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Vegan activist Melanie Joy recommends 3 books on why we eat animals

Joy appeared on The Ezra Klein Show to talk about “carnism.”

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On this week’s episode of The Ezra Klein Show, vegan activist Melanie Joy joins fellow vegan Ezra Klein to explain why it’s so hard for vegans and vegetarians to talk about their belief system.

Joy’s latest book, Beyond Beliefs, gets to the heart of the discomfort that Klein and many other vegans and vegetarians feel discussing veganism with meat-eating friends. There’s an implicit judgment that can feel preachy or hypocritical. People often tune you out — or worse, get defensive.

Buy Beyond Beliefs: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Joy and Klein also dig into the fascinating, twisted logic of “carnism” — the reason we don’t find it contradictory to keep certain animals as pets while other animals are being tortured in factory farms. Joy covers this inconsistency in her book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism.

Buy Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Whether or not you eat meat, there’s a lot to get out of this conversation, which treats vegans, vegetarians, meat eaters, and animals with equal amounts of empathy.

Near the end of the conversation, Ezra asks where people should start if they want to “become a little kinder, dip [their] toe in and begin to open to this.” Joy recommends — in addition to checking out the resources on her website, — three books about eating animals from nutritionist, activist, and philosophical perspectives:

1) How Not to Die by Michael Greger

Written by the founder of, How Not to Die discusses the science behind lifestyle changes that have been proven to prevent the 15 leading causes of death in the United States. Unsurprisingly, Greger suggests a mostly plant-based diet, though he doesn’t specifically advocate for veganism or vegetarianism.

Buy How Not to Die: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

2) How to Create a Vegan World by Tobias Leenaert

For those who are already vegan-ish, Joy recommends How to Create a Vegan World, which covers “how to talk about veganism, how to think about it, and moving the movement forward.”

Buy How to Create a Vegan World: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

3) Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals is a best-selling book that blends investigative reporting on the meat and dairy industry with earnest personal reflection on what it means to eat animals. A documentary produced and narrated by Natalie Portman comes out this month.

Buy Eating Animals: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

You can listen to the full conversation with Melanie Joy on The Ezra Klein Show by subscribing on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts, or by streaming the episode here.

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