As a former analyst, Masson is keenly interested in the many ways that meat eaters, like me, use denial to avoid having to think about the actual lives of the animals that they eat. Yet, in his estimation, even the most humanely raised farm chicken, goat, pig or cow cannot be said to have a good life, much less a good death, when it ultimately goes to slaughter. But his overall tone is a gentle one, as he tries to demystify his diet by devoting a chapter to “A Day in the Life of a Vegan,” in which he characterizes himself as “cooking-challenged,” while waxing about the nutty flavor of organic avocadoes.
No stranger to the media spotlight, Masson famously sued New Yorker writer Janet Malcolm for libel after she wrote an unflattering profile of him back in his psychoanalyst days. The author has spent the last eight years in New Zealand with his wife, a pediatrician, and their two children, ages 7 and 12, because he couldn’t stand to live in the United States while George Bush was in power. With the Obamas in the White House, the family is now moving to Berkeley, Calif.
I spoke with Masson at Salon’s offices in San Francisco, where he enthused about the new White House vegetable garden, and challenged Michael Pollan, the author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” to a friendly public debate. …