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Original Essays

The Face on Your Plate

by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
  1. The Face on Your Plate: The Truth about Food
    $6.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist
    "Eat your way to Eden or Armageddon, Masson writes convincingly, but bystander status no longer applies." Kirkus Reviews

    "Masson's newest volume marshals the historic arguments against eating meat and adds to them contemporary concerns about the environment." Booklist

  2. When Elephants Weep
    $4.95 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist

    When Elephants Weep

    Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
    "Fascinating....Compassionate....A book to be read more than once....A kind of nature lover's rendezvous with reality." Philadelphia Inquirer
Fifteen years ago I published When Elephants Weep, about the emotional lives of animals. Writing that book changed my eating habits: How could I continue to dine on animals when I knew for certain they had feelings every bit as strong as my own, including the desire to continue living? But I continued to eat many animal products, including eggs, cheese, butter, milk, and honey.

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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Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is the author of the bestselling When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie about Love, as well as The Pig Who Sang to the Moon. An American, he lives in New Zealand. spacer

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