Dr. Melanie Joy Speaks on “Carnism”

Dr. Melanie Joy

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, NY hosted a presentation by Dr. Melanie Joy, a social psychologist and author of ”Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows.” Clearly a provocative topic, I salute the UU for creating this forum. Dr. Joy’s main theme is that most people who don’t live on farms don’t think about the killing that goes on to produce their food, and in fact this is partially due to the fact that it is hidden (somewhat intentionally) from most of us. Many people who are trying to be more conscious are switching to more “humanely raised” meat. However, she made a good point in asking audience members if they would feel ok about eating their golden retriever after a few years because it had a good life, running around, doing dog things. But this is what happens to other animals, and it is culturally accepted. With gentle warnings, she showed a few brief clips of scenes from factory farms, and discussed the idea of “carnism” (a term she coined), or meat-eating as “normal” and “necessary,” as we are raised in the western world to believe. Being that her own father is a commercial fisherman, Dr. Joy also spoke about the cultural and familial aspect of our dietary history. My kudos to the crowd of 75 people who held a thoughtful, positive, and respectful discussion afterwards. It gave me hope for our ability to become more aware even on very uncomfortable topics, and for the human mind to evolve towards less violence in the world.

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Beth Fiteni