Beyond carnism & toward rational, authentic food choices

Hello everybody !

Today I wanted to write a different article from usual. It was raining outside, and I was on Youtube, watching videos, when I stumbled upon Melanie Joy’s TED Talk about carnism. It deals with the reason why we consider eating animals is a normal thing to do, basically. I strongly advise you to watch it, it is eye-opening, and only 20 minute-long or so.

I had already watch Gary Yourofsky’s best speech you’ll ever hear who argues in favor of veganism, and I already knew about all the arguments supported by vegetarians and vegans in favor of our health, the environment, and the animals. I have seen all the violent footages of slaughterhouses and animal killings. But I found that Melanie Joy’s speech brought something new to the table.

“To get mud off your hands, use soap and water. To get blood off your hands, go vegan.”
– John Sakars

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Melanie Joy is an American social psychologist and vegan activist. She is a professor of psychology and sociology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, as well as the president of Beyond Carnism, a non-profit advocacy group which she founded in 2010. She has published two books, Strategic Action for Animals and Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows. In other words, she knows what she’s doing.

In her video, she uses her expertise in psychology to understand why we eat animals, and why we consider it a normal thing without ever questioning this irrational and violent behavior. As she declares : “when eating animal is not a necessity, then it is a choice, and choices always stem from beliefs”.

Her analysis revolves around the concept of carnism which she defines as a dominant ideology because this doctrine is seen as a given. Eating animal is just the way things are. It is however a violent ideology. It is in contradiction with the core of human values : jutice, authenticity, compassion. In fact, carnism relies on denial by distorting our thoughts so that we act against our values wihtout fully realizing what we are truly doing.

In addition, the victims of carnism are invisible which makes denial even easier. In one week, more farm animals are killed than the total of victims in all wars throughout all history. We have managed to reduce life to a unit of production. Is that okay ? I don’t think it is personally. Animals are not products. Life doesn’t have a price

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“If you think that being vegan is difficult, imagine being a factory farmed animal.” -Davegan Raza

Of course, invisibility alone cannot maintain the system. Hints of its violence are everywhere, and spreading more and more today, which means that justification becomes necessary. And the way that we learned to justify eating animals is by learning to believe that the myths of meats and dairy are the facts of meat and dairy : eating animals is « normal », « natural » and « necessary ». Is it though ?

“If we believe absurdities we shall commit atrocities” – Voltaire

Today, myths of carnism are institutionalized. This violent doctrine is embedded within the very foundation of our system which leads us to inevitably internalize it. The set of defense it uses to justify eating dead bodies distorts our perception of farm animals, and isolate them from the rest : from our dogs, our cats, our rabbits… But if we think about it, there is absolutely no rational reason that a dog should be different from a cow, or from a monkey, is there ? Why love one but eat the other ?

In my opinion, life is too short to make others’ shorter, don’t you think ? Here’s a picture of a cute piglet to help you make up your mind.

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