That "Hog" Over the Fire Is a Baby Piglet

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That "Hog" Over the Fire Is a Baby Piglet

By Stephanie Ernst on AnimalRights.Change.org
November 2009

People like to argue that it's "natural" to eat animals....Entire species whose members are never allowed to live out an even halfway normal life span (unless they are among the rarest of the rare who are rescued and taken to sanctuary) -- a whole industry and diet and world of menus based on killing babies. That's not "natural."

Many people assume, without ever really thinking about it, that the animals they're eating were killed as adults. But just like most of our assumptions about nonhuman animals -- from their capacities for thought and emotion and the bonds they build to how they live, suffer, and die on farms, in slaughterhouses, in labs, and elsewhere -- this assumption too is wrong. Not long ago, I shared a video with you, of Glenn Gaetz from Liberation BC pointing out that "We Eat Babies." And he was telling the truth.

But we don't use language that reflects this. And one example that always gets to me is the word "hog." It's the word we often use when we talk about "hog farms" and "hog farmers," and even as I used the word in a post recently, I was uncomfortable with doing it.

When people hear "hog," they seem to think "adult pig." But whether a pig is defined a "hog" has nothing to do with his or her age -- it's about weight. A pig becomes a hog in the industry as soon as he or she has been fattened up enough to be "slaughter/market weight." The truth is that pigs are generally slaughtered when they are between just 4 and 9 months old. In other words, they're toddlers. And when we think of piglets, isn't that whom we're thinking of -- baby pigs? Piglets?

People like to argue that it's "natural" to eat animals. But I fail to see how eating babies is "natural," how it makes any sense that we have taken multiple sets of animals -- pigs, chickens, cows, turkeys, and more -- and have doomed all of them to brutal death when they are babies, toddlers, at best adolescents (even the farmed animals who live and suffer the longest, cows exploited for dairy and hens exploited for eggs, are killed when they're essentially adolescents, teenagers, or just barely reaching adulthood).

And the animals whose bodies and faces people even see being cooked at pig/hog roasts? Pigs killed for those purposes are among the youngest. That "suckling" pig whose carcass a friend or neighbor was excited to buy and roast for his backyard barbecue this summer? Maybe 2 months old, maybe 6 weeks. An "older" roaster pig may be just 3-4 months old.

Baby pigs' flesh -- like human babies' -- is more "tender," and it's not cost-effective to let pigs grow to full-size and adulthood anyway (and this is true for all types of pig farming, not just "factory farming"), so we just kill and eat the babies and call them "pork," "bacon," and "ham."

Entire species whose members are never allowed to live out an even halfway normal life span (unless they are among the rarest of the rare who are rescued and taken to sanctuary) -- a whole industry and diet and world of menus based on killing babies. That's not "natural."