Going Pork Free
If you've read the 80:20 post I've done (if not, it's at the bottom of my Life page), then you'll know how much I'm plagued by making decisions about what I'm putting in my mouth.
One of the first things that I realised I'm not comfortable with is the meat industry.
The meat industry
I love animals, and I really hate the idea of contributing to their suffering. As a teenager and young adult, I've had many flings with vegetarianism but unfortunately none of them lasted very long.
Problems caused by the meat industry include:
- Significantly lowering the effectiveness of antibiotics
- Increasing droughts
- An excessive use of land area
- Increasing obesity and cancer
- Increasing water pollution
- Mass extinction
- Global warming
That doesn't even touch on the suffering that we cause to the animals that we farm for consumption.
Lowering your meat consumption
I'm an advocate of anything you can do to minimise how much meat you eat and feed to your family, and can really only see benefits to cutting down. Even if you can't commit to going meat-free, I know many people who have accomplished this by having meat free weekdays, converting to soy mince, only eating meat sourced locally or (like me) cutting out certain meats completely.
A guy I used to work with made me aware of the idea that going pork free was a good idea. He used to live in a never ending cycle of giving up and taking up pork, always aspiring to quit the bacon for good. I don't know him anymore, but I hope he was successful.
I had toyed with the idea for a while, but decided to go totally pig-free after watching a video online about bacon and how it ultimately gets into your sandwich. The video was posted by PETA and shows how pigs used in the meat industry are treated. You can watch it below, but heed my warning: it isn't for the fainthearted.
If you'd rather not watch the video, or you'd like to read some more compelling arguments to cut the crackling, here are some great reasons to cut pork out from your diet:
- Pork is a fatty meat, which increases your risk of obesity
- 97% of all pigs in the USA are raised in factory farms, meaning that they'll never run around outside or breathe fresh air
- Pigs are smarter than dogs, and have the intelligence capacity of a 3 year old human
- Pigs are ultimately clean animals (despite their love of mud) and factory conditions often mean they are forced to live in their own vomit and shit
- Female pigs are often kept in gestation crates, too small to turn around in or even lie comfortably
- Piglets, taken away from their momma after just a couple of weeks, have their tails, teeth and penises chopped off with no painkillers
- 70% of pigs who are kept in these factory farms develop pneumonia, in order to keep them alive farmers often overuse antibiotics, leading to superbacteria and ineffectiveness of antibiotics
- Many pigs are crippled or even killed during transportation to slaughterhouses because they are so tightly packed in
- Slaughterhouses have to kill so many pigs so quickly that they are often not properly stunned and then dumped in extremely hot water conscious, where they drown
God, I feel a bit sick just writing that.
Making the change
I've been totally pig free for almost a year now. I made the decision on a camping weekend with my friends; it wasn't a convenient place to make this choice at all (it was chorizo and pepperoni abundant) and I don't think any of them really thought I'd stick to it, but I did.
Has it been difficult? Sure it has. It isn't only that pork is a versatile (and tasty) meat that I've found hard, but also that pork gelatin is also found in so many unexpected places (like sweets and chocolate mousse!).
Being committed to the 80:20 approach, I've actually allowed myself a "free pass" twice when it comes to pork; once over Christmas and once on my trip to Florida in January. I decided that, because I've already reduced my pig consumption so much by not eating it for so many months, I would eat pork if I wanted to on these two occasions. When it came to it though, I just couldn't do it.
How I feel about it now
Having a dog really helps me stay conscious of the fact that every single animal life is important and precious. I am not totally against eating meat and I do continue to eat beef, lamb, duck and (free range) chicken, I only wish that the animals were more respected during their lifetime. I do wish that, as a world, we ate a lot less of it because it would make it far easier for farmers to put in the time and effort it takes to raise a well cared for and happy animal.
So there you have it, a rather horrible post about my relationship with pork. I hope it hasn't been too savage.
If you do feel like this might be something you're interested in, feel free to watch the dreaded video - it might just swing it for you.