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Original Essays | July 24, 2014 0 comments
It is arguably the worst and best time to be a feminist. In the years since I first wrote Full Frontal Feminism, we've seen a huge cultural shift in... Continue »
The Face on Your Plateby Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
Giving these up to become a vegan seemed a little daft. Then I wrote The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, researching the emotions of farmed animals just as I had earlier done with wild animals. My reluctant conclusion was that these animals felt every bit as much as any other animal, human or otherwise. How could I participate in their suffering by continuing to exploit their eggs, their milk, their skin, and their flesh? It seemed a little hypocritical. Moreover, I was married to a doctor, a pediatrician who was deeply concerned with my health (I am 25 years older than she is, and she wants me to live a long time) and the health of our two young children. She began to do research into the health effects of animal products and came to the conclusion that the benefits were nil and the damaging effects were enormous. Then we were all suddenly made aware of the effects of eating meat and animal products on the health of our very own planet. This was known for some time, but had never become a topic of general conversation. Suddenly, everyone was talking about it, and I began to read literature that convinced me, as it did so many others, that our planet was suffering terribly because of our meat-based diet.
So there it was: eating animals and their products was bad for our health, bad for the environment, and terrible for the animals themselves. Why would we do it? That is where I reclaimed a bit of my past: I was trained as a Freudian psychoanalyst, and the first thing we learned, on day one of our training, was that humans lived a good part of their lives in a river in Egypt called Denial.
I had a reputation as a writer who could bring to life sentiments that many ordinary people already had concerning their animals: nobody could live with a cat or a dog and not recognize how great a role emotions played in their lives. So when I wrote Dogs Never Lie about Love and The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats I was simply validating and vindicating what readers of these two books already knew. But the implications for everyday living were not part of my writing at the time. I felt everyone had to make a personal decision about whether to eat animals or not.
I chose not to, but I did not make much of this fact. This was slightly hypocritical on my part. Also, to be honest, I had not connected all of the dots. That happened slowly, as my own research and thinking progressed. But once it had, I recognized that I could no longer hide my views: I was a vegan, and I was a vegan for good reasons. My readers had the right to know what those reasons are. Hence this book. You may not be convinced, but I promise you will come away with a different point of view. You may continue to eat meat, but I want you to be able to say at the end: "I still eat meat, but I have to confess."
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