While this book is informative, well researched and footnoted, it will probably not interest the adamant carnivores.But the self-righteous vegetarians, or as Sussman refers to them, vegetarianus evangelicus, will find it a delight. The premise of the book is that those who eat meat are the bad guys and those who don't are the good, and even though Sussman disdains the vegetarianus evangelicus, he still manages to sneak in a few unsavory comments about meat eaters. (There's a grey area involving milk, cheese, and eggs.)

To help destroy the myth that vegetarians are a "pasty-faced, slump-shouldered lot too weak to snap a celery stick," Sussman cites selected case studies of Seventh Day Adventists and of centenarians in remote communities, as well as research gathered from various medical journals, to show that in some cases vegetarians are better off than flesh eaters - they consume fewer fats and cholesterol and are less prone to heart disease. (And he infers that they make more efficient athletes.) But Sussman does warn that vegetarians must be well informed about nutrition and health in order to consume the proper amounts of protein, vitamins, amino acids, fats and carbohydrates, all of which are essential for a healthy diet. He devotes chapters to vegetarian nutritional problems and offers lists of plants high in these nutrients; he also includes tips on how to stock a vegetarian kitchen.

This is an interesting and highly informative book on the horrors of meat eating, but philosophical statements like "Isn't it ironic that meat eaters are offended by a dead body on the road yet don't mind eating one for dinner?" tend to incite hostility. As the author's grandmother so eloquently put it, "Just eat your food and keep you mouth shut." (Rodale Press, $6.95)