Earlier in the year, I wrote about meeting the amazing Dr. Melanie Joy at Brighton VegFest, and I'd like to use this post to tell you more about Melanie's interesting and important work. She a professor of psychology and sociology at the University of Massachusetts, a Harvard graduate, a talented speaker, the author of Why we Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows, and the founder of CAAN, the Carnism Awareness and Action Network. Um, I feel inadequate.
What the heck is carnism? Melanie coined the term to describe the philosophy of eating animals and their products. Essentially, it's the opposing belief system of veganism. Whereas vegans believe that humans have no right to consume the flesh and secretions of animals, carnists believe they are entitled to the bodies of animals.
Why do we need a word for this philosophy? Melanie argues that without naming the ideology that allows us to use animals for our own pleasure, it remains hidden in our culture, naturalising and normalising the practice. Meaning that because the mindset that allows us to eat animals doesn't have a name, we can't see it, talk about it, or even really think about, allowing us to continue without questioning, or seriously questioning, why we all accept that animals are there for our consumption.
I'm not going to say much more. Melanie explains the idea better than I could ever hope to. Instead I'll strongly encourage you to all watch her incredibly moving, inspiring speech on carnism.
Watch it, watch it, watch it now!! You will feel so inspired and motivated afterwards. Note: there are about five minutes of upsetting footage starting at about 28:30 in the video. It's difficult to watch, although not the worst footage available. Melanie resumes her talk at 33:12, if you feel that you need to skip this part.
Aside from watching the speech, I highly recommend Melanie's book: Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows.
The book explores the same themes as the speech, looking at the ways in which animal exploitation is both normalised by animal industries, and kept out of our sight. If you've never read an animal rights book before, I think this is a great book to start with, as it's engagingly written and not too heavy on theory. And I've got a signed copy. Jealous?
This post has not been sponsored by Dr. Joy and her people in any way. I just think she's that freaking cool.