What is a Carnist?

In her TED talk, Dr. Melanie Joy explores the psychology behind eating meat. She coined the term “carnist” as a way to classify people who eat meat. She didn’t see the term meat-eater as a good way to refer to those who consume meat because at the end of the day, we all possess the ability to eat meat. No, we don’t have the canines for it and definitely not the stomach for raw meat, but humans can digest meat.

Joy defines carnism as the psychology of eating meat, the belief system that conditions people into thinking that eating some animals is horrifying (i.e. golden retriever puppies), and others as ay-okay (piglets, calves, chickens, etc). Since most people today don’t rely on meat as their only food source, eating it is no longer necessary for survival and thus, is a choice. Carnism in its simplest form is: choosing to eat meat.

Dr. Joy examines how humans are so conditioned to eat meat that most of us have no problem with the idea of eating animals or how the food industry treats them before and after death. It’s a cultural practice more than anything else. Most people would be disgraced and horrified if you ate kitten in front of them – a domesticated animal known for soft cuddles and warm hellos – but are fine digging into pork – when research has shown that pigs are similar to dogs and have intelligence comparable to three year old children (x).

Next time you see this word floating around the internet, try not to let rage boil up inside of you. The term is not meant to villainize you, most people eat meat! Most vegetarians and vegans grew up eating meat! It’s a cultural phenomenon. The term is simply used to classify the eating habits of the majority and study how it is that we decipher which animals are to be enjoyed with a glass of wine and which animals are to be enjoyed with a plethora of toys, snuggles, and their own side of the bed at night.

Looking for an insightful and fun article about how cool pigs are?! “9 Ways Pigs are Smarter than Your Honor Student” is exactly what you’re looking for!

Feel free to check out www.carnism.org for more information as well!

Kat Stubing