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Beyond vegetarianism

Carnism discourages our awareness of the problems it causes in part by teaching us to believe in a set of myths that I call the three Ns of justification: eating meat is normal, natural and necessary.

MELANIE JOY: ‘India is a country which has historically been the most vegetarian in the world but the recent increase in meat consumption is alarming… It seems that more Indians than ever before are enthused about eating meat, often because they feel doing so reflects a more aspirational or progressive way of life. Eating meat is perceived by some as saying no to what they see as outmoded traditions or religious doctrine, and saying yes to rationality, open-mindedness, innovativeness, progressivism and freedom… The new trend toward eating meat is in some important ways a step backward, not forward. So, how is this increase in meat-eating fostering the opposite ideals to those that some Indians are claiming to embrace in the name of modern values?…

There is more to the story than most people — Indians and Westerners alike — realise. Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals… And just what are the consequences of carnism?… Carnism discourages our awareness of the problems it causes in part by teaching us to believe in a set of myths that I call the three Ns of justification: eating meat is normal, natural and necessary. And the three Ns have been used to justify all oppressive systems, including patriarchy and casteism. Moreover, these myths are institutionalised, embraced and maintained by all major institutions, from the family to the state. So when we study nutrition, for example, we actually study carnistic nutrition.

Because carnism and its myths are invisible, we don’t realise how our thoughts, feelings and behaviours have been guided by this ideology. Most people believe that eating meat reflects exercising their freedom of choice but in many ways it really reflects carnistic conditioning, which is essentially another form of indoctrination… But there is a way forward. Veganism, which is a new kind of vegetarianism, is just beginning to take root in India. It is a rejection of carnism that is being exported by the West to developing countries. This new vegetarianism is at once future-oriented, critically informed, rational and compassionate. Indeed, it is based on ahimsa, a value that is deeply rooted in India than anywhere else on earth’. SOURCE…

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