Feb
10
2011

Do pigs deserve respect?

Photo by rumpleteaser - CC-BY

(This is a guest post)

Humans are omnivorous. Meat is a pillar of our diet, that enabled our continued evolution to larger brains. But there are limits. We don't consume our kin—cannabalism incurs universal opprobrium. And we extend our kin to include great apes like the chimpanzee.

Globally there is now also a veritable outrage over Japan's continued slaughter of dolphins. We feel an affinity for dolphins, who play gregariously with human-like mirth. But from chimpanzee to dolphin, the biggest characteristic we value is their intelligence, that sets them shoulders above the rest of the animal kingdom.

The mirror test is a measure of self-awareness, as animals either possess or lack the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror. Animals that have passed the mirror test include: all of the great apes, rhesus macaques, bottlenose dolphins, elephants, and corvids. The results correlate precise

ly with the current belief of top-tier animals in science. We should give these animals a measure of reprieve, if not from slaughter then from unnecessary harm. The Great Ape

Project seeks prohibition of torture and protection of liberty for our related cousins. Why not extend this torture prohibition to all self-aware animals?

One more animal type passes the mirror test, but in a varied form: pigs. Pigs are highly social and intelligent animals.

Yet we keep pigs in cramped distressing conditions where they end up biting each other. Tails are docked to prevent other pigs chewing them off and they're pumped with antibiotics to stop infection. Treatments like ear clipping and removing teeth are done without pain medication. Sows are confined inside cages laying on their sides to prevent them turning, to enable piglets to suckle on their mothers while the mothers defecate over themselves.

In an indoor intensive pig farm, manure can be managed through a lagoon system or other waste-management system. However, waste smell remains a problem which is difficult to manage. The pigs also smell and breathe their own faeces and urine fumes for their entire existence as it is lies directly under their grid floored pens. Pigs in the wild or on open farmland are naturally clean animals.

It is time to call quits on pig-meat.

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1 Comment

  • larry says:

    AND male piglets are castrated so that their meat – raw or cooked – won’t have an odor that most people find unattractive.

    I am going to continue to eat pork, however.

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