Carnophobia is the irrational fear of meat. Someone experiencing this condition will find it extremely difficult to be around meat, let alone actually consuming it.

If they were to be near someone else consuming meat or if they themselves found out that they ate meat by mistake, then the amount of anxiety they can expect to endure may be so intrusive and painstaking that they may even experience a full blown panic attack because of it. Such an experience may force them to be hospitalized insofar as their symptoms are severe enough.

People who suffer from carnophobia are not vegetarians by default as this phobia is based on an irrational fear that meat is in someway intrinsically bad or worthy of being feared. So, with this being said, people who have carnophobia do not fear meat due to any potential health risks or heart conditions that they may actually acquire by consuming it, but rather they will fear it due to illogical reasons.

Even the mere thought of meat may give someone with carnophobia an influx of unwanted anxiety to the point of experiencing a fight or flight state of mind. In such a frame of mind, they can expect to experience a increased heart rate, and increased rate of breathing, perspiration, and muscle tension, among other symptoms.

Below, you will see a list of some of the more common symptoms that someone with carnophobia can expect to experience.



Symptoms of Carnophobia

As previously mentioned, someone with this condition can expect to experience a high amount of anxiety when they are around meat or when and if they happen to consume meat (purposely or accidentally). Some people with carnophobia may be so fearful of meat that they will refuse to have any meat in their homes at all. They may also refuse to go to any restaurants that serve meat as simply knowing that meat is nearby may be enough to give them an influx of intense anxiety.

People with carnophobia who refuse to eat meat may also suffer from some nutritional deficiencies as well, such as iron and other nutrients. If you suffer from carnophobia and do not eat any meat at all, then you may want to talk to your doctor to ensure that it is safe and healthy to do so. Upon seeing your doctor, it may not be uncommon for you to then get some blood work done so that you and your doctor can have a better understanding of your physical health.

Below, you will see some more common symptoms of carnophobia:

  • Anxiety when thinking of meat
  • Anxiety when around meat
  • Avoiding areas where meat may be
  • Refusing to eat meat
  • May have some nutritional deficiencies
  • Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
  • May experience panic attacks

Causes of Carnophobia

As is the case with virtually every other phobia, there is no known cause of carnophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play very significant roles. For instance, if someone were to have a family history of mental illness, then they may have a higher chance of developing this phobia. This may be due to them then having a genetic predisposition to developing mental illness in general.

If someone were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown carnophobia. For example, with the right genetics, someone may develop carnophobia due to them becoming violently ill from a meal they consumed which contained meat, thus leading them to blame meat as the culprit for their suffering. Although such an unpleasant experience will likely not make most people develop carnophobia, for those with a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness, the opposite may be true.

With this being said, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and one’s environment play very significant roles in the develop of virtually any given mental disorder. So, taking a closer look at these two different parameters may shed some light as to whether or not you may be at risk for developing carnophobia.



Carnophobia Treatments (abridged)

Although there is no treatment method that is specifically designed to treat carnophobia, there are still many different forms of treatment that can be very effective at helping to reduce someone’s symptoms of it. Such treatment methods that can be very effective at treating carnophobia are exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and some anti-anxiety medications, among other things.

Exposure therapy works by having the patient become slowly exposed to their fear over a given period of time. One of the main goals of exposure therapy is to get the patient to become desensitized to their irrational fear. Theoretically, the more someone is exposed to that which they fear, the less it will bother them over time. This same philosophy can be used when implementing exposure therapy for people with carnophobia.

So, a therapist treating a patient with carnophobia may start off slowly by exposing them to a picture or a video of meat. Although this may not sound very anxiety provoking, in the mind of someone with carnophobia it likely will be. Eventually, the goal would be for the patient to become exposed to an actual piece of meat with minimal symptoms of carnophobia. To ensure that this can be done, it is imperative that the therapist implementing the exposure therapy is very adept and experienced at treating phobias.

If you think you may have carnophobia or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms described in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated. Upon seeing your doctor, you may be referred to see a mental health specialist such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist for further treatment.

Also, to ensure that you get all of your answers addressed, it may be a good idea for you to write down questions to bring to your next doctor visit so you can have a better understanding of your symptoms and your options for treatment.




Treatments (expanded)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Carnophobia

DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like carnophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.

One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with carnophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.

Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with carnophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.

Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with carnophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your carnophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.

Yoga for Carnophobia

There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from carnophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with carnophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.

There are many different types of yoga that someone with carnophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with carnophobia.

If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of carnophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Carnophobia

CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with carnophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.

CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with carnophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with carnophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.

Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with carnophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Carnophobia

MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from carnophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with carnophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.

Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of carnophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.

Exposure Therapy for Carnophobia

As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as carnophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with carnophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.

The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with carnophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their carnophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with carnophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.

Reducing Caffeine for Carnophobia

It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with carnophobia to experience panic attacks.

So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.

Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with carnophobia.




Psychiatric Drugs for Carnophobia

Antidepressant Drugs

These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as carnophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of carnophobia.

These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of carnophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.

Anti-anxiety Drugs

These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe carnophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.

These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their carnophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.

Exercise for Carnophobia

Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including carnophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.

According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of carnophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.

There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of carnophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with carnophobia over time.

Meditation for Carnophobia

There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from carnophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.

Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from carnophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.

For someone with carnophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.

To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of carnophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.

Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with carnophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.