Lierre Keith's The Vegetarian Myth is one of the most important books ever written about food and the sustainability of the human species. It is at once deeply personal, overwhelmingly provocative, and academically sound as it calls into question all of the stories we have ever been told about where food comes from, what kind of food we should eat (especially in the context of veganism and vegetarianism), and what impact our food choices make on our bodies and the world around us. And that's just the core themes; Keith deftly weaves together food politics with economics, religion, culture, misogyny, masculinity, feminism, media issues, peak oil, liberalism vs radicalism, and so much more.
In short, if you think about what you eat, how it got to you, and the issues of nutrition, morality, politics and spirituality come with it, it is paramount that you encounter what The Vegetarian Myth has to offer.
My full review continues:
Keith's central point is that in order for you to live, something else has to die. While it may seem like a simple enough statement, it may become pretty controversial pretty quickly, especially if you've tried to build your diet (or any part of your life, for that matter) around the avoidance of killing other creatures for food or otherwise. She essentially says that not only are the practices of vegetarians and vegans misguided in their effort to help us lead a more sustainable and just life, they actually often propagate a harmful cultural story about food and the relationship we have to it. By necessity, I won't even try to support those statements in this review, as the whole substance of the book is about doing that meticulously; please don't ask me to summarize her thinking for you.
Given how much being a veg*n becomes a matter of identity for so many, Keith acknowledges right off that these assertions are painful ones to make, let alone to hear and receive. The potentially biting nature of her premise can only be alleviated by her willingness to explore it so thoroughly and sympathetically, and to share about the close relationship she has to the subject matter. She tells her personal story of being a long-time vegan, and how she journeyed from an approach to diet that inherently required malnutrition and delusion to one that led to health and awakening. She knows what's it's like to question the foundation of the choices we make about food because she's been doing it rigorously and relentlessly for much of her life:
I know what you want to be true, vegetarians. You want to open the circle of concern to everything sentient. With all your hearts, you want us humans to be meant for cellulose or seeds or berries or anything that you believe can't feel pain. And I'm telling you the truth: it doesn't work. What you are made of -- bones, blood, brain, heart -- needs animals. This is not the universe you wanted. But it's the way the world, always alive and always hungry, works. You can try to live on those other things -- the cellulose you can't digest, the seeds that fight back, the berries and their sugar. If you're like me, you'll do it until you're half dead. If you're smarter than me, you'll learn. You want to open that circle, but in fact there's no way out of it. We're all of us, seeded and feathered, rooted and furred, already in it. (p. 243)
Despite her empathy, Keith is still ruthless in her exploration of modern thinking on food. She tackles, chapter by chapter, all the reasons that one might have for being a vegetarian or vegan: moral, political, nutritional. She turns the writing of food scholars like Peter Singer, Frances Moore Lappe and Jim Merkel on its head, calling out the flaws in the thinking and research that is so often held up to support commonly held viewpoints around veg*n lifestyles. She does make extensive use of other recently trending writings by authors like Michael Pollan, whose books The Omnivore's Dilema, The Botany of Desire, and In Defense of Food provide a great conceptual framework for Keith's particular messages.
Of course, the question that naturally arises when one encounters material "attacking" a given approach to make the world a better place is "well, what does she suggest we do instead?" It's important to note that Keith is not at all suggesting we stand down from the calls issued by the veg*n communities and many other kinds of concerned citizens about stopping the horrors of CAFOs and industrial agriculture, and the book is not just a permission slip to eat meat without consideration of how it came to be dead on your plate. To the contrary, she asserts that she wants an even more full accounting of our thinking about food production and the values, morals and assumptions that are behind it - an accounting that goes beyond turning to soy, or raw foodism, or other kinds of well-intentioned alternatives to a carnivorous diet. As she notes in her concluding chapter, Keith doesn't just want an alternative to mainstream thinking on food, she wants us to build a new approach that is self-consciously opposed to the dominator culture that fuels that thinking.
Despite my request above to avoid trying to summarize Keith's work, I will provide a few of the questions she suggest you ask in considering what you eat (p. 248):
- Does this food build or destroy topsoil?
- Does it use only ambient sun and rainfall, or does it require fossil soil, fossil fuel, fossil water, and drained wetlands, damaged rivers?
- Could you walk to where it grows, or does it come to you on a path slick with petroleum?
She also offers three strong recommendations for those interested in personal solutions:
- Refrain from having children
- Stop driving a car
- Grow your own food
(I list these here in hopes that they make you want to understand more about why those questions and recommendations are relevant; again, please don't take them out of the context of the larger book, or ask me to defend them here.)
If I can offer any criticism of The Vegetarian Myth at all, it's that the book is so dense with information, and Keith often takes such a significant amount of time to make a point from multiple perspectives and with multiple supporting arguments, facts, etc. that it almost becomes overwhelming. I fully understand the necessity of this approach given the resistance her arguments are sure to encounter, but it makes the book unsuitable as a starting point or introduction to these issues for someone who is not already exploring them in some form, or for whom there isn't already some deep cracks in their own previously solid thinking about their veg*n lifestyle. (In fact, I'm sure many vegetarians and vegans will be insulted by her statements and find her condescending, despite her great care to note, "hey, I was just like you once.") I don't think Keith intends the book as said introduction, so maybe that's just a fair warning to readers of this review, instead of anything wrong with her text. But, at the risk of over-simplifying what is definitely not a simple topic, perhaps a future project could include a version of Keith's book that can get the core assertions and arguments across in a shorter form, with pointers back to the full book and related resources for those wanting to know more.
For me personally, The Vegetarian Myth was a great unpacking of a phrase that I heard Daniel Quinn use many years ago to describe the practice of those who choose not to eat meat: "Kingdomism." In other words, discriminating against one kingdom of beings in the taxonomy of life in favor of another. Lierre Keith does an excellent job of making the case that by practicing such discrimination, we deprive ourselves of and disconnect ourselves from the cycles of life in which we were designed to participate. Some of the ideas were not new to me, but I'm still figuring out what this means for my own diet and food politics, as it was just this past January that I started trying to eat less meat, a project that has withered as I've turned the pages of this book. And as with every experience that transforms our thinking, I'm left somewhat disoriented and full of questions, but also set on a new and exciting path of exploration and challenge. As Keith kindly inscribed in my copy of The Vegetarian Myth, "First the Fight and then the Feast."
(I linked to the Amazon.com product page for the book above, but if you buy it from Lierre Keith directly, she gets the most compensation, and you have the opportunity for a personalized inscription too! If you're in Richmond, you're welcome to borrow my copy. You can read the first 14 pages of the book online.)
Updated, from the comments: I should add that I find this book important and useful because of the important questions it raises and the challenges it offers, not because I can personally endorse every conclusion made. By no means have I followed all the primary research, and there are certainly people out there who offer the possibility that much of it is incorrect or misleading. -Chris
Updated 8/3: In a private e-mail exchange after this review appeared, Keith noted that "many reviewers are focusing on my suggested personal actions, when I tried to be so clear that there are NO personal solutions. What we need is a serious political resistance movement--that's the *only* solution. We need huge institutional change, and have been sold a useless bill of goods by both corporate America and liberalism as to the efficacy of personal consumer and lifestyle choices."
27 thoughts on “Lierre Keith's The Vegetarian Myth”
Despite your own glowing prose, it still sounds like an ill-informed polemic. Two quick things:
1) The problem with the statement "Hey, I was just like you once" is that it is a definitively condescending (and often insulting) one. S/he *used* to be like you, but has since reasoned things out more clearly and isn't any more; which means you (the follower of the old way) are inherently backwards. Zing! That's why it doesn't work.
2) Veganism does not inherently require malnutrition. See "Becoming Vegan" by Brenda Davis for a full and data-laden unpacking of this myth. (I think you already have Becoming Vegetarian on your shelf? ;-)) Guess she needed a few more years (what, 30?) to figure out how to do it properly. Personally, my calcium, iron, and B-vitamin levels were off the charts (in the positive direction) at my last check-up.
In closing, every vegetarian I've ever talked to at any length has been concerned about sustainability & the source of her/his food. That's often a key factor in why s/he gave up meat and other animal products. Thus, from my vantage point, I can't see how attacking people already sensitive to these concerns makes for more sustainability & awareness. Sure, they could do better. I could do better! But, excuse the usage, aren't there "bigger fish to fry"?
Look, I'm with you on prophecy. Even progressive groups get self-satisfied and need to be called back. But in the ten years I've spent vegetarian and vegan, I haven't met those kind of folks. Instead, I meet people who become increasingly sensitive and careful about their choices, not less.
I read the first 14 pages. 🙂
Here are my spur-of-the-moment thoughts. Hope I don't embarrass myself!
Keith: "Despite what you’ve been told, and despite the earnestness of the tellers, eating soybeans isn’t going to bring them (extinct species/exhausted land) back. Ninety-eight percent of the American prairie is gone, turned into a monocrop of annual grains. Plough cropping in Canada has destroyed 99 percent of the original humus. In fact, the disappearance of topsoil “rivals global warming as an environmental threat.” When the rainforest falls to beef, progressives are outraged, aware, ready to boycott. But our attachment to the vegetarian myth leaves us uneasy, silent, and ultimately immobilized when the culprit is wheat and the victim is the prairie. We embraced as an article of faith that vegetarianism was the way to salvation, for us, for the planet. How could it be destroying either? "
Seems to be attributing this loss to vegetarians. I've heard that the vegetarian population of the United States is around 2%. What do we really use the soy, etc crops for? To feed...factory-farmed animals...which she's against, naturally...but which is propping up the industry.
Secondarily, WHO "embraced as an article of faith"? The two percent? It's the two percent that's destroying the planet?
Keith: "In the narrative of my life, the first bite of meat after my twenty year hiatus marks the end of my youth, the moment when I assumed the responsibilities of adulthood. It was the moment I stopped fighting the basic algebra of embodiment: for someone to live, someone else has to die."
She needs some help with her math. For most people in the US, to eat meat means more "someone elses" have to die because meat-production is more labor, energy, and land-intensive. Sure, I admit that for me to have a vegan diet, "someone else" will have to die--the creatures caught by and destroyed in farming equipment; insects. But my local-when-possible, organic-most-of-the-time, non-meat diet is a morally better choice than some others. Not the best! But, I firmly contend, better. Keith wants us to make better choices. I do.
The adulthood analogy also counts as another one of those inflammatory belittling phrases that's not winning her any friends among veg readers.
My question: Do you think the population of the United States can eat as much meat as it likes to eat, produced locally and with care by enlightened farmers?
I do not think that it can.
Keith: "Maybe I was revisiting the sight of an accident: this was where I had destroyed my body."
I am truly sorry--honestly--that this happened to her. I really wish she'd had access to better information and counselling. Still, there's a part of me that thinks she's...exaggerating. Hey, a few sentences ago she said she was by nature an overly sensitive person...!
(Keith: Examples of admittedly crazy things read on Vegan message boards)
I am also sad that she only got to troll shitty vegan message boards. As I noted in my blog comment, I've been fortunate enough (I guess) to hang out with relatively enlightened vegs.
In closing, what bothers me is that Lierre Keith is putting what she learned and experienced as a member of a fringe group out for mainstream consumption and reflection. Refer back to my 2% figure mentioned at the beginning. In putting this book out there for a mainstream audience, she does little more than attack and further stigmatize a prophetic minority group. A minority group that didn't create monoculture and is, by no means, single-handedly propping up that industry. A minority group that already doesn't have a great reputation. Her inflammatory title--and bitter polemic--is just tagging the wrong villain.
And I *might* still read the whole book, just to learn how to better refute that nonsensical Kingdomism. 😉
Thanks for your thoughts, Adrienne! I think for most of your points, I'll have to defer to the book and its author for ongoing dialog, as I'm not yet comfortable trying to address them directly with any authority (though I would be really happy to discuss them with you further).
The ones I will address:
1) "Bigger fish to fry." Yes, we must certainly take care not to invest time and energy in attacking people who are generally more informed and sustainability-minded than many others. I guess it may seem that by reviewing this book on my blog and not, say, Diet for a Small Planet, I'm holding up Keith's criticisms as the most important to be thinking about, and I realize that my opening statement in the post reinforces that, but that was not my intention. For me, there definitely is value in a text that pushes back on already "liberal" thinking about how food and diet should work; I guess I just enjoy exploring those challenging questions, even if they're not seen as the most pressing. I do think the case *could* be made that answering these questions directly relates to how best to fry those bigger fish, but I won't attempt that here.
2) "Do you think the population of the United States can eat as much meat as it likes to eat, produced locally and with care by enlightened farmers?"
At current population levels, absolutely not. Our current population size necessitates industrial agriculture and horrible meat production practices, and there is no version of it that allows us to be in a healthy, sustainable relationship with the land we live on (again, at current population levels).
Thanks as always for reading!
I should also add that I find this book important and useful because of the important questions it raises and the challenges it offers, not because I can personally endorse every conclusion made. By no means have I followed all the primary research, and there are certainly people out there who offer the possibility that much of it is incorrect or misleading.
three words on yet another meat-eating advocate: follow the money.
Adrienne wrote, "I am truly sorry--honestly--that this happened to her. I really wish she'd had access to better information and counselling. Still, there's a part of me that thinks she's...exaggerating. Hey, a few sentences ago she said she was by nature an overly sensitive person...!"
I will never understand this kind of public arrogance and dismissal. I have an incurable, degenerative disease that includes life-altering pain. There are Grade IV derangements at four levels of my spine. I'm lucky I can stand up. Is there no one in your life afflicted with illness, disability, chronic pain? Your ideology has left you somewhere between callous and cruel.
Thanks for your unexpected follow-up. I am sorry that I hurt you. I did not read any further than the first 14 pages of your book, so I did not know about your condition.
My response was based around what I read in the first 14 pages of "The Vegetarian Myth." I sought to specifically respond to claims made in those pages--including the one that veganism inherently requires malnutrition--that hurt and felt deeply dismissive to me as a vegan.
Health & healing to you,
I'm really glad you posted this review, Chris. I am continually considering and evaluating the many complicated issues that come with simply attempting to be as ethical and healthy as possible about the food I eat and feed my family. It's nice to see a book with a less common perspective reviewed. Even more, though, it helps to know there are others out there grappling with these issues in their full complexity. Thanks!
i became a Vegan three years ago and i can say that my health have been very very good. meat and dairy substitutes like soy also works well for the body.
You say "Zing" regarding Lierre "reasoning things out more clearly." So what you are saying is a Christian can never "reason things out" and become an antchrist. That is inherently backwards. You don't make any sense, you just think you sound smart. Zing to you! Yes, I was a vegetarian for 1 year and then I realized how stupid it is. Humans eat meat!
No mention of The China Study. Why not? Find buy and view the DVD Eating 3rd edition and Healing Cancer for some well thought out reasons for veganism.
And please stay away from soy, genetic modification and estrogin levels have made it untrustworthy.
I am a vegetarian myself for more than 20 years. Initially I am vegetarian because of my parents. But, they have given us (me and my sibling) to choose when we have grown up. Yes, I chose to stay as vegetarian and I am now in transformation on becoming a vegan. Eat less eggs and drink less milk products now.
I did not feel that I am lack of any nutrition and I feel that my body is stronger than some non-vegetarian as well.
About Keith, I guess she has her own opinion about vegetarianism. I wouldn't argue much on her statement. But, some people might agree with her opinion and want to become vegetarian. So, I wish her all the best and people will make a good use of the book.
Hey Ricky I am sorry but you are not a vegetarian. If you eat animals products you are at best a omnivore. It sounds like there is some sub standard between vegan and vegitarian, there isn't. By the way see protien myth on utube with Tim Van Orden and good luck on your road.
I am not vegan or vegetarian. I have no bias against "Lierre Keith" other than I am strongly against all things disingenuous, hypocritical, or flat-out deceptive. I believe The Vegetarian Myth is all of these things. First, I think it's ironic that "Lierre Keith" (I have no idea what her real name is so I'm going to put it in quotes) claims some animal has to die in order for her to eat. Being a human that is outside of the food chain, what gives "Keith" the authority to make this claim? Has "Keith" ever had to fight for her life? Or is she a privileged white "radical" who is making judgements on things she has no idea about? "Keith", when you've been close to starvation and had to trap, kill, and skin an animal in order to survive, maybe then you can make this claim. But until then, you're a fraud.
Basically, the thesis of her book is that humans should never have progressed past cavemen and that we should all have as much white guilt as she has. Wake up "Keith" and get out more. You're little book is nothing more than a tedious delusion to make yourself feel better for eating meat. I've got news for you: by buying grassfed beef, you are supporting factory farming. Just get over it. You are helping create demand for beef, and in this great capitalist system of ours, if there's a market for it, we will find a way to produce it that will maximize profit. That's what factory farming is. You're just deciding to buy at the high end of the market because you have the money. You are buying the Lexus of beef and leaving poor people to feel bad about buying the Toyota. Give me a break.
When you have REAL solutions for the REAL world the rest of us have to live in, why don't you write another book. Until then, please stay locked away in your bubble.
In reading these comments, it is clear that none of these people have actually read the book (the first 14 pages notwithstanding). The most compelling argument against vegetarianism in the book is the horrific destruction and death (not just of insects and plants, but of ANIMALS) that occurs when you destroy land to plant grain crops. If you read the book, you will see the unavoidable hypocricy in saying that grain is the most humane way to feed the world. You will also see that it is an unsustainable path that will eventually result in mass famine.
Its really clear in reading these comments that no clarity is possible. People are just too emotionally involved in this to come to any reasonable dialogue.
Think about it: moral choices, reason, dialogue --- these are all things that go with civilization. If we lived like animals, in harmony with our environment, we wouldn't have these things either. And we wouldnt be faced with the horror of environmental destruction.
Reading between the lines then, I see an acceptance that we are only human. Or rather only animal. People who want to improve themselves, who want to teach others, or who feel a desperate need to fight for the Earth are trying to transcend human weakness. But we ought to remember we are just monkeys with better stuff.
I guess even though the issues in this book are dealt with brilliantly, the real bottom line here has to do with some frank evaluation of what it means to be human. This is something each person has to determine in solitude. Our moral choices with regard to food or anything else are ultimately maybe more personal than political.
I wish I could keep of row of pictures of young malnourished veg/vegans I run into. The mental breakdown of even the healthiest veg eators ( bvit, zinc)Their cravings for sugar and breads indicating lack of protein and fats.
The fact is that most of the important nutrients needed to maintain healh are from animals- they convert grass and bugs it to a usable dense energy source.
Joints will come apart - lack of proline & lysine. Anger and depression - lack of animal fats, b12, zinc. Look at the symptoms of deficiency in third world coutries who lack of protein - you will see that exists right here in our own bay area.
Oh - the mom I meet who is veg and her new born baby was born with brain dysfunction and in Intensive care ( lack of cholesterol and fat in diet)
As a nutritionist I see it all the time. we need to talk about these facts that are happening -
Hi shannon. Your point about the destruction of soils to produce grains is well taken, but it is also misdirected. You might want to read the Humanure handbook to learn about this general tendancy of soils dying.
It is the method of production that destroys the soils, not the thing that is produced. This should be obvious. Therefore, it does not follow that being a vegan entails destroying soils.
Also, "in order to live someone has to die." This is dishonest. Vegans are not in danger of dying.
Keith is quoted above as saying:
"You can try to live on those other things -- the cellulose you can't digest, the seeds that fight back, the berries and their sugar. If you're like me, you'll do it until you're half dead."
There is no such thing as being half dead. That may have been how SHE felt. But the comments below prove that other people following the same diet feel very differently.
Chris: You may be interested in this website (in process of construction) that attempts a calm, reasoned critique of Keith's position.
Shannon: Here's a site that estimates the number of animals killed to produce different kinds of food.
Marlese: I assume you know that your claims are contradicted by the American Dietetic Association.
I also found The Vegetarian Myth an excellent book. I would like to share our student film about our successful project to grow all our own food in our own neighborhood yard. We want to encourage the world to do the same. Our style of growing food appropriate to our climate and indigenous people yielded us a yard that is filled with diversity, many 'volunteer' plants and a whole new range of visiting birds etc. Please share our film if you feel it has a worthwhile message. If we can do it, others can. It has been a fun experience that has raised my whole level of happiness and hope for the world. Thanks for your wonderful blog.
With love, Aloha, and respect,
Felicia and the students of Akamai Learning
oops. Our website http://www.akamaibackyard.com opens with our film.
As a pescatarian who was once a vegetarian for 2.5 years, I feel that I can relate to Lierre Keith's book, though it is quite extreme at some points.
I faced similar scenarios that were presented in the book, such as how vegetarians, who don't want to kill living things, are critiqued against for eating plants or other non-meat products that do have a mother that produced it. Since everything was once living, it seems nearly impossible for a person against killing things to survive. Agriculture is definitely important for producing crops and products that we can eat, and it does seem like things are planted for human use. However, I feel that she is a bit extreme at some points. For example, although her statement that 'agriculture is carnivorous' is not entirely true, since it may help certain communities grow.
It's tough to work in the agricultural field, especially with monopolies of the land and banks buying up farms/homes. It's even tougher worrying about your diet and health when you have limited funding and resources. All I know is that everyone has to do what they must, according to their morals, to survive and stay healthy.
I was entranced by Keith's rhetoric on first try: I am always open to ideas challenging my beliefs. However, after thinking about it for a while, I am still going to stick with vegetarianism. There is a way to receive necessary proteins through plants, and on a nutritional basis, I'm sticking with it.
But I must say this: while Keith did not make me a carnivore again, she enhanced my view of the world. I once more see life as a circle and as a give-and-take, as it should be. I feel like I am a part of something bigger than the sum of its parts. And my time as a part of that "something" will be short--perhaps it doesn't matter all that much what I do or eat while I'm here. And surely stressing about it, through debates and reading book after book on "how to eat," is not the answer to living a healthy and happy life. Surely there is more to life than food.
Interesting book indeed. I wonder how many vegetarians do it because they think all the fallacies dispelled here are true and how many just don't like eating meat. We are urban(izing) animals, we have traditionally eaten meat, but if someone doesn't want to and they can find a balanced diet other ways, I'm not sure agriculture is so bad. It's still a cycle of life and death if a native species is pushed off farm land, I think the real problem is our unprecedented expansion and over population. Agriculture may be killing the globe, but so is landfill runoff, mineral and oil extraction, etc. If we could get our numbers down to 19th century numbers we could live however we wanted (within reason). Eating meat is not cruel, I never believed that, factory farming IS, but farming doesn't have to be cruel either, it's a sin of scale, and there's just too many f%$@ing humans, anything we do is going to be bad. Good book though.
I'm coming in late in the piece here, but this was/is very interesting stuff for me. I have not read Lierre's book yet, as it is being hidden from me until I finish an important work related task (like a carrot in front of my nose).
My impetus for being interested is, like Lierre my health suffered on a plant based diet... & yes I 'did it right', going in well read. It just didn't work for me some latent health issues, such as genetic predispositions to being on the curvy side, insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome went from bad to worse. Of course there are huge problems, both ethical & nutrirional, with what passes for food in our modern diet but in my case eliminating animal foods was not the answer. I had to look into other things.
I was lucky enough to discover Sally Fallon Morrell's book Nourishing Traditions & as a result get involved in the Weston A. Price foundation. The website and journal are a great source of credible information & a great way to network. I must also say that the foundation is independant & in no way funded or associated with any commercial entity seeking to increase their profits. Of course one pays a membership and buys the journal, but some funds are needed to produce and pay contributors etc.
The foundation was how I got onto Lierre's book. I would say I am now absolutely thriving on a diet more reminiscent of my German, Hungarian, Highland Scott and Southern Irish ancestors prior to industrialisation and refridgeration etc. I reconnected with tradional food preservation methods, such as fermentation. Of course my diet is rich in local game, raw diary, eggs from my neighbour's hens, bone broths and grass fed organic organ meat & contains absolutely no procesed foods. It takes me time to prepare stuff but I luckily love cooking, creating flavours & experimenting & refuse to work fulltime & have no time. What could be considered the most amazing thing about all this is... wait for it... It doesn'tcost me significantly more to eat this way! To add to this I eat less food, but it is a whole lot more nutritionally dense. I'm no scientist but wonder if this is not the reason my binge eating patterns have completely vanished.
What has also been significant for me is getting out of my city bubble and spending time on many of the small scale farms I have been sourcing my food from & hanging out with the farmers and the animals. I have learned first hand how the animals are raised and treated, the tradional practices of old school small scale farming
More recently, I've found a number of newer books and movies have been influential in my thinking about food. One book is "Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows" by Melanie Joy.
She wrote a follow-up book focused on communication between v*gans and meat eaters called "Beyond Belief". One message she emphasis there is the value of "sustainable meat reduction" rather than "maximal meat reduction". We know from the Drawdown.org scientific review that "Plant-Rich Diets" are a top solution for climate change: https://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank
But trying to do this "perfectly" and quitting does little good.
The China Study book was also impactful.
Forks Over Knifes is movie version of the China Study, while Cowspiracy focuses on the climate change impact of our food choices and "What The Health" takes a follow-the-money approach to dig into why some disease-causing foods end up getting promoted by non-profits who purport to be addressing the diseases.
I'm also working my way through the thick tome "Bloodless Revolution" which looks at the history of vegetarianism over time. It was interesting to learn how it was been much has it been a considered a religious or moral issue over time.