Taking on Animal Oppression at the Root: Carnism Action & Awareness Network

Image Carnism Awareness & Action Network screenshot.
Our human culture teaches us that certain beliefs and behaviors are normal, necessary, and natural; it also teaches us that most of the decisions we make are intentional and logical. But as numerous psychological studies have shown, that's not the case. Many of our decisions are based on influences we're not even aware of, and many of the beliefs we hold close are a matter of cultural indoctrination, rather than of a conclusion reached after careful, critical thought.

Such is the case with our relationship with nonhuman animals, and a new website has launched, with the goal of helping us rethink that relationship -- specifically the way we think about eating animals.

Dr. Melanie Joy, author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, has created the Carnism Awareness & Action Network (CAAN), which seeks to "raise awareness of and challenge carnism, the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals."

As Melanie says:
"Carnism is a violent, oppressive system that causes widespread animal exploitation as well as human victimization. However, the vast majority of consumers of animals, who care about animals and their own wellbeing, are unaware of the consequences of carnism on themselves and their world. At CAAN, we believe that people need and deserve to know the truth about carnism so they can make their food choices freely – because without awareness, there is no free choice."

Right now the website offers some suggested resources, useful information about carnism, and Melanie's terrific video presentation about carnism (which is required viewing for our graduate students). Soon the website will also have an active group of task forces that will help professionals in various fields work together to challenge institutional carnism.

One of the most exciting and hopeful aspects of CAAN is that:
  • it targets the root of the belief system that condones and promotes eating certain animals;
  • it frames eating animals as a social justice issue, rather than as a "personal choice";
  • it works on changing the systems of oppression, not just on individual change.

All of these aspects are key elements of humane education.

Check out the CAAN website for more information.

~ Marsha

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