Friday, June 1, 2012

Carnism: The Psychology of Meat-Eating

Melanie Joy sheds light on the unconscious ideology underlying the defense of meat-eating as normal, natural, and necessary, in the face of contrary evidence.  Her talk helped me to understand why meat-based diet ideologies (e.g. paleo diet, low-carb diet) are so seductive and capable of luring intelligent people away from plant-based diets, in spite of the lack of a sound scientific basis for meat-based diets.


Peter said...

Nice, Don. Have to look up this video.

This video by William Clifford Roberts, the editor in chief of American Journal of Cardiology, had a great impact on me and my food choices:

Humans are Herbivores: Dr. William Clifford Roberts

Jimmy Gee said...

Maybe Melanie Joy and Lierre Keith should sit down and have a chat. I think Lierre could teach Melanie a thing or two about the skewed diatribes that vegans like to talk about as "reasons / evidence" to not eat meat.

Michael Corleone said...

I've been seeing some great results following the Paleo lifestyle. Please read about the program I followed at:

Janice said...

Thank you for posting this. It has raised my awareness of my own carnism. My thinking has been profoundly shaken after watching this.

Don said...


Perhaps you would like to know that Lierre Keith made numerous factual errors in her book. Since you are so fair minded I am sure you won't mind reading these in their entirety:

Jimmy Gee said...


Here's what I think.

I do think I am pretty fair minded regardless of the inuendo.

I also recognize that individuals like Lierre take liberty with their presentaion of info - as you do - as many others on the internet do - which is eactly my point.

Wheather one should be omnivorous or vegan (or somewhere inbetween) is in reality a personal choice. This is because making this decision based upon so-called scientific evidence cannot work. The complexity of the human metabolism, given our current ability to investigate, cannot possibly be adequately understood. The scientific methods are not at that level - yet.

So you go ahead and continue to publish the "see this study proves meat / carnism(?) is bad" entries as evidence, when in reality they are simply weak unproveable bits of info in the sea of human complexity.

Don said...


"Wheather one should be omnivorous or vegan (or somewhere inbetween) is in reality a personal choice."

Every human is an omnivore, because the word omnivore means an animal that is capable of consuming both plants and animals.


Why the question mark? It suggests that you don't understand the meaning of the word "carnism" which in turn suggests that you did not watch Melanie Joy's lecture.

Just to clarify, in a nutshell, carnism is the ideology that maintains that eating some animals is necessary, natural, or normal. It is a species of chauvinism, prejudice, and bigotry, like sexism and racism. Mostly it is unconsciously learned and applied.

Anyone who believes that s/he must eat meat to maintain health is a carnist i.e. a defender of the ideology that eating meat is normal, natural, and necessary.

You offer the arguments from personal choice and from ignorance.

Perhaps whether you should own slaves or not, or beat your wife, or whip your children, or shoot your neighbor, is "in reality a personal choice." After all, the complexity of human relationships cannot be adequately understood given our current ability to investigate. Right?

You are suggesting that we don't understand human metabolism (i.e. we are ignorant) therefore some of us should keep killing innocent animals to harvest their body parts just in case someone suddenly proves that it is essential, despite the reams of evidence and living proof (i.e. long-lived, perfectly fit vegan humans) that it is not.

Humans have no nutritional requirement for dietary animal flesh, and we have plenty of evidence that eating meat promotes disease, and eating meat requires killing animals, and this killing requires inflicting pain.

Perhaps your sense of complexity comes from the conflict between these facts and your personal dietary choices.

Jimmy Gee said...


You remarked:

"You offer the arguments from personal choice and from ignorance."

"Perhaps whether you should own slaves or not, or beat your wife, or whip your children, or shoot your neighbor, is "in reality a personal choice." After all, the complexity of human relationships cannot be adequately understood given our current ability to investigate."

You continue to miss the point. Also, trying to equate eating meat to depraved morality is a cheap shot. However, I guess I'm not totally surprised, because you seem to be heading in a direction evangelical in nature. You've seen the light and are so sorry for all your past meat-eating sins. Was it the opening shots of the cute puppies and small children holding animals from Melanie's video that presented the blinding flash for you?

So let's try to think like you - we should market a public crusade to keep all house cats inside and fed on grain-filled chow and prevent them from torturing rodents. After all, they seem to survive on pet food with grain fillers, so why not an all vegetarian pet food for them. I'm sure the supplement manufacturers can concoct enough additives to make it appear nutritionally balanced...

And believe me, I have no conflict with my dietary choices. The conflict I do have is with pontificating evangelicals.

We are all ignorant if the face of the current knowledge-base regarding nutrition and metabolism. There is much left to learn. That goes for the way we treat the animals we eat as well.

Don said...

"We are all ignorant if the face of the current knowledge-base regarding nutrition and metabolism."

No, we are not. Human nutrition has been a subject of study for more than 100 years. We have textbooks and many studies on humans, as well as many natural experiments, that have given us sufficient knowledge to make rational decisions.

"There is much left to learn. That goes for the way we treat the animals we eat as well."

I am not sure I understand your point. How many more animals do we have to kill, maim, cage, or injure to learn how to treat them?

We kill 20K animals per minute, 1.2 million per hour, 10 billion per year.

I don't know what you call it, but I call it violence on a large scale.

If people don't mind the bloodshed, I wonder why it all takes place behind closed doors?

Probably you don't want to see the carnage in your backyard any more than I do.

I choose to no longer support it.

Actually, cats don't need meat, they need protein and fat, vitamins and minerals.

And the choice is not between meat and "grain-filled chow."

Apparently someone already make an adequate cat food (high in protein and fat, low in carbohydrate and fiber) from plants:

But, what a cat, with its very different anatomy and physiology, does to animals is what a cat does to animals; I don't think the fact that a cat hunts tells me anything about what I would prefer to do or about what would work best for humans.

I also don't think that humans opposed to the use of animals for human foods have to be opposed to cats eating other animals, or do anything to alter the behavior of wandering cats; the latter simply does not follow from the former.

Don said...

I have seen enough to come to know that what goes around, comes around.

I don't think that someone who points to cause and effect is moralizing.

I don't think it is a coincidence that a very large proportion of people who live by violence, die by heart disease

Whereas those with a less violent diet, are less likely to die of heart disease.

Swede said...

Would you eat your golden retriever?

My god you have gone retarded to the nth degree.

This is what you sound like:

"I don't kill animals because I have a high moral conscience. Eating plants is so much better than eating animals because plants do not have feelings. They feel okay when you eat them. Animals feel suffering and thus reduce you to a low level on the scale of decency. So don't eat animals."

I guess you have not produced any offspring (correct me if wrong) since your life is based on not suffering.

Boo hoo beta man!

Jimmy Gee said...


I can no longer read your blog. You twist logic and use arguments that are nonsense. You have crossed the boundary to evangelical- almost to a level of cult.

As I have said to others reading your column - READERS BEWARE!

Farewell to Don.

Kris Nelson said...

"Never underestimate the power of denial." I quoted this in my yearbook long ago and it has served me well ever since I have adopted it.

Lierre Keith makes so many fallacies it's a wonder anyone can manage to take her book seriously.

Plants and Animals are different types of life. People need to desperately refine their ability to think critically and effectively discern differences, instead of lumping all living organisms into one pot at all times. Do plants cry like animals? Do plants express joy like animals? Do plants express pain? Do plants bleed like we (animals) do? Do plants run away and try to escape the attempt to kill them like animals? Do plants express affection to their offspring like animals? Do plants have ears, noses, mouths, brains, lungs, and other organs that animals share in common? No, but all mammals do and many other animals do as well. Recognize differences and similarities accurately!

Do no harm, non-aggression principle, non-violence is a hard concept for some to understand, and instead continue to choose to excuse, justify and validate their behavior, habits and actions to feel good about themselves and continue the comfort of blissful ignorance of what they are doing.

We are animals, our nature is different from other animals who act and behave according to their own nature which is a result of their physiology. A lion is a lion, a goat is a goat, a human is a human, we are different but share similarities as we all belong to the animal kingdom. If we were designed to eat other animals, then there would be validation to do so. Just because we can, doesn't mean we are supposed to.

People do not seem to value truth enough; justifiable comfort in ones current way of living seems to be the only concern. Seek truth: what is true is what is accurate, correct, right and good! Killing unnecessarily for maintaining existing conditions or for the taste-bud 5-sense illusion is not a good, right and true way to live.