This morning has been amazing. It’s a sunny and warm April morning. We were up early and out for a walk with my D. and Henry, then back home for a delicious coffee and some time working on my friend’s website. D. ran to the store for some bits and bobs, and phoned from the store to see how many bananas I think we need.
And then he phoned from the car on the way home. “The babies pigs are out, get your camera ready and I’ll pick you up.”
We live near a pig farm that is nothing like a factory farm. Pigs live in open fields with little huts and little feeding houses. Nearly every day we pass them and watch as they furrow around in the mud and grass, run around on a rainy afternoon, sometimes bask in the morning sun. Pigs roam around freely with other pigs to keep them company, lots of space to feed and roam around. On one drive home past their fields, I saw one very large pig jump in the air in what looked to be some kind of celebration.
They seem to have a happy relationship with people, which suggests these pigs are not mistreated. Today while we were out taking pictures (in the five minutes before the batteries in my camera died, of course), we saw the farmers out refreshing the food. These two men drove around the perimeter of the field on their tractor, and periodically jumped out and walked amongst the pigs – something the pigs seemed very comfortable with. We saw these two men treat these pigs with respect – stopping in their path as a group of bouncing piglets ran in front of them; nudging a couple of huge pigs away from the feeder with what I can only call kindness.
This is not the kind of pig farm where most pigs come from. It’s not a pig farm where pigs are confined in tiny spaces and forces to sleep in their own excrement; farms with horrible conditions that cause so much daily suffering and stress that pigs attack each other. No – this is not that kind of farm. This is a pig farm where pigs seem reasonably happy.
Even so – I will never eat a pig from this pig farm. Or from any pig farm for that matter. I know I have clearly stated that I am not a vegan, and I am not. Being a vegan is an ethical lifestyle choice that I feel can only be claimed by the most devout. Honey, leather, wool, military dogs – a true vegan views all of these things as exploitative of animals. While I have full respect for that choice, I myself don’t make that choice.
The choice I make is to reduce my use of animals in as many ways as I can, as often as I can. I don’t eat chicken or beef as a rule, I very rarely use dairy or eggs and every once in a while will have fish. Clearly I am not choosing to be a full-time vegan, or even a vegetarian for that matter. However alongside these choices I make about what I eat is one huge emotional conviction for me: I will never eat a pig. Never. I love pigs the way I love dogs and eating one would be the same as eating the other. I don’t care how delicious a dog’s hind leg would be on a dinner plate for Sunday roast; I could never, ever eat it. And for me, the same goes for a pig.
I could tell you about how they are smart and social animals, quote estimates of IQ that rival that of human children, and give examples of emotional intelligence – but for me, it doesn’t matter. For me, pigs are not food. Full stop.
I applaude this pig farmer for treating these pigs so well – honestly, thank you for that Mr. Pig Farmer. But I can’t imagine causing any of these beauties any harm, and so I’m afraid you will never have a customer in me.