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 neverAs 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