Thinking...!
Thinking…!
No Words...!
No Words…!

I think it is funny that I am sitting down to write a post about language and I find myself at a loss for words. I think about this website and veganism and my advocacy all the time. I can be sitting in a chair watching TV, doing the laundry, cooking a meal or basically any of the various things I do in any given day and a thought will pop into my mind. All  of a sudden, I am composing a post. Actual sentences start writing themselves and soon there are a couple of paragraphs and ideas for potential pictures to illustrate whichever point I am planning to make. The words, the pictures, the thoughts all start bumping into one another, not unlike the jumble of articles I have in my purse. It actually feels like things are zinging around in my head. While I  have little hope that the stuff in my purse will ever stay neatly arranged, somehow, the subject of my next post miraculously comes together in my head. When I finally do sit down to the computer, my fingers fly over the keys on the keyboard and several hours later I have a post ready for publishing.

Not so today. I have a lot of things I always want to say about the importance of language in regard to all the critical issues surrounding the every changing landscape of the nonhuman animal liberation movement. But when I talk about language I want to be certain that I don’t misinterpret a very important word or phrase that I think could help to define clearly  the so called “vegan” movement. Treading carefully is key, but I have decided to take a leap of faith and   just  dive in.  Let’s see how we get on.

And I guess we will start at the what I see as the beginning of this modern day language debate.

1) Vegetarianism is followed by Jan 15 03someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.

I was surprised by the exclusion of fish and seafood. I have heard vegetarians say that they eat fish.

From this definition come various categories of vegetarian:

Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat both dairy products and eggs; this is the most common type of vegetarian diet.
Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but avoid eggs.
Vegans do not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other products which are derived from animals.

Huh? I had never heard that vegans could be lumped in with the vegetarians. Why do I say this? Because in my view, vegetarianism is about diet whereas veganism is about ehtics. It is interesting to note that:

Through its Vegetarian Society Approved trade mark, the Vegetarian Society only endorses products containing free-range eggs…. because of welfare objections to the intensive farming of hens.

HMMMM!……definite talk of ethics and the welfarist approach in veganism!!……interesting!

2) Veganism, Ja 15 04is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

“Any other purpose” includes, but is not limited to, entertainment, things upon which to sit and stand,  hunting, medical experimentation and nonhuman animal testing. It is important to remember that this definition comes with a caveat: ” that …wherever possible and practicable”. We live in a non vegan world and it is impossible to always avoid being the end user of nonhuman animal exploitation.  For example, we drive cars with tires that contain stearic acid, a nonhuman animal byproduct. Veganism is about ethics and intention.

3) Carnism is the Ja 15 05invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. Carnism is essentially the opposite of veganism.

So,  let’s look for a moment  at this definition. The term  was coined by Melanie Joy who  defines carnism as a violent ideology that the supports the  fishing, enslavement, abuse and murder of nonhuman animals for our eating pleasure as well as the profit line of big business.  Dr Joy states that non vegans are not just carnivores or omnivores, both of which are biological terms, or meat eaters, for that matter. Non vegans are carnists. But aren’t they so much more? By wearing leather and fur and visiting zoos and aquariums and  cetacean shows such as those at SeaWorld, are they not doing so much more than just eating certain nonhumans? Veganism decries all forms of exploitation, not just the eating and drinking of the flesh and secretions of other species. While I believe this is an important and clarifying definition, I am not sure that it is all encompassing and may not be the exact opposite of veganism. This is a layman’s (that would be me) perspective  and I admit freely that another reading of Melanie Joy’s excellent book entitled, Why We Love dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows is required for me to  better understand the philosophy behind the term. Stay tuned!

 

Annie’s Vegan View

Language, language, language can help define and  support or weaken the tenets of veganism.

Clarification of these terms helps us to advocate more effectively when people try to disabuse us of the truth.

Be  willing and eager  to learn from other advocates like Melanie Joy and spread, spread, spread the word, for the sake of those beings suffering today, as we speak.  .

May all beings be happy and free.

Anne

 

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If We Are Non Vegans, Are We Then Carnists?

20 thoughts on “If We Are Non Vegans, Are We Then Carnists?

  • January 28, 2015 at 11:40 am
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    I first read the term carnist on your blog and I love it! And the definition and explanation you give, I also love. I almost don’t even want to write this, but I’ve never been fond of the term vegan. I’ve written that before and I know I’m not alone, but I do feel a bit sorry that I don’t like that term. And I can’t put my finger on it exactly other than it’s a feeling to the word more than anything. But, it is “ours”.

    It seems to me (and I’m outside North America and my experience all comes from online) that so many carnist (and I’d include any version of non-vegan to be carnist) folks think of veganism simply in dietary terms. In Germany, even though it’s definitely recognized as a diet, the assumption is generally that the diet is chosen for the “animal rights” reason and recognized as healthy, but the healthiness is secondary in living a vegan lifestyle. It would just be so wonderful if we didn’t even need terms at all. If human beings would simply live cruelty-free and treat other creatures with love , respect, care and consideration….everyone would be vegan. I like what you wrote about veganism being about intention. I still struggle mentally sometimes with where Spike and Sissi (the cats who are my little family)’s food comes from. 🙁 … Yep, we humans changed the world in ways that would take a long time to un-do. But we need to do our best to un-do them.

    Thanks for another good post! I like your “Thinking” photo. 🙂

    Reply
  • January 29, 2015 at 6:26 am
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    carnism is a wonderful term… but i prefer the term ‘necrovore’ because humans that eat nonhumans eat ‘dead flesh’ – they don’t go out and ‘bring their prey down’ themselves – they are scavengers who eat what others have killed…

    and vegetarians are not doing the nonhumans any ‘favours’, actually they really are no better than the necrovores – they pay others to enslave and rape mothers for their milk – who then have their babies who they can’t suckle (because then there is no milk for humans who hey, have paid out money and raped for their own pleasure) – ripped from them to either, if female, suffer the same fate, if male, brutally murdered…

    i was once one of those ‘ethical’ vegetarians who lived under the illusion that i was exactly that, ‘ethical’ – but finally i took off the blinkers…

    Reply
    • January 29, 2015 at 9:00 pm
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      Hi Sharon,
      Welcome to my website. I hope that you like what you see here.
      I have never quite heard humans described as scavengers, but I guess we are. I will definitely look up the word necrovore-it, too, is new to my ears.
      There is no doubt that the industry that enslaves cows for their milk is truly abhorrent. I am astonished by the number of myths protecting it and the willingness of consumers to believe said myths. I am encouraged that the consumption of cow’s milk products is decreasing quite dramatically and is being replaced by nut milks, almond being one of the preferred choices. The pain of these mothers and babies breaks my heart.
      Heartiest congratulations on your kind and compassionate choice. I salute you.
      Take care,
      Anne

      Reply
    • January 31, 2015 at 11:59 am
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      Ah, necrovore is another one I hadn’t heard before. That’s a good one, too.

      Reply
      • February 2, 2015 at 4:18 am
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        Hi Krissa,

        It amazes me how much I learn as I go along being vegan and writing for this website. A person’s perspective or even just word can create a new level of questioning and understanding for me. The word necrovore is one of them. Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd has this to say about the word necrovore and how it relates to the eating proclivities of humans. “Technically speaking, humans are not carnivorous hominids. Humans fall into the necrovore category which means the eating of dead flesh. Humans do not kill their meat as much as they scavenge it."Taken from Vancityveg.

        I also looked up the definition of carnivore. A carnivore /ˈkɑrnɪvɔər/ meaning (Latin, caro meaning and vorare meaning is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging.Taken from Wikipeadia.

        I could not find any dictionary definition of necrovore, but I did find this. necrophage (plural necrophages).An organism that eats dead or decaying flesh.Taken from Wiktionary.

        According to the definitions I found, Paul Watson may not be correct when he says that humans are not carnivorous hominids, but rather we are carnivores who scavenge. These are biological terms which describe the way humans eat. They are not to be confused with the philosophy behind the ethics of eating as described by carnism.

        Take care.
        Anne

        Reply
  • January 29, 2015 at 7:19 pm
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    Hi Anne, it was fun to read how someone else experiences the blogging process. One thing I’ve learned over the years when those thoughts pop into your head is to always write them down — even a word or phrase to remind yourself of the topic — cuz sometimes they pop right back out if you don’t! 🙂

    I keep a running list on my computer and at times surprise myself by writing something down that later I see I had already written down two years ago, snort. Just hadn’t gotten around to writing/posting it. What also often happens is that I’ll have an idea of what I’m going to say (as you said, those sentences start mentally composing themselves), get to my keyboard, let my fingers do the work, and poof, end up in a completely different direction! But I’ve learned to trust that — to get out of my head a little bit, and let my fingers tell me what I really think or feel. Or does that sound weird? 😉

    As for the term “carnist”, I think I feel the way you do — it’s good, but maybe not encompassing enough. Another drawback is that most people are not going to know what it means unless you’re vegan, and I’d rather have a term that doesn’t need explaining, especially to those who we would apply it to. I’ve also been thinking a fair bit about what terms to use, but I’ll save it for a blog post as it’s already been on that list of mine for quite a while. 🙂

    Reply
    • January 29, 2015 at 7:25 pm
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      Eek, I always forget something. Kinda wish there were an edit button! I meant to add that I haven’t read Melanie Joy’s book yet (although I did read and enjoy her earlier “Strategic Action for Animals”), but it’s on my other long list. One day…

      Reply
      • January 29, 2015 at 8:58 pm
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        Hi Friend,
        I hear you about the edit button. I wonder if that is something that could be added. I will check this out.
        Dr. Joy’s book, Why We Eat……. is a fairly quick read, when you have a few spare hours. I have a list the length of my arm…..high hopes!!!
        I did not know she had written another book. Will have to check it out. Before I know it, I will have a book list the length of my leg….Egad!!!!
        Take care,
        Anne

        Reply
    • January 29, 2015 at 8:59 pm
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      Hi Friend,
      I love the part about letting your fingers on the keys guide you when you sit down at the computer. That happens to me too. I think that I am going to write about one thing and boom, it becomes another.
      I don’t have a running list on my computer, but I do save quotes and links, hoping to get to them. I have had to accept that some issues do not make it to my website even though they are very important to highlight. I just hope that those I do highlight make an impression and create change for the better.
      I use the word carnist and follow it with a brief explanation because I do feel that it has value and is better than carnivore or meat eater, for instance. I am thinking about the title of Melanie’s book, Why We Love dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows. In a sense she does include the concept of wrongly using nonhumans for more than just food. But, as I said, I will have to re-read the book to see how she makes this connection.
      I am looking forward to that blog post of yours. Yes Sireeee…!
      Take care.

      Reply
    • January 31, 2015 at 12:04 pm
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      That’s a good point that non-vegans will likely not know the term carnist. Especially considering that some vegans don’t even know it (looking at myself who learned it here not long ago).

      Reply
      • February 2, 2015 at 4:35 am
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        Hi Krissa,
        I believe that being open to learning and adapting our understanding of our advocacy for the liberation on nonhumans caught in all of our various and cruel industries is key.
        Take care,
        Anne

        Reply
  • January 29, 2015 at 8:57 pm
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    Hi Krissa,
    I am glad that you liked my post. Sometimes I am not sure if I am being clear in the point I am trying to make.
    I wish too that we did not need these terms . This subject could be another post. The fact that we need the word vegan at all is more than unfortunate, but now we have all of these adds on to describe veganism and many of them are associated with diet-paleo vegan, vegan till four, raw vegan and so on, when, as you say veganism is a philosophy and ideology and has nothing really to do with diet other than that vegans eat plant based foods.
    I have the same issue with my three rescued cats who came into my life before I became vegan. It bothers me too! This might fall into the category of unavoidable! Cats are carnivores. I haven’t found a way around that.
    Take care,
    Anne

    Reply
    • January 30, 2015 at 11:27 am
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      Yeah, it’s hard about feeding our family members who are built by Nature to require to eat certain things. Another thing that bothers me immensely about cat “food” is to see how many have dead cow in them. A cat in Nature would not be eating a cow. I only get (and this is where I get so sad that it makes me get teary) chicken, rabbit, duck and turkey. I used to get fish but the fish in cat “food” is so unhealthy that I stopped that entirely. It just breaks my heart to know where their “food” comes from. If we lived together in a way that they would be able to fend for themselves (pat humanity on the back again for stealing that away from so many other species it isn’t even funny), I wouldn’t like it that they killed birds, mice, rabbits, squirrels…but that’s how they survive. This all applies to dogs too of course, but I don’t have a dog family member. Large dogs might eat a cow, but small dogs are also eating severely unnatural “food” thanks to humans. Sigh. But yes, the term carnist as applied to human beings is spot on and one I like. I’d also like if one day, it no longer exists because it died out.

      Reply
      • January 30, 2015 at 11:29 am
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        I hope it’s clear that I used a bad choice of words in saying built by nature for a certain diet. I was trying to avoid the diet word and it ended up worse!

        Reply
        • February 2, 2015 at 4:36 am
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          Hi Krissa,

          I hear you. Diet is such a misunderstood and misused word. I also think that using it in correct form can go a long way to re-establishing its meaning. No worries. you expressed yourself very well.
          Take care,
          Anne

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      • February 2, 2015 at 5:00 am
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        Hi Krissa,
        The companion animal food issue is a difficult one for me too. I have 3 cats who we rescued and adopted before I became vegan. As I understand it, cats are obligate carnivores and must have the taurine found in flesh to survive. There are plant based cat foods out there, but I am not convinced that they are a perfectly good substitute even when taurine is supplemented. That having been said, I agree with you that the cat foods that are available are not what cats would eat in nature and are definitely not sanitary or cruelty free. I guess it is one of those unavoidable conundrums.
        I will take care of and love my cats for the rest of their lives, but I am not sure that I would adopt another on. Dogs are omnivores and can live very well on a plant based diet and I am pretty sure that when and if the time comes, we will adopt a senior dog who needs a loving home.
        As far as domestication goes, as my son says, the toothpaste is out of the tube on that one. The best thing we can do is take care of the domesticated animal companions who need homes and support the neuter and spay programs that seek to reduce the population. It is unfortunate that we have to take the drastic measure of sterilizing, but I guess that this is the lesser of two evils.
        Take are,
        Anne
        Take care,
        Anne

        Reply
    • March 13, 2016 at 3:48 pm
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      Hello,ahimsabrau,
      Welcome to my website and thank you for commenting. I was unaware of this word and do agree that it extends beyond the limitations of carnism which refers to beliefs about animals used and not used for food. I took a quick look at the website and will certainly take a closer look in the very near future.

      Take care,
      Anne

      Reply
  • October 26, 2016 at 9:13 am
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    Hi Anne

    I wish we didn’t have to have the word vegan either and that kindness and compassion just came naturally to people. As they don’t, I guess we do need words like carnist. I have learned a lot of new words on here like necrivore and malzoan. I had never heard of these words before.

    I too hate buying meat pet foods for my cats but I see no other way around it. It makes me feel so bad because I buy so much of it and I know I am funding these cruel industries. All my cats are strays or rescues too. I’m not sure I could ever live without cats in my life so I don’t think I could ever avoid it.

    I have never heard of Melanie Joy’s book but I will add it to my rather long reading list.

    Thanks for clarifying the different definitions for me Anne! I agree that language is important too.

    Rachel

    Reply
    • October 28, 2016 at 9:45 am
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      Hi Rachel,
      Knowledge is power as is the ability to admit that we don’t know everything and that some of what we know is not correct. I am always thankful when someone enlightens me especially when it comes to language.
      Yes, the issue with the cat food is not an easy one. I struggle with that, but try to remember that I rescued two beings who may not have survived without me. I don’t think that I would purposely adopt another cat, unless someone in dire need came onto my radar. I would like to adopt a dog someday and would feed him or her a plant based diet.
      Take care.
      Anne

      Reply

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