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The 3 Ns and an incredibly enlightening book recommendation for all humans.

I’m reading an incredibly enlightening book right now, called Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Dr. Melanie Joy.  This one is definitely going on my must-read list for future vegans all humans.


Vegbaby is sick (again) with a cold (screw you Old Man Winter, you crotchety old germ-circulating geezer), so I was reading a chapter to stay awake while he fell asleep last night (by the way, this book definitely will not put you to sleep).  The chapter was about something Dr. Joy called “The 3 Ns”, and how we (society) use them to justify ‘the norm’ of eating animals in our own minds, so that we can live happily (naively) distanced from facing the realities of factory farming.  As I think about it more, the 3 Ns can be used to argue justification for a lot of things in life that otherwise don’t make sense. So, I wanted to share this with you.


The 3 Ns as they relate to the justification of eating animals:


Normal. As in, it’s normal to eat animals because everyone does it. Eating animals is entwined in our society to the point that it is simply second nature.  It is abnormal NOT to eat animals, or to question the practice of carnism.


Natural. As in, animals are here for us to eat, for human survival. It is a practice rooted in natural history. Man has been hunting and killing animals for millions of years, and man is naturally at the top of the food chain.  Eating animals is what we (humans) were meant to do.


Necessary. As in, animal products are imperative for proper growth, nutrition, and physiological function. Protein, calcium, iron. Strong bones. Big muscles. Rawr.


I started thinking about how the 3 N belief system saturates, and detrimentally impedes us, as human beings. It is so, so important to step back and consider how these things affect us personally, from our childhood and the norm we grew up with, as compared to the values, convictions, and beliefs we hold now as adults. Are they different?


Being vegan is becoming more mainstream, in that you literally cannot look into a crowd of people and confidently pick out “which ones are the vegans” based on appearances anymore. Vegans today are of all walks of life, all cultural backgrounds, all races, all genders, all ages, and all vocations.  Personally, I am proud to be a part of something that was once considered to be a “weird” piece of hippie counterculture, and is now becoming better understood as a deeply personal movement to insightfully question the nonsensical societal norm of animal exploitation for human use (while hiding truth on a large scale behind pretty words and cartoon images).


Vegans see the ultimate goal of their choices as not only impacting their own life, but bettering the entire world.


How powerful we are together.


As a once-omnivore, I understand that the 3 Ns can be easily used to argue for. To make us feel better about participating in something that doesn’t actually align with our core values or make sense, at least, not when we truly connect the dots of what we’re doing.  As a vegan, I understand that the 3 Ns can actually easily be use to argue against. I am no better than anyone else, I have participated in a human behavior that doesn’t make sense to me and is absolutely not aligned with my core values- and now that I have made the connection,I will continue to advocate for the abnormal.  I choose the path of most resistance – I choose the latter.


The vegan perspective in response to the 3 Ns:


Normal.  What is “normal” other than something that most people do? The fact that most people do it means it requires no conscious, logical justification. Why would we question something we are not triggered to question? “The norm” is not something we consciously chose to participate in as individuals – in fact, “the norm” is something vegans have realized they have the power to choose NOT to participate in.  It is something created by society that we are born into. We participate in various norms as children simply because we don’t realize that we have a choice to do any different. For most of us, it takes adulthood to start questioning the behaviors we are used to expressing, and even then – because “the norm” is so widespread, and information outside of it is often hidden, underemphasized, or distracted from by the news media, government or other authoritative bodies, it takes a lot of personal empowerment, belief in self, and let’s just say it – balls – to question whether or not what “everyone else” is doing is acceptable to us anymore. Smoking cigarettes was once so normal that nobody questioned the ethics of exposing children to it.


Melanie writes, The path of the norm is the path of least resistance; it is the route we take when we’re on auto-pilot and don’t even realize we’re following a course of action that we haven’t consciously chosen. Most people who eat meat have no idea that they’re behaving in accordance with the tenets of a system that has defined many of their values, preferences, and behaviors. What they call ‘free choice’ is, in fact, the result of a narrowly obstructed set of options that have been chosen for them. They don’t realize, for instance, that they have been taught to value human life so far above certain forms of nonhuman life that it seems appropriate for their taste preferences to supersede other species’ preference for survival.”


Natural. The argument of the 3 Ns has been used to justify a lot of things in society that otherwise don’t make sense, simply because they have existed for a long time. Dr. Joy mentions that there are plenty of things equally as old as meat eating (and therefore could have been considered ‘natural’ at one time), yet society today does not use history to argue that they are natural and therefore acceptable.  For instance, rape, patriarchy, slavery, infanticide, murder, cannibalism, genocide. Especially today, we are coming together as a society to make sure that nobody sees these things as natural, or acceptable. Where is society when we desperately need to blow the roof off of the coverup of industrial animal agriculture? I remain optimistic that we will get there someday.


Melanie writes, As with other acts of violence, when it comes to eating meat, we must differentiate between natural and justifiable…when the system finally collapses, the Three Ns are recognized as ludicrous.”


Necessary. I would just like to put a photo of my healthy, happy, thriving vegan baby boy who follows a normal linear line on the growth chart {and eats more than I do} here as evidence and call it a day, but I will resist the urge.  The necessity of animal products to human survival and nourishment for the general population is an absolute  farce. We now have plenty of scientific evidence to back up the argument that plants have protein, vegans who pay attention to their diet are nutritionally sound (if not healthier than those consuming animal products), and green vegetables and whole soy foods are adequate, if not better, sources of calcium than dairy.  There is nothing necessary about eating meat raising and killing animals solely for human overconsumption. There is everything necessary about educating ourselves, and understanding that the necessity is in the seeking of knowledge, not in the seeking of a scapegoat.


Melanie writes, “Educating yourself does not mean that you were stupid in the first place; it means you are intelligent enough to know that there is plenty left to learn.”
How have the 3 Ns impacted your life personally?

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