LOS ANGELES, Feb. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The viral video that has triggered what international press around the world have called a "shitstorm" portrays a chef who opened a Swiss restaurant that serves dog and cat meat. The video links to the restaurant's visually appealing yet psychologically disturbing website, where customers can review the menu and book a table. Uploaded by multiple social media outlets and picked up by press in 25 countries and on four continents, the video has incited public outrage that's even led to death threats. Some reports have speculated whether the video is actually "a brilliant hoax."
Today two animal protection organizations have claimed responsibility for the video: the US-based Beyond Carnism and the German Vegetarian Union (VEBU). The organizations' goal was to raise awareness of the psychological disconnect when people eat meat, what they call "carnism."
"Carnism," according to Dr. Melanie Joy, President of Beyond Carnism, Harvard-educated psychologist, and author of the internationally bestselling book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, "is the invisible belief system that conditions us to eat certain animals." Joy explains, "Most people care about animals and don't want them to be harmed. And yet most people eat animals – animals who, like dogs and cats, have feelings and lives that matter to them."
Carnism causes us to distort our perceptions and to disconnect from our natural empathy toward the animals we have learned to think of as edible, so that we don't feel the disgust and outrage we otherwise would. We see cat flesh as a dead animal but cow flesh as food, though there is no rational basis for this distinction. Joy says that the point of the shocking video was to "jolt people out of their normal 'carnistic' way of thinking, so they could think about the ethics of eating animals more rationally, and ultimately make food choices that reflect what they authentically think and feel, rather than what they have been taught to think and feel."
Beyond Carnism and VEBU spokespeople regret any misconceptions about Swiss culture that may have resulted from the video. "We chose Switzerland simply because it is legal to eat cats and dogs there, even though very few people actually do this. In fact, Switzerland has some of the most progressive animal protection legislation in the world." And the project was supported by the Swiss organization, Swissveg.
About Beyond Carnism
Beyond Carnism is a charitable organization dedicated to exposing and transforming carnism, the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals. Beyond Carnism seeks to empower concerned citizens and animal advocates through education and activism, to help create a more compassionate and just world for all beings, human and nonhuman alike.
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SOURCE Beyond Carnism