Changing Our Minds (and Words) About Pigs

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If you’ve ever read Charlotte’s Web or watched Babe, this video is for you. WARNING: It’s not graphic, but it might change your mind about pigs.

I’ve heard people say such things as self-righteous pig, capitalist pig, fascist pig, liberal pig, fill-in-the-blank pig, stupid pig, fat pig, filthy pig, greedy pig, sloppy pig, eat like a pig, make a pig of myself, to pig out, squeal like a stuck pig, bleed like a stuck pig, male chauvinist pig, road hog, make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, sweat like a pig, to pig out, the pig police, pig sty, go whole hog, and hog-tie. Pigs get a pretty bad rap in our society; aside from the denigrating language we use to talk about them, we also use and exploit them in a variety of ways. Over 100 million pigs are raised and slaughtered in the U.S. every year.

I often wonder what characteristics non-human animals need to possess in order for us to stop hurting them? Is it intelligence? If so, then we should be just as appalled at the idea of eating dogs – or three-year-old humans as we are eating pigs, whose intelligence is higher than dogs and is equivalent of a three-year-old human. Is it affection? Is it playfulness? Is it cleanliness? Is it the ability to create bonds and social systems? Is it to possess maternal instincts? Is it the ability to suffer? To feel pain? To bleed? Pigs possess all of these characteristics — in spades.

[Tweet “It’s not the animals who have to change. It’s our perception of them.”]

So what will it take? What do animals need to do in order for us to leave them alone? What more could they do? Or is it up to them at all? Perhaps not. Perhaps it’s up to us. In order to change our treatment of them, we need to change our perceptions of them. We need to change our notions of what we need to eat in order to survive and thrive – and pigs needn’t be on that list. If we can’t imagine these things being done to the animals with whom we share our lives – the familiar animals: our dogs and cats – then we need to ask ourselves: what’s the difference? To the animals, it’s all the same.

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