Melanie Joy’s Why We Love Dogs Eat Pigs and Wear Cows is a wonderful critique of society, a critique that forces the reader to reflect upon a society that is so ingrained with supposed, “cultural norms” that it often neglects to reminisce upon how that society came to be.
The book not only uses fact and reason to support plant-based diets, but delves into the psychology of eating meat and notes how things got to the point they are today.
“So what we refer to as mainstream is simply another way to describe an ideology that is so widespread-so entrenched– that its assumptions and practices are seen as simply common sense. It is considered fact rather than opinion, its practices a given rather than a choice. It’s the norm. It’s the way things are. And it’s the reason carnism has not been named until now.”
Joy discusses how the meat and dairy industry are flourishing under an invisible system. CAFOs, or factory farms, tend to be big windowless warehouses in the middle of nowhere. Their invisibility just furthers the fact that most people never actually see where their food comes from, and above all, factory farms want to keep it that way.
“We don’t see them because, as Erik Schlosser, investigative author of the best-selling Fast Food Nation, says, they have “no windows on the front and no architectural clue to what’s happening inside.” We don’t see them because we’re not supposed to. As with any violent ideology, the populace must be shielded from direct exposure to the victims of the system, lest they begin questioning the system or their participation in it.”
Another issue, discussed in the book, with factory farming and finding information about the on goings inside the factories is the secretive nature of the facilities. Most factories won’t allow any video or photographic recordings of any kind inside their factories. Not to mention it is against the law in some states.
“Not only is it difficult to obtain access to meatpacking plants, but in a number of states it’s actually against the law to take photos or videos inside “animal enterprises,” such as laboratories, circuses, and slaughterhouses. Furthermore, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006-legislation that has been harshly criticized as unconstitutional-makes it illegal to engage in behavior that results in the economic disruption of an animal enterprise.
Use of language is another important facet that Joy touches upon. The violent, bloody, and inhumane system, that factory farms run their businesses on, tend to dilute the terminology of their actions and by doing so ‘pull the wool over the public’s eyes.’
“Whoever defines the issue controls the debate, “he said. “Cummings suggested that “debeaking” a chicken should instead be called “beak conditioning,” making the process seem more like a spa treatment than a disfiguration. The “backup killer” (worker responsible for slaughtering birds that are still alive after passing the automatic killer) should be a “knife operator,” and the term “insanguinated” should replace “bled” to death.”[Timothy Cummings is a Poultry Veterinarian and Clinical professor at Mississippi State University.]
The meat and dairy industries have many negative repercussions on the world. Most of the non-vegan public would likely pin the major reasons for converting to a vegan lifestyle being the ethical and physical health reasons, but the meat and dairy industry contaminate our world in many ways, much of which gets swept under the rug and isn’t talked about in the public sphere.
“Residents who live near CAFOs have been poisoned by factory wastes, including sulfites and nitrates. These toxins contaminate the air and drinking water and can lead to chronic asthma and eye irritation, bronchitis, diarrhea, severe headaches, nausea, spontaneous abortions, birth defects, infant death, and viral and bacterial disease outbreaks.”
Animals aren’t the only victims of the meat and dairy industries.
“In fact, in 2005, for the first time ever, Human Rights Watch issued a report criticizing a single U.S. industry–the meat industry–for working conditions so appalling they violate basic human rights.”
CAFOs also take a huge toll on the environment.
“Meat production is a leading cause of every significant form of environmental damage: air and water pollution, biodiversity loss, erosion, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and depletion of fresh water.”
These industries create huge monopolies and control the majority of the U.S. population’s food supply all the while calling their own shots unsupervised by the government. Many of these huge corporations have political lobbyists in their pockets, donating money to their political platforms and getting away with unhygienic, unsafe, inhumane practices. All for a profit margin.
“Economists warn that when any industry has a concentration ratio that runs upward of four companies controlling over 40 percent of the market (called CR4), competitiveness declines and serious issues, notably in the area of consumer protection, arise; the conglomerates are able to set prices and determine , for instance, food quality. The meat industry far exceeds CR4; for example, four beef packing companies control 83.5 percent of the beef market. The power of animal agribusiness is such that the industry has become intertwined with government, blurring the boundary between private interests and public service.”
The meat and dairy industry want to keep upholding and promoting these myths about the necessity of meat and dairy in the human diet. They claim that it is, “normal, natural, and necessary.” As vegans we know these claims to be false, but for others still immersed in carnism it is hard to see through the web of lies, and illusions that have been implanted into our brains from the very start. That is why it is so imperative we all must start bearing witness to the atrocities going on around us.
“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 interconnectedness our species has made every effort to deny for thousands of years. And yet witnessing is ultimately liberating. When we recognize that we aren’t isolated fragments in a disconnected world, but rather are a part of a vast, living collective, we connect with a power much greater than our individual selves.”
STATISTICS (FROM THE BOOK):
- “To be exact, U.S. agribusinesses slaughter ten billion animals per year, and that’s not including the estimated 10 billion fish and other sea animals that are killed annually. That’s 19, 011 animals per minute, or 317 animals per second.”
- “Just to give you some perspective, the ten billion U.S. farm-animal population is nearly double the size of the worldwide human population. It’s 33 times larger than the population of the United States, 1,250 times higher than the population of New York City, and 2.500 times larger than the population of Los Angeles.”
- “The U.S. animal agribusiness industry has combined annual revenues approaching $125 billion.”
- “From a business standpoint, animal welfare is a barrier to profit, as it costs less to mass-produce animals and discard those who die prematurely than it does to care for them adequately. In fact, it is estimated that upwards of 500 million animals destined to become food die before reaching the slaughterhouse.”
- “Commercial fishing is responsible not only for the depletion of 70 percent of the world’s fish species, but also for serious injury to other species of animals…Some fisheries use dynamite or cyanide in lieu of nets, but such methods can destroy entire ecosystems.”
- “In fact, it appears that in our nation’s meatpacking plants, contaminated meat is the rule, rather than the exception; researchers from the University of Minnesota found that in over a thousand food samples from numerous retail markets, 69 percent of the pork and beef and 92 percent of the poultry were contaminated with fecal matter than contained the potentially dangerous bacterium E. coli, and according to a recent study published in the Journal of Food Protection fecal contamination was found in 85 percent of fish fillets procured from retail markets and the internet.”
- “In 2008 the livestock industry contributed over $8 million to congressional candidates.”
Well before reading this book I became aware of Melanie Joy and her ideologies via YouTube and her presentation on Carnism, “Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. Carnism is essentially the opposite of veganism; “carn” means “flesh” or “of the flesh” and “ism” denotes a belief system. Most people view eating animals as a given, rather than a choice; in meat-eating cultures around the world people typically don’t think about why they find the flesh of some animals disgusting and the flesh of other animals appetizing, or why they eat any animals at all. But when eating animals is not a necessity for survival, as is the case in much of the world today, it is a choice – and choices always stem from beliefs.” Source
Although this video/presentation covers many of the points the book already covers, it is still worth a watch.