Carnism is a concept used in discussions of humanity's relation to animals, defined as a prevailing ideology that conditions people to support the use and consumption of animal products, especially meat. Carnism is presented as a dominant belief system supported by a variety of defense mechanisms and mostly unchallenged assumptions. The term carnism was coined by social psychologist Melanie Joy in 2001 and popularized by her book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows (2009).
Central to the ideology, according to the theory, is the acceptance of meat-eating as "natural", "normal", "necessary", and (sometimes) "nice". An important feature of carnism is the classification of only particular species of animal as food, and the acceptance of practices toward those animals that would be rejected as unacceptable cruelty if applied to other species. This classification is culturally relative, so that, for example, dogs are eaten by some people in Korea but may be pets in the West, while cows are eaten in the West but protected in much of India.