Beyond Carnism

I watched an excellent presentation by Melanie Joy yesterday on YouTube about our meat-eating, animal-using culture.

Melanie Joy is the Founder and President of a charitable organization called ‘Beyond Carnism / Carnism Awareness and Action Network (CAAN)’.  The organization’s mandate is to raise awareness about ‘carnism’ as she calls it – the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals.

In the presentation, Melanie talks about how our culture sees certain animals as food (though interestingly, not all animals) and how we are in denial due to these cultural beliefs. We think that eating animals is normal, she says.  We are also unaware of how these animals are treated before they appear in our grocery stores and on our plates.

Of course, many of you reading this are already vegan or interested in veganism and although the presentation may have as its subject matter something you already know about, one segment I found particularly moving is the part about each animal  having a distinct personality, an individual life and the desire for freedom to live as it was intended to – and that animal cares about and will fight for its life as much as you care about and will fight for yours.

Every animal fights for its freedom and for its life just as we would when it is being taken away.

Each animal suffers when pain and misery are inflicted – just as we do.

And we (our culture) cause them suffering and take their freedoms away and ultimately take their lives, usually with no thought or care for them.  We don’t have respect for all life – we see animals as ours to do with as we want.

Here is a moving photo of two cows seeking comfort in each other:


When we choose to believe that animals are not like us, that they do not matter, we are fooling ourselves and I believe, diminishing our own humanity.

The following quote by Joanna Lucas of the Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary captures the horror inherent in our meat-eating society:

‘We know things about her that no one should ever know, or want to know, about a fellow being – the sight of her flayed body, the weight of her severed thigh, the taste of her burned, bone-punctured flesh, the charred crunch of her fractured ribs, the flavor of her spilled marrow, the taste, texture and flavor of every aspect of her despair, degradation and defeat.

We know every detail of what we have forced her to be – an object to consume and excrete. What we don’t know, what we don’t want to know, is what we must know if we are to restore our own humanity: who she is.’

Each and every animal has a personality, a life they will fight to keep, eyes that see, and a body that feels.

Melanie says that a shocking 1.2 billion farm animals are killed weekly for food and yet we don’t see any of this. This shocking reality is hidden from us as these animals live on factory farms in ‘windowless sheds in remote locations’.

The short video about how animals are treated that Melanie shows the audience part way through her presentation is disturbing, but she will warn you to look away or close your eyes and not listen if you feel you cannot witness it – I encourage you to watch it though.  It could change your life!  I know learning about the way our society treats animals certainly has irrevocably changed mine.

So, here it is:

Many people wish they had known the facts earlier so they could have made changes to help animals earlier. So please share this—help me get the word out!  Animals deserve better than this – I know you agree.

Click the following link for more information on Melanie Joy’s organization:

Thank you for reading.


A true animal loving vegan


2 thoughts on “Beyond Carnism

  1. Hey, good post!
    I have two counter-points:
    If this is true, why aren’t all farm kids vegans? Having grown up around almost every animal, they would see their personalities and worth more than anyone, right? Having been a farm kid and having considered animals among my childhood friends, however, I do not agree with this woman. Animals are distinctly different from human beings. It depends upon your definition of personality to say whether they have one or not. They have distinct traits and dispositions. But they are very different from people in so many ways.
    Chickens, for example, when they watch their brothers and sisters be killed, are not frightened. They do not grieve. Anyone who has been around chickens long enough knows the signs of a chicken who is frightened or even sad. But they show none of these signs even in sight of a brother or sister being killed. This is just a small example. I spent all of my growing-up years with animals all around, and counted them among my friends. This is just my experience.
    Also, if eating animals is unnatural, why have humans done it from the beginning of known history?
    These are just my honest questions and reasons I’m not vegan. 🙂


  2. Thanks for your comments Mercy!
    Not all people are vegans even those who grew up on farms, primarily I believe because there are differing levels of empathy and understanding. I think another reason is that some people are more self-concerned than others and they want to keep eating meat and buying leather because they like those things. Another reason is that some people are in denial about the truth, even after they know the truth. Some people think they will become unhealthy if they don’t consume animal products. There are so many possible reasons why not everyone is vegan, but the biggest reason is the propaganda disseminated by our culture saying that eating animals is normal. I know I used to think it was normal. Now I can’t see it that way at all!
    I don’t have much firsthand experience with farm animals, but I’ve seen plenty of cows, horses, goats, pigs and sheep on car and bicycle visits to the country at the sides of roads and they are all so different! Some come up to me right away while others stay further away and just observe.
    I have seen these what I call ‘personalities’ on the farms I visit too – chickens and roosters vary – one from the other – some sidle up to you and some like to walk with you on your shoes! Others stay away and watch from a distance. I have had pet dogs and cats and they all had personalities! Some are loud and some are quiet, some are assertive and others are introverted. Some like to lie on your lap and others are more independent. You could chalk this all up to simple fear or lack of it, but I see personalities and a desire to connect with others of their own kind and with humans.
    I’ve seen videos of animals about to be slaughtered (Mercy for Animals is one source) and they are stressed and try to get away as they hear others of their kind being killed:
    And yes your definition of personality may be different from mine. Here is one definition of personality I just found online: “The totality of behavioral traits that are peculiar to a specific nonhuman animal: a hyena with an assertive personality.”
    Even if you believe that animals do not have personalities, and that they are distinctly different from us, they still deserve to be acknowledged as living, breathing entities, capable of feeling and wanting to live, and therefore, treated appropriately which in my opinion is not “treated” at all. Why a Labrador retriever and not a sheep?
    To address your second point, eating animals is not unnatural. For millennia we survived by eating animals and many cultures still do today. I think it is becoming unnatural though now that there are so many other options for us. I think it’s time for a change – for us to see things differently. It used to be ‘natural’ to have a slave. It used to be ‘natural’ for women not to vote. It used to be ‘natural’ for a man to be allowed to beat or rape his wife. Fortunately things change as they need to and as people and cultures evolve. I think it’s time for us to evolve beyond meat-eating if we can. I can so I choose to. There have been vegans and vegetarians around for thousands of years! Not only meat-eaters. Here is but one source of this information – there are many others you can find as well:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s