Carnophobia (phobia of meat): symptoms, causes and treatment

Carnophobia is characterized by a persistent and intense fear of the flesh. It is not necessarily accompanied by a political decision to give up the consumption of this food, although it may be related to this.

We will see below what carnophobia is, what is the difference between a phobia and an aversion, and finally what are the remedies that exist to treat its symptoms.

    Carnophobia: fear of the flesh

    As the name suggests, carnophobia is the persistent and intense fear of the flesh. Since it is a phobia, the persistent fear of the flesh must present itself in an irrational or excessive way, that is, it is disproportionate fear of a stimulus that is usually harmless for those who perceive it.

    In other words, to be considered a phobia, this fear of meat should not manifest itself only by a decided rejection of the consumption of food of animal origin, as could happen in the case of “ veganism. or vegetarianism ”.

    It is also not an underdeveloped taste for meat or a preference for a specific type of that food. Rather, it is a fear that is activated in the face of any stimulus that approaches the flesh, triggering a disproportionate anxiety response.

    However, if this fear does not manifest itself in a persistent, intense and disproportionate way that does not significantly affect a person’s quality of life, it may not be a phobia, but an aversion.

      Phobia or aversion to meat?

      The main difference between a phobia and an aversion is the intensity of the fear felt and the way it presents itself. An aversion can be defined as a strong repulsion to touch, try or listen to things that most people are indifferent to or find pleasurable (Bados, 2005).

      Unlike a phobia, aversions produce discomfort, but not fear or anxiety; they are presented with stimuli other than specific phobias and do not provoke obsessions or rituals.

      Aversions can cause a series of momentary physiological reactions such as the following: chills or body hair, pallor, cold, rippling breathing, And sometimes nausea. Dislikes to the touch of hairy surfaces such as wool or feathers are common, for example; hear high-pitched sounds; or smell and taste fatty foods, foods of certain textures or muscle tissue of animal origin (meat).

      In general, aversions do not adversely and significantly affect a person’s quality of life, as they do not prevent them from performing their daily activities and do not manifest themselves in a clinically observable picture of anxiety. However, they can represent a significant drawback to the stimulus caused by aversion.

      So if exposure to meat causes discomfort and mild or momentary physiological reactions, then it is aversion. Conversely, if exposure to meat causes clinically significant discomfort (Anxiety that interferes with daily activities), and occurs persistently with intentionally and unintentionally avoiding meat, then it may be carnophobia.

      Possible causes

      As with other phobias, a fear persists in the flesh it may be caused by real or perceived harm associated with the consumption of that food. Some specific examples of experiences that can cause this fear are:

      • A serious illness, generated immediately after consuming meat.
      • A traumatic trip to a butcher’s or slaughterhouse.
      • An accident while cooking meat.
      • Unwanted emotions related to images for or against meat products.

      The first may be the cause of having developed both a phobia and an aversion to meat, and the second may have generated a political position on the consumption or industrialization of this food, but not necessarily.

      Is treatment necessary?

      Any real or perceived fear that is felt persistently and disproportionately can be addressed through a number of clinical strategies. For example, the live exposure technique, Cognitive restructuring, systematic desensitization or relaxation strategies, among others. All aim to reduce the experiences of anxiety associated with the stimulus that causes them; which ultimately means that the person develops positive contact with the stimulus.

      However, if the rejection of meat stems from a personal choice, which does not interfere with their daily life even if it involves an experience of aversion, the treatment should not be aimed at the consumption of this foodBut looking for alternatives and substitutes.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Rodriguez, U. (2012). Gastrophobia: all the fears of the food world. Accessed September 11, 2018.Available at
      • Bados, A. (2005). Specific phobias. Faculty of Psychology. Department of Personality, Psychological Assessment and Treatment. University of Barcelona.
      • Afraid of raw meat? (HER). Perspectives. Accessed September 11, 2018.Available at

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