Melanie Joy

Melanie Joy

Melanie Joy on TEDx
Born 1966 (age 4950)
Nationality American
Alma mater Harvard University (M.Ed.)
Saybrook University (Ph.D.)
Occupation Professor, activist, non-fiction author

Melanie Joy (born 1966) is an American social psychologist and vegan activist, primarily notable for promulgating the term carnism.[1] She is a professor of psychology and sociology at the University of Massachusetts Boston,[2] as well as the president of Beyond Carnism, also known as Carnism Awareness & Action Network (CAAN), a non-profit advocacy group which she founded in 2010.[3][4] She has published two books, Strategic Action for Animals and Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows.[2]


Joy received her M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and her Ph.D. in psychology from the Saybrook Graduate School. At age 23, while a student at Harvard, she contracted a food-borne disease from a tainted hamburger and was hospitalized, which incident led her to become a vegetarian.[5][6] In a speech related by Indian cabinet minister Maneka Gandhi, Joy recalled how her dietary choice, made for non-moral reasons, transformed her perspective on the treatment of animals:

That experience led me to swear off meat, which led me to become more open to information about animal agriculture - information that had been all around me but that I had been unwilling to see, so long as I was still invested in maintaining my current way of life. And as I learned the truth about meat, egg and dairy production, I became increasingly distraught. ... I wound up confused and despairing. I felt like a rudderless boat, lost on a sea of collective insanity. Nothing had changed, but everything was different.[6]

Afterwards, Joy made a gradual transition to veganism.[1]

In a 2013 interview, she explained that her doctoral research had initially focused on the psychosociology of violence and discrimination, but later shifted to questions about the psychology of eating meat. Perceiving a pattern of irrational and inconsistent thinking among the subjects she interviewed, she was led to theorize that attitudes about meat reflected acquired prejudice. This idea became the basis for much of her later work.[7]

Theory of Carnism

Joy introduced the term carnism in a 2001 article published in Satya,[8][9] initially receiving little attention. The concept was revisited by her 2009 book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows.[9] Her ideas influenced subsequent studies of what has come to be known as the "meat paradox" - the apparent inconsistency in common attitudes toward animals, wherein people may express affection towards some animals while eating others - and the cognitive dissonance it entails. Some psychologists are supportive of Joy's beliefs concerning the influence of eating meat on attitudes toward animals.[9][10][11][12]


Joy founded Carnism Awareness & Action Network (CAAN), later renamed Beyond Carnism, in 2010.[3] According to a review by Animal Charity Evaluators, the organization uses public talks, media campaigns, video development, and activist training in an effort to shift the public conversation about meat mainly in the United States and Germany. The review judged CAAN's novel organizational strategies to be promising in terms of their potential to foster a sustained network of animal rights advocates, but noted that the relatively new group lacked a track record, and that the effects of its approach would be difficult to assess.[13]


  1. 1 2 Guerrero, T. (12 December 2013). "Por qué queremos a los perros pero nos comemos a los cerdos". El Mundo. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Melanie Joy Ph.D.". Psychology Today. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  3. 1 2 Langley, L. (29 November 2010). "Why Are We Against Wearing Fur, But OK with Eating Meat?". AlterNet. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  4. "Dr. Melanie Joy". Carnism Awareness & Action Network. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  5. Brumm, F. (24 August 2013). "Sozialpsychologin Melanie Joy: Warum essen Menschen Fleisch". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  6. 1 2 Gandhi, M. (5 July 2015). "From cuisine to corpses to 'carnism'". AsiaOne. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  7. Hoffmann, S. (4 June 2013). "Interview w. Melanie Joy about Carnism". Oh, Sophia. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  8. Joy, M. (September 2001). "From Carnivore to Carnist: Liberating the Language of Meat". Satya. 18 (2): 126–127.
  9. 1 2 3 Gibert, M.; Desaulniers, E. (2014). "Carnism". Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics. Springer Netherlands. pp. 292–298. ISBN 978-94-007-0929-4.
  10. Loughnan, S.; Bastian, B.; Haslam, N. (2014). "The Psychology of Eating Animals", Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(2), April, pp. 104–108. doi:10.1177/0963721414525781
  11. Piazza, J.; et al. (August 2015). "Rationalizing meat consumption. The 4Ns". Appetite. 91: 114–128. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2015.04.011. PMID 25865663.
  12. Singal, J. (25 June 2015). "How people rationalize eating meat". CNN.
  13. "Carnism Action and Awareness Network". Animal Charity Evaluators. 10 December 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
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