Live! Be Vegan by Village Vegan is very pleased to bring you this series of articles authored by George Martin of Carnism Debunked, a website dedicated to veganism, which is the polar opposite of carnism.
Our friend Dr. Melanie Joy explains carnism, ”Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. Carnism is essentially the opposite of veganism, as “carn” means “flesh” or “of the flesh” and “ism” refers to a belief system.
Because carnism is invisible, people rarely realize that eating animals is a choice, rather than a given. In meat-eating cultures around the world, people typically don’t think about why they eat certain animals but not others, or why they eat any animals at all. But when eating animals is not a necessity, which is the case for many people in the world today, then it is a choice – and choices always stem from beliefs.
As long as we remain unaware of how carnism impacts us, we will be unable to make our food choices freely – because without awareness, there is no free choice.”
We hope that you enjoy the first installment in our Vegan 101 series, ”Carnism Debunked.”
1. “ANIMALS EAT OTHER ANIMALS”
While it is of course true that animals do eat other animals all the time in nature, basing our own ethics, as humans, on the actions of animals, can lead us to all sorts of problems.
If we can justify something solely on the basis that animals do it, then we can justify the following: urinating in people’s front gardens (dogs do it); sexually penetrating females without their consent (lions do it); smothering our babies to death (lions also do it); vomiting on people’s food (flies do it); and so on.
People only seem to be interested in justifying human behaviour on one thing that animals do, and that’s eating animals.
2. “IT’S THE FOOD CHAIN”
This is easily refuted by responding to the person arguing it with a simple question, which is: Are you a part of this food chain?
If they answer “yes”:
Then by their own logic, there would be nothing morally wrong with someone killing and eating them, and then justifying it by using their argument of “It’s the food chain”.
After all, if they’re a part of this system, they don’t get to be exempt from the rules—doesn’t work that way. They can’t just be part of a system which they’re not even willing to comply with. And if they’re off-limits, then the animals are off-limits too.
If their argument is, “Yeah but that’s cannibalism”: other species regularly cannibalise each other as part of the food chain, e.g. black widows—so a human killing and eating them is behaving no differently from other members of the very system they claim to be part of.
And appeals to legality (e.g. “But that’s illegal”) are not sufficient either—the laws of the food chain are the laws of nature, not the laws we abide by in human society. Also, excusing themselves from these rules by saying “But I’m top of the food chain” is what’s know as a ‘might makes right’ fallacy, i.e. “I am in a position of power over the victim; therefore, it is okay for me to do what I want to them”—this is no different from a domestic abuser arguing that it is okay to beat his wife because men have evolved to be stronger than women.
If they answered “no”:
Then their argument of “It’s the food chain” is not relevant, and it begs the question as to why they even bothered using this justification in the first place.
3. “HUMANE SLAUGHTER”
The words ‘humane’ and ‘slaughter’ put together, are what is known in the English language as an oxymoron, i.e. 2 words that contradict each other when put together.
To use the term ‘humane slaughter’ is as nonsensical as to say ‘humane rape’, ‘humane slavery’, or ‘humane holocaust’—regarding the latter point, some synonyms for ‘slaughter’ in the dictionary are ‘bloodbath’, ‘massacre’, and ‘holocaust’… given that it does not make sense to use the term humane for any of those 3 words, neither can it make sense to say it for the word those synonyms derive from.
Ask yourself this question: is there a nice way to kill someone who doesn’t want to die? Given that animals want to live, and value their lives as we value ours, there is no nice way to kill them.
In any case, anyone looking at the methods we use to kill farmed animals can see for themselves that it’s not ‘humane’. Whether the animal is stunned with a bolt gun or prongs, or whether it’s by gas chamber, or whether they are killed via the Halal/Schechita method, these are not exactly methods we would use to euthanise even someone who did want to die.