Those who eat pork really have no idea that it’s not a healthy option at all, nor is it an ethical choice.
“Bacon always makes it better”
“I oink therefore I ham”
“Love pork on my fork”
“Mmmm … bacon”
These are just some of the quips I hear when talking to meat eaters about the health side and ethical side to pork.
I’ve written about the unhealthy side of pork before, in fact not that long ago: Should We Eat Pork? but I’m going to write about it again because I believe it is that important.
So let’s begin with why pork isn’t a healthy option.
Prior to domesticating pigs these animals quickly discovered that if they hung around humans they would be able to pick up the scraps that were tossed out and therefore have food constantly there. The humans also recognized that the pigs would get rid of their garbage as so a symbiotic relationship formed.
Humans encouraged the pigs into the village, and the pigs were very happy to oblige.
There are a number of religions who don’t allow the eating of pork with the reasoning that ‘pigs are unclean’. I guess that came from the fact that pigs will eat anything, and I mean anything such as corpses and feces. Their nickname ‘waste disposal unit’ is pretty darn accurate.
Now that you know a little of the history of pig what about the health side. Well pigs carry the most parasites of all the farmed animals. Tests show that 69% of raw pork is contaminated with highly virulent microbes including a powerful parasite, yersinia enterocolitica, that damages and can create major inflammation in the gut.
You see, pigs only have one stomach, they eat fast and the food they eat contains a lot of different microbes and parasites. In comparison, the cow has a four stomach system so can eliminate most parasites. Pigs also don’t sweat. This means that they are unable to release any toxins and so these are stored in the flesh, muscles etc. ready for our consumption.
O.k. so you cook the pork really well, you clean the benches, your hands and anything the raw pork comes in contact with goes into the dishwasher … you’re super careful.
But it doesn’t end there.
Pork, (including bacon and ham), actually takes the longest of all the meats to digest in your stomach. In fact it takes between 4 1/2 to 5 hours to digest. You may think that’s o.k. but the problem lies in the fact that our body always digests the slowest first, this means that the nutrient rich vegetables that you’ve eaten sits in the stomach to wait its turn. What can happen is that these fast-digesting foods can begin to ferment producing gas, acid and indigestion.
Why pork is not ethical
Pigs are one of the smartest animals created. They are highly social, love to play, have a great long-term memory, can distinguish pigs they know from stranger-pigs and they also know who’s been nice to them and who hasn’t! They are are as cognitively complex as young children and other primates and, of course, have, like other sentient beings, feelings of happiness, sadness, pain and fear.
They have the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror, can learn new skills and can solve puzzles … they are smarter than dogs and yet we eat them and love the dog.
In most farms pigs are treated very miserably. They live, sleep and grow in dirty conditions usually in the dark and in cramped pens. Not only does this cause severe stress which flows throughout their body and then is consumed by humans, but the squalid conditions is a breeding ground for diseases to be passed on. For me, these pigs are the most tortured animal we breed for food. To look into the eyes of a factory farmed pig is to see such sadness, pain, and, almost a pleading to be rescued.
Compare this pig to one who lives on a sanctuary farm and tell me that it’s not ethical to eat pork.
Have great plant food and
be compassionate to all animals including humans