As it turns out, people don’t eat meat simply because it tastes good.
According to findings from an international survey on the habits of meat eaters, carnivores justify killing and eating animals as they tend to believe in a hierarchal system — that human beings naturally have a position of dominance over animals.
For the survey, teams from Cornell University, the University of Massachusetts and Johannes Gutenberg University analyzed the view points of nearly 1,000 meat eaters through three surveys. The “Carnism Inventory” basically measured the ideology of eating animals — what pre-conditions some to eat certain animals while treating others as uneatable (i.e. pets).
Participants were questioned about whether meat was better for their health, whether people have the right to kill animals, whether meat production causes animals to suffer and whether people should continue to eat meat simply because they have already been doing so for thousands of years.
“We came to the conclusion that, just as in the case of vegetarianism and veganism, there is an underlying set of beliefs underpinning the eating of meat,” said study author Dr. Tamara Pfeiler.
The study looked at carnistic defence eaters (meat eaters who legitimatize the practice of eating animals) and carnistic domination eaters (meat eaters who support the killing of animals for their meat). Researchers found a correlation between people who believe in their right to eat meat and an attitude that approves of dominance within social structures.
Researchers also found that both carnistic defence eaters and carnistic domination eaters had attitudes that approved of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation, “but only carnistic domination was related to symbolic racism and sexism.”
This could “encourage the development of prejudices towards certain social categories,” said Pfeiler. “However, this does not mean that meat-eating people are automatically more likely to exhibit prejudice towards other groups of people.”
There are correlations, but not enough evidence. More investigations are being planned to establish the precise links between people who believe in their right to eat meat, the consumption of meat, and hierarchical structures.
Survey findings were published in the journal Appetite.