The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals

ISBN: 0345452828
ISBN 13: 9780345452825
By: Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

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About this book

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s groundbreaking bestseller, When Elephants Weep, was the first book since Darwin’s time to explore emotions in the animal kingdom, particularly from animals in the wild. Now, he focuses exclusively on the contained world of the farm animal, revealing startling, irrefutable evidence that barnyard creatures have feelings too, even consciousness.Weaving history, literature, anecdotes, scientific studies, and Masson’s own vivid experiences observing pigs, cows, sheep, goats, and chickens over the course of five years, this important book at last gives voice, meaning, and dignity to these gentle beasts that are bred to be milked, shorn, butchered, and eaten. Can we ever know what makes an animal happy? Many animal behaviorists say no. But Jeffrey Masson has a different view: An animal is happy if it can live according to its own nature. Farm animals suffer greatly in this regard. Chickens, for instance, like to perch in trees at night, to avoid predators and to nestle with friends. The obvious conclusion: They cannot be happy when confined twenty to a cage. From field and barn, to pen and coop, Masson bears witness to the emotions and intelligence of these remarkable farm animals, each unique with distinct qualities. Curious, intelligent, self-reliant–many will find it hard to believe that these attributes describe a pig. In fact, there is much that humans share with pigs. They dream, know their names, and can see colors. Mother cows mourn the loss of their calves when their babies are taken away to slaughter. Given a choice between food that is nutritious or lacking in minerals, sheep will select the former, balancing their diet and correcting the deficiency. Goats display quite a sense of humor, dignity, and fearlessness (Indian goats have been known to kill leopards). Chickens are naturally sociable–they will gather around a human companion and stand there serenely preening themselves or sit quietly on the ground beside someone they trust.For far too long farm animals have been denigrated and treated merely as creatures of instinct rather than as sentient beings. Shattering the abhorrent myth of the “dumb animal without feelings,” Jeffrey Masson has written a revolutionary book that is sure to stir human emotions far and wide.From the Hardcover edition.

Reader's Thoughts


Dopo solo le prime 60 pagine, il primo capitolo dedicato ai maiali: e mi sono ritrovata a desiderare una casa con taaaaaaanto verde intorno per poterne ospitare uno (o più di uno!). Il che è tutto dire.Volevo intanto evidenziare una frase contenuta nell'introduzione:La questione non è "che cosa", ma "chi" state mangiando.E' effettivamente quasi ovvia, ma mi ha fatto un certo effetto ritrovare su carta l'esatta motivazione per cui ho deciso di diventare vegan, ormai 5 anni fa. Spero possa fare effetto a qualcun'altro.Aggiornamento:Io coi saggi combino poco, l'ho sempre detto...e c.v.d. questo è "in lettura" da due mesi!Tuttavia procede...e se ho desiderato dei maiali da compagnia, adesso la stessa cosa vale per le capre! Heidi ce lo insegnava già, ma la descrizione dei loro giochi merita davvero! Su polli ed ovaiole, per cui non ho mai avuto simpatia, lo ammetto, mi sono dovuta ricredere invece...Fermo restando lo schifo, che c'è sempre stato, per gli allevamenti intensivi. E nessuno mi dicesse che "magno le uova delle galline della zia, in campagna, etc etc" perché 1.siccome lo dicono tutti, allora chi cazzo se le compra 'ste uova?! 2.qualsiasi cibo confezionato contenente uova o derivati proviene da lì...e non ci credo che quelli al punto 1. non mangiano mai cibi confezionati o il cornetto al bar o la crostata dagli amici che comprano le uova al supermercato.Stringe il cuore leggere di mucche e vitelli separati alla nascita. E su ciò che di straziante aspetta il vitello fa solo un accenno (dieta liquida e senza ferro, in un piccolo box fino alla macellazione, perché i consumatori vogliono "la fettina bianca, mi raccomando!" - mavvaffanculo! - aggiungerei io...è perché assomigli meno a un cadavere o nell'illusione che così le arterie non le intasi? Ci rivediamo al prossimo ictus!), si concentra sulle madri a cui viene strappato il figlio neonato. Fa male anche solo immaginarlo. E il vitello viene strappato alla madre per continuare a fornire latte e derivati: vegetariani non basta.Un vegetariano che leggesse questo libro e continuasse a pensare che "è etico" nel suo essere latto-ovo-vegetariano sarebbe in malafede vera.

Joy Carson

For anyone who loves farm animals and knows they are thinking , feeling beings.


I strongly recommend this book to anyone who's ever flirted with the idea of becoming a vegetarian/vegan. It was one of the most powerful and heart wrenching books I've ever read, but is my new favorite. I've you've ever said that animals don't have feelings, or ever wondered if they do, please read this book.

Lisa Bennett

I really enjoyed reading this book because it is anecdotal. Sometimes our understanding of animals comes from what we know instinctively; from our interactions and experiences with them. This is something that science really cannot measure. We can never *know* what a member of another species is thinking or feeling - we can only guess based on their actions. I think it is the arrogant fool who assumes that because they cannot understand the thoughts and feelings of a different species, or because science cannot define them, that they do not exist. For those willing to see, I think animals can and do communicate with us in very obvious ways.I did learn some new things about the behaviours of farmed animals discussed in this book, but mostly it just affirmed what I believe - that they are individuals with moral value, emotions and desire to live a live free of the cruelties that we inflict on them. If you are looking for a lot of scientific studies and irrefutable facts, you will probably find better sources than this book. But for those that can accept animals for who they are, there are some wonderful observations within these pages.


Masson makes a very strong case for vegetarianism; not so much veganism. He lost me when he declared eating honey as robbing the bees. To his credit, he is honest as he describes his own journey towards vegetarianism; and his research on the possible emotional life of animals is solid. The book could serve as an aid to exploring this choice if one were to read it all with other works on sustainable farming practices.

Ira Therebel

In our time people still deny that animals are having emotions, especially when it comes to farm animals. Here even people who think that their dog feels emotions prefer to turn away and not think of them as living beings.My issue with this book is that I was hoping for more research. There is some included, but not enough. This isn't really author's fault. Most research on animal emotions I read didn't involve farm animals, who as I said in my paragraph are usually set aside and ignored. Other than that I enjoyed the anecdotes as well as his conversations with a variety of people. They are not all for animal rights, many are meat eaters, farmers so it isn't just a collection of opinions of people who all think alike. Again, though I wish there was more done in animal behavior science on this topic.I still really liked the book. I don't think it is good at all to convince anyone whose mind is set otherwise. But I already agree with him, so for me it was simply a great book on observations of animal behavior. and I did learn more about chickens and ducks, since birds are usually not what I read too much about


Not what I was expecting from the whimsical title and cover illustration. I was hoping for anecdotes that would show the reader how much more there are to farm animals than most people suspect. Far from stupid emotionless meat sources they have full lives of social structure, interactions and emotions.Unfortunately the book is written with a strident animal rights tone in which no farm - no matter how humane - is acceptable. One-time anecdotes, speculation, quotes from historical documents produce a diatribe, er, dialog, that is designed to turn off anyone with a scientific background or an ability to separate the wheat from the chaff.There is no doubt that large animal farms geared towards producing meat, eggs and dairy have and do keep animals in less than optimal conditions. Sometimes those conditions are cruel. I have no argument with that.I completely reject the author's claims that all farm animals should live in the wild and that their lives would be far happier than any life they could have, even if living in an animal sanctuary. He doesn't seem to realize that they would be considered a food source in the wild by other animals. Additionally the life span of an animal in the wild is much lower (with a few exceptions) than the same animal in captivity.The author's response is that the animals would be living as their ancestors did and would be happier. He argues that free range farms which inoculate animals against horrible diseases, provide veterinary care, ensure a balanced diet and access to water and shelter are worse than allowing the same animal to live in the wild. I don't think I can buy that argument.This book had a lot of potential but wastes it. My advice is to skip it.


This is a gentle book which takes a look at the lives and minds behind the domestic farm animals we assume we’re familiar with. This would be an excellent book to recommend to omnivores who are considering the merits of vegetarianism; it democratically explores the idea that farm animals are more than “meat on the hoof” without being pushy toward the reader.


I might have to seriously consider going vegetarian, or vegan. The animals (or their by-products, such as eggs, milk and cheese) we eat are put through torturous procedures to fatten them up, or to make them produce more eggs and milk than is natural. Not to mention, that eating animal fats in any form is not good for you.But this book is also about the emotions of animals, namely cows and pigs, chickens, ducks and geese, to name a few.Not my usual kind of book, by far, but I found it quite interesting.


mixed feelings; i wanted to like it more, but i think this book would have benefited from further editing. it reads a bit like a personal journal, with sudden digressions, non-sequiturs, anecdotes unrelated to the topic at hand, and a generally sloppy feel about it. also annoyed by the endnotes - no easy way to cross-reference. the tone, however, is pleasantly familiar and easy. to my surprise, the author's main thesis and sub-arguments are basically abolitionist in nature, despite the fact that he was not vegan at the time of writing. these ideas are presented clearly and simply. to sum up, a quick, edifying, entertaining and somewhat untidy read.


The subtitle says it all. After reading this, I doubt I will ever eat flesh again. I already knew of the terrors of factory farming, but this takes it to a whole new level with countless tales about how emotional animals are. My favorite: a woman had a pet pig who lived with her inside her house. The woman had a heart attack or something. The pig squeezed himself through the doggy-door (losing some bacon along the way), went out the road and played dead in the middle of the street in order to stop a car. He then brought the driver back to the house to save the lady. wow. Unless you're like me - obsessed with living on a farm and having a pet cow - this book is probably overkill (no pun intended).


It's difficult to believe that this is the first real book, to my knowledge, which has explored the issue of whether or not farm animals have a sense of self. The sad part is, the less cute and cuddly animals often get the short end of the stick when it comes to people's sympathies. I guess the rationale is if the animal is awkwardly large and/or perceived as dirty (one myth that the author counteracts is that pigs actually abhor being dirty) they are less worthy of our attention and consequently abused without any intervention.I'm supportive of most of the author's basic arguments in that I think animals should not be sentenced to hellish lives on factory farms with complete disregard for their well-being purely to support an unhealthy obsession with meat in this country. Knowing that millions of animals suffer in this way every year while nothing is done makes me queasy. I'm not even sure that the emotional life of animals is even relevant when it comes to whether or not factory farming is an abusive practice; animals can feel pain, distress and possibly pick up on other cues about their imminent fate due to their superior senses. I recently visited a farm where a calf had been separated from its mother; the mournful bellowing of the mother cow was unlike any sound I'd heard before and hope to hear again.As for the argument that animals would perish without our domesticating them, I hardly think that the way in which they are produced now is any kind of life worth living, doomed as they are from the start. Many live short, miserable existences in factory farms—some are force fed and others cannot turn around or even stand. At least having a chance to survive with their own natural instincts in the wild would allow the population to regulate itself.


This book is well-written and well-thought out by Mr. Masson. I knew I wouldn't learn much, I've read many books on this subject, but I still enjoyed the book overall. The last chapter, the call to action, was my favourite. His passion and philisophical arguments could help the animal welfare cause but only if the people who are against animal welfare will read the book and take them seriously. This is the downfall of books on this topic. Animal Rights Activists will be the majority of the readers and it is like "preaching to the choir".


One of my favorites. Could be life-changing, in that it may turn you vegetarian.


More like a collection of one off incidences and seemingly scientific proofs without any proper statistics nor citing of source.

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