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The Face On Your Plate

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Presentation by Jeffrey Masson 

This is an interesting presentation on so many levels

He covers a lot of territory, including issues of social exclusion, denial, justifications, enculturation, and topics that offend, like the comparison to the Holocaust. He also has some things to say about Michael Pollan. He tells an interesting anecdote about John Robbins and his father (of Baskin Robbins) who disowned him when he went vegan. When the father had a heart attack, his cardiologist said there was only one thing that would save him -- that he should read a book called Diet for a New America (written by John). And he talks about Matthew Scully as the [sell-out] speech-writer for Sarah Palin's RNC speech. (He's the second person I know of who got an answer from Matthew about why he agreed to do it, but was told not to make it public. But he did say it was a "cop-out" answer.) He also mentions that "We are the only animal that chooses diet" when talking about his dogs. He comments on Temple Grandin's latest book, Animals Make Us Human, which doesn't address how they make us human, but about how we kill them, etc, etc.

[Chicago Tribune - opinion]

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson wants to help all meat eaters wake up from their denial. He wants to prepare us for what he describes as a "transformative moment," when we look at the meat or animal product on our plate (fish, fowl, mammal, egg, milk, cheese) and acknowledge that it came from a living being, capable, he has no doubt, of suffering and happiness.

Masson hopes, with all his heart, that we will say, "Ew, yuck" like children when they are first told that the drumstick is actually a leg, the tongue is really a tongue, the bacon was once a pig like Wilbur in "Charlotte's Web."

It's a challenge to create transformative moments with books, but he does it. Pages lack the physical threat, the shock of the Buddhist master's stick on the back to wake up the wayward meditator. They lack the drumbeat. Words travel, so often, through the head on their long journey to the heart. Masson is a wise, clear writer, but it doesn't hurt, while reading this important book, to look at the image of the young cow on the cover, or the 67-year-old author's healthy photo on the back flap.


"The Face on Your Plate" is one of many books by scholars, scientists, fiction writers, animal-rights activists, environmentalists and journalists (Kingsolver, Michael Pollan, Peter Singer, Theo Colborn, Alice Waters, Jane Goodall, Marion Nestle, Carl Honore and Eric Schlosser, to name a few) written in the past few years that implore readers to consider and re-imagine how what they eat affects not just their own health but also the health of the Earth.

Each has a different slant--eat local, buy organic, and so forth. Masson's aim is a life with a purpose; his interests follow a powerful trajectory that has led him here, bringing everything to bear on the certainty that eating meat is cruel and immoral. He's not mincing words.


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