The author of more than a half-dozen books on the emotional lives of animals argues for awareness about what you are shoveling down your trap.
The act of eating has an ethical component, writes Masson (Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras, 2006, etc.) Who, once past denial or simple avoidance of the issue, does not have qualms when it comes to industrial food production? Turkey factories, corporate hog farms, feedlots and aquaculture—each poses a moral hazard as well as an environmental one. Everything you eat is an ethical choice; your dollars support one agricultural mode or another. Masson’s rhetoric is hard to deny and exceedingly simple: “all living beings want to live and do not want to die.” The slaughtering of animals is just that, and rhetorical feints toward a decent life and a decent death are denial. Would any sentient creature willingly forfeit the freedom to engage in its normal behavior? Masson makes a solid case for the decency of a vegan diet. It provides the necessary nutrients and gustatory satisfaction as well. You can tap into the seasonality of foodstuffs and cut back on fossil fuels transporting edibles from, say, New Zealand to New York. You can reduce greenhouse gases by refusing anything to do with methane-flatulent cows; you can help squelch the production of animal-waste products; you can stop being party to an industry that torments animals before it kills them. The author is strongest when he decries the environmental and emotional devastation left in the wake of an animal-flesh diet: deforestation, erosion, freshwater scarcity, air pollution and biodiversity loss, the spread of disease and suffering. He is weakest in his chirpy dietary tips, a gagging cacophony of soy products.
Eat your way to Eden or Armageddon, Masson writes convincingly, but bystander status no longer applies.