Melanie Joy on Carnism

Melanie Joy, Ph.D., Ed.M. beautifully delves into the psychology of what we eat and why. I remember in college learning about how we have learned to more easily kill our enemy from a distance. This thought has resurfaced time and time again as I think about people who eat meat and dairy, what Melanie Joy calls Carnism “The invisible ideology that disconnects us from our rationality, our feelings and our values. And which enables a massive global injustice.”

Melanie highlights concisely yet thoroughly the pure integrity of being vegan. She furthermore delves rather deep into the inherent violence with carnism and the inescapable cognitive dissonance associated with this invisible ideology. She sets the premise for explaining this “invisible ideology” with saying “We tend to assume that only vegans and vegetarians follow a belief system. When eating animals is not a necessity, which is the case in much of the world today, then it is a choice. And choices always stem from beliefs.”

After becoming ill from eating a burger with Campylobacter bacteria Melanie quit eating meat. She described her diet change as a paradigm shift. When she explains the experience of seeing the world differently I could really relate. Now when Melanie witnesses others eating meat she sees  “people putting the bodies of dead animals in their mouths as if nothing at all were wrong”. So she set off to figure out “how rational caring people, like myself, could just stop thinking and feeling.”

Melanie does an amazing job explaining the belief systems, choices, and ideology of veganism and Carnism, a term she coined. She boldly confronts us with the violence meat and dairy eaters are in denial of which totally conflicts with core values. She follows this up beautifully saying “Our pain is the mirror in which we can see the reflection of our humanity.” Then she delineates various ways in which we pay for our carnism and enable it through denial, justification, and cognitive distortions.

Melanie even explains that the mentality which enables all violent ideologies (racism, sexism, etc…) are the same. She says “It’s the mentality of domination and subjugation, of privilege and oppression. It’s the mentality that causes us to “turn someone into something. To reduce a life to a unit of production. It is the might-makes-right mentality that makes us feel entitled to wield complete control over the lives and deaths of those with less power-just because we can…” “And so if we fail to pick out the common threads that are woven through all violent ideologies, then we will recreate atrocities in new forms.”

Check out the great video of her speech at TEDx Talks to learn more!

“If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.”
~Voltaire

As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.
~Leo Tolstoy

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