Carnism: Why Eating Animals Is a Social Justice Issue

Amazing, amazing, amazing article!!  I pulled out so many great quotes that I pretty much pulled out the entire article.  I put up some really great ones here as a preview, but you should seriously read the whole thing.  It’s a little long, though don’t be daunted by the scroll bar; it’s deceiving since there are so many comments at the bottom.  I just ordered the book and will let you all know how it is when I’ve finished!

"Carnism is a global phenomenon. In meat-eating cultures around the world, people tend to feel comfortable eating only those species they learned to classify as edible; all the rest they perceive as inedible and often as disgusting (e.g., pigs in the Middle East) or even unethical (e.g., dogs and cats in the U.S., cattle in India) to consume. And all cultures tend to see their own classification of edible animals as rational and judge the classifications of other cultures as disgusting and/or offensive. So, while the type of species consumed changes from culture to culture, people’s experience eating animals remains remarkably consistent."

"Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions us to eat certain animals. Carnism is the opposite of veganism; we tend to think it is only vegans (and vegetarians) who bring their beliefs to the dinner table. But when eating animals is not a necessity for survival, as is the case in much of the world today, it is a choice—and choices always stem from beliefs. Most of us, for instance, eat pigs but not dogs because we don’t have a belief system when it comes to eating animals.” (altered slightly to correct a typo)

"It is the mentality of domination and subjugation, of privilege and oppression. It is the mentality that causes us to turn someone into something, to reduce a life to a unit of production, to erase someone’s being. It is the might-makes-right mentality, which makes us feel entitled to wield complete control over the lives and deaths of those with less power—just because we can. And to feel justified in our actions, because they’re only…. savages, women, animals. It is the mentality of meat."

"The flip side of MLK’s aforementioned quote is that justice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere. The oppressive-powers-that-be depend on a divide-and-conquer mentality that pits oppressed groups against one another, as though oppressions were rungs on a hierarchical ladder rather than spokes on a wheel. And while it is impossible for anyone to take on all causes, we can and should value any cause which seeks to create a more just and compassionate society. As ethicist Peter Singer muses, ‘I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that [people working for human welfare] are doing for human beings that compels them to continue to support the…exploitation of farm[ed] animals.’”

- Melanie Joy, Ph.D., Ed.M., author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism
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