Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism
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Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  1,146 ratings  ·  144 reviews
In her groundbreaking new book, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, Melanie Joy explores the invisible system that shapes our perception of the meat we eat, so that we love some animals and eat others without knowing why. She calls this system carnism. Carnism is the belief system, or ideology, that allows us to selectively choose which animals become our meat, and...more
ebook, 216 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Conari Press (first published 2009)
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Lisa Vegan
Nov 23, 2009 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: psychology & philosophy classes; public health-health professionals; all thoughtful people
As 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...more
Jesse De Angelis
This book is kind of a mess. It's filled with baseless generalizations, poorly cited data, and spends most of its length talking not about what the title promises, but rather an attack on industrialized animal agriculture.

The book starts out with a "thought experiment" - you're at a dinner party, when the host suddenly reveals the delicious stew you're eating is made of dog. Clearly, you are horrified. If you're not, well, the author doesn't know what to do, so she offers this footnote, dismiss...more
Rebecca
Although it's interesting that Joy chose to combine the current research on the food industry with psychological and anthropological research, she takes what could have been a sound argument for a more humane food system and pushes beyond that into overblown rhetoric. On the internet, Godwin's Law would have shut this book down before Joy had gotten even half way. To claim that a food source is somehow comparable to Nazism and the Holocaust, slavery, or misogyny is simply wrong, and does a disse...more
Ginny Messina
This is an enlightening book for anyone interested in the psychological and social mechanisms that behind certain food choices. It's based on the author's doctoral research in psychology--but is highly readable and engaging.

Melanie Joy coined the term carnism to describe the belief system that sees eating certain animals as ethical and appropriate. She describes the elaborate system that has evolved to keep consumers from actually examining their food choices. As long as we care about animal su...more
Tierney
This book changed my life. Though I was familiar with many of the facts presented in the book (the perils of factory farming, etc.), I had no idea just how much cruelty and torture is endured by most of the animals who become our meat. Nor did I have any clue how intelligent and sensitive many "livestock" animals really are (especially pigs). As an animal lover, and a meat lover, I felt very conflicted while reading. But the author effectively points out the absurdity of our cultural attitudes t...more
Karen
I love reading books that don't preach to the choir about animal issues. This one's tone and language walk the fine line between the veg mindset and the carnist mindset, or I guess you could call it "neutral" or "middle of the road." I am much more likely to hand this book to a non-veg who "wants to know more" than I would one that is full of inflammatory rhetoric (even if I agree with every word).

Another commenter described the book as "graphic." I think that's a very interesting criticism, bec...more
Steve
Dr. Melanie Joy is a psychologist and this book is about the psychology of using animals for food. Her main message is that using animals for food involves holding cultural beliefs that many people are not aware of.

The book is intelligent and respectful to all types of people. It illuminates why it is often hard for people to give up using animals for food despite the strongly negative ethical, health and environmental consequences involved. In this respect I think it is very useful for people...more
Christina
Feb 10, 2011 Christina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in animal rights and vegetarianism
Shelves: 2011, animals, non-fiction
When I read non-fiction, I read it very differently from reading fiction. And when I read a book like this about animal ethics, about vegetarianism and how to stop eating meat, I try to read it very carefully and I try keep my emotions out of it - which is very hard when reading about how we treat animals, even though this is a decent book without a lot of emotional blackmailing.
I'll just mention before anybody reads further, that there will be a few graphic details in the review below so be for...more
Gary
In Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism, vegetarian animal rights advocate Melanie Joy writes:[return][return]� We have a schema for every subject, including animals. An animal can be classified, for instance, as prey, predator, pest, pet, or food. How we classify an animal, in turn, determines how we relate to it� whether we hunt it, flee from it, exterminate it, love it, or eat it. Some overlap can occur between categories (an animal can be prey and food), but...more
Robin
This book portrays itself as a book on the psychology behind which animals we eat and which we don't. It did that for about two chapters. Then it launched into a liberal diatribe on the evils of the meat industry in the U.S. I felt tricked. And sickened. Supposedly, the book evolved from her Ph.D. dissertation in psychology. If a work like this can be accepted for a dissertation, I don't want to interact with any psychologists who graduated from the same school.

If the author wanted to write a po...more
Keith Akers
This is a simple, straightforward answer to the question implied by the title: why do we love dogs, eat pigs, and wear cows? It's about psychology, actually social psychology. Melanie Joy actually is a social psychologist, and has used her expertise to focus in non-technical language on a question that is not only baffling to a lot of people, but of great social relevance. This is an ideal use of her gifts.

It's obvious to vegetarians that society's attitudes towards animals are inconsistent, bu...more
Lis Carey
Melanie Joy is the leading researcher in the field of carnism, a field she invented. If that sounds a tad catty, sorry, but I'm laboring under the burden of having actually read her book.

Dr. Joy purports to give us a thoroughly researched discussion of the psychology of why we eat meat, and why we eat some animals and not other animals. This book has gotten a lot of praise, for it's fairness and respectful attitude towards people who eat meat. I'm honestly mystified by that praise. The assumptio...more
Tracy
The book explores the psychology behind eating meat, which goes beyond simply being raised to eat meat.

The author examines the ways that animal agribusiness, and society as a whole, prevent people from questioning and changing their behavior.

Melanie Joy coins a new term to describe meat-eaters: carnists. These are people who _choose_ to eat animals.

The book, though, doesn't criticize carnists. In fact, it's written for them, for people who haven't escaped animal agribusiness's mind-hold.

But vege...more
Wendy Kobylarz-Chouvarda
Oh, Ms. Joy, this was not very good at all. Or perhaps it's written for an omnivore audience. It's very very basic animal rights philosophy and an introduction to a system Joy calls carnism. Perhaps the most interesting conclusion she draws, and one that, in retrospect should be obvious to vegans (but wasn't to me!) is the worldview that only veg*nism is a choice, that meat-eating is seen as the normal, natural thing to do when in reality it is also a definite choice. Joy explores some of the wa...more
Ryan Johnson
Admitting my bias off the bat: I'm vegan for over a year now so I already subscribe to many of the ideas presented in this book.

That aside, I believe this book is highly effective in communicating the ideas around veganism and carnism. The author does an adequate job in discussing societal norms and how meat eating has become the default way of life through various means. At one point she compares this way of life to the Matrix; how it is a false reality that hides the truth. Again, I agree with...more
Kate Lawrence
Ideally qualified to investigate the mindset that permits humans to mistreat and eat so-called "food" animals while lavishing love and expensive veterinary care on dogs and cats, the author is a social psychologist and professor of psychology. She describes the suffering not only of the factory farmed animals, but of slaughterhouse workers, people living near factory farms who become ill because of the factories' waste products, omnivores who consume a variety of pesticides, hormones, deadly vir...more
Linda Riebel
Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows is an eye-opening account of a little-questioned article of faith in our culture: the idea that it is normal to befriend some animals while exploiting others. A step-by-step analysis of a cultural blind spot, it is a powerful blend of reason, compassion, and psychological insight.

The primary focus is on the practice of eating meat, our inherited attitudes, and the callous manipulation of our minds by those who stand to profit. While duly informing the r...more
Hudsonpubliclibrary
Oct 16, 2013 Hudsonpubliclibrary rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers ready to see what happens inside the Livestock industry
Shelves: book-reviews
A warning: this is not really a look into the cultural norms that might explain the question pose by the title. It is NOT really a look into why we love puppies and not pigs/cows so much as it is a distinctly brutal look into the violent practices of meat production around the world and the ways in which we have internalized this process as "normal" and "necessary".

The writing was so good that, despite the harsh and disturbing content, this book really kept my interest. It was actually a really...more
David
I admit, I ran through this book, in the hopes of finding anything new. Having had the experience of farms, not the modern type of factory farm, but the kind where I knew all of the cattle on sight and got frightened by the chickens when I went to gather eggs (there is something creepy to me about being surrounded by several hundred chickens), there is little about this book that rings true for me. Sadly, the vast majority of Americans are far removed from the source of their food both animal an...more
Leanne
The psychology seems sound enough, and it's nice to know that I'm not crazy for not eating meat! However, I wish the author had spent a bit of time talking about the people who are aware of animal suffering, etc., but who don't care and don't seem to use any cognitive defenses in order to maintain this non-caring attitude. Some of these people would not be considered sociopaths or psychopaths, because they are kind to other people, but they never give animal suffering a second thought. How can t...more
Lindsey
May 21, 2010 Lindsey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all animal lovers and decent human beings (which is basically everyone I know :D)
Awesome one-of-a-kind, objective look by a psychologist at how a violent (to both animals and humans) food system is so entrenched in our animal loving society of people who mostly all have good intentions. I recommend this book to everyone because everyone eats and everyone lives in this system! Also, this book is concise and easy to read, so it's well worth your time. Everything flows together very well, and I didn't find myself getting bored at all.
You can also get to know yourself better by...more
Darlynn
I think this book should be incorporated into our educational system. Mandatory reading for as long as we continue to teach our children to read and gather information from which to make life choices. Children, as young as they are able to understand, should be made aware that there are CHOICES and they are NOT mindless programable machines, born to unconsciousness and intended for assimilation into a physically, emotionally, and intellectually corrupt system designed primarily to produce profit...more
Liz
I really liked this book and am really giving it 4 ½ stars. There were a few sentences in the book that I didn’t agree with, but overall I thought she made a lot of good arguments.

I liked that she touched on other issues around intensive farming systems - examining the experiences of slaughterhouse workers and the fact that they often become emotionally distressed and desensitized to violence and the ways in which this has devastating consequences.
I found this to be one of the most powerful and...more
Dena Burnett
I fail to see what's so "groundbreaking" about this book. It provides the same ill-researched and biased arguments as any other work on animal welfare and meat production. I rarely cast a book aside half way through, but I was willing to let this guy either sit on my shelf or collect dust in my library.

I only kept reading this unfair account of half-truths because I didn't have far to go. It's a book based on poor quantity and poor quality.

I was expecting a commentary on cognitive function and...more
Cristina
Have you ever wondered why we think differently about certain animals? Why do "we" think it's OK to eat a pig or a cow but shudder at the very thought of eating the family dog? Read this book and find out. And then ask yourself...why do we need to eat animals at all? Why don't we, as a society, view and treat all animals with the same love and respect that we shower upon our beloved family pet? A very thought provoking book that asks you to look inward to yourself and question the very way you w...more
Youngteach
When this book arrived from Amazon, I had to put my Bill Bryson book aside (sorry, my main man!). I'd wanted to read this for awhile because I was interested in the psychology behind the idea of "carnism." Joy touches on issues of ethics, environment, health, and animal welfare as well, but this is more of a study in human behavior and why we make the choices that we do and why we find it culturally acceptable to eat some animals and not others. This book would be perfect for a book club (with o...more
Liz
The reason why I'm only giving it three stars is because much of what the author had to say about meat production came from sources that I had already read (i.e. Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma) and while I really got a lot out of these sources the first time I read them, there was a lot of skimming this time around.

That said, the author did something many authors fail to do and that was take a strong stand that said don't eat meat, she also really did a fine job of exploring the re...more
Jessica
"Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows" is a good follow up read to "Omnivore's Dilemna", "Fast Food Nation" and their ilk. This book gives a slightly different perspective on the issue of eating meat though...a psychological perspective. It delves into why we as Americans are okay eating cows, chickens, and pigs but not dogs, cats, and horses. It also discusses how most chose to ignore the issues of factory farming.

This was a pretty quick read, clocking in at less than 200 pages of actual...more
Booktenzio
It's very difficult to rate this. It began with some very interesting insights, but then it was just repetitive and barely informative. It's poorly constructed, and towards the end of it, I just wasn't enjoying it at all. Preaching to the choir is really not proving anything, and making people feel bad about their choices is counter-productive in my opinion. The only reason I'm not giving this a lower rating is because I want to support books written on this topic - but certainly, this is not on...more
Harry Brake
May 11, 2014 Harry Brake rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Non Fiction, diet, and mental health awareness readers!
Carnism as a major concept introduced by author Melanie Joy, PhD psychologist actually delves into so many areas that truly, you are astonished on the way people, as well as yourself think. A funny title, the principles of how industries influence and take advantage of the general population, for THEIR advantage. Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, or have a high diet of much meat, one thing is common thought - the way industry pulls the wool over our eyes and kills animals to encourage the pra...more
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Afterwords Books: Why We Love Dogs... 7 16 Jan 03, 2014 04:36PM  
An Interview with author Melanie Joy 1 16 Jul 13, 2010 12:13PM  
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Melanie Joy is a social psychologist, professor, and personal coach. She has been involved in the animal liberation movement since 1989 and has worked as an activist, educator, and organizer. Her academic areas of specialization include the psychosociology of violence toward animals and humans and organizational behavior. She has written a number of articles and has been interviewed for magazines,...more
More about Melanie Joy...
Strategic Action for Animals: A Handbook on Strategic Movement Building, Organizing, and Activism for Animal Liberation

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“To identify with others is to see something of yourself in them and to see something of them in yourself--even if the only thing you identify with is the desire to be free from suffering.” 30 likes
“Often, vegan advocates assume that a person's defensiveness is the result of selfishness or apathy, when in fact it is much more likely the result of systematic and intensive social conditioning.” 24 likes
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