The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food

( 12 )

Overview

?It?s a challenge to create transformative moments with books, but [Masson] does it.??Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
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.

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Overview

“It’s a challenge to create transformative moments with books, but [Masson] does it.”—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
It should surprise no one that the author of When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie About Love is pro-animal. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson asserts that affirmation, however, in a most bracing, emphatic way. In Face on Your Plate, he addresses our comprehensive denial that we are eating are eating sensate creatures; that the bacon that we heap on our breakfast plates was once part of a living pig. Masson's strategy is not simply to shock. With care and caution, he explores our relationship with the animal meat we call food and how it affects every part of not only lives -- but also the life of the planet. Must reading for vegans and vegetarians; for the rest of us, revelatory reading.
The Atlantic
“Few bring to the table the wealth of knowledge and insight found here. . . . Masson’s rare combination of passionate advocacy and scientific perspicacity makes this book unusually powerful.”
Shelf Awareness
Intelligent, absorbing and very easy to digest, this is an essential book for any person who thinks and/or eats.— Debra Ginsberg
Ecologist
This book could, quite literally, save the world.— Sophie Morris
Debra Ginsberg - Shelf Awareness
“Intelligent, absorbing and very easy to digest, this is an essential book for any person who thinks and/or eats.”
Sophie Morris - Ecologist
“This book could, quite literally, save the world.”
Publishers Weekly

"Each bite of meat involves the killing of an animal that did not need to die," Masson (When Elephants Weep) reminds readers, and if the advocacy of a completely vegan diet (neither milk nor eggs, in addition to giving up meat and fish) is not particularly new-even Masson acknowledges that he is following the path laid out by authors like Temple Grandin and Michael Pollan-the passion with which the argument is made is immediately apparent. Masson explains the scientific background in simple, effective prose, pointing to the vast environmental damage caused by the modern agriculture-industrial complex, then slams the emotional point home by underscoring the plaintive cries of a calf separated from a mother cow or the psychological stress that hens endure when thrust into small cages. Masson argues that a vegan diet is sufficient to provide us with all the nutrients we need to thrive, using his own daily menus as an example, but his most powerful argument calls upon the power of empathy and a refusal to put animals through suffering. It probably won't convert many confirmed meat eaters, but it should provoke serious deliberation about how our food choices reflect our values. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Masson (When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals; The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals) returns to familiar ground with his latest tome on animal welfare. This time, the author is not necessarily trying to prove that animals are sentient creatures but instead is presenting a well-rounded argument for eating less meat or, even better in his view, adopting a diet free from all animal products (i.e., eggs, milk, cheese, and even honey). He presents the usual arguments for not eating animal products: the link to global warming, the horrors of factory farming, and the negative influence aquaculture is having on wild fish populations. He concludes that we are in a state of denial about the origins of our food and demonstrates that veganism is not as difficult as it may sound by presenting a day in his life as a vegan. Well footnoted with ample suggestions for further reading, this is recommended for both academic and public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ11/1/08; on this issue, see also Mark Caro's The Foie Gras Wars, reviewed on p. 120.-Ed.]
—Diane Hartle

Kirkus Reviews
The author of more than a half-dozen books on the emotional lives of animals argues for awareness about what you are shoveling down your trap. The act of eating has an ethical component, writes Masson (Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras, 2006, etc.) Who, once past denial or simple avoidance of the issue, does not have qualms when it comes to industrial food production? Turkey factories, corporate hog farms, feedlots and aquaculture-each poses a moral hazard as well as an environmental one. Everything you eat is an ethical choice; your dollars support one agricultural mode or another. Masson's rhetoric is hard to deny and exceedingly simple: "all living beings want to live and do not want to die." The slaughtering of animals is just that, and rhetorical feints toward a decent life and a decent death are denial. Would any sentient creature willingly forfeit the freedom to engage in its normal behavior? Masson makes a solid case for the decency of a vegan diet. It provides the necessary nutrients and gustatory satisfaction as well. You can tap into the seasonality of foodstuffs and cut back on fossil fuels transporting edibles from, say, New Zealand to New York. You can reduce greenhouse gases by refusing anything to do with methane-flatulent cows; you can help squelch the production of animal-waste products; you can stop being party to an industry that torments animals before it kills them. The author is strongest when he decries the environmental and emotional devastation left in the wake of an animal-flesh diet: deforestation, erosion, freshwater scarcity, air pollution and biodiversity loss, the spread of disease and suffering. He is weakest in his chirpy dietary tips, a gaggingcacophony of soy products. Eat your way to Eden or Armageddon, Masson writes convincingly, but bystander status no longer applies. Author tour to New York, Washington, D.C., Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle. Agent: Miriam Altshuler/Miriam Altshuler Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393338157
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/26/2010
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 586,014
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson a former psychoanalyst and projects director of the Sigmund Freud Archives, has authored over a dozen books, including the bestselling When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie About Love, as well as The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, The Assault on Truth and The Face on Your Plate. An American, he lives in New Zealand.

Biography

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s career falls not-so-neatly into two rather distinct phases. In his early days, as a Freudian scholar and disenchanted psychoanalyst, he was an author-combatant (he uses the term “maverick” on his Web site), challenging perceived thinking on Sigmund Freud and therapy itself.

He rankled sensibilities, attracted often-harsh criticism and lost his post as guardian of the Freud Archives. He even became embroiled in one of the most notorious libel battles of recent times, alleging that writer Janet Malcolm made up quotes in her highly unflattering two-part profile of him in the New Yorker in 1983.

In the second -- and more commercially successful -- phase, Masson has instead focused his psychological insights on a community that cannot talk back: the animal kingdom. Beginning with When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Life of Animals in 1995, Masson has put dogs, cats, mongooses, etc., on the couch, explaining that they, just like their more litigious bipedal cousins, have feelings.

"A masterpiece,” said Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of a similar classic, The Hidden Life of Dogs, “the most comprehensive and compelling argument for animal sensibility that I've yet seen."

Even amid the controversy of the early part of his career, Masson garnered positive reviews for his translations of Sigmund Freud’s letters and his passionate critiques of psychotherapy. (To be sure, he garnered less glowing ones as well.) A former Sanskrit scholar, Masson was placed in the care of the famous doctor’s archives. But when his research in those same archives turned up correspondence that he said discredited Freudian’s theories about sexual abuse among children, he made those findings public. He lost his position and faced the wrath of Freud’s defenders.

In the Nation, though, he found support. Reviewing Masson’s book on the discovery, the newspaper wrote: “Those who bother to read The Assault on Truth will probably be surprised to discover that the book is a lavishly documented, carefully reasoned work, written in a straightforward, readable style, with only occasional polemical flourishes. The passion of the book is that of a scholar trying to solve a puzzle; only now and then does the voice break to reveal the bewildered outrage and pain of the recently excommunicated disciple.”

His translation of the letters in question drew praise from The New York Times: "The publication of The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess represents an important moment of truth... The general public can now evaluate at first hand the evidence bearing on the various controversial issues raised by the letters... Of more lasting importance, however, is the insight this new edition provides into the creative process at work in the formation of a fundamentally important scientific theory."

His 1988 attack on therapy itself, Against Therapy: Emotional Tyranny and the Myth of Psychological Healing was dismissed by many as a screed, but Time pointed out that screeds can sometimes also be wake-up calls: “Masson raises some intriguing points, even if he insists on doing so at the top of his voice. Psychotherapy is a big and largely unchallenged business in the U.S.; many of its practitioners wield considerable influence over personal lives and public policy. Once in a while, it does no harm to listen to an alarmist hollering that some of those shrinks have no clothes.”

Not until Masson turned to the psychological study of animals did he draw the widespread attention of the public at large. When Elephants Weep, written with Susan McCarthy, may have had critics pointing out that his evidence was largely anecdotal – the title, in fact, comes from a story of a circus elephant that collapsed in tears when it couldn’t learn a new routine – but an animal-loving public ate it up. Elephants has been translated into more than 20 languages and has sold more than a half a million copies in the United States alone.

That set the stage for a hugely popular follow-up Dogs Never Lie About Love: Reflections on the Emotional Lives of Dogs. A bestseller, it won praise from the Los Angeles Times for its risk-taking and uncompromising puppy love. “The strengths that this Sanskrit scholar,” she wrote, “brings to his subject are intelligence, originality and a refreshing willingness to go out on a good number of scientifically unsupported limbs in his enthusiasm for canines.”

Now for the felines. The Nine Emotional Live of Cats: A Journey into the Feline Heart, released in the fall of 2002, again won praise from Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, who penned her own ode to the cat, The Tribe of Tiger: Cats and Their Culture. "An affectionate, completely engaging book full of new insights into the emotional lives of cats,” she said. “Of course, all cats are interesting, but Masson’s five felines seem particularly so – and you don’t need to be a cat lover to enjoy them via these pages."

Masson’s turn to the wild kingdom has brought him financial success certainly, but he says the rewards run even deeper than that. As he told Newsday in 1997, “I learned more about emotions from dogs than I did from my psychoanalysis. I think dogs make better therapists than Freudian analysts… and they don’t cost as much, either.”

Good To Know

Masson legally changed his middle name from Lloyd to Moussaieff in 1975.

In June 1980, when he was interviewing with Sigmund Freud’s 84-year-old daughter Anna for the position to head the Freud Archives, he walked her pet Chow in the back yard.

Masson's long-term goal is to help his wife, Leila, set up a camp for children with chronic illnesses where they can learn alternative methods to diminish pain.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Jeffrey Lloyd Masson (birth name, legally changed in 1975)
    2. Hometown:
      Auckland, New Zealand
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 28, 1941
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A., Harvard, 1964; Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1978, Ph.D. in Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard, 1970

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Gold Standard is Green

Ch. 1 The Only World We Have

Ch. 2 The Lives They Lead

Ch. 3 The Fishy Business of Aquaculture

Ch. 4 Denial

Ch. 5 A Day in the Life of a Vegan

Notes

Recommended Reading

Recommended Websites

Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 27, 2009

    Read This. It will change your life and help save many others!

    The Face on Your Plate is a life changing read. Be warned, you will not be the same ever again. What man does to animals (for his own "enjoyment") is beyond comprehension...once you understand how humans participate in this world wide carnage. If you have any doubts as to what you must do after reading this book, look for a screening or buy the DVD called "Earthlings". If you can sit through a viewing of this documentary and not become a totally different person, then there is little hope your mind is open to a graceful way of living, so completely illustrated by these two items. Read the book. Watch the DVD. You will be Very Glad You Did! And so will all the animals you will no longer harm. Ahimsa. Namaste.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Horrible

    Apparently, everyone thinks that humans are horrible to eat meat. Other animals eat meat so why cant we? And if every human being stopped eating meat, we wouldnt survive. Kids need the protein in meat. I know a kid who doesn't eat meat. He stopped growing and developing. I take back the star.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Wake Up Call!

    Face on Your Plate is well-researched and eye-opening. The author does a clever job of blending hard-to-swallow facts and his personal beliefs without becoming condescending. This book inspired my husband and I (barbecue loving Southerners!) to go vegetarian for a week--which has now turned in to 9 weeks. An easy read and a great conversation starter.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2013

    The comment below is from someone who does not understand anythi

    The comment below is from someone who does not understand anything. Read the book first.

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  • Posted March 10, 2012

    Good book for anyone to read, Vegetarian, vegan, or omnivore.

    Good book for anyone to read, Vegetarian, vegan, or omnivore.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2009

    Eye Opening!

    I really loved this book. Not only was it a book about a man's journey to find out where food comes from and how it end's up on your plate but it was also a personal journey for him, solidifying his choice to be vegan. Even though I'm vegetarian thanks in large part to John Robbin's book "Diet For A New America" and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's podcast "Vegetarian Food For Thought" I still learned a great deal from this book and enjoyed it immensely.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2009

    Very good

    If everyone cared about how that steak ended up on their plates, we'd all be vegetarians. The money spent on feeding food animals could be better spent on feeding a small nation of starving people. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson has once again provided insight and thought-provoking details about what we fill our stomachs with and how it affects our planet.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 1, 2010

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