I haven't read much of it yet, I'm about 1/3 of the way through it, but what I have read has been well-documented, painstakingly researched, logical, and compassionate. It brings up points of contradiction in the vegetarian/vegan/animal rights arguments that I've been asking myself ever since I first starting thinking about a vegetarian diet (as an 8 year-old, maybe?). It also provides coherent arguments for a plant and animal-based diet that is sustainable, compassionate and just.
Here are some quotes I found really insightful:
Keith is fundamentally opposed to factory farming, but she is also opposed to a worldview that neglects the circle of life and death and co-dependency that we are all a part of. As I said, I haven't gotten very far in the book yet and I have only read Chapter One ("Why This Book?) and Chapter Two ("Moral Vegetarians"). So the above quotes shouldn't be regarded as the entire ideological basis of the book. The other chapters are called "Political Vegetarians" (this is where I am now), "Nutritional Vegetarians", and "To Save the World". There is also a lengthy resource section.
"I want my life--my body--to be a place where the earth is cherished, not devoured; where the sadist is granted no quarter; where the violence stops. And I want eating--the first nurturance--to be an act that sustains instead of kills." (1)
"The truth is that agriculture requires the destruction of entire ecosystems. The truth is also that life isn't possible without death, that no matter what you eat, someone has to die to feed you." (3)
"[Do] the lives of nematodes and fungi matter? Why not? Because they [are] too small for me to see?" (18)
"Soil, species, rivers. That's the death in your food. Agriculture is carnivorous: what it eats is ecosystems and it swallows them whole." (42)
"It takes anywhere from 250 to 650 gallons of water to grow a single pound of rice." (49)
"Militarism is a feminist issue, rape is an environmental issue [and] environmental destruction is a peace issue." (57)
"Rural life is urbanism with a view." (77)
"[W]e need to stop sentimentalizing nature. The sentimentality takes two forms. The first is the macho, Teddy Roosevelt (always elevated to his spare initials, "TR", in the pro-hunting literature) approach. Nature is violent and bloody, so there's nothing wrong with men (and it's always men who are allowed to lay claim to violence) behaving the same way. [...]
The TR crowd would argue that because animals do it--whatever it is, hunt, kill--humans are allowed to as well. Never mind that no (other) animal is capable of building a CAFO [concentrated animal feeding operation] or keeping other animals in lifelong torment, that factory farming doesn't exist--and could never exist--in nature. The TRs have their sentimentality and it's a maudlin attachment to their own masculinity, their own longing to invade and conquer, their own entitlement, which they project onto animals in order to claim it as the natural order.
The flip side is the ARs' [animal rights proponents'] ignorance and denial of death of the nature of nature. They show their ignorance in their insistence that an agricultural diet of annual grains is sustainable and death-free, when in fact it is inherently destructive and saturated in death. This approach reaches the ridiculous with ARs trying to save animals from themselves, from their animal needs and desires, to hunt, to kill, to eat and be eaten in turn." (77-8)
"A culture worth living in would start with an attitude of reverence and awe toward this world, our home, and every last member of it." (82)
"Beyond the destructive nature of an agricultural diet, any attempt to remove ourselves emotionally, physically, spiritually from the life processes of the planet will result in a culture based on ignorance, denial and, given our human capacity for destruction, dominance." (84)
My friend Kimia tells me that one of the tenets of the Baha'i faith (and, please, if I'm wrong someone tell me) is to be in constant dialogue one's worldview, because without questioning what we believe we can't grow, intellectually or otherwise. That's part of the reason I wanted to read this book and part of the reason I hope you will too, whoever you are and whatever views you subscribe to!