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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  993 ratings  ·  98 reviews
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.

Paperback, 304 pages
Published November 23rd 2004 by Ballantine Books (first published October 31st 2003)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star-reads, animals
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
>>TRIGGER WARNINGS: Animal abuse.

The Pig Who Sang to the Moon is a beautiful testament to the lives of the voiceless millions of farmed animals who are cruelly hurt and killed every day. I think it is the most important book I have ever read. Someone should speak up for the animals, and I admire Jeffery Moussaieff Masson for being the one to do it.

"Why is it generally considered ridiculous to point out that every one of those animals had a mother, almost all had siblings, and surely some were
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 veg
Moira Clunie
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vegan
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
Aug 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Ignore the rambling and repetition. The author doesn't claim he is being scientific - merely anecdotal, but my common sense from hanging around farm animals is that he is correct - they are smarter than we have thought (even chickens) and they have a rich emotional life and personal-social culture that hasn't been bread out of them by domestication & being farmed. Factory farming cruelly denies them that at great pain. His best examples are when rescued factory farm animals are allowed to live o ...more
May 09, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 produ
Jul 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: animals
Let me preface this review by saying that after a decade of working with all sorts of animals, I fervently believe that most, if not all vertebrates, possess the same complexity of emotions that humans beings are blessed with. I believe that what we do to farm animals is tortuous and cruel and that humane farming MUST be a part of our plan for the future...

..but this book is horrible. Even agreeing wholeheartedly with his point of view, I found him infuriating. If you do not wholeheartedly agree
mad mags
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully tragic look at “food” animals

My first introduction to Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s work was in high school, when I read his 1996 book, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals. At the time, I was a newbie vegetarian, just becoming involved in animal advocacy. When Elephants Weep helped validate my decision to go veg, and reinforced my resolve to stay that way.

Fast-forward thirteen years. I picked up Masson’s latest ethology tome, The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotiona
Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gets a high rating from me, simply because I know what the author is saying true. Animals are NOT given enough credit for intelligence, or enough compassion. They are treated unfairly and seriously people should rethink what they are doing.

The author states in the book that people as children know and have more compassion and KNOW what is right & wrong and then UNLEARN it because of social norms. I have to agree. Kids are TOLD to eat & drink certain things knowing it is not right but
Lisa Vegan
Jun 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: animal lovers and those who enjoy stories about animals
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I often don’t like animal rights books with little anecdotal stories because I’m afraid they won’t be believable. But I loved all the stories of the animals in this book. It’s not a gruesome hard hitting type of book and can be enjoyed by everyone, in my opinion.
Artūrs Kaņepājs
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Books like these are certainly needed. Reminds me of The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956. Except that Solzhenitsyn didn't have to spend most of the pages to show to the incredulous that the imprisoned have feelings and that their suffering matters. ...more
Nov 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sad, animal-rights
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 consequentl ...more
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I went vegan a year ago and it was without a doubt one of the best choices I ever made; so the author of 'The Pig Who Sang to the Moon' didn't need to convince me of the rationale of the changes I've already made in my life. Still, without ever being preachy, condescending or unduly sentimental, Jeffery Mason presents an overwhelming case for veganism based solely on the unimaginable levels cruelty that we are inflicting on animals as a society. That's an achievement in itself - he barely touche ...more
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: own, favorites
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. ...more
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: vegan, nonfiction
This was a great book about farm animals lives. I liked the anecdotal stories regarding their differing personalities and desires for life. I have been reading more Dr. Gregor and MacDougall lately, so this was a nice change from all the factual studies with some real heartwarming and heartbreaking stories. It helps solidify my feelings about what is right for my ethics as far as my diet goes.
Bella Briška
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
I like the perspective the author takes in the book. There’s a place for scientific books about animals, but there’s also a place for inspiring and heart warming stories from the difficult lives of animals like this one. My only complaint - the author, in my opinion, should’ve stuck with the stories throughout the book, without involving Darwin and others’ opinions in it. Narratives are powerful enough - sometimes they get weaker, not stronger when you add other arguments in the mix.
Lisa Bennett
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animal-rights
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 becaus ...more
Sep 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: animal lovers, vegetarians
This is not at all what I was expecting from the warm and fuzzy title. It is moralistic, and academic in the sense that it is full of references. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. I was expecting anecdotal tales about animals being anthromophized. I could not have been further from the real content. It is about how humans treat animals (poorly in this author's opinion.) I think it is best for vegetarians. ...more
Tracy Ann
Jul 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all ages
Nice style of writing, easy to read, and interesting! It appeals to all ages, and makes you think.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorites. Could be life-changing, in that it may turn you vegetarian.
Dec 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
More like a collection of one off incidences and seemingly scientific proofs without any proper statistics nor citing of source.
Mary Jo
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
(3.5) A good read, but hard to get through mostly due to the subject matter and partially because of the author's meandering. Regardless, I was so affected. ...more
Jul 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It only takes a few paragraphs to realize that Masson would appreciate you greatly were you to become an activist vegetarian. I am sympathetic in that my own "whole foods, plant based" dietary outlook makes me firmly believe that we would all be better off with far fewer animal products on our plate. But Masson takes this to a whole new level by espousing that it is the animals' feelings to which we ought to pay heed, less our bodily health. There was a line somewhere in the middle where he disp ...more
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it
The authors' stories about the intelligence and emotional lives of animals resonated deeply with me. As someone who has spent a great deal of time with both farm animals and those we consider "pets", I can attest to the depth of meaning in the lives of all animals. I appreciated very much his attempt to make more tangible what should be common knowledge: that animals have sentience and volition equal to our own and that they should be respected and honored as such.

What I was averse to in his boo
Jun 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, interesting book that will make you think, if you're open to it, about things as varied as our place in the whole scheme of things, the benefits & drawbacks of the ways we eat and live, and especially, about the probable lives, loves and thoughts of other creatures we humans so often take for granted, knowing them mainly simply by how we eat them, and nothing more.

Masson is a bit strong in his views on vegetarianism, I think, and I don't always agree with him, but you can easily read
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
This is a powerful, dangerous book. Dangerous, because once you gain some knowledge, you can't possibly forget it, and then you must make ethical choices in response.

This book focuses on the intelligence and emotion easily recognizable in pigs, cows, ducks, geese, goats, and sheep. Although not a "scientific" study, it cites sources which include Darwin and Leonardo da Vinci, as well as other more modern scientists, farmers, and behaviorists.
At times achingly beautiful and other times horrifyin
Catherine Kelaher
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vegan, animals
I have read this book twice and not only does it provide the facts about animal emotions and animal farming, it does so in a way that is thoroughly enjoyable to read.
Masson uses a readable mix of scientific facts and anecdotes to draw the reader in and convey his thesis that farmed animals do indeed have a wide array of deep emotions. Each species of farmed animal gets a chapter of their own. We get an inside look into factory farming, which is, as expected heart wrenching. We also get a glimpse
Judith Spapens
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book to promote veganism from an AR-viewpoint without stomach turning slaughterhouse anecdotes and too many adjectives that emphasize what's already clear and obvious. It's a real tearjerker, writing very nicely with wonderful stories from farm sanctuaries. It's realistic in describing the necessity to become vegan (not merely a plantbased diet) but the failure of the author to become vegan in less than 5 years is honest perhaps but also might make non-vegans apprehensive to start the ...more
Apr 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-books
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.
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He has written several books books critical of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and psychiatry as well as books on animals, their emotions and their rights.

He currently lives in New Zealand with his wife, two sons, three cats and three rats.

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“Farmers today keep themselves in ignorance of the needs and true nature of pigs precisely because to know would put their conscience in a terrible bind. Wilful ignorance of this kind is no better than complicity.” 1 likes
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