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.
"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.
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.]
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
“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.”
Intelligent, absorbing and very easy to digest, this is an essential book for any person who thinks and/or eats. Debra Ginsberg
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.”