”

Because it was just from his Chinese perspective, I was being so out of balance by only eating vegetables. And I’ll just say again, we’re not saying don’t eat vegetables. But vegetables are not everything that we need for a diet.

So in your book, Lierre, you talk about three specific types of vegetarians. One is the moral vegetarian and the political vegetarian and the nutritional vegetarian. So I want to get through just talking about all these three of those briefly in the time we have together today.

Can you give us just a general idea of what is a moral vegetarian?

LIERRE KEITH: So the moral vegetarians believe that the human life can be sustained without death, without any harm to any essential beings. And some of them go even further and say that no creature depends on death.

There have even been people in the New York Times who have argued on the [inaudible 00:12:24] that we should essentially kill all the carnivores on the planet, because all they do is create death and suffering in their wake.

So there is something profoundly anti-life about not understanding that death is part of the cycle. All of us are alive, and we are only alive because millions of other creatures have died to keep us alive. And then we give our lives back.

We’re all part of this tribe called carbon. Every single molecule of my body will one day be recycled back into this amazing planet. The grass will eat me, and the bacteria will eat me, and all kinds of animals will eventually be part of that. And it will all just go back to where it came from, and more life will come from that.

And as a vegetarian, as a vegan, I thought that I could sustain my life, and there would be no harm to any other creature. What I didn’t understand was that agriculture, all my food came from agriculture. It was all grains and beans and vegetables that that’s the most destructive thing people have done to the planet.

I didn’t know what agriculture was. I grew up in an urban environment. I had not a clue of the place it came from, and I thought I was being conscious and ethical. I didn’t know that.

In really brute terms, you take a piece of land, you clear every living thing off it (and I mean down to the bacteria) and then you [inaudible 00:13:56]. And that’s what agriculture is.

We’ve had 10,000 years of this activity. We have trashed the planet. 98% of old-growth forests are gone, and 99% of the world’s prairies have been destroyed. And this is in the service of agriculture. And there’s no way you can take an activity that has destroyed 98% of the habitat for other creatures and say this is somehow animal-friendly.

But again, I was not aware of this. I just thought if I look at my plate, and I see a dead animal that’s a bad thing because something died. When I looked at my plate and I saw rice or corn or kidney beans, I didn’t realize that an entire ecosystem had been laid to waste, and then converted to human use at the expense of all those other creatures who had it seen as simply been driven into extinction because they had nowhere to live.

And that is the progress of agriculture across the planet. We are now losing 200 species a day. And ultimately, it goes back to that process of destruction and draw down.

So in a nutshell, that’s the problem, and I didn’t realize that. Most people who live in agricultural society really had no idea what the cost of this to the planet.

The moral argument is that you can have a life that is somehow free from suffering and death because the food you eat can somehow be pure and life-affirming and all this. And it simply isn’t true. On a more micro level, a smaller scale, plants want to eat dead animals, and I found this out as a vegan who was trying to garden that there was no way to have health soil without incorporating some kind of animal products into it whether it was manure, whether it was [inaudible 00:15:40] or blood meal. Those are basic things that the soil needs.

That was horrifying for me as a vegan. And I ran right up against that wall, and there was no way through. Just ideologically, I smacked right into reality, and I couldn’t find a way through it. And it was really hard because I wanted to grow my own food, and I couldn’t do it.

And then there’s a tremendous amount of death involved even in having a garden because, of course, you grow nice, juicy plants. Well, there are plenty of other creatures that want to eat those things, so you’re in a battle.

I just experienced tremendous ethical agony over what to do about that. And it became clear to me that the only way to do it was to kill them. That it was my life against theirs. Repelling only went so far, and when you’re fighting a battle with slugs, there’s really no repellant that works. They were going to help to die.

So I just went through that ethical collapse on a small scale because this didn’t match the version of reality that I wanted to be true with essentially a fairy tale.

The third time or the fourth time that I replanted that lettuce and the slugs devoured it in the night, I said, “Well, I guess I just won’t grow any lettuce.” And I went to the store. Just very clear, I remember this moment of holding this head of organic lettuce, and I thought to myself, “Who are you fooling? The people who grew this lettuce does the same thing that you’re refusing to do. You’re just paying somebody to do it for you.”

But they’re killing those slugs. There’s no way they’re not. It was a real moment of you have to grow up. You have to face the basic algebra of the system. These animals are going to die and the only thing you can do is do that well, do that wisely, and do that with as much humility as you can, and know that you’re [inaudible 00:17:33] eventually.

But it was a terrible moment for me as a vegan.

DEBRA: I understand. We need to go to break. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Lierre Keith. And we’re talking about her book The Vegetarian Myth. We’ll be right back.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Lierre Keith. She’s the author of The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability, and that’s what we’re talking about today is The Vegetarian Myth.

So I had mentioned that the second type of vegetarian is the political vegetarian. But I actually just want to skip that because we have so little time, and I want to go straight to the nutritional vegetarian because there is so much to talk about there.

Lierre, first, would you tell us about exorphins, and why they’ll make us eat certain foods?

LIERRE KEITH: They’re basically substances that exist in mostly grain, and they act in our bodies. They’re more [inaudible 00:18:36] substances essentially. So they’re very addictive, and they give us a great pleasurable feeling.

You might not know they’re addictive because if you’re eating wheat three times a day, you’re not going to notice that you have a low-level addiction going on. But there’s plenty of people, if you say, you might think about going gluten-free, you might think about going low carb, you might think about not eating bread all the time, and they look at you in complete horror, “I could not live without bread.”

And that’s why. That’s the big reason why.

And so for a lot of us, as proteins like gluten makes their way through our gut, they actually turns into what are called gluteum morphine, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s morphine made out of gluten, and they’re very addictive.

I can speak to this myself. Pretty much everybody in my family is always addicted to wheat. I went gluten-free mostly because I have an autoimmune disease, and the results for me were very dramatic in a positive way. But one of the side benefits for me was that I never had to think about it again. Once I knew that this was going to work, I never looked back. And it was such a relief. I didn’t have to think about muffins or bagels or bread again. It’s not food to me anymore because that stuff just pulled my name from across town.

I know there are bagels. If I get in the car, I can have one.

I wouldn’t sell my children into slavery for it. I’m not going to pretend this is heroin or meth, but it has that pull on people to the extent where dramatically, I’ve seen friends have great results going gluten-free, especially with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. They tend to respond very quickly.

So within 48 hours, I’ve seen people be able to bend their fingers again. It’s that fast. It’s amazing. They cannot keep off the gluten. They would rather have a piece of pizza or a bagel or a muffin than be able to use their hands.

And that really tells you the level of addiction that is provoked by eating gluten and some of these other substances that contain this morphine-like addictive substances. It’s very profound.

DEBRA: It is. And dairy also has these in it.

LIERRE KEITH: There’s some in dairy, yes, but to a certain extent.

DEBRA: And so for me, in my life, it’s like my favorite thing to eat was give me a good load of artisan bread, and put butter all over it, and I was absolutely happy. It was so much easier for me to give up sugar than wheat. Sugar was nothing in comparison to wheat. Oh, my god.

And yet, on a vegetarian diet, grains are the staple of a vegetarian diet. And vegetarians are eating these grains all the time, as well as everybody else.

And so again, I’ll just say we’re not suggesting that you don’t eat vegetables, but there are components, common components, of the vegetarian diet like grains which I personally have been identifying toxic substances being more work. I would say that wheat is as harmful, or grains in general, and particularly, wheat is as toxic to your body as any toxic manmade chemicals. It messes everything up. It just does.

And as someone who no longer eats grains, I used to do this thing. When I first trying to get off of grains, I would do this thing of cheating by when I would go to Costco. I shop at Costco because where I live, that’s the least expensive place to buy organic food. And they have a lot of organic food.

And so I go to Costco and they have all these little samples sitting out, and I’d go, “I could just have this one cookie and I could just have this sample of bread.”

But you can’t because just that little sample will do these things that set up the addiction. But as you said, when you get off it, and you stop, you just stop. It stops being food for you when you start seeing what else you can eat, and you don’t have that addictive pull anymore. You don’t have that addiction, and you don’t binge on it.

When was the last time you’ve binged on a carrot?

LIERRE KEITH: Exactly. People don’t binge on hard-boiled egg or on steak or salmon, smoked salmon. You don’t. You eat it and then you’re full. We actually have shut off mechanisms for both fat and protein.

Our brains can say, “You’ve had enough. You can stop now.”

And if you ask people, how many hard-boiled eggs could you eat? They can come up with a number. “I could eat four. I could eat five. I would be totally full after that. No more.”

When you say, “how much cake could you eat?”

We all know there’s no shut off valve. You eat until you’re ready to vomit.

DEBRA: Literally, yes.

LIERRE KEITH: We have no shut off valve for carbohydrates. It’s not in us. We don’t know when we’ve had enough.

DEBRA: I remember when I was a kid. My family used to like to go on a Sunday morning to a brunch at a fancy hotel. And I remember one day eating and eating and eating because there was all this food just right in front of me, and I just ate, and ate, and ate, and ate until my stomach hurt. And I learned that day why don’t I feel like I should stop eating. And I was just a kid, and I thought that. But that’s the way it is.

But when I noticed that when I eat the right foods that my body is biologically adapted for, things like proteins and vegetables and fruits, I feel satisfied at a point, and I stop eating. And I’m surprised that how little food it is in comparison to how much wheat I used to want to eat.

LIERRE KEITH: It’s biologically true because we have no mechanism to tell us when we’ve had enough carbohydrates.

DEBRA: Another thing I want to ask you, and I’m just picking and choosing things from your book here. There’s so much information. I’m just picking and choosing things because our time is so short. I want to talk about vegetarians and sugar, and we’re coming up on the break, so I don’t want you to get started.

But I’ll just ask a question, and then you can give the answer after we do the break. You talk about how vegetarians crave sugar, and you give three reasons for that. We’re going to give them after the break. But I wanted to say that I have noticed this not only in myself, but in my vegetarian friends that vegetarians, they really, really want sugar, and they are very interested in dessert, and you’re going to tell us why.

You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest is Lierre Keith. She’s the author of The Vegetarian Myth. And when we come back, she’s going to tell us why vegetarians crave sugar.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Lierre Keith. She’s the author of The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability. Today is part 1 of our interview where we’re talking about the vegetarian diet. Next Tuesday, September 23rd, we’re going to be talking about sustainability, the cycle of life, and our connection as humans to the world of nature and food.

So tell us why vegetarians love sugar.

LIERRE KEITH: There are three reasons. One is tryptophan, the next one is fat, and the third is your blood sugar.

So in reverse order, one of the big problems of eating a vegetarian diet is that it has essentially nothing but sugar. And you can make yourself feel better by calling it complex carbohydrate, but at the end of the day, those complex carbohydrates are broken down in your gut. That’s the job of your digestive system is to break everything down into tiny, little components that can be sent through into your bloodstream, and then the rest of your body picks up the nutrients and keeps you alive, keeps you healthy, keeps rebuilding you, and that’s how it works.

So it’s supposed to be broken down into small bits. And that’s what happens to complex carbohydrate. It’s broken down into simple sugar. And if we were all to eat the amount of carbohydrate recommended by the USDA food pyramid, which most of America did indeed try to do, that’s equivalent to eating two cups of sugar a day.

The human body was never intended to deal with that much sugar at any given day. It’s insane really.

This is the problem. This lends itself to all kinds of diseases.

And we call them the diseases of civilization. One of the main reasons that agricultural people get these kinds of diseases is ultimately because of that excess sugar for three times a day, every single day.

So what happens is all that sugar ends up in your bloodstream. We have one blunt instrument to deal with it, and that’s the hormone’s influence. And this is a biological emergency. Your brain can only function at a very narrow range of sugar. If it’s too high or too low, you will die. And this is life-threatening for diabetics because they’ve lost this ability to handle it.

Ultimately, everyone will wear out their insulin receptors by doing this day after day. But they’re already there. I can’t tell you how life-threatening this is.

So insulin, you eat all the sugar, terrible emergency, pancreas releases all the insulin that it can. Insulin runs around in your bloodstream, grabs everything and shoves it into your fat cells as fast as it can to clear that sugar from your blood before your brain goes into shock.

The problem with it being a blunt instrument, of course, is that it grabs way too much. So now, instead of having too much sugar in your blood, you’ve got too little, and it’s a hypoglycemia. And now, you’re cranky, and you’re shaking, and you’re sweating, and if you don’t put food in your mouth, you feel like you’re going to die.

And this is the state that many people who eat high carb, low fat diet, and [inaudible 00:29:00] (and this is especially true for vegetarians. There’s no way around it if you’re vegan. This is where you’re going to end up), you’re going to burn through those insulin receptors. And every time this happens, you’re wearing down the cell receptors, the surface of the cell that can lock onto the insulin and receive the nutrients.

And so each time you do this, it’s going to get harder for insulin to do its job for the next round. And that’s the problem.

So every time your blood sugar drops like that you’re desperate to put more food in your face especially sugar because now, your blood sugar is too low, and your brain isn’t able to function. So it turns out this terrible emergency call, “Feed me, feed me, feed me. I’m going to die.” And that is true. If your blood sugar is too low, you will fall into a coma.

So you’re responding to the emergency. You can’t figure out why you can’t keep control of your food intake. That’s why. You’re just responding to that emergency that you provoked.

DEBRA: I remember those things. I used to have to eat sugar or I was going to die. I remember that. You don’t think that you’re having that because, like you’re saying, I’m not eating cookies or whatever. You don’t realize that you’re having that reaction in your body because you just ate whole wheat bread. That’s supposed to be a health food.

But I don’t have those kinds of feelings at all anymore. Just not at all. So it is good food.

LIERRE KEITH: Nobody has to live like this. You can stop that entire vicious cycle pretty quickly. In a few days, you can have a really stable mood state, really stable food intake, and feel really happy and satisfied. It does not take long.

But blood sugar is number one. Number two, as I mentioned, insulin grabs pretty much everything and shoves it into your cells as fast as it can. One of the things that it can’t grab onto for unknown reasons is tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid, and if you’ve ever been on Prozac or any of those SSRI’s, you probably know that tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin.

Without serotonin, we just aren’t happy. The amino acid that we would have to have is tryptophan that makes the serotonin. The thing about tryptophan is what’s called an essential amino acid. The human animal cannot produce this. We can only eat it. We can only eat tryptophan. We cannot make it on our own.

And when you’re eating these kinds of vegetarian or vegan diet, there’s really no good plant sources of tryptophan. You’re never going to get enough. The only moment when you’re going to feel like your brain has enough tryptophan, therefore, it has enough serotonin, is when you provoke these kinds of blood sugar responses if you eat sugar.

Now, the insulin runs around, grabs everything, shoves it into the cells, and the one thing it’s not grabbing onto it is tryptophan.

Now, tryptophan has no competition at the bloodstream barrier, and it manages to get through to your brain pretty quickly. Now, for 10 minutes, you finally have enough tryptophan. You’re not eating it because you’re a vegetarian or a vegan. It’s the only way you’re going to get it. It’s by provoking that kind of blood sugar crisis in yourself.

This is why depressed people crave sugar, and it’s why vegetarians and vegans crave sugar just because they want that tryptophan in it. It’s a very bad way to get tryptophan. You end up with blood sugar problems. You’re going to end up with diabetes. You’re going to end up with cardiovascular disease, [inaudible 00:32:30] and all that. But in a pinch, it’s all you’ve got.

So this is why over and over, and I’m sure anecdotally you’ve seen this in your vegetarian friends. They crave sugar like nothing else. And this is one of the big reasons why. It’s the tryptophan.

DEBRA: And you open a vegetarian magazine on sold desserts, it’s a big thing. I have had people tell me over and over that people who don’t eat meat crave sugar. Just period. You’re not the only person who said that. It’s common.

LIERRE KEITH: And the third reason that they crave sugar is that usually, they’re eating very low fat diet along with this. It’s hard to get enough fat when you’re just concentrating on eating all that carbohydrates, and also they vilified animal fats, of course. They’re not going to eat those at all. So you’re not getting any saturated fat. And honestly, you need it. The human body just needs a big chunk of saturated fat every day for lots of different reasons.

DEBRA: It does.

LIERRE KEITH: In particularly, your brain, I think we should start there. Your brain is somewhere around 80% fat. Your neurotransmitters can’t transmit without fat. Nerves can’t be healthy without it.

We are a set of electrical impulses inside a watery environment. That’s the one description of animals. The only thing that lets those nerves transmit the electrical signal is they’re insulated. And that insulation from the watery environment is made up of saturated fat.

So there’s no way your brain is going to function without saturated fat. Now, if you’re denying yourself saturated fat, it’s such an important nutrient that we have a fallback plan. And that fallback plan is if you eat sugar, the human body can actually create saturated fat out of sugar. And that’s again why people—yeah, low fat diet, vegan diet will crave sugar. It’s actually a craving for fat. But it’s the only avenue by which they will let their bodies get it.

If you take fat off the list, and if you take animal fat off the list, your body says, “All right, but you’re going to crave sugar instead because you’ve got to give this to me or we’re going to die.”

And I have had so many people in my life who they make the switch to a more appropriate diet. They start eating either bacon or eggs cooked in coconut butter, coconut oil for breakfast and [inaudible 00:34:52] because they say, “I wasn’t hungry again until 4 o’clock in the afternoon.”

That’s what life is supposed to feel like, and it’s because you’re giving your body appropriate fat. Now, you’re not starving, and you’re not getting that constant emergency signal, “I need fat. Give me sugar because I’ll make do,“ which is what your body is saying with those terrible cravings.

So those are the three reasons that you will find most vegetarians or vegans crave sugar to an often extraordinary length.

DEBRA: And sugar has even more problems that we’ve already discussed, so we won’t go into that. We only have less than two minutes before the show is done, and there are so many other questions I wanted to ask you. But we’re going to talk next week on September 23rd, next Tuesday. We’re not going to talk about the vegetarian diet, but we are going to talk about food. We’re going to talk about food and the environment and nature, just the whole cycle of life and how we, as human beings, fit into that cycle of life, and how we eat, how life eats us.

I’m going to share some information that my big realization about this, I’ll talk about that too. And Lierre will talk, and we’ll see how we can connect in the food that we’re eating with all of life in a positive, harmonious, sustainable way.

So Lierre, are there any final words you’d like to give us?

LIERRE KEITH: I try to always make plain that the values that underlie the vegetarian aspects are not the problem. So, compassion and sustainability and justice, these are really the only values that are going to get us to that world that we need. So that’s not the problem.

The problem really is just the vast amount of information. And I really hope that your listeners will at least reach out a little bit beyond their comfort level to try to engage a little bit more because you’ll still be the same person at the end of the day, but you’ll be able to make better decisions both for yourself and for the planet. You don’t have to change your basic moral framework. You don’t have all the information that you need to make perhaps a better decision.

DEBRA: Thank you so much. We’ll talk to you next Tuesday, September 23rd. We’ll be back with Lierre Keith, and I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. Be well.


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