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In this paperback edition is a foreword by activist and author John Robbins and a reader’s group study guide. This ground-breaking work, voted one of the top ten books of 2010 by VegNews Magazine, offers an absorbing look at why and how humans can so wholeheartedly devote ourselves to certain animals and then allow others to suffer needlessly, especially those slaughtered for our consumption.

Social psychologist Melanie Joy explores the many ways we numb ourselves and disconnect from our natural empathy for farmed animals. She coins the term "carnism" to describe the belief system that has conditioned us to eat certain animals and not others.

In Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows Joy investigates factory farming, exposing how cruelly the animals are treated, the hazards that meatpacking workers face, and the environmental impact of raising 10 billion animals for food each year. Controversial and challenging, this book will change the way you think about food forever.

Topics: Animal Rights, Animals, Veganism, Ethics, Social Change, Activism, Informative, Heartfelt, and Essays

Published: Red Wheel Weiser on
ISBN: 9781609255763
List price: $16.95
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recommended for: psychology & philosophy classes; public health-health professionals; all thoughtful peopleAs I read this book, I vacillated between saying to myself “well, duh!” and then thinking it was an exceptional book, one where this subject has never been written about before in this exact way. It’s a slim book but it contains a lot of food for thought.I felt as though I were back in a college psychology class because my mind was being stimulated in just the way it was during some of those classes. It’s written in a very reader friendly manner and even though there’s a lot of terminology that might not be familiar to all readers, it doesn’t use a lot of jargon, it’s written so that any unfamiliar words will have a clear meaning with the reading of them. Melanie Joy has coined the word carnism and I really like that the word is now in the vernacular.The book is definitely written for and directed at the carnists, the vast majority of the population who accepts the dominant paradigm; those living as omnivores. However, vegetarians and vegans can also learn a lot from this book.Unless I’m reading for a class of some sort, I rarely take notes when I read books for pleasure or edification, but I took many notes here. I’m going to leave most of them out of this review. I don’t want to just regurgitate the book’s contents here. I want readers to read the book for themselves.This is a psychology and philosophy book and the author’s musings and hypotheses were what interested me most. I cared less for the material about the atrocities committed against farmed animals. However, I because I do believe the author was writing for those who’d maybe never questioned they way things are, that information might be necessary to put what she is saying into context, and it actually makes up a rather small part of the book. I really do love her though!: She specifically says that once we know the full extent and all the details of the suffering of animals, we no longer need to continually expose ourselves to graphic imagery in order to work on their behalf. Thank goodness! I’ve been reading what’s what for over two decades and sometimes it’s just too painful for me to put my focus on the specifics of what goes on.I love the one or two quotes that start off each chapter; they’re so apt. I liked them so much so that I put a few of them in my Goodreads quotes. For Americans who truly cannot care about the 20 billion animals killed for food in the U.S. every year, or even care about the devastation caused to the environment, the 300 million (human) animals might get their attention. I love how the author refers to these 300 million as the collateral damage of carnism: the factory farm workers, those who live near factory farms, and those who eat animal flesh.Most people like to believe that they make their own choices, and that they’re in control of how they act. I’d like to challenge them to read this book because the author talks about how the pervasive and violent ideology of carnism is the norm, how most believe without questioning, how the system is set up so that much of the truth is hidden from the population, and how this system is so entrenched that it’s just the way things are, and most aren’t even aware of their philosophy or aware they even have a philosophy. Vegetarianism has been named because those people are doing something different. Carnism was never named because those people are just doing what everybody does. It’s invisible, legitimized, and unnamed until now. The author writes about how every aspect of society, not just those making money off the killing of animals, goes along with this ideology of carnism, including the legal system and the news media. The system depends on its invisibility, on myth, on conformity, on objectification, deindividulization, dichotomization of the animals, and on confirmation bias, where people get fed what they already believe.She contends that most people feel better if they attain integration, a state where their values and practices are in alignment, that most people are actually disgusted by what they think of as moral offenses, that in order to do what they’re doing as carnists dissociation and denial are widespread, because while society believes eating meat is normal, natural, and necessary, those aren’t really facts.Studies have shown (she uses Stanley Milgram’s experiments as an example) that people will sometimes not obey their own consciences but will cede to those in authority. Joy encourages her readers to question that external authority and question the status quo, and pay attention to their own internal authority. The book ends on a very hopeful note. The author believes that not only can we change and that the time is right for change, but that the vast majority of people would be more comfortable with their values and actions matching. So she believes that people can change and will want to change when they learn the truth. She gives some of those truths in this book. The reader can decide for herself/himself what to make of the information.At the end of the book there is a list of useful resources, notes, a bibliography, and an index.The way I figure it, even those people who are certain that they will want to eat animals their whole lives will appreciate this book. The ideas she proposes here can be generalized to all sorts of subjects, at least some that every reader will find beneficial to contemplate.more
Between the reviews here, Goodreads and the first 3 chapters of the book that I read, I decided to abandon this book. Joy's writing is rambling and repetitive. She thrives on scare tactics and doesn't provide any alternatives to the methods she denounces. This is not a well-written book, and it doesn't do anything to bolster the vegetarian movement, nor does it do anything to benefit the vegetarian reputation. For disclosure: I have been dabbling with becoming a vegetarian and I had high hopes for this book. One of the main reasons I want to give up meat is because I'm uneasy about the treatment of animals in these factories and slaughterhouses. While Joy does shed light on the horrors of the animals and how little attention is being paid to their treatment, this book didn't really provide any resources for me. It just presented a thesis that our perceptions of animals gears us to love some more than others. A valid point, but the content of the book seems lacking and fluffed. I think this would have been better as an Op-ed piece for a newspaper rather than an entire book.more
I picked up the book because of the title.It was clear and bold The rest of the book I'm afraid however is not.I'm not sure what it is that I expected but I really was interested in looking at the psychology that goes along with eating meat in the modern world.I suppose I wanted a detached observers view.Unfortunately the book clearly has a bias and that I believe is it's downfall.The book fails to offer any new information and what it did offer was something that one could stumble upon in a wikipedia article.The stories are sad of course but they do little to nothing other then to serve as the vegens version of torture porn.The entire last half of the book is just a sloppily strung along narrative filled with quotes and second hand stories.The Author I'm afraid simply has no skill for writing and comes across very heavy handed and preachy not to mention also fails to address the issues of privilege that I feel go hand in hand when one is discussing changes in diet.more
Read all 12 reviews

Reviews

recommended for: psychology & philosophy classes; public health-health professionals; all thoughtful peopleAs I read this book, I vacillated between saying to myself “well, duh!” and then thinking it was an exceptional book, one where this subject has never been written about before in this exact way. It’s a slim book but it contains a lot of food for thought.I felt as though I were back in a college psychology class because my mind was being stimulated in just the way it was during some of those classes. It’s written in a very reader friendly manner and even though there’s a lot of terminology that might not be familiar to all readers, it doesn’t use a lot of jargon, it’s written so that any unfamiliar words will have a clear meaning with the reading of them. Melanie Joy has coined the word carnism and I really like that the word is now in the vernacular.The book is definitely written for and directed at the carnists, the vast majority of the population who accepts the dominant paradigm; those living as omnivores. However, vegetarians and vegans can also learn a lot from this book.Unless I’m reading for a class of some sort, I rarely take notes when I read books for pleasure or edification, but I took many notes here. I’m going to leave most of them out of this review. I don’t want to just regurgitate the book’s contents here. I want readers to read the book for themselves.This is a psychology and philosophy book and the author’s musings and hypotheses were what interested me most. I cared less for the material about the atrocities committed against farmed animals. However, I because I do believe the author was writing for those who’d maybe never questioned they way things are, that information might be necessary to put what she is saying into context, and it actually makes up a rather small part of the book. I really do love her though!: She specifically says that once we know the full extent and all the details of the suffering of animals, we no longer need to continually expose ourselves to graphic imagery in order to work on their behalf. Thank goodness! I’ve been reading what’s what for over two decades and sometimes it’s just too painful for me to put my focus on the specifics of what goes on.I love the one or two quotes that start off each chapter; they’re so apt. I liked them so much so that I put a few of them in my Goodreads quotes. For Americans who truly cannot care about the 20 billion animals killed for food in the U.S. every year, or even care about the devastation caused to the environment, the 300 million (human) animals might get their attention. I love how the author refers to these 300 million as the collateral damage of carnism: the factory farm workers, those who live near factory farms, and those who eat animal flesh.Most people like to believe that they make their own choices, and that they’re in control of how they act. I’d like to challenge them to read this book because the author talks about how the pervasive and violent ideology of carnism is the norm, how most believe without questioning, how the system is set up so that much of the truth is hidden from the population, and how this system is so entrenched that it’s just the way things are, and most aren’t even aware of their philosophy or aware they even have a philosophy. Vegetarianism has been named because those people are doing something different. Carnism was never named because those people are just doing what everybody does. It’s invisible, legitimized, and unnamed until now. The author writes about how every aspect of society, not just those making money off the killing of animals, goes along with this ideology of carnism, including the legal system and the news media. The system depends on its invisibility, on myth, on conformity, on objectification, deindividulization, dichotomization of the animals, and on confirmation bias, where people get fed what they already believe.She contends that most people feel better if they attain integration, a state where their values and practices are in alignment, that most people are actually disgusted by what they think of as moral offenses, that in order to do what they’re doing as carnists dissociation and denial are widespread, because while society believes eating meat is normal, natural, and necessary, those aren’t really facts.Studies have shown (she uses Stanley Milgram’s experiments as an example) that people will sometimes not obey their own consciences but will cede to those in authority. Joy encourages her readers to question that external authority and question the status quo, and pay attention to their own internal authority. The book ends on a very hopeful note. The author believes that not only can we change and that the time is right for change, but that the vast majority of people would be more comfortable with their values and actions matching. So she believes that people can change and will want to change when they learn the truth. She gives some of those truths in this book. The reader can decide for herself/himself what to make of the information.At the end of the book there is a list of useful resources, notes, a bibliography, and an index.The way I figure it, even those people who are certain that they will want to eat animals their whole lives will appreciate this book. The ideas she proposes here can be generalized to all sorts of subjects, at least some that every reader will find beneficial to contemplate.more
Between the reviews here, Goodreads and the first 3 chapters of the book that I read, I decided to abandon this book. Joy's writing is rambling and repetitive. She thrives on scare tactics and doesn't provide any alternatives to the methods she denounces. This is not a well-written book, and it doesn't do anything to bolster the vegetarian movement, nor does it do anything to benefit the vegetarian reputation. For disclosure: I have been dabbling with becoming a vegetarian and I had high hopes for this book. One of the main reasons I want to give up meat is because I'm uneasy about the treatment of animals in these factories and slaughterhouses. While Joy does shed light on the horrors of the animals and how little attention is being paid to their treatment, this book didn't really provide any resources for me. It just presented a thesis that our perceptions of animals gears us to love some more than others. A valid point, but the content of the book seems lacking and fluffed. I think this would have been better as an Op-ed piece for a newspaper rather than an entire book.more
I picked up the book because of the title.It was clear and bold The rest of the book I'm afraid however is not.I'm not sure what it is that I expected but I really was interested in looking at the psychology that goes along with eating meat in the modern world.I suppose I wanted a detached observers view.Unfortunately the book clearly has a bias and that I believe is it's downfall.The book fails to offer any new information and what it did offer was something that one could stumble upon in a wikipedia article.The stories are sad of course but they do little to nothing other then to serve as the vegens version of torture porn.The entire last half of the book is just a sloppily strung along narrative filled with quotes and second hand stories.The Author I'm afraid simply has no skill for writing and comes across very heavy handed and preachy not to mention also fails to address the issues of privilege that I feel go hand in hand when one is discussing changes in diet.more
The best part of the book discusses meat industry, including hygiene, ecological and worker safety issues. Joy argues that it enables us to eat meat because we don't see the connection between the living animal and the food product. I don't want my other remarks to take away from the importance of this issue. I don't think that Joy is any happier about meat-eating that is outside the industry, however. Hunters may actually be eating in a manner that is environmentally sensitive, and Joy would have to do mental acrobatics, to use one of her favorite words, to claim that they fail to understand that they have killed and eaten an animal. But her reasoning about the "walls" on the slaughterhouse enabling us to eat meat is illogical. I would argue that the walls aren't there because we are squeamish, we are squeamish because the walls are there, and we don't grow up seeing animals slaughtered as our ancestors did. If it worked like Joy argues, then vegetarianism should be on decline rather than on the rise, now that we are sheltered from scenes of slaughter. Joy's discussion of the sociological issues of meat-eating leave me wondering how she got a degree in sociology, and if that degree is worth much. She attempts to scare us off of meat eating by telling us that it is part of a culturally constructed schema, as if the S-word would give us the heeby-jeebies. (This is parenthetically, as close as she ever gets to fulfilling the promise made in the title.) So, I might add, is vegetarianism. And yes, she is right, things aren't always very logical, and sometimes seem contradictory. How did Joy get a Ph.D. in sociology without noticing that human culture is like that? I don't really understand why I am supposed to find it bizarre that I relate differently to different animals. I understand that PETA used to ask people what the difference was between eating a cow and eating my dog. The difference is that I have made a companion of the dog. This is a relationship I entered into and in which I accept obligations, not some diffuse, abstract concept of rights held by creatures incapable of understanding and exercising them. I feel no need to have the same relationship with all animals any more than the same relationship with all people. I don't have the same relationship with friends that I have with strangers. Would Joy be happier if I removed the "inconsistency" by eating a dog? Joy emphasizes repeatedly that other societies have other schema (most of which allow eating meat, however) and argues that a person with an independent mind would do things her way. She says in a note that this book is aimed at Americans. More than that, obviously, it is aimed at Americans who don't fish, hunt, or slaughter their own livestock, or who aren't willing to try eating just about anything. If you keep repeating this to yourself, you might be able to repress the fact that historically and anthropologically, Joy's arguments are nonsense. Generally, the Is-Ought problem is framed in terms of unwarranted movements from Is to Ought. Joy moves from Ought to Is. Joy simply cannot connect the dots, to use one of her favorite expressions, about the realities of human omnivorism. She seems to be unable to get past the conviction that if human beings realize that they are eating a once-living animal, they would be so repulsed that they would become vegans, in spite of a wealth of evidence that this isn't true. In some cultures, people actually live with their animals in their homes, and slaughter and eat them. They have more knowledge of those animals than I, and I suspect, Joy will ever have. Although she admits that our ancestors have been eating meat for two million years, she claims that it is neither natural nor normal. If it isn't, then those words have no meaning. If eating meat is cosmically immoral, than explain why god/nature/ whatever the source for this authoritarian statement has allowed omnivorous and carnivorous animals. The usual argument that they cannot choose is stupid--if the universe abhorred meat eating the default would be veganism for all species. Joy calls for us to think of ourselves as being in the web of life, and animal rights activists often tell us that we should not think of ourselves as a special species. When one considers how other species act, this is hardly a clarion call for a vegan lifestyle, or a sense of the rights of others. One of Joy's arguments against normal and natural is that those two concepts are used as authoritative reasons. One has to learn to think about it though, and the natural argument should be carefully used. When someone presses you not to think on the grounds that something is natural, ask yourself, is this person living in a hunter-gatherer band of twenty to thirty people? If not, they aren't being very natural either. It is only to be expected that Joy, on the other hand, has no qualms about using the "natural" argument, as in our natural empathy, when it suits her purpose. So in sum, I think that Joy's reasoning is often faulty, and her use of sociological and anthropological information makes one want to carefully exam her credentials. Still, however natural or normal meat-eating is, it certainly isn't a moral or social imperative. Each person must make their own decisions. This is a pretty standard book for its type, to judge by my not terribly extensive reading. I find Joy's self-righteousness and her assumption that her reader is ignorant and unthinking without her assistance a bit abrasive, but no doubt vegans will find it entirely appropriate. Vegans who want confirmation and support for their positions, will probably enjoy this book.more
Joy has a clear thesis: We eat certain animals and not others because we separate them in our minds, and that eating and kind of animal is no different from eating another kind, therefore eating any animal is immoral. She has the notion that eating meat, or carnism, is a myth that we are forced to accept. And how does she do this? By talking about Nazis and dog eating. She includes quite a bit about the meat industry, but rather than use this as a way to insist that our food be treated properly until it's killed (a la Temple Grandin), she says this is evidence of our evil ways. I completely agree with part of her thesis, but we diverge on others. First of all, we don't eat dogs because we are acculturated to NOT eat dogs (or horses for that matter). Many cultures do eat dogs. But what annoys me the most is the comparison between how we get meat on our tables and the Nazis. The irony of this form of Reductio ad Hitlerum is, of course, that Hitler was also a vegetarian. I strongly doubt this books will convince any meat eaters to stop eating meat. It will be an excellent book for some kinds of vegetarians to make them feel better about their decisions. But overall, it started with a weak thesis, presented weak arguments, and used lousy rhetorical tricks to try to prove a point. Vegetarianism and ethical eating are lofty goals. Ethical eating, in particular, is one to which we should all aspire. This book may present some information to convince people of this. But it could have been much better executed.more
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