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Book Reviews

The Meaty Truth

Book Review:
The Meaty Truth: Why Our Food is Destroying Our Health and Environment – and Who is Responsible
by Shushana Castle and Amy-Lee Goodman
review by Marla Rose

The new book by Shushana Castle and Amy-Lee Goodman, The Meaty Truth: Why Our Food is Destroying Our Health and Environment – and Who is Responsible (Skyhorse Publishing) is a bold, straight-talking and sometimes profane examination of animal agribusiness from health, environmental and, to a lesser extent, ethical angles. Pairing well-researched material with a blunt, conversational tone reminiscent of Skinny Bitch, the authors of The Meaty Truth pull no punches as they make their case against industrial agriculture, and the overall effect is a book that makes for a quick, engaging read. This is the perfect book to bring along if you have a train commute to work but just be careful because you might find yourself unable to not react as you read all the accumulated evidence they have gathered. Although I already know much of this material, having it all in one place found me wincing, sighing, tsking and groaning reflexively as I read. Probably not the best train book, on second thought, unless you’re in a private car or have better impulse control than I do.

With a main focus on health and environment, The Meaty Truth is not a treatise on animal rights but this may allow those readers who are less motivated by the ethical implications of eating animals to get a foot in the door. [While some animal advocates may condemn this approach, I have found many people who come into veganism through the door of health and then begin to connect the dots to compassionate living, some so much that this becomes their primary motivation.] The arguments are compelling: from antibiotic resistance to leaking manure pits, the rise of chronic disease to the revolving door between industry groups and government agencies, as well as damning and downright frightening. When are people going to wake up? It’s handy to have so many destructive issues addressed in one rather compact book but it is also a recipe for the reader feeling overwhelmed and powerless. The authors tackle this head-on by including bullet-point solutions after every chapter as well as recipes and resource recommendations at the end of the book.

I recommend The Meaty Truth as a very useful primer on the problems inherent in our industrial food system. While I don’t agree with some conclusions – for example, that giving up dairy is the ticket to clear skin (it wasn’t for me and, no, I don’t eat junk food) or recommending organic, grass-fed flesh to those who find the idea of going vegan too daunting (though they fully recommend a vegan diet as the ideal) – I understand that the authors are taking an approach that is different than mine. On the whole, The Meaty Truth is an information-packed but still lively and highly readable book, perfect for anyone who is looking to clean up their habits or brush up on their arguments against industrial agriculture. With so many compelling reasons already and new data every day that undergirds the fact that animal agriculture is devastating to our health, the environment and the animals, the time couldn’t be better for a book like The Meaty Truth to reach as many people as possible.

2013-2015, Vegan Street

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