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Veganism Versus Carnism

Story ID:10477
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Lakewood Ohio usa
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Today I have joyfully read a couple of wonderful posts on the subject of veganism versus carnism (the psychology of meat eating). I am hard put to know where to start on this important subject. However, Iíll start with something simple and basic. On care 2- I read that if you are vegan, you are saving 100 animals each year.

I have been vegan for 32 years and vegetarian for 5 years prior to that - so that means not counting my vegetarian years -I have saved 3200 animals! This makes me happy. Some people are happy because they have a lot of money. Some
people are happy because they are successful in their chosen profession. There are so many other reasons why people are happy but being vegan and saving animal lives can be a wonderful reason for you to be happy as well.

Donít be discouraged if you are just starting out on this compassionate journey. The numbers will pile up-I assure you. I had no idea at all when I became vegetarian and then vegan re the impact I would have on animals as well as the environment, but it has been a wonderful journey and it isnít over yet!

Yesterday a friend took me to a 5 year celebration of a health provider. I really
shouldnít have gone because naturally the food would not be vegan. But I did enjoy talking to a fellow senior citizen some years younger than myself.

Sadly, she was afflicted with asthma and arthritis. I showed her my hands which are not arthritic. I told her I didnít have asthma or any afflictions thus far, and of course, I told her why. I believe that it is my vegan lifestyle. Did I make a convert out of her to veganism? No, hardly. In my experience- making vegan converts is difficult. In her case, the best I can hope for is that she may give it some thought from time to time. The seed has been planted - will it grow or wither and die?

My young second cousin is having cancer issues. I wrote her hoping to convince her and her husband to go on a month's trial of vegan food choices and also sent her the wonderful post by Dr. Michael Gregor on this topic. She thanked me for the mass stipend which I had also included but sadly, did not allude to the vegan month's trial. How foolish we can be if we think that allopathic doctors and their medicine can always be the answer. I'm with Hippocrates on this: "Let food be thy medicine; let they medicine be thy food."

Yesterday -Darryl on the Andrew Linsey Facebook site asked us why otherwise humane people think very little or nothing at all re the suffering of our farm animals for food. He wondered if these people could be considered humane. In my opinion, the answer is no. A truly humane person could not abide cruelty in any form whether to a fellow living being or the animals. The wonderfully kind and compassionate Paul Shapiro of HSUS would not agree with me. I have to try to be as kind as he is and will allude to him further down.

Darryl also clued us onto a Christian Animal Welfare site called SARX. That's where I read about Carnism: The Psychology of Meat Eating. The term itself was coined by Dr. Melanie Joy where she uses the word to describe what she believes to be a dominant model of behavior in modern culture which allows for the eating of meat.

She believes that our choosing to eat meat is not natural but rather a result of social conditioning. Though most of us care deeply about animals and don't want to harm them- the only way we can psychologically cope with this conundrum is to engage in a mental numbing which blocks our feelings of empathy.

I found her explanation why some of us are wedded to carnism very interesting. and I hope that if you would like to read more of her very cogent and logical explanation on this subject, you will go to SARX. In my opinion, it is truly quite revelatory and interesting -especially if you are trying to find reasons why you should become vegan.

Closer to home I read the wonderful account by Isabel Menzel re Paul Shapiro's talk at Tempe's Changing Hands Book Store. His topic was "sane diets."

First a word about Paul Shapiro. He is the Humane Society's vice president of farm animal protection, and you can get his weekly reflections
on animal concerns if you subscribe. I do, and I always come away with some good thoughts on this subject - always given with the kindest
of interpretations. That's tough when you consider the horrible ways we treat our animals.

Here he spoke about the ag-gag laws which are the meat industry's way of wanting to keep people in the dark. Of this he remarked: "They want to make it a crime- not to abuse an animal, not to despoil the environment, but instead to make it a crime to take a photo of someone abusing an animal, or spilling manure into a local waterway."

On reducing your environmental footprint he notes- that even just cutting a third of your meat intake from your diet will significantly lesson the damage to the environment. Imagine that by eating meatless alternatives -less land, water and energy is used than what is used to produce meat.

Even the health care industry is slowly but surely recognizing the health benefits of a vegan diet. Kaiser Permanente is encouraging their clients to reduce health care costs. The American Institute for Cancer says that research shows one thing clearly - we all need to eat more plants and less meat.

His last thought deserves direct quoting: "If you want to change your lifestyle, it doesn't mean you need to be a vegetarian all the time. The fact of the matter is that every single time you sit down to eat, you can make a choice. You can make a choice to choose foods that will be better for the planet, better for you, better for animals. We can choose food that will harm animals, or we can choose foods that create a culture of compassion. We can choose foods that heat up our planet, or we can choose foods that leave a lighter footprint."