|Description||Psychological theory about the ideology of animal use|
|Term coined by|
Carnism is a concept used in discussions of humanity's relation to other animals, defined as a prevailing
Central to the ideology is the acceptance of meat-eating as "natural", "normal", "necessary", and (sometimes) "nice".[n 2] An important feature of carnism is the classification of only particular species of animal as food, and the acceptance of practices toward those animals that would be rejected as unacceptable
Analyzing the history of vegetarianism and opposition to it from ancient Greece to the present day, literary scholar Renan Larue found certain commonalities in what he described as carnist arguments. According to him, carnists typically held that vegetarianism is a ludicrous idea unworthy of attention, that mankind is invested with dominion over animals by divine authority, and that abstaining from violence against animals would pose a threat to humans. He found that the views that farmed animals do not suffer, and that slaughter is preferable to death by disease or predation, gained currency in the nineteenth century, but that the former had precedent in the writings of
In the 1970s traditional views on the moral standing of animals were challenged by
We don't see meat eating as we do vegetarianism – as a choice, based on a set of assumptions about animals, our world, and ourselves. Rather, we see it as a given, the "natural" thing to do, the way things have always been and the way things will always be. We eat animals without thinking about what we are doing and why, because the belief system that underlies this behavior is invisible. This invisible belief system is what I call carnism.
Sandra Mahlke argues that carnism is the "central crux of speciesism" because the eating of meat motivates ideological justification for other forms of animal exploitation.