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“Have you ever wondered why you drink cow’s milk but not pigs milk? Have you ever wondered why you eat chicken burgers but not a swan burger? Have you ever wondered why you haven’t wondered” (Dr Melanie Joy)?

Last week we discussed the concept of speciesism, which is similar to racism and sexism but towards all animals. This week our blog will look at the concept of carnism. Both speciesism and carnism are important ideas in understanding why human beings act the way we do in treating some animals as food and others as loved family members.

It has been scientifically proven that human beings do not need to consume animals in their diet to be healthy thriving individuals. Consuming animals became a standardized societal norm due to conditioning. Dr Melanie Joy has coined this conditioning as carnism and defined the term as being an “invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. An example is that those who grow up and live in Australia find it acceptable to eat cows, chickens and pigs, yet condemn countries who consume dogs, horses, turtles and dolphins, to name a few. This means that generally different countries and cultures determine which animals they treat as beloved family members and which animals are deemed to become food. Therefore, there is no fundamental list of which animals should be eaten and which shouldn’t. The animals used for human consumption are done so by choice due to the conditioning of society as to why that particular animal should be eaten over other animals. Carnism means that in society we are conditioned to arbitrarily categorise and discriminate against animals based on their relative place in society; that being farmed animals, wild animals, pets or animals used for experimentations.

The concept of carnism relies on ignorance, or in other words the conditioning of society. This is evident for two reasons. Firstly, those animals that are deemed for human consumption are subjected to very short lives and are eventually slaughtered. Animal agricultural industries have tried to use the marketing that the slaughter of those animals is done humanely and therefore it is ok to consume those animals, this is codified in Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines. However, we must ask ourselves how is killing any being, whether human or animal, done humanely? For example, in the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cows, the following is outlined as a humane slaughter: “the recommended methods for humane killing of adult cattle and calves is the use of a close-range firearm to the brain or a captive bolt to the brain.” Under the Australian Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle, it allows for a person to “use the bleeding-out by neck cut method to kill a conscious sheep when there is no firearm, captive bolt or lethal injection available.” All of those other methods for cattle slaughter are deemed humane as long as the sheep are unconscious.  Yet, a further question appears; how is stunning an animal before slaughter humane? The answer is, it’s not. To stun an animal involves cruelty and pain, the following methods are used to stun farmed animals before slaughter in Australia: captive bolt, electricity and gas chambers. No matter the method executed, animals have been scientifically proven to be sentient beings which have been agreed upon in the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare and therefore animals are more than capable of feeling the pain of their “humane” death. 

Secondly, society is conditioned to believe that human beings need animal flesh to survive. Yet, the consumption of animal products has been conclusively linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Studies have shown that meat-eaters are almost twice as likely to die of heart disease, 60% more likely to die of cancer, and 30% more likely to die of other diseases (Malik Kalonji).  In 2015 the World Health Organisation announced that processed meat is a carcinogenic to humans. Last year the Heart Foundation stated that people should be limiting their meat consumption to 3 meals a week, with the Foundation’s chief medical advisor Garry Jennings stating that “people should get most of their heart-healthy protein from plant sources such as beans, lentils and tofu.” Therefore, it is evident that human beings should be cutting out animal consumption and are more likely to be healthy thriving beings on a plant-based diet. This is further illustrated by looking at the consumption of cow’s milk. Believe it or not but cow’s milk is actually suited to the nutritional needs of calves, who, unlike human babies, will double their weight in 47 days as opposed to 180 days for humans, grow four stomachs, and weigh 1,100-1,200 pounds with two years (PETA). Thus, cow’s milk is for calves not for grown human beings. This evidence depicts that the concept of carnism has conditioned society to resist plant-based alternatives despite animal consumption being harmful to human beings. 

At ‘Til The Cows Come Home we view, treat, and love all animals, no matter the species, the same. We do not favour one species of animal over the other, and we cannot wait until the rest of the world shares this same view. Our vision is to be part of a world where people view farmed animals with the same warmth and offer the same rights, afforded to domestic pets. Let’s make our vision happen today! Change starts with you!

By Luella Botteon