Last updated on: 6/8/2018 | Author:

Melanie Joy, PhD, EdM Biography

Founder of the Carnism Awareness & Action Network (CAAN)
Pro to the question "Should People Become Vegetarian?"

“How can compassionate individuals put the body parts of dead beings into their mouths and find the experience pleasurable rather than repulsive? How can a nation of critical consumers who may brood over which brand of jeans to purchase leave their food choices so unexamined-choices that drive an industry that kills 10 billion animals per year? How do people not see the contradictions that are right in front of them?…

Carnism is the name I’ve given to the ideology in which it’s considered ethical and appropriate to eat certain animals. As long as eating meat is not necessary for survival, it’s a choice, and choices always stem from beliefs…

Because most people don’t want to cause animals to suffer, let alone know that they’ve participated in such suffering, the system must prevent them from connecting the dots, psychologically and emotionally… When a person sits down to a hamburger, for instance, she isn’t aware, or thinking, of the living animal she’s eating. She therefore isn’t feeling empathy for the suffering of the being that became her food and she finds the meat appetizing rather than disgusting…

Carnism enables people to eat the meat of a select group of animals by employing a specific set of defenses that operate on a collective as well as an individual level. These defenses include, but aren’t limited to, denial (‘Animals raised for meat don’t really suffer much’), avoidance (‘Don’t tell me that; you’ll ruin my meal’), dichotomization (‘Dogs are for loving and pigs are for eating’), dissociation (‘If I think about the animal that became my meat I’ll be too disgusted to eat it’), and justification (‘It’s okay to eat certain animals because they’re bred for that purpose’). Carnistic defenses are intensive, extensive, and are woven into the very fabric of our society and our minds.”

“The Mentality of Meat,” (accessed Apr. 26, 2011)

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Founder, Carnism Awareness & Action Network Founder (CANN)
  • Former Professor of Psychology and Sociology, University of Massachusetts at Boston
  • Considered a leading researcher on the psychology of eating meat
  • Personal/relationship coach
  • Has presented her work at national and international academic conferences
  • Has been involved in the animal liberation movement since 1989
  • PhD, Psychology, Saybrook Graduate School
  • EdM, Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Has been interviewed on BBC, NPR, PBS, and more
  • Runs the website: