What is Witnessing, and Why Is It Important for Transforming Carnism?

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What is Witnessing, and Why Is It Important for Transforming Carnism?

[Ed. Note: Read What Is Carnism?]

From Carnism Awareness & Action Network

Virtually all violent ideologies have depended on preventing mass witnessing, and virtually all social movements have depended on cultivating mass witnessing.

Witnessing, or bearing witness, is being willing to see the truth - with our hearts as well as with our eyes. When we bear witness to another (human or nonhuman), we see the world through his or her eyes; we empathize. Witnessing is what is missing when we participate in systems like carnism, which require us to block our awareness of and empathy toward others.

Witnessing is the kryptonite of carnism; the whole system is organized to block witnessing so that we remain impassive consumers rather than active citizens. Our failure to witness, on an individual and collective level, enables the kind of mentality that violates our own integrity - as we disconnect from our authentic feelings and act against our core values - and that is incompatible with a just society.

Transforming carnism thus requires that we choose to bear witness to the reality of the system and its victims, and become active proponents of change. Virtually all violent ideologies have depended on preventing mass witnessing, and virtually all social movements have depended on cultivating mass witnessing. The goal of the vegetarian and vegan movements is to attract a critical mass of supporters by encouraging the public to bear witness to carnism, ultimately tipping the scales of power.