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

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  1,970 Ratings  ·  231 Reviews
This groundbreaking 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 themselves to certain animals and then allow others to suffer needlessly, especially those slaughtered for consumption.

Social psychologist Melanie Joy explores the many ways we numb ourselves and disconnect from o
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ebook, 216 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Conari Press (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lisa Vegan
Jul 03, 2016 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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Tierney
Dec 11, 2010 Tierney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
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
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Lis Carey
Apr 30, 2012 Lis Carey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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Ginny Messina
Jan 10, 2010 Ginny Messina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animal-rights
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
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Christina
Feb 10, 2011 Christina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in animal rights and vegetarianism
Shelves: non-fiction, animals, 2011
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
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Steve
Mar 24, 2011 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vegan-philosophy
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
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Robin
Aug 02, 2011 Robin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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Keith Akers
Dec 28, 2010 Keith Akers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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KR
Jan 31, 2012 KR rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 wh ...more
Deema
I decided to become a vegetarian on a random Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t a calculated decision. I’d been incorporating more plant-based meals into my diet at that point, in a half-assed attempt at quieting down the voice in my head that told me I couldn’t be an “animal lover” and an animal eater at the same time. But on this particular Saturday afternoon, I had run out of plant-based options, and the only thing I could find in the fridge was malfouf, an Arabic dish made up of cabbage stuffed w ...more
Tracy
Jul 28, 2010 Tracy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Wendy
Aug 05, 2011 Wendy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 02, 2014 Ryan Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
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
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Kate Lawrence
Jul 03, 2010 Kate Lawrence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 20, 2012 Linda Riebel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Hudsonpubliclibrary
Oct 16, 2013 Hudsonpubliclibrary rated it really liked it  ·  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
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David
Sep 23, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 22, 2011 Leanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  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
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Dena Burnett
Nov 09, 2012 Dena Burnett rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Cristina
Feb 09, 2010 Cristina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Darlynn
Mar 23, 2011 Darlynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael Bohli
"Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Weiterbildung ist wichtig, Wissen ist wichtig, Bewusstsein ist wichtig. Je mehr Menschen sich mit ihrem Alltag, ihren Handlungen und ihrem Konsum auseinander setzen, desto besser. Melanie Joy versucht mit ihrer Einführung in den "Karnismus" (ein Wort und Gebiet, das sie selber erfunden hat) Leute dazu zu bewegen, ihre Essgewohnheiten zu hinterfragen. Eine löbliche Angelegenheit, gerade weil dies heute fast nie geschieht.

Doch ihre Abhandlung über
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Conny
Aug 14, 2015 Conny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Im ersten Teil des Buches werden die Praktiken der Fleischindustrie aufgedeckt. Man muss sich vor Augen halten, dass es sich hierbei um amerikanische Verhältnisse handelt (die Anmerkungen des Übersetzers beschränken sich grösstenteils auf die Anpassung der Zahlen auf Deutschland bzw. Europa). Interessant ist vor allem die zweite Hälfte. Hier geht es um die psychologischen Mechanismen, mit Hilfe derer der Fleischkonsum gerechtfertigt wird und die uns helfen, die Augen vor den zuvor beschriebenen ...more
Liz
Nov 22, 2013 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book and am really giving it 4 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 d
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Amanda Vollmershausen
This book was a lot more elementary than I was expecting, which was something philosophically rich and containing detailed historical and psychological information to answer the question posed in the title. It was very easy to read, and most of the arguments felt very obvious to me after simply thinking about these topics on my own - it almost read like a blog. Perhaps this is a good introduction to the irrationality of eating meat to an omnivore, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone already f ...more
Paula
Aug 22, 2016 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most people don't understand that they are blind to their own philosophy. Carnism is part of the common philosophy in the western world. It is killing people (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.), destroying our planet (eutrification of water, denuding forests, massive extinction, etc.), and numbing our compassion toward the billions of animals that suffer unspeakable cruelty each year. This is a book about opening eyes.
Allegra Green
Work read. A really well-organized explanation behind the justifications society uses to farm certain animals for food and not others, and why we don't feel the need to question it in our daily lives. This book will make you question how you feel about eating meat. Great concise writing with just enough fact to support her arguments, plus analogies to the Matrix Movie.
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Afterwords Books: Why We Love Dogs... 7 18 Jan 03, 2014 04:36PM  
An Interview with author Melanie Joy 1 16 Jul 13, 2010 12:13PM  
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  • Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?
  • Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals
  • The Inner World of Farm Animals: Their Amazing Social, Emotional, and Intellectual Capacities
  • Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust
  • Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food
  • The Animal Activist's Handbook: Maximizing Our Positive Impact in Today's World
  • The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food
  • Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, And Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry
  • Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
  • The Case for Animal Rights
  • The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery
  • The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony
  • Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat
  • Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism
  • That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things
  • 101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian
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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...

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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.” 49 likes
“It's just the way things are. Take a moment to consider this statement. Really think about it. We send one species to the butcher and give our love and kindness to another apparently for no reason other than because it's the way things are. When our attitudes and behaviors towards animals are so inconsistent, and this inconsistency is so unexamined, we can safely say we have been fed absurdities. It is absurd that we eat pigs and love dogs and don't even know why. Many of us spend long minutes in the aisle of the drugstore mulling over what toothpaste to buy. Yet most of don't spend any time at all thinking about what species of animal we eat and why. Our choices as consumers drive an industry that kills ten billion animals per year in the United States alone. If we choose to support this industry and the best reason we can come up with is because it's the way things are, clearly something is amiss. What could cause an entire society of people to check their thinking caps at the door--and to not even realize they're doing so? Though this question is quite complex, the answer is quite simple: carnism.” 44 likes
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