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Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism Hardcover – November 15, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite a penchant for melodrama, Joy (Strategic Action for Animals) offers an absorbing examination of why humans feel affection and compassion for certain animals but are callous to the suffering of others—especially those slaughtered for our consumption. She takes Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan, and Jonathan Safran Foer's well-trod route and investigates factory farming, exposing how cruelly the animals are treated, the hazards that meatpacking workers face, and the environmental impact of raising 10 billion animals for food each year. She uses her factory farm–to–table narrative to buttress her real thesis: meat-eating or carnism, is an oppressive ideology as noxious as racism. Joy casts meat eating as genocide, comparable to the Holocaust, and factory farming on a par with the American enslavement of Africans. She might lose some readers in her zealotry, but there is great value in her contention that all systems of oppression depend on our ability to dissociate or find elaborate rationalizations to keep from recognizing the suffering of a socially sanctioned inferior. (Jan.)
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"Through the use of narrative, often bordering on biography, the arguments being put forth by Joy are very well exemplified. The images conjured are ever so vivid that it would be difficult to stop once one starts reading it. The reader is immediately and often unknowingly drawn on. The volume is extremely readable, theory and jargon free as it is. However, that is not to say that the analysis is nonscientific or arbitrary. Rather, the arguments are firmly anchored to sound psychological theorization. People from all walks of life, across age and educational backgrounds would find this book immensely interesting. People advocating vegetarianism, professors and students of psychology, scholars from other areas of social science, and even public administrators in food departments would gain considerably from this extremely well written book." --Rita Agrawal, PhD, co-author, Applied Social Psychology: A Global Perspective

"One of the most thought-provoking books in decades. The realization that we've been conditioned throughout our entire lives to think and act a certain way toward animals, and that we've been so disconnected from ourselves and our fellow beings, gives us a chance to make our choices freely." --Heather Mills

"Institutionalized, socially sanctioned violence on an unprecedented scale causes the needless suffering of billions of animals every year. In her groundbreaking book, Melanie Joy shakes up the completely arbitrary thinking that enables people to, at the same time, treat some animals as friends and look the other way while others are ruthlessly exploited as commodities." --Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary and author of Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds about Animals and Food

"Why We Love Dogs... is an altogether remarkable book that could transform the way society feels about eating animals. You cannot read this book without learning something new and without pondering your relation to the animal world. This is a profound and deeply satisfying book that is destined to become a classic." --Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of the best-selling When Elephants Weep, Dogs Never Lie about Love, The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, and The Face on Your Plate

"This eye-opening book makes us question what we really mean when we say we love animals. Anyone who has ever loved a dog or a cat or a hamster or a bird will find abundant food for thought here." --John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America, The Food Revolution, and Healthy at 100

"A thoughtful book full of substance and style. It should be required reading." --Kathy Freston, author of The New York Times bestselling Quantum Wellness

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Conari Press; 1 edition (November 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573244619
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573244619
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (225 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

160 of 172 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Larsen on February 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Melanie Joy's Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows illuminates the moral incongruence at the heart of the American diet: how we can love our pets and value kindness to animals generally, yet consume meat from corporations that severely abuse and slaughter 10 billion sentient creatures a year. Dr. Joy explores the many ways we numb ourselves and disconnect from our natural empathy for farmed animals. She points out that in the affluent industrialized world, we don't eat meat because we have to, but because we choose to. We like the taste and everybody else is doing it. Joy coins the term "carnism" to describe the belief system which holds that it is ethical and appropriate to make the choice to eat animals.

Dr. Joy notes that following a carnist rather than a vegetarian or vegan dietstyle is made less distressing by the fact that most of the billions of animals Americans eat each year are literally hidden from sight. Animal agribusiness spends a fortune creating the fiction that these animals live outside on idyllic farms. Dr. Joy encourages readers to become informed about the violence and suffering bound up with mainstream food choices, and to begin reducing consumption of animals products. She sees regaining empathy for suffering farmed animals as part of a vital process of personal and societal integration, wherein values, beliefs, and behavior come into harmony.

These ideas resonate with me because my wife and I dearly love our two cats, Justa and Justine, and our Bernese Mountain Dog, Pearl. Each one has a unique personality and shows great will power in realizing goals and desires. Like the humans in the household, they fully experience pain and suffering as well as contentment and joy.
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246 of 275 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Laur on November 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been a meat eater- a carnist- my whole life,as well as a dog lover, and have been a hunter since I was 12 back in Wisconsin. I found Dr. Joy's book compelling, thrilling to read, and pointing the finger at the culture we've all grown up in, not at individuals.

I was able to take in her message because it was presented in a non blaming, non shaming way.

I may still hunt and bring home an animal to the table every now and then. I know the paradox and pain of what I'm doing for my food.I accept it even as I wrestle with it. But I will never purchase or knowingly eat another morsel of factory meat. I've been to Auschwitz and Birkenau, and seen how mechanized slaughter works, and how inhumane it is, whether it's people, pigs or pugs. Joy points out what "we" are doing- there's no blame in her tone. The systemic structure of carnism, just like the systems of racism, sexism, totalitarianism, is evil at it's core, precisely because there is no "we" there, seeing what "we" are causing to done in "our" name. Thanks to Dr Joy for sending a message to open our eyes. After reading this book, we know, and must take responsibility for our choices.Negligence starts tomorrow.

I may still hunt and kill an animal on occasion, and many will berate me for that. But I will no longer be party to wholesale slaughter.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By T. Orr on January 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I discovered Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows through the well-done promotional video for the the same book on YouTube which shows a man refusing to eat what is on his plate when he discovers it's a dog, rather than a cow, pig, etc... This is exactly how most of us would react, isn't it? Joy's book goes into detail explaning how we are able to go through life with this kind of cognitive dissonance regarding our beliefs about animals. I think for those of us living in the U.S., it's a relatively easy thing to go through life in such a fog since most of us never see the suffering that animals endure who are raised for food, clothing or subjected to experiments. My eyes were opened on a trip to India a few years ago because animal suffering and exploitation is not so well hidden as it is here. I was a carnist for most of my life all the while calling myself an ardent animal lover. It took so many things, so many conversations, so much reading to shift my thinking and thereby change my life. I wish I'd had this book available to me back then. I think the lightbulb would have switched on for me sooner since Joy's book shines a very bright light on our inconsistent treatment of animals. After reading a book like this, one faces a choice - continue on as usual or begin to view all animals as being worthy of our moral consideration and respect.
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97 of 113 people found the following review helpful By M. JEFFREY MCMAHON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Why do so many people find great delectation in their beef, pork, and chicken products but cringe at the thought of eating meat from a dog? Why can people sympathize so deeply with dogs, but remain coldly detached from the "necessary" slaughter of cows, pigs, and chickens for their eating pleasure?

Melanie Joy, a psychologist, professor, and author, explains these inconsistencies in Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows. She points out that many people engage in selective empathy, feeling for some animals but not others, based on what they've learned.

She asserts that much of our beliefs about animals and what is appropriate for eating is based on illogical thinking, physic numbing, misinformation, and denial. Being told that it's okay to eat meat over and over from childhood to adulthood, being denied access to the slaughter of animals, and pushing animals' suffering from our imagination results in being a carnist, someone who eats meat, not from necessity, but from choice.

I find the author's arguments, logical, convincing, and morally compelling. If we have to force ourselves to be ignorant and block our empathy in order to eat meat, then we're fooling ourselves at the detriment of animals and our own moral integrity.

Thinking about animal suffering clearly, seeing the horrors that animals suffer without sugar-coating their slaughter with mythologies, considering the options we have as omnivores, and freeing ourselves from the lies (repeated they become false truths), and vegetarianism becomes the logical conclusion.

The author wants us to stop denying the trauma and torture that animals suffer because of many people's choice to be carnists.
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