Some of my Facebook peeps might recognize this photo from when Terri and I visited Animal Acres. Have you ever seen a piggy this huge?
Animal Acres is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue and care of farm animals. So this special guy didn’t go to slaughter. Instead he gets to spend his life being fawned all over by volunteers and the occasional pig-loving blonde chic.
I LOVE pigs. I think pigs are some of coolest animals because they’re so gosh darned smart. What most people don’t realize is that pigs are not only smarter than dogs, but they are smarter than a 3-year old human child. They solve puzzles, follow logic and can even play video games once they’re taught how to use a joystick. They think, feel and even have mood swings because they’re very sensitive, feeling creatures. Every time I see a little piglet I want to grab it, hug it, put a sweater on it and bring it home. I just can’t help it. And my love for the oinkers is exactly the reason why I don’t eat them.
I want to put out a plea to pork eaters about how one should think twice about eating one of these guys. Or at the very least, cut back. If not for health or spiritual reasons (because there are many religions/spiritual philosophies that won’t eat pork) then for compassionate and environmental reasons.
Here are some tid-bits you might find interesting:
• Newborn piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices and recognize their own names. Mother pigs sing to their young while nursing.
• Pigs are often referred to as “dirty” creatures but they are the opposite. They enjoy a clean home environment. They even prefer fresh water to mud to cool themselves off. They can even been taught to turn on/off outdoor showers to clean themselves. This is why pigs can make great indoor pets.
• In his book The Whole Hog, biologist and Johannesburg Zoo director Lyall Watson writes, “I know of no other animals [who] are more consistently curious, more willing to explore new experiences, more ready to meet the world with open mouthed enthusiasm. Pigs, I have discovered, are incurable optimists and get a big kick out of just being.”
• Pigs communicate constantly with one another; more than 20 vocalizations have been identified that pigs use in different situations, from wooing mates to saying, “I’m hungry!”
• Pigs have very long memories. Dr. Stanley Curtis, formerly of Penn State University, put a ball, a Frisbee, and a dumbbell in front of several pigs and was able to teach them to jump over, sit next to, or fetch any of the objects when asked to, and they could distinguish between the objects three years later.
• People who run animal sanctuaries that include pigs note that they are more similar to humans than you would guess. Like humans, pigs enjoy listening to music, playing with soccer balls, and getting massages.
On the downside:
• Extremely crowded conditions, poor ventilation, and filth in factory farms cause rampant disease in pigs. In order to keep pigs alive in conditions that would otherwise kill them and to promote unnaturally fast growth, the industry keeps pigs on a steady diet of the antibiotics that we depend on to treat human illnesses. This overuse of antibiotics has led to the development of “superbacteria,” or antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. The ham, bacon, and sausage that you’re eating may make the drugs that your doctor prescribes the next time you get sick completely ineffective.
• A pig farm with 5,000 animals produces as much fecal waste as a city of 50,000 people. In 1995, 25 million gallons of putrid hog urine and feces spilled into a North Carolina river, immediately killing between 10 and 14 million fish.
I know a lot of this can be said about other farm animals, but realistically if we need to eat meat (which I know some of us do including myself) then I truly believe we’re better off sticking to the basics such as chicken and fish. I have yet to find a study that indicates that pork is a necessity to the human diet or contains minerals that can not be found from other sources.
So please think twice the next time you go grocery shopping. You have the option of choosing turkey bacon over pork bacon and chicken sausage over pork sausage. Not only can you help save a little joyful, soccer playing Wilbur out there somewhere, but your waist line, digestive system and the environment will sing your praises.