Have you ever wondered why we treat certain animals like friends and others like commodities or food? For example, dogs and cats are considered members of the family, but we slaughter and eat cows and pigs. Because we think there is a distinction between the animals we love and the ones we eat, we do not think twice about what has to happen to cows, chicken and pigs before they arrive on our plates as food.

In her TED talk, psychologist Melanie Joy, explores the reasons why we are disgusted by the thought of eating Golden Retriever, but happily enjoy beef, pork and chicken. All animals are equally sentient beings, but because we think that eating farmed animals for meat is, “normal, natural and necessary,” we never question our choice to mass slaughter and eat them.

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By looking into how our society has normalized the consumption of meat, Joy contends that we all have a choice to remove ourselves from this cruelty, but the first step is awareness. Thinking critically and carefully about the roles we’ve assigned farmed animals versus our pets, we can see beyond the constructs of “carnism” and work towards a more compassionate future.