Meanings & Co. pp 163-179 | Cite as

Food Communication and the Metalevels of Carnism

  • Dario MartinelliEmail author
Part of the Numanities - Arts and Humanities in Progress book series (NAHP, volume 6)


The present essay offers some reflections concerning the cultural and ideological debate between veganism and carnism. The increasing popularity of the vegan lifestyle among diverse layers of society, and most of all its transition from a hardly-tangible phenomenon to a very visible and outspoken one, has generated a strong reaction from those who Melanie Joy has defined “carnists” (i.e., meat-eaters not only in the culinary sense, but also in the cultural one), but it has also brought to the fore the question of the different communication strategies of the two parties. After a brief but hopefully-exhaustive introduction to veganism as socio-cultural and ideological movement, the essay proceeds to focus on the communication strategies operated by carnism to convey or disguise (depending on the case) the kind of information that veganism is ethically pointing the finger at: the promotion of meat as product, necessity, display of luxury, nutritionally-valuable aliment, and so forth. In describing such cases, and offering a theoretical framework for their interpretation, it is also argued that carnism, like any other form of anthropization, is filtered via three similar-but-compatible mental attitudes: anthropocentrism, speciesism and anthropocracy.


  1. Allport, Gordon W. 1954. The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.Google Scholar
  2. Bartolommei, Sergio. 1995. Etica e natura. Roma-Bari: Laterza.Google Scholar
  3. Berkmanienė, Aušra, and Dario Martinelli. 2018 forthcoming. The politics and demographics of veganism. International Journal of Semiotics of Law.Google Scholar
  4. Celentano, Marco, and Dario Martinelli. 2018 forthcoming. Ethology of the freed animal: Concept, methods, projects. Behavioural Sciences.Google Scholar
  5. Freston, Kathy. 2011. Veganist. New York: Weinstein Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. Iacobbo, Karen, and Michael Iacobbo. 2006. Vegetarians and vegans in America today. Santa Barbara: Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  7. Joy, Melanie. 2001. From carnivore to carnist: Liberating the language of meat. Satya 8 (2): 26–27.Google Scholar
  8. Joy, Melanie. 2010. Why we love dogs, eat pigs, and wear cows: An introduction to carnism. San Francisco: Conari Press.Google Scholar
  9. Martinelli, Dario. 2010. A critical companion to Zoosemiotics: People, paths, ideas. Berlin-New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Martinelli, Dario. 2016. Arts and humanities in progress: A manifesto of numanities. Berlin-New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Maurer, Donna. 2002. Vegetarianism: Movement or moment?. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Singer, Peter. 1975. Animal liberation: A new ethics for our treatment of animals. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  13. Smith, Andrew F. 2013. Eating history. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Tajfel, Henri. 1981. Human groups and social categories. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kaunas University of TechnologyKaunasLithuania

Personalised recommendations