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Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism: The Belief System That Enables Us to Eat Some Animals and Not Others
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Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism: The Belief System That Enables Us to Eat Some Animals and Not Others

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,438 ratings  ·  378 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
Hardcover, 204 pages
Published November 15th 2009 by Conari Press
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4.06  · 
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 ·  3,438 ratings  ·  378 reviews

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Lisa Vegan
Jul 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Lis Carey
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Ginny Messina
Oct 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Feb 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people interested in animal rights and vegetarianism
Shelves: animals, non-fiction, 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
Jan 31, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Keith Akers
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, health
“There's a final, perhaps more fundamental, reason we resist witnessing the truth of carnism: if we no longer feel entitled to kill and comsume animals, our identity as human beings comes into question. Witnessing compels us to view ourselves as strands in the web of life, rather than as standing at the apex of the so-called food chain. Witnessing challenges our sense of human superiority; it forces us to acknowledge our interconnectedness with the rest of the natural world, an interconnectednes ...more
Aug 22, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jun 15, 2010 added it
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
I LOVE how Dr. Joy so concisely expresses how we see, feel, and believe about these issues and why we choose consistent ethical vegan living over the moral inconsistency that harms the vulnerable.

This is a MUST read for all of us; it's been a real EYE-OPENER for a great many whom I've met recently who also have read this book (or heard Dr. Joy speak).
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
The term carnism is a good one and Joy's message is valuable, but once I understood the basic thesis presented here - that eating animals involves a tacit belief system and requires a set of unexamined assumptions and hidden fallacies - the book didn't feel all that substantive to me. (Or I wasn't the right audience.)
Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
A significant contribution to the dialog on animal protection, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows seeks to answer a fundamental question that has alternately fascinated and frustrated me for many years: How can most Americans fret over Fluffy's runny nose and weep over Bambi's mom while simultaneously supporting and defending the flagrant abuse of billions of farm animals by the meat industry?

While no book may be able to indisputably define humans' complicated and contradictory relationsh
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Kaleb Rogers
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The first thing I will say is that if this is someone's first experience with pro-veg literature that I think they should read "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer first. Melanie Joy's book is excellent and compelling, but it doesn't quite deliver the gut punch Foer's does, and I think that's the punch many people need to make the necessary connection (admittedly this could simply be because I read Foer first).

Joy explores an unusual approach to Veganism, that of psychology. As someone who h
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Going to take some time to think about this one.
Aug 05, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Dena Burnett
Aug 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
Veganism follows from our refusal to use animals for human purposes; starting with, but not limited to, the use of animals for the production of food and clothing. As Gary Francione points out, given that there is no nutritional need for us to consume animal products, our best reasons for using animals are pleasure, convenience or habit. As such, anyone who thinks it wrong to harm animals for no better reason than that doing so is convenient, gives you pleasure, or is ‘traditional,’ and who wish ...more
Gustav Tonér
Good but loses steam towards the end. Defining the word carnism is a brilliant way to show just how absurd our behavior is when it comes to meat.

It's unfortunately too brief on most topics. I would like way more information on the environmental impact of the meat industry for example. Facts and numbers!

And I must confess when the book discussed using psychic numbing and the three Ns and so on to explain all our meat industry related atrocities my thoughts strayed to all other horrible, often w
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
In this quick read, Melanie Joy delves into the psychology that explains why Carnism dominates modern American society. The first half of the book focuses on animal cruelty and the atrocities of factory farming, and is presented in a convincing and straightforward manner that I imagine would leave most readers ready to convert to vegetarianism. However, her examination of the myriad ways in which public opinion and social norms have been shaped by corporate interests and lobbying was even more c ...more
This is an absolute must read.

As the title states, this book provides introductory information on carnism and the meat industry in the United States. I really appreciate looking at this issue through psychology, as it takes a more objective approach and exposes the truth of carnism in a way that is approachable. I learned a good deal from this book, and will be adapting some new things into my daily life.
Autumn Sprunk
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A quick introduction to "carnism" Dr. Joy addresses both the problems with the system, and the psychology behind why people don't see the problems with meat production. Be warned of the graphic descriptions of the meat production process and common metaphors comparing eating animals to things such as racism and nazism.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Excellent. Logical and really breaks it we just accept what we grow up doing and what our parents did and what the government tells us (for profit). Makes you really think.
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book blurted out all of my inward feelings, except she said them while managing to sound like an educated reasonable human being. Go you, Melanie Joy, preach!
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Harvard-educated psychologist Dr. Melanie Joy is the world’s leading expert on the psychology of eating animals. Her work has been featured by national and international media outlets around the world, including the New York Times, the BBC, NPR, and ABC Australia. She is the author of the award-winning book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism, as well as Beyond B ...more
“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.” 60 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.” 58 likes
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