Caris's Reviews > The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food

The Face on Your Plate by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
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's review
Jul 22, 09

bookshelves: food, 2009
Read in July, 2009

I always like it when someone clues me in about the truth of anything. That way I can be sure I'm not about to read something incredibly biased and selectively researched.

Masson is a vegan. He wants you to be vegan, too. He thinks that this will solve a lot of the world's problems. He has a valid point. He, however, writes and documents the same way PETA does. PETA, in my opinion, has the right idea. They just go about it in the wrong way. Their cause is an important one, but unnecessarily misrepresenting facts does little to protect them from being labeled as completely nuts.

I wrote a paper in college about the truthfulness of a statement made in the diet book Skinny Bitch. The claim was that milk leached calcium from bones. Now, whether or not that claim is true is irrelevant in my opinion. The authors of that book took that information directly from the PETA website who took it from an outdated, unreliable study. Masson does something similar.

A full quarter of his book consists of end notes. He cites many different studies as he fleshes out his arguments. The trouble is, he frequently interjects his own opinions and unfounded claims into the text - often by piggybacking these claims onto something he's cited. That's not to say that the man should not be able to put forth his own opinion in his own book, it's just that his presentation is a bit misleading.

That said, Masson does a decent job of explaining why folks should go vegan. He explains the health and environmental benefits. He spends a lot of time identifying animals as thinking, feeling, sentient beings who are being tortured and exploited by humans. He rambles in his prose and gets sidetracked fairly frequently, but you really get what he is saying. And you can tell that he really believes it, which helps.

The biggest problem I had with his content was the lack of an explanation of why we sometimes label meat by its animal name (chicken, turkey) but rename others (beef, pork). As a psychoanalyst, I feel that he could have added some depth to this subject. In fact, the book jacket makes one think this will be addressed, as did his public radio spots. In reality, there isn't a lot in this book that one could not get from The Omnivore's Dilemma, which, in my opinion, is the better book.

Masson's arguments really made me think and made me consider what I'm eating. If nothing else, he achieved that much.

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Caris Yeah, I'd skip it. There are just better books out there. He really bummed me out with the why we call cow beef business, as he sets up for an explanation but doesn't deliver. If you're ever feeling down about your veganism, Masson is the gent to turn to, I think.

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