Smart pigs amaze us but we eat them anyway

It’s common to hear North American animal lovers express their horror at cultures that find eating dogs or cats acceptable. And, indeed, it is repulsive to see these sensitive, intelligent animals abused and raised for slaughter.

But two recent stories in the news highlight a double standard in attitudes about animals killed for food — at least for those who eat meat.

Media in the United Kingdom and around the world have been raving about the accomplishments of Louie the pig, who has amazed and amused the British public by learning how to compete in dog agility competitions. Louie has demonstrated intelligence and trainability on a par with his canine friends.

Meanwhile, two Dutch pigs called Rudi and Felix, are making a claim to fame for their therapy work in seniors’ homes — a role also usually associated with service dogs. Again, media have lapped up the heartwarming story of clever and gentle pigs showing off their talent.

Of course, the intelligence of pigs has been well-established in scientific studies, and, like other animals, they can feel pain and suffer.

Yet pigs endure some of the worst treatment of animals raised for food. Hog barns house up to 5,000 pigs in crowded pens. Stress from overcrowding creates aggression and boredom, so most pigs have their tails cut off to prevent tail-biting. Breeding sows are confined for almost their entire reproductive lives in stalls that are just slightly bigger than the sows themselves. They eat, sleep, and defecate in the same space; their manure falls through slatted floors to a cesspool beneath.

So the next time you hear someone who loves bacon telling you how appalled they are about dogs being eaten in Korea, remind them of how we abuse, slaughter and eat intelligent, sensitive pigs by the million right here at home.



5 comments

  1. Bravo! More work needs to be done to bring attention to our hyprocritical views on meat-eating. We say we love animals, but we really only mean cats & dogs. Let’s turn this hypocrisy around and go.veg.

  2. I’m not completely on board the “cut meat from your diet” idea. However I do agree that the animals our food come from should be treated better and not tortured before slaughter (as in the Calgary Stampede). There are humane ways to slaughter animals. If I could I would rather raise my own meat but, like many, I live in an urban area.

    Yes, to me eating dog, cat and horse meat is appalling, but in some countries it can be an acceptable source of food and sometimes the only source. I do not judge. All animals are intelligent to a degree (humans included). No one species deserves a pardon from the axe more than another.

    Animals have been our source of food since the stone age. All humans are not going to become vegetarians and it’s incredibly judgmental to say that because a person eats meat they don’t care about animals. Rather than trying to save animals from inhumane existences one vegetarian at a time (which will take awhile and is unrealistic) how about boycotting the industries that require such mass produced animal meat, (fast food chains, mass producers of meat products, etc…). There’s much more you can do as well with a bit of research. Just find out where your meat comes from and support those that have humane practices in place.

    • Sarah,

      I whole-heartedly agree with your opinions. I too care about animal welfare but am not a vegetarian nor a vegan. What I am against is factory farming and the awful conditions that this food-making system imposes on animals bred for food. I think as a society though we do need to reduce the amount of meat we eat as to produce meat in a humane, free range, organic way would take us all to reduce the amount we eat.

      My main issues with vegetarianism are that we feed our pets meat so we have to kill some animals for food irrespective of our diets. Also, I personally feel much better on a diet that includes meat as my year as a veggie testifies to. What we need to do is educate society as to the terrible conditions surrounding our current habits and how they are degrading and harmful to animals, ourselves and the environment.

  3. Not only are sows kept in restrictive confinement the majority of their lives, while pregnant they are put on restricted diets– up to 60% less than when lactating meaning they are continually hungry throughout pregnancy. This is done to save money. The rations they are fed are consumed within minutes, leaving them with feeling hungery and with nothing to do for the next twelve hours, depsite having evolved to forage for at least eight hours a day. As a consequence they develop behavioural abnormalities called sterotypies as they try to cope with the constant boredom and hunger.
    Its so easy to leave meat out our diets and you can be much healtheir if you do. Recent meta analyses of studies of meat eating and bowel cancers in the US, Europe, Japan and South Korea found a direct link between how much meat you eat and the risk of developing bowel cancer. The only humane meat is the muscle on the living animal. Unlike carnivourous animals, humans do not need to eat meat to survive and it is completely possible to eat a balanced, nutritious diet which doesn’t involve meat. Boycotting industrial animal agriculture is a great place to start, but so many accreditation schemes run by industry are so watered down as to be little different to the regular systems.

  4. I don’t see anything humane about keeping an animal in life-long captivity, torture and killing it, before eating it. Sure there is “better,” that hardly means it is good.

    Animals evolved alongside us and have every right that we do to be here and to live out a proper life. Just because we evolved to use tools and brains, does not mean we should use them to hurt other species. In fact, we should be using our brains to make the world a better place (for us, for other species, for the planet. All of this can be achieved by going vegan).

    I’m sorry, killing and eating is not caring. It is only taking a long time because people are so good at making excuses and convincing themselves that they are caring.