Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, the celebrated author of such popular books as When Elephants Weep (with Susan McCarthy) and Dogs Never Lie About Love, recently took time out from a busy international schedule to speak with friends, supporters and staff of Compassion about his new book, The Face on Your Plate: The Truth about Food at our headquarters in Godalming.
Compassion is a longstanding friend of Jeffrey's. For example, when my colleague, Joyce D'Silva, and I visited New Zealand, his adopted home country, on separate occasions, he arranged for us to speak with the animal welfare organizations there about our campaigns in Europe. I also had the pleasure of joining Jeffrey on the conference-speaking circuit in New Zealand last year. This time it was our turn to welcome Jeffrey to Britain.
He began his talk by praising Compassion as his "favourite" organization and spoke about our international reputation as the group for farm animal welfare. He described how Joyce and I had helped him with research for such books as The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals and The Face on Your Plate. He related how his research for these books took him to factory farms and farm animal sanctuaries. In these two extremes, he clearly saw a difference in how the pigs, chickens and cows lived and how they interacted with people. Chickens kept in battery cages were sick and afraid of people whereas chickens who were lucky to live in sanctuaries were healthy and inquisitive. I had helped Jeffrey with one particular chapter, "The Fishy Business of Aquaculture," in his new book. It's clear that Jeffrey truly loves all animals but I suspect he's particularly fascinated with fish. He found it interesting that there has yet to be a sanctuary for rescued fish but thought its day is not far off!
When Peter and Anna Roberts founded Compassion over 40 years ago they envisioned an organization dedicated to ending factory farming. It was their belief that vegetarianism was a personal matter. Compassion remains a focused animal welfare organisation; here to speak up for the interests of farm animals without advocating a particular diet or lifestyle. Consequently, we have worked hard to earn the respect and cooperation of a cross section of people representing a variety of views but who are united in sharing Peter and Anna's original vision of a world rid of factory farms. Jeffrey, who I don't think would mind if I describe him as larger than life, is a passionate advocate for veganism. This meant that his talk also included his strong views of why we shouldn't eat meat and dairy products. As a former licensed psycho-analyst, however, he has a way of engaging this debate in a friendly and informed but determined way!
Jeffrey's visit with us was all too brief and it was time for him to leave for London and go onto his next speaking engagement. I truly wish everyone who cares about animals has the opportunity to meet and speak with him at least once. You may not agree with everything that he says, but I guarantee that Jeffrey will leave you feeling mentally energised! In the meantime, I can do nothing better than recommend to you his many books about the sentient beings we share this planet with.
Compassion in World Farming Chief Executive