The Pig Who Sang To The Moon

ISBN: 0099285746
ISBN 13: 9780099285748
By: Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

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About this book

This is a book about farm animals - chickens, cows, sheep and goats - and what they think and feel. As with his previous bestsellers on animal emotions, Jeffrey Masson reveals that these creatures, so often despised or abused, feel complex emotions - among them love, loyalty, friendship, sadness, grief and sorrow.The domesticated animals which live on our farms are very little removed from their wild ancestors, and keep the emotions that belong to those animals when they lived free. This means that the confinement farm animals are subjected to is painful and that those enduring factory farm conditions are suffering little less than torture.Thinking about the wild ancestors of farm animals allows us to answer many questions that were once considered unanswerable. Those answers, however uncomfortable, are at last providing insights into the personalities and needs of the animals on whom we depend.

Reader's Thoughts


If a book can convince you of (or at least make you understand) veganism, this is it. Writing with love and respect for farm animals, Masson makes a very strong claim for the emotional and self-conscious lives of farm animals, denouncing, consequently, our abuse and ownership of these sentient creatures. I read this is under two days and strengthened my resolve to pursue my current path of respect for all living beings and recognition that, beyond the prejudiced view that we hold of them, their claim to life is as justified as our own, as human animals.

Russell Warfield

Significantly less robust and more anecdotal and speculative than I was expecting it to be, and often to its detriment when he lapses into wild non sequiturs, denting an 'argument' which never really takes shape. At several points, it feels as if a more fitting title would be something more like 'I Have Spent Some Time With Cows'. Having said that, taken for what it is, it's a charming piece of observation and empathy, with many of its disquieting passages supporting my recent decision to go vegan this new year - particularly in relation to dairy cows. Also redemptive it its more philosophical, concluding chapters which speak more self consciously and unashamedly from the heart, while bringing up some interesting concepts. If like me you were expecting a research-led investigation into the emotional life of animals, offering some verifiable conclusions from which we could draw some clear sighted ethical conclusions, this isn't it. But taken as a personal meditation on Masson's experiential knowledge of the subject, it's a fine enough read. And as a lot of other user reviews would appear to attest, a lot of readers are moved and convinced by its fevered tone, presumably resulting in a good number of new veggie/vegan recruits, so it's also to be commended for that of course, if nothing else!


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.


I listened to this as an audio book which I think helped in filtering all the quotes and references. Masson spends a lot of time supporting his ideas with quotes from renown philosophers, and less renown farm owners. I think anyone who choses this book is already a believer that there's more to animals than their cooked flesh. Working under the theory that ignorance is bliss, most meat eaters would prefer not to know too much about the animals they're eating. The more I know, the more animals I can't eat but I'm not a vegetarian yet... Maybe if I was a better cook I could make the transition. Certainly information presented in this book sheds some light on the more complicated and fascinating behaviors of some very common farm animals. Just wondering- why don't we farm chimps, apes and orangutans? Could it be that that would be far too close to looking in a mirror before firing up the barbecue?

Mary Jo

This book brings to light the emotions of animals. I think the only reason that seems far fetched is because we don't want to accept that we are eating something that is a lot like us.


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


Interesting book that explains about the emotional life of farm animals (cows, pigs, chickens, geese and ducks) by using primarily anecdotes. I didn't find it as compelling as the first book I read by this author When Elephants Weep but I still teared up on a couple of occasions, for instance when he writes about a pig mom who "nose at a straw that isn't there to make a nest she'll never have for another litter she'll never raise." That really got to me!I liked his many references to Darwin because I didn't think of Darwin as one to believe in the emotions of animals but apparently he did - interesting. Also, I feel a bit wiser about the ways of animals and how we basically just do wrong by them - and that many of them are wiser than we think. I've learned through the bunnies I've lived with and I see not reason why it shouldn't be exactly the same with every other type of animal: the more you know them, the less you want to harm them and the more you want to see them happy.But overall, I felt like the anecdotes in this book was not as emotionally charged and therefore the arguments wasn't as convincing as in When Elephants Weep.


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.


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.

Tracy Ann

Nice style of writing, easy to read, and interesting! It appeals to all ages, and makes you think.

Moira Clunie

if i were to give you a reading list to help you understand why i'm vegan, this book would be on it. when i first read these stories, i'd been vegetarian for more than a decade and had already stopped eating dairy and eggs. even so, the book completely changed my perspective on pigs and other farmed animals, animal rights and compassion as a reason for vegetarianism. comparing the situation of farmed pigs, cows, goats, sheep, ducks and chickens with animals in sanctuaries and similar species in the wild, masson illustrates the effect of farming practices on animals' behavioural range and emotional lives. his argument is not anthropomorphic, but simply assumes that an animal is happy when it can live according to its nature; the institution of animal agriculture doesn't allow for animals to follow their instincts and express normal behaviours. chickens like to dust-bathe, cows like to raise their baby calves. one particular pig who lives in a beach community north of auckland likes belly scratches and singing to the moon. i'd highly recommend this book to anyone who is concerned about the wellbeing of animals, and especially anyone who cares about animals but eats animal products.


I couldn't concentrate on this book to the degree that I should have done. I find it so hard to read about how we abuse animals via our factory farming practices.I found Masson's approach overly anthropomorphic at times. I don't believe that most farm animals seem less emotional to us just because we don't know them as well as cats and dogs. I can see there is a big difference in different animals' abilities to communicate. Even as an enthusiastic cat lover I can see this difference between dogs and cats, and I think I can rightly extrapolate how much greater this distance must be between something like dogs and sheep. Having said that, Masson gives some very touching stories about animals in loving homes or animal sanctuaries who have made special relationships with people, or with each other, and he argues well for things like the intelligence and sensitivity of pigs, and the companionship enjoyed by cows and sheep.I was however alienated by ideas like this."My friend Matthew Scully, who writes speeches for President Bush, was surprised to see a mother and her ducklings walking right by the White House in downtown Washington, and he wondered why they would nest in a city when there's miles and miles of river around the city. I think the answer, surprising as it is, lies in the ability of ducks to recognize that there are places where humans protect them from both their natural predators, other animals, and from their unnatural predators, namely us. Nobody would ever shoot a mother duck walking across a busy city street......"I don't know why the odd duck and her brood end up in the middle of cities, but it inevitably seems a mistake or oversight, never a deliberate ploy on the part of the duck to take refuge in a city centre, on the grounds that city centres are safe places for ducks. And it was occasional writings like this which undermined Masson's position for me.Having said that, even as a skeptic, it was hugely powerful to read on the one side Masson's arguments for the breadth of animals' sensibilities, and on the other about the horrendous environments in which most farm animals find themselves. As a vegetarian, and wannabe vegan, the book made me think again about what I buy and where I buy it, and it renewed my commitment to buy as expensively as possible when any animal produce is concerned.I think at the end of the day I feel that any sentient being, capable of feeling pain and discomfort, and capable of experiencing things like a mothering instinct, needs to be treated well, according to their nature, and with respect. Arguments that they can experience emotions in the ways that we can I find less convincing. It may be that I need more evidence, and we just haven't had enough work on the subject.All in all I found this a very sad read, but very worthwhile.


This 2003 book by Masson, author of When Elephants Weep, is pretty self-explanatory. The author gives much anecdotal evidence that pigs, cows, chickens, sheep, goats, and ducks have much more to them than meets the eye - especially these animals that "live" (that may be too strong of a word) on factory farms. Warning: reading this book may lead to vegetarianism! For myself, I was eating vegetarian most of the time with exceptions allowed on occasion. Masson inspired me to eliminate those exceptions!


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).


I believe animals do have the capacity for rich emotional lives. What, after all are emotions? Nothing more than feelings. And while animals cannot speak, anyone who has spent time observing them closely and without judgment will tell you, they can certainly communicate and express what they feel. To say they can't because they don't express themselves like humans is to compare frogs to antelope, which is simply ridiculous. The anecdotes and research in the book are well detailed, though he takes some liberties and makes some leaps in logic. I don't personally like Jeffrey Masson's style with it's rambling and rigid, moralistic stance. It comes across as preachy and that since he believes it, isn't it obvious. No. It's obvious when you look at the information impartially, without Masson's personal opinion. And it's obvious when you have personal experience of close bonds with animals.There are still some people stuck in the self-serving, mechanistic worldview that says animals are just like machines and adding anything so subjective as emotion to the equation just messes up the scientific facts. Yeah, we used to think that about humans, too, but it's become very clear we are much more than the sum of our tangible parts. It's high time we acknowledged that it's also true of (other) animals.

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