Book Review: Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, And Wear Cows

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, And Wear Cows: An Introduction To Carnism, The Belief System That Allows Us To Eat Some Animals And Not Others, by Melanie Joy, Ph.D

There are some essential problems with this book that the author fails to take into account that makes this book a miserable failure as anything but a whiny and extremist political work. For one, not all of us, even those who are fond of eating meat, eat pigs. Nor, for that matter, does everyone love dogs–pariah dogs are widely viewed negatively in the Bible, for example, and in contemporary Africa. And the author fails to note that the lines drawn between animals are themselves culturally dependent, and the reasons why some animals are eaten and not others also varies widely. On top of these problems, which the book largely does not address in detail, because they fatally weaken the attempt of the author to make categorical arguments based on culturally relative bases, the author tries to argue against eating meat on emotional grounds that include a disgust at the practices of contemporary American agribusiness, which is a very slender basis to argue against eating meat, and only potentially successful because we as a people are simply not mentally strong enough to deal with the harshness and cruelty of life in a fallen world that we, including the author, would rather deny is an aspect of our own existence.

This book is a mercifully short if atrocious book of about 150 pages or so in length. The book begins with a section of acknowledgements. After this the author opens up with a debate on whether we should love animals or eat them (1), a false dilemma, to be sure, and one that does not recognize that our sentimental devotion to pets is itself perhaps unnatural and problematic. This is followed by a discussion of carnism as “the way that things are,” which is in fact quite true for a great many people as well as for creation as a whole (2). After that the author has the cheek to claim that what she writes is the way that things really are, bless her ignorant self (3). This is followed by an attempt on the part of the author to opine about the collateral damage of carnism (4). This is then followed by a discussion of the supposed mythology of meat that justifies the eating of meat (5). The author then whines about internalized carnism as something that seeks to delegitimize the extremist views of herself and her fellow radicals (6), while also arguing that avoiding eating meat is somehow tied to being a compassionate person (7). The book then ends with resources, notes, a bibliography, and index.

Ultimately, this is a book written by someone whose logic is terrible, whose emotional reasoning is laughable and ridiculous, and who does not have the toughness of mind to be able to deal with the unpleasant aspects of human existence that are easy to recognize for non-urban Westerners or those from other cultures who have a better understanding of the ferocity of creation. To label the giant mass of reasons why it is that people believe eating meat is acceptable as carnism, and to blithely ignore the genuine difficulties that come from adopting a vegan diet without paying attention to the need for protein, demonstrates a lack of awareness at the complexity of the reasons why some animals are considered to be eligible for eating while others are not. The line is drawn differently for different people in different cultures, and religion often plays a large role in it, which the author is loathe to discuss because she is as clueless about religion as about everything else she writes about here. While the avoidance of eating meat by a nosy and ignorant section of Western society is itself homogeneous enough in thinking to be labeled as vegetarianism, the complexity of the rationale for why we eat the meat we do is not sufficiently similar to deserve the label of carnism, except that the radical left has a need to label people as a means to practice tactics of delegitimization, as a way of projecting to deflect attention from their own insecurity and inferiority.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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