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The Face on Your Plate

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  899 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
In this revelatory work, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson shows how food affects our moral selves, our health, and our planet. Masson investigates how denial keeps us from recognizing the animal at the end of our fork and urges readers to consciously make decisions about food.
ebook, 288 pages
Published March 16th 2009 by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. (first published January 1st 2009)
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Nov 07, 2015 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Khalil
I have been a vegetarian for a number of years, and leaning toward being a vegan. That is to say, I try to avoid milk, cheese, and eggs. So, most of the ideas in this book are not new to me. Most animals kept in captivity for the purpose of food really do suffer. Immensely. There are no two ways about it.

Jeffrey Masson rebuts all of the sayings that meat-eaters use to rationalize their addiction to meat, poultry, and fish. And he makes a every one of the rationalizations sound truly pathetic. Th
Jul 14, 2009 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not a vegetarian or vegan, but this book definitely gives me pause and makes me consider.... Actually in the last few years the taste of meat has not been pleasant to me. Animal lover that I am, I dont know why I have continued eating sentient beings. This book gets down to the nuts and bolts of how much of our planet we are using up to feed the livestock which we as Americans love to eat. Now other countries are getting the taste for meat and deforesting in order to raise same livestock. P ...more
Sarah Beth
Jul 14, 2009 Sarah Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An eye opening account of our factory farms. I've been a vegetarian for almost ten years, after reading this I'm considering becoming vegan. The animals used for producing animal products are treated worse than the ones simply raised for their meat. Although, my main reason for being a vegetarian is for my personal health it is hard to ignore or as, the author states, deny, the treat of animals and the environmental effects of being a carnivore.
I have visited enough feedlots, dairy farms and ho
This is a straightforward argument for why people should start eating a vegan diet, cutting out eggs and dairy products as well as meat and fish. In addition to the cruelty of "factory farm" food production, Masson also discusses the environmental damage caused by raising animals such as cattle, pigs, and chickens in such massive quantities. For many readers, this information won't be revelatory, but it'll certainly make you stop and think.
Amber Anderson
Feb 26, 2009 Amber Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals
When I first picked up this book I thought I already knew everything there was to know on the issue. I was wrong. Especially on the fish chapter of the book. I'm not really into fish. They're so strange, so different, but I respect them and I learned a lot about them. For instance, We share 85% of our DNA with fish (98% we share with primates). Crazy, right?

I also believed the myth that fish have a teensy memory span. Not true. Fish have a memory span of at least 3 months and probably much longe
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is a thinker of considerable originality, a writer of rather modest talent, and a man of strong opinions who does not suffer from a lack of self confidence in the correctness of those opinions. Masson, a complex and fascinating character, is an accomplished Sanskrit scholar who trained as a psychoanalyst and worked with Anna Freud in London compiling her father's writings. Masson edited the definitive version of Freud's letters to Wilhelm Fliess, a work of considerable ...more
Lisa Janda
Jun 25, 2009 Lisa Janda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
In the vast ocean of books that are currently in vogue regarding the horrors of eating any form of animal product, be it meat, cheese, eggs, this is the one book I didn't want to hurl against the wall. Will I become a vegan or even a vegetarian? No, I'm comfortable with my diet and feel no need to defend myself to anyone. And this is precisely why I got through this book. The author does not lecture, nor proselytize, and it was refreshing to read his arguments for a vegan way of living without t ...more
mis fit
Oct 17, 2016 mis fit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment, food, vegan
I've been a vegetarian for about 13 years now, and I picked up this book because I wanted to finally commit to a vegan diet (over the years, I've gone off and on with veganism too many times to count). The book is a good refresher on most of the arguments for veganism, and I especially appreciated the chapter on aquaculture, which gave me some new info and perspective.

Thinking about all my attempts to go vegan, it's kind of funny-- I often made this excuse "oh cheese is just too good to give up!
Sarah Reicker
When you pick up a book with a title such as this and a cover that features an adorable baby calf on a plate, you kind of understand that there is a very deliberate agenda here. And so, I was wary. The first half of the book however was really informative and very well written. It was educational and stripped for the most part of the heart string tugging and guilting, which made it easier to read objectively. It was very enlightening and particularly the section on farmed fish (side note, almost ...more
Jun 04, 2014 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a vegan, I had already heard about/read about a lot of the facts and argument he presents in this book. I also thought some chapters were better than others. But there were two things I really liked. I liked that the author dedicated a whole chapter to discussing the cruelty and environmentally dangerous practices involved in fishing, as I think fish are often easily overlooked in discussions about food ethics. I also like that the author chooses to address the process of denial in one of the ...more
Nov 19, 2010 Effie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, food
I'm not a vegetarian; I like meat too much. I had no expectations going into the book, but I found myself getting annoyed with the author's preachiness. If you believe that animals are on this earth to be eaten, you must be a religious fundamentalist. I'm not, but can you blame early humans for taking advantage of all food sources? I don't buy that we are supposed to be herbivores.
His other opinions were rather annoying as well. All animals have feelings and we must respect them. Whole Foods is
Feb 17, 2013 Fiona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethics
I borrowed this book from the library (I was actually browsing cookbooks at the time). I am not vegetarian however I don't eat a lot of meat as I find it doesn't really agree with me and I admit the thought of eating the flesh of a previously living creature does feel somehow wrong. The author quotes Cesar Chavez early in the book who said if you want to lessen animal suffering in the world you would do better to eat meat and give up dairy and eggs. As part of his research for this book the auth ...more
Dear Jeff: Please get a better editor. You have some good stuff in here, but you gallop off on so many unrelated tangents as to bury some of your most informative material, and not all readers are as patient or forgiving as I am.

Masson makes some decent observations of agribusiness throughout his book, such as:

[W]hen I talk to farmers about how they treat the animals on their farms, I come up against a strange fact: while the general public and most research scientists all acknowledge that farm
Jul 04, 2012 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short and sweet introduction to animal rights as it relates to our food choices. Masson was 68 when he wrote this but had only been vegan for a few years, so he is well placed to empathise with the understandable reluctance to embrace such a lifestyle while still promoting it vigorously.

This book's strongest asset is that it has been researched rigourously and is rife with footnotes. Masson is a psychoanalyst by profession, which helps him to evaluate the research responsibly. It also
Douglas Lord
Apr 11, 2016 Douglas Lord rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Author of a bazillion books, including the remarkable The Emperor’s Embrace: Reflections on Animal Families and Fatherhood, Masson is an unabashed vegan and here convincingly champions the practice as healthful, ethical, and critical to the well-being of our planet. Like the film Food, Inc., Face turns a cynical eye on modern factory farming and its pollution of air, water, and land. But it’s more than “feedlots are gross”—Masson takes pains to show the environmental impact of all that nasty and ...more
Jul 15, 2014 AJ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food

I've liked other "you should cut animal products from your diet" books better, but this one wasn't too bad. It was quite short to listen to, and while I thought the author was a bit high and mighty at times, it wasn't a theme through the whole book so I didn't get as annoyed as I could have.

I agree that eating more plants and less animals products is better for me and for the environment (especially the factory farmed stuff), but I don't necessarily agree that all animal eating is inh
Jul 20, 2009 Rory rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
I...I dunno. It wasn't that well written, it didn't reveal any earth-shakingly new ideas/facts/arguments, and I felt patronized by its whispy tone and the assertion that if I only KNEW what was going on, I'd be a vegan. I know a lot about how food is produced--because I read a lot, I'm interested, and I grew up on a non-picture-perfect farm--and I need more than admonishment and gross-out tactics to persuade me about the benefits (spiritual and otherwise) of not eating meat.
Jul 03, 2014 Teo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was okay, I skimmed through a few parts which had similar content to books I read before (about treatment of livestock), but in some chapters the writer offered new things that are not commonly covered. I did learn a lot more about aquaculture, which conditions are as atrocious as in factory farming even if we cannot empathise with the sufferers as much.

And it was interesting that the writer included a chapter on "Denial" (the human complex in treating food we eat), and another "A Day
This book is not too enlightening if you have already read The Omnivore's Dilemma, or any other book that looks at what we eat. While I think the author has a valid lifestyle to promote (I am vegetarian), his argument loses might when he uses overly passionate and borderline inflammatory language to try to win support to his views. The author doesn't seem to get that using that approach will lose more people than win.
Kelly Cage
Oct 26, 2012 Kelly Cage rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes hard for me to read... breaks my heart. People need to know the truth.
Steele Dimmock
Some of the examples used to support veganism are clearly bias towards the authors agenda. Such as how much more lettuce you can grow on a field previously used for cattle grazing.
Also the author regularly sites the fact that more people are starving now than ever before. That is a tragedy, but I would have liked to have seen that figure as a ratio rather than in absolute numbers.
I did take away a few interesting facts about global warming.

I won't stop eating animals, maybe just consider the sou
A really great book shows us how everything is great and worth to die for
Nov 21, 2014 Bobby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure I needed to read Masson's The Face On Your Plate since I've read a few other books on related subjects but thought I'd give it a go since I'm partial to the author's easy going conversational style. What I found was one of his best books, one that is both conversational and insightful. I especially found the chapter on fish illuminating and full of info I did not know. In the end, this book was well worth the read and I'd recommend it to anyone who is serious about thinking about a ...more
Marta Borowska
I really enjoyed this book. I think it would be a good one to read for one who is just starting to venture into veganism or is interested in the matter. The cover is great because it really makes you think about the disconnect between the food on your plate and where it is coming from.

The book talks about denial both on a macro and micro level, the first moments when children learn what meat really is and where it comes from, and has a chapter each for land mammals and water mammals. Food waste,
May 02, 2010 Alison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book at the library, not knowing quite what to expect from it. Some of it was interesting, but it was overwhelmingly poorly written.

About halfway through the book, the author tries to site examples as to why eating meat is like that event. None of these examples quite seemed to make sense. (ie. eating meat is like the Holocaust) Or the part where he sites how his wife believes in the vegan lifestyle. I'm sure she knows lots on the topic through her lifestyle and her medical car
The author of this book was very detailed on the matter of how different kinds of meats are processed for our enjoyment. He stated many times in this book that its more important to be vegan than anything else just because of the economic impact your eating habits have on our country and others. This fact is true just because it does add more stress to many farmers who must provide the food just to raise cattle alone.

Although I can see the other side to those that might read this book and balk a
Gayle Gordon
Borrowed from Commerce Public Library.
Great book! I am making a committment to try veganism again, and do it right this time!

I liked the conversational style of the book and all of the references. I'm all for "further reading." The bibliographies at the back of the book are reason enough to pick it up if you are trying to learn about vegetarianism.

I've read some of the other reviews and noticed that some people think the author is smug. I don't really think so, but reading about his idyllic life
Feb 11, 2012 g-na rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I suppose this book does live up to its title as it gives you the truth about what animals go through in order to be the food on your plate, but it doesn't do it well. The author is a militant vegan and his writing is biased thusly. Don't get me wrong - I'm a vegetarian who tries to be as ethical as possible about my animal-based food choices, but after reading this I get the feeling that he won't let up until everyone else is vegan as well, which just isn't going to happen. He anthropomor ...more
I recently reread Brideshead revisited by Evelyn Waugh. It is a story I return to every few years through either Waugh’s novel or the excellent 1981 television miniseries. (Ignore this year’s cinematic adaptation, it is not worth your time.) Brideshead revisited is about the Catholic concept of original sin. The face on your plate by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson too is about an original sin: the sin is carnivorousness, hell is an overheated planet, and the redeemer god is a vegan diet.
The story
Alisa Kester
Jun 27, 2009 Alisa Kester rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was surprised to reach the end of this book and discover this author is 68 years old; the entire book is written in such a nimbus of glorious naivete, that I felt positively old and jaded in comparison. It's nice that he believes that if we outlaw the commercial slaughter of animals for food that society will turn instead to the complex and earth-friendly gardening methods he describes as alternatives. In reality, the commercial farming of plants is every bit as horrible for the environment (a ...more
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He has written several books books critical of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and psychiatry as well as books on animals, their emotions and their rights.

He currently lives in New Zealand with his wife, two sons, three cats and three rats.
More about Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson...

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“We are not encouraged, on a daily basis, to pay careful attention to the animals we eat. On the contrary, the meat, dairy, and egg industries all actively encourage us to give thought to our own immediate interest (taste, for example, or cheap food) but not to the real suffering involved. They do so by deliberately withholding information and by cynically presenting us with idealized images of happy animals in beautiful landscapes, scenes of bucolic happiness that do not correspond to anything in the real world. The animals involved suffer agony because of our ignorance. The least we owe them is to lessen that ignorance.” 19 likes
“What struck me whenever I visited a farm was how much more sophisticated was the life the animals were capable of living than was assumed by those exploiting them. The more we are willing to see about their lives, the more we will see. Humans seem to take perverse pleasure in attributing stupidity to animals when it is almost always entirely a question of human ignorance.” 11 likes
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