Understanding Meat Eaters, Creating Change: Interview with Dr. Melanie Joy, Vegan Activist of the Month (Video Included)

Why do most people not only continue to eat meat but also defend the habit despite the knowledge that it’s destroying the ecosystem and causing harm to their bodies? Why do non-vegans continually discredit and even persecute vegans whose intentions are to cause the least amount of harm possible to animals and the environment? Why do vegans often have such a difficult time convincing omnivores to even consider veganism; a diet and lifestyle that’s been shown to be the most beneficial to both our bodies and the planet? 

If you’ve ever asked any of these questions then Dr. Melanie Joy’s work is for you. 

Dr. Melanie Joy, internationally acclaimed speaker, author, and president and founder of Beyond Carnism. Image: Image: courtesy of Dr. Joy.
Dr. Melanie Joy, internationally acclaimed speaker, author, and president and founder of Beyond Carnism. Image: Image: courtesy of Dr. Joy.

Changing our understandings, defining the issues 

Dr. Joy wears several hats – she’s an activist, an internationally acclaimed speaker, an author, and president and founder of Beyond Carnism, a charitable organization dedicated to exposing and transforming carnism. 

Carnism is the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals. It’s why most people in the West will enjoy steak from a cow but are horrified at the notion of eating a dog or a cat. Delving deeper into Dr. Joy’s work and unraveling carnism into its various components can not only answer the above questions but can also give us much insight into the psychology of why people eat meat. This understanding may serve as a helpful first step in assisting meat eaters in making their transition into veganism. 

Interview with Dr. Melanie Joy 

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Joy, learning of her “accidental” journey into veganism, and discussing how her theory of carnism is an essential tool for vegans to understand meat eaters and assist them in making their transition to a cruelty-free lifestyle. 

In the last part of the interview, we also had the chance to talk about an interesting and rarely discussed concept of vegans experiencing trauma caused by exposure to animal exploitation, and how this can affect the ability of some activists to continue their efforts.


Further exploring Dr. Joy’s work 

If you’re interested in learning more about carnism pick up the book “Why we Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows” and visit Dr. Joy’s site Carnism.org.  

You can also read the article she mentioned in the interview, “Speaking Truth to Power” or watch her talk on sustainable activism.

Dr. Melanie Joy's Why we Love Dogs Eat Pigs and Wear Cows book cover. Click here to purchase the book via our Amazon link.
Dr. Melanie Joy’s Why we Love Dogs Eat Pigs and Wear Cows book cover. Click here to browse or purchase the book via our Amazon link.


Below you will find Dr. Joy’s Ted talk, Beyond Carnism and toward Rational, Authentic Food Choices, followed by her lecture Carnism: The Psychology of Eating Meat.



If you’d like to support Dr. Joy’s organization, which has brought carnism awareness to over 40 million people in 27 countries, you can make a donation at her website Carnism.org. From now through June 20, 2016 grassroots donations are being doubled by a generous matching grant, so your gift can have twice the impact for a sustainable vegan movement.

Thank you Dr. Joy for taking the time to speak with us and for all the wonderful work you do to promote veganism and to help end animal cruelty. We are proud to have you featured as one of our highlighted activists, and hope many others will be inspired by your work.

Dr Melanie Joy Vegan Activist of the month

Cover image: courtesy of Dr. Melanie Joy. Modifications by TVW.

Erin Lecky

Writer & Reviewer

Vegan Newbie and Vegan Gal Columnist

My name is Erin and I currently live in Toronto though my true stompin’ grounds are in Nova Scotia. I spent the last six years living in Asia and travelling the globe in search of myself. Although my self remains to be found (‘tis a lifelong journey indeed), I discovered the next best thing during my time abroad: veganism! I basically stumbled upon it, undoubtedly not by accident, and quickly recognized a vegan lifestyle as THE path for me. I’ve been basking in its wonders ever since.

More about Erin

Check out Erin's blog Waking Up the Inner Cosmos