Orla Mannion Contemplates The Pig
We Dismiss Them Without Thinking
Orla Mannion Contemplates The Pig – “I know – he’s such a pig” – “Your room is an absolute pigsty, clean it up” – “Can you believe that someone could be so pigheaded?” It’s not difficult to understand why people relate so poorly to pigs and have such little empathy for their plight in the meat industry, when our everyday language is riddled with negative colloquialisms and nasty insults centered around their very existence.
People believe pigs to be ugly, stupid, dirty creatures, that have no real emotion, no purpose on this planet except to be bred and processed, for the sake of eventually ending up on our dinner plate. People have no issue with the end these animals face, because they believe it be just that, their predetermined fate. Whether people admit to it or not, they view pigs not as animals, but simply as produce. Something to be picked up off a shelf and consumed at leisure.
It is this unquestioning attitude that is so dangerous, so wrong. So damaging. It is this attitude that creates room for incorrect perceptions to arise, doing these wonderful animals such a painful injustice.
It is obvious that the people capable of doing this, are the people who have not yet made the connection between what they pick up in a supermarket and that of an actual pig.
Sure, perhaps they can imagine a pig when they pick up a packet of sliced ham, reminiscent of one they may have seen when visiting a petting farm as a child.
But they do not see a pig that lives in horrendous conditions, constantly suffering.
A pig that is depressed, that lives each day to the purpose of getting fatter, entitled to nothing, except to creep steadily towards the end of its life, having known no comfort or joy, no kindness. They can not see that of a young piglet being torn from its mother, allowed only to suckle for a short period though a metal gate (a farrowing crate), before being moved on to the next stage of its insemination into the slaughter industry, the industry that will coldly and callously govern the rest of its life.
They do not see a pig that remains neglected, unloved, crowded and frightened.
In Ireland alone, we need only look at the most recent conviction of one of the country’s biggest pig farmers in February 2015, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for charges of “cruelty on an industrial scale”, neglect and one count of a pig being “left in a pen to be eaten alive”, to see an example of the common place cruelty that we are surrounded by.
In 2013, Compassion in World Farming did an investigation into Irish pig farms and CEO Philip Lymbery afterwards stated: “Our latest investigation into the Republic of Ireland uncovers the most blatant breaches of EU law I have ever seen. This Spring, our investigators visited five pig farms in Cork, Waterford and Kerry. The conditions were beyond our worst expectations. Every farm we visited flouted the law and neglected their animals. For example, our investigators found:
Pigs living in pens inches deep in excrement
Fly infestations due to the filthy conditions
Severe injuries caused by fighting
Widespread tail docking
Open wounds caused by tail-biting
Bored pigs chewing dead animals left in their pens
Weak and emaciated pigs left to die in corridors
Pigs in ‘hospital pens’ apparently just abandoned to die
‘Dead bins’ full of pigs of all ages.”
And yet, people continue to remain unaware and indifferent. These facts may be lain out in front of them, but the concept of being connected to it still remains abstract.
While shopping the other day, I overheard a parent say to their child “Let’s walk down the second aisle over there and pick up a bag of pasta, we’ll have that for later. Do you know what would be nice with that actually? Some bacon, chopped up and thrown in with the sauce. Let’s go pick it up now on our way to the checkout.”
And honestly, what’s the real difference between picking up any good in your local supermarket, right?
Perhaps the main difference, that people tend to overlook when moving casually from one aisle containing pasta and jars of olives, capers, and tins of tomatoes, to another aisle containing freezers and fridges filled with dead carcasses, is that one ‘product’ lived, breathed, felt pain, emotion, exhaustion, fear, and was then slaughtered. The other product, did not. How chilling is it that we have become so desensitised to death, and the type of death these animals suffer, that we can so carelessly and indiscriminately equate these two ‘goods’?
I know people that pride themselves on their love of bacon, of sausages, that don’t actually know anything about what they’re eating, except for ‘how much they enjoy the taste’, and its protein content. Protein that can be found in plant based diets. Tastes that can be found alternatives for.
How have we become so brainwashed that we can overrule in our minds this very obvious desecration of life, that happens so commonly, in such a horrendous fashion, with very few seeming to care? That we can revel in ignorance and broadcast not only our taste for meat but our pride in committing such savagery.
I guess some people would take that as a compliment. Being considered savage. People that would declare themselves hearty carnivores that are merely responding to their primal instincts.
Newsflash. Carnivores eat bones, blood, gristle. Humans, on the other hand, rarely eat anything other than cooked meat, and are extremely selective in what parts. We are not mass manufacturing animals and putting them through extreme suffering for the sake of our survival. We are allowing and encouraging this industry, because we have cultivated a recreational taste for flesh. A taste, which lasts seconds in our mouths, engages fleetingly with our taste buds.. and then is gone.
Through our consumption of animals, we have declared openly that their suffering, their lives, their precious time on this planet are worth only the value of a meal to us.
Here are some simple, regularly overlooked facts:
1. Pigs are extremely intelligent creatures, and “have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs and certainly three-year-olds,” – Dr. Donald Broom, Cambridge University. They are placed as the 4th most intelligent creature on the planet. They’ve also been taught how to play video games using joysticks which they move with their mouths. They also are known to love music.
2. Pigs are highly affectionate, love cuddling and naturally would sleep together in nests.
3. They are incredibly social, gregarious animals. They greet one another by rubbing noses, similar to how we shake hands. They “lead social lives of a complexity previously observed only in primates.” They also communicate very effectively with one another; “More than 20 of their oinks, grunts, and squeals have been identified for different situations, from wooing their mates to expressing hunger. Newborn piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices”
4. Pigs are clean and prefer bathing in fresh water than in mud. Bathing in mud is usually just a way of protecting their skin from the sun.
5. Pigs have been proven to dream.
6. When piglets are born, mothers have a way of ‘singing’ to their young and are renowned for making incredibly deep connections with their piglets.
And their suffering, the cost of their life, is the price of your dinner.
These animals that we have damaged and broken, deserve the right to life.
The right to kindness, to happiness, to freedom. Freedom from the life we have chained them too.
We need to stop seeing animal cruelty and the enslavement and consumption of animals in the meat industry as separate issues.
We need people to be educated, and to not so readily accept what little information they already have as unbending truth. To do research and make more informed decisions.
The information is out there. If you wish to continue with your consumption of animals, don’t you at least owe it to them to be aware of what they go through because of your insatiable demand for meat?
I wish people had the opportunity to look a pig, or any animal for that matter, in their eyes before it happens. That they were able to give a pat on the head, whisper a few words, give a scratch behind the ear. And then be forced to bear witness to their death.
Lucky for you – you don’t have to right? Nobody is going to try and confront you with the truth, because you are quite happy to remain blissfully ignorant and that benefits the industry making money from this.
We need to rectify the mass destruction that we have caused, and wash their blood clean from our hands.
Please reconsider, please challenge your preconceived thoughts and ideas, please don’t take the easy route.
Please Don’t Eat Meat