There are lots of ways to help pigs, even if you still eat meat. Pigs are one of the world’s most intelligent animals (the same IQ as a 4-year old child). They are clean animals (who will walk a mile to defecate) and roll in mud simply to cool themselves down (they have no sweat glands). They are also some of the best mothers in the animal kingdom, who need straw to keep warm and to forage and root (if not, they may bite each other’s tails out of boredom, leading to their tails being removed, often without anaesthetic). Pigs are also very social. Also see where to find the best vegan sausages and where to find the best vegan bacon. Also see ideas for better farm animal welfare.
All About Pigs
Pigs are amazing creatures, brilliant mothers who are very clean (walking up to a mile to go to the toilet). They wallow in mud to keep cool (they have no sweat glands), and have the same intelligence as a four-year old child. As well as having over 20 grunts and squeals to communicate with each other, the mother pigs sing to their babies!
Yet Compassion in World Farming (a charity started by a concerned dairy farmer) reports that although sow stalls (no room to move) are no longer legal in the UK, farrowing crates and indoor-rearing still are, in conditions often you would describe as hell. The charity recommends that if you eat bacon, pork, ham or gammon – to only buy from certified organic free-range sources.
It’s important to know that ‘assurance schemes’ don’t have the same welfare. RSPCA Assured sometimes does a little good (but it has many critics and a recent report did nothing to reassure). And adverts that say ‘buy British!’ have no meaning on welfare at all (CIWF are not fans of the Red Tractor. The companies that pay for these ads, would be better placed using the money for better welfare.
Escaping the Abattoir
Do you remember the Tamworth Two? This brother and sister escaped from a Wiltshire abattoir, and spent a week on the run. After being spotted foraging in a garden, they escaped again but were sniffed out by two spaniels, and captured. The Daily Mail bought them off the owner (who still planned to slaughter them) and sold the story, funding the rest of their lives in a sanctuary. Butch died age 13, and his sister was put to sleep 7 months later, due to arthritis.
Of the 10 million pigs (and 1 billion animals) slaughtered each year in the UK, many often try to escape. One turkey even escaped from a farm, and walked himself 3 miles to a bird sanctuary. However, the tales involving pigs are often heartbreaking: in recent years there have been two lorry accidents: one near York involved 180 pigs who all tried to escape (they were later captured and taken to the abattoir). And in 2017, several pigs were injured in a lorry accident: rather than allow the pigs to go a sanctuary, Waitrose (the ‘ethical supermarket’) had them shot at the roadside, in order to keep their profits.
- If you eat pork, ham, bacon or gammon – look for free-range certified organic (the same for sandwiches, sausages etc). It is more expensive, so just eat less.
- If you are concerned for the welfare of a pig or any farm animal, you can call RSPCA to make a formal complaint. Farm animals do have legal rights, so you can complain, anonymously if wished.
- Support your local farm sanctuary, which takes in barnyard friends who have had a hard time. Two pig sanctuaries in England are The Pig Woodland & Piggs in Heaven.
- Buy your tees, hoodies and beanie hats from clothing brands that help animals. These companies use profits to help farm sanctuaries.
- See how to help our small farmers for charities that can help, and books to help you develop AgriTourism (like renting out holiday lets.
I never met a pig I didn’t like. All pigs are intelligent, emotional and sensitive souls. They all love company. They all crave contact and comfort. Pigs have a delightful sense of mischief; most of them seem to enjoy a good joke and appreciate music. And that is something you would certainly never expect, from your relationship with a pork chop. Sy Montgomery
Rescued Pot-bellied Pigs
There was recently a craze to adopt pot-bellied pigs, because just like dogs, they are very affectionate and loyal, know their names and get attached. But ‘little pigs’ grow big, causing issues for adoption shelters.
Happily Ever Esther is both a cautionary tale and story of hope, about Esther the Wonder Pig, who was adopted by a gay couple in the US a few years ago. Deciding to adopt a ‘micro-pig as a pet, Steve and Derek were amazed when the little ‘daughter’ grew into a full-size commercial pig of a whopping 650 pounds (46 stone). Not able to cope in the city, they had to move to a farm to give her enough space. But the story does not end there. They both had to go vegan after getting to know their pig friend, and now run one of the USA’s best-loved farm sanctuaries that rescues animals of all kinds including more pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, cows, roosters and even a peacock!
Dr Paul Farmer said it best: The idea that some lives matter less, is the root of all that’s wrong with the world. Esther helped us see the truth in that statement. Steve Jenkins (co-author)