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Rescue of Vita the Dog Shines Light on Carnism

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Rescue of Vita the Dog Shines Light on Carnism

From Free From Harm
April 2013

We don’t just make these decisions arbitrarily on a case-by-case basis. Instead our food choices are shaped by long-term, consistent, and deeply-held beliefs. A set of beliefs called carnism.

dog meat Vita carnism
Vita the dog rescued from a slaughterhouse in China.
Photo: Animal Equality

Vita is a lucky dog that was rescued moments before being sent to a slaughterhouse in China. The rescue of Vita shines a light on carnism. In our culture we don’t send dogs to slaughter. It’s not culturally-acceptable to eat dogs here. On the contrary, we keep them as pets and shower them with love and attention and spend millions every year on their healthcare.

It is said we are a nation of animal lovers. But if that’s the case, why do we believe it’s wrong to eat dogs but just fine to eat pigs, chickens, turkeys and cows? Without giving it a thought, we send some 10 billion animals to a violent death in their infancy and adolescence. We don’t just make these decisions arbitrarily on a case-by-case basis. Instead our food choices are shaped by long-term, consistent, and deeply-held beliefs. A set of beliefs called carnism.

The problem is that most of us have not yet even begun to examine carnism’s powerful spell on us. We inherited carnism from our parents and grandparents. Carnism is embedded in each of our major cultural, political and economic institutions — church teachings, children’s literature and films, family reunions, school cafeterias, tv advertising, weddings, road trips and fast food stops, doctor’s visits, and USDA pyramids.

Carnism is woven through all of the important narratives that shape our lives. Carnism’s stories are the fictions and fantasies we so desperately want to believe about animals raised for food. And carnism’s stories are equally effective at blocking our awareness of the violence, death and oppression that are it’s inevitable end result. Carnism’s stories support the most powerful economic and political interests while using the powerless as its raw materials.

Understanding and exposing carnism is our pathway to a nonviolent and empathic society. For a concise introduction to carnism, watch social psychologist Melanie Joy’s website