These notes are from a presentation by Melanie Joy, author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, about why the localvore and happy meat movements are a good sign. She calls this group of eaters “neocarnists” and she says they are a sign that things have changed for the better.
Most carnists are “traditional carnists” and they eat animals simply out of habit. They have not examined their carnism and don’t have many answers to the question “Why do you eat animals?”
Then there are three types of neocarnists: compassionate carnism, ecocarnism, and biocarnism. The “compassionate” carnists proclaim to care about animal welfare, but this “exists in philosophy, not reality.” I think here she means that happy meat is not truly possible since producers are motivated by profit, not compassion, that meat requires death, and that humans make mistakes thus even a “humane” meat system results in suffering.
The ecocarnists view empathy and compassion as weaknesses. And the biocarnists have a selective view of human history that view humans as essentially hunters.
Joy suggests these strategic responses to neocarnists:
1. Recognize this as progress. Neocarnism is a form of backlash against effective vegan advocacy. Animal rights activists have created a situation where many people finally feel compelled to examine their carnism but most are not yet willing to act on the reasonable, logical conclusions of serious ethical examination of animal-eating. So they’ve created defense mechanisms like denial and excuse-making to rationalize their consumption of animal products. The result is neocarnnism.
2. Ecourage self-reflection. Neocarnism is an acknowledgment that there are ethical problems associated with eating animals. So a reasonable reaction to neocarnists is to encourage more self-reflection. Perhaps if they think more about the issues and why they’ve decided that factory farming is wrong they might come to the conclusion that all animalexploitation is wrong.
UPDATE: Melanie Joy has published an article on this topic. The article is available here: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/understanding-neocarnism/