Why do humans eat meat? If you ask the average Joe, they’ll tell you it’s because meat tastes good. If you ask Dr. Melanie Joy, however, who has been studying the psychological drive behind eating meat for decades, she’ll give you a much darker — albeit interesting — answer. As EducateInspireChange reports, Dr. Joy believes humans eat meat due to the long-engrained ideology of carnism, versus veganism.
“Carnism is a dominant ideology, which means it’s embedded deeply in society to the point that it’s considered ‘just the way things are,’” Joy explained. “But just because something isn’t recognized or is viewed as ‘how things are’ doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Racism wasn’t recognized as a problem or ideology at a point in history but that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. It [carnism] has just been around for so long that it’s taken for granted.”
Referring to kids eating chicken wings in her example, she added: “When we’re born into a world with a dominant ideology, we can’t help but see the world through that lens. There are people in this world who absolutely need to eat meat because geographically or socially, that’s where they are. Most people, though, have a choice when it comes to eating animals, they’re just not aware of it because they’re blinded by the ideology.”
Watch the animated video below:
The psychologist explains that one of the methods which perpetuates carnism is keeping the process of slaughter and processing out of sight. When cows, chickens, pigs and other livestock are milked, butchered, or kept in tiny crates away from the public’s eye, it remains easy to keep the populace ignorant about what takes place in modern-day agricultural factories.
During her lesson, Joy presented a few examples that stamp out the notion that carnism is “right” or “intelligent.” For instance, she shared that an average pig has the intelligence of a 3-year-old human being. She also relayed that chickens are able to distinguish between 100 different faces of members of their species — they also have about 30 different calls to signal types of threats. Additionally, she explained that scientists have determined that certain fish have intelligence and pain receptors; this is why in some places in the world, it is illegal to keep fish in small bowls or to boil lobsters alive.
Joy added that agro-businesses go to great lengths to keep the public ignorant about how violent and cruel the process of making meat actually is. Like Paul McCartney said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” Joy’s ultimate goal is to prompt people to acknowledge that there is, in fact, an ideology. She elaborates on this in her TEDX Talk, “Beyond Carnism and Toward Rational, Authentic Food Choices,” which has become one of the top one percent most viewed talks of all time.
Watch her TEDX Talk below: