“This is the book I wish I had had to give the meat-eaters in my life so they would understand me, and how they and I could have such a different perspective on the same issue.” This statement from Melanie Joy about her new book, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism, might seem a little forward, but she’s right.
Before you roll your eyes and shrug carnism off as another “ism,” let Melanie explain it to you, which she does so eloquently in the interview below.
I will tell you that almost ten years ago, while I was editor of Satya Magazine, Melanie Joy submitted an article introducing the concept of carnism. She was working on her Ph.D. in psychology at the time and it was a little earnest and ambitious. Still, the editorial staff was intrigued and persuaded by her argument and we published it. I really wasn’t sure where the idea would go from there. Back then, she was arguing to restructure language. Now she’s talking about transforming our culture. And, again, she’s right.
Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows is an elegantly-written description of why people eat meat. The argument is subtle but her writing is very approachable, with a friendly tone and low on the use of academic jargon. For me, it’s the most thought-provoking book about how animals are perceived culturally since The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams (which had a big influence on me). I will leave it at that and let Melanie take it from here…
SV: Have you had any really surprising responses to your book so far?
MJ: Yes. I’ve been on a couple of radio shows in the Southwest–”cattle country”–and the reception has been surprisingly positive. Carnists and hunters have called in saying they agree with the precedent of the book. They care about animals too and are against factory farms. A lot of mainstream meat-eating readers have responded positively.
Why DO we love dogs, eat pigs, and wear cows?
Because the invisible system that I call “carnism” conditions us to love certain animals and eat others. Carnism teaches us not to feel when it comes to the animals we consume. Our natural way of responding to other animals appears to be based on empathy. One way we can see that: meat-eating societies around the world eat only a handful of species and find the idea of eating others disgusting. This is because carnism blocks our awareness and empathy when it comes to the species we have deemed edible. Continue Reading…