I dislike the word "carnism", because of the scientific connotations.

Oh no! An opinion on vegan/vegetarianism online? How irresponsible! I know, which is why I want to preface this with the following information: while I am not vegan nor vegetarian, I respect these positions and their moral underpinnings. Personally, I'd rather just eat less meat, and start looking at eating more insect-based food, but I understand the importance of radical positions in changing the status quo.

Maybe it's just a good old case of Solderpunk's "Vodka and Cigarettes Sustainability".

Regardless, please bear in mind I'm not trying to discredit vegan or vegetarianism here, I just very specifically have a problem the word "carnism". I'm also just putting this in writing so that I can structure my thoughts and point towards this later.

Otherwise, basically what it says in the can.

The thing is, even just judging from the Wikipedia article on the topic, the term "carnism" is overloaded with moral positions, while at the same time presenting itself as a scientifically sound concept. Which it is! Or can be. Because, yes, there is something to be said about an invisible belief system that allows us to have pets but also eat animals and not be very upset about it:

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.


But then this is turned upside down, whereby this concept is used as a basis to argue that it is objectively true that people who do not adhere to vegetarianism are psychologically flawed, and so that vegetarianism is objectively superior! See, for example, the opening line of the same article:

Carnism is a concept used in discussions of humanity's relation to other animals, defined as a prevailing ideology in which people support the use and consumption of animal products, especially meat. Carnism is presented as a dominant belief system supported by a variety of defense mechanisms and mostly unchallenged assumptions.

By phrasing the previous definition on the basis of "defence mechanisms" and "unchallenged assumptions", the connotations associated with having this set of beliefs that underpin your consumption of meat are now negative. And if you think I'm being uncharitable, here's some other quotes of the Wikipedia article on the positions of Melanie Joy (who coined the term) on carnism:

Joy compares carnism to patriarchy, arguing that both are dominant normative ideologies that go unrecognized because of their ubiquity

[M. Joy] argues that the "Three Ns" ["normal, natural, and necessary"] have been invoked to justify other ideologies, including slavery and denying women the right to vote, and are widely recognized as problematic only after the ideology they support has been dismantled.

It's fairly clear that you could do this for any moral position involving an "us versus them" situation: you designate the inherited belief system of the other party by some scientific-like term, and then you load negative connotation onto this term, giving an illusion of scientific backing of your position.

So, in summary: unless you are using the word "carnism" to refer to the existence of some hidden belief system underlying the consumption of meat (not "inherited", not "compelling", just hidden), it is my opinion that the word can only be otherwise used in bad faith, because it disguises a moral position as scientific fact.

Or, do what you want, I'm not a cop.

(You know what's silly? This was all prompted by the (very good) Randy Feltface "Randy Writes a Novel" show, which I recommend watching.)