Domestic pigs can live 15 to 20 years—but pigs in the livestock industry are slaughtered at six months.
Newborn piglets recognize their mothers’ voices and know their own names by the time they’re 2 weeks old. Mothers sometimes sing to their piglets while nursing! Check out this video on The Dodo!
Pigs can problem solve, learn symbols, and they even have long-term memory. Studies have shown that “pigs share a number of cognitive capacities with other highly intelligent species such as dogs, chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins, and even humans.” Learn more here.
Pigs are highly social; they naturally live in matriarchal herds. Even while sleeping, the herd remains close, always in physical contact—and research suggests that pigs dream!
Since pigs have very few sweat glands, they wallow to keep their temperature down. Mud helps protect their skin from the sun.
Pigs have a strong sense of smell, but their vision is weak. They’re near-sighted, unable to see clearly beyond a few feet.
Pigs have excellent hearing and they constantly communicate with one another. More than 20 different vocalizations have been identified.
Pig anatomy is so similar to ours, we’ve used them for decades to research cures for human diseases. Heart valve replacements, stem cell research, and injectable insulin were all developed using pigs. In a recent—and controversial—achievement, biologists succeeded in growing human stem cells within pig embryos.
Here Are 10 Phenomenal Reasons to Love Pigs from One Green Planet!
According to TIME magazine: “There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock.”
Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. 51% or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute.
In North Carolina there are more factory farmed pigs (10.1 million) than people (9.4 million).
The nearly 812,000 hogs on factory farms in Bladen County, NC, produce as much untreated manure as the sewage from the Chicago and Atlanta metro areas combined.
In 1995, 25 million gallons of hog urine and feces spilled into a North Carolina river, killing over 10 million fish.
Pig manure releases a toxic cocktail of gasses including methane, hydrogen sulphide, and ammonia—all of which are released into the atmosphere.
According to the UN, the single most effective action you can take for the environment is to adopt a plant based diet.
Adopting a vegetarian diet will reduce your “water footprint” by 60%. Learn more here.
The FAO’s global report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM
The UN’s factsheet about livestock and the environment: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197623/icode/
According to this report from the World Health Organization, eating processed meat (think bacon or ham) increases your risk of cancer.
Consumer Reports in 2013 “dug into the unsavory details of pork production in which they tested 198 samples of pork chops and ground pork across the U.S. They found potentially harmful bacteria on most of the samples.”
Pork can carry a host of diseases; here’s a partial list from the US Pork Center of Excellence.
Plant based diets reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
Reducing the amount of meat in your diet can improve your mood!
Excessive use of antibiotics to control disease on overcrowded pig farms could lead to antibiotic-resistant superbugs, according to this report from the National Academy of Sciences. 50% of antibiotics used for livestock will end up in freshwater sources.
Living near an industrial farm or slaughterhouse increases your risk of exposure to poisonous gasses and pollution. Factory farms frequently take the tons of urine and feces stored in sewage lagoons and spray the liquid waste into the air, impacting the health of those living in the vicinity.
115,000,000 pigs are slaughtered every year in the U.S. alone. Over 1 billion are slaughtered annually worldwide. Read the annual overview of the hog industry from the USDA here.
Factory farms often house thousands of pigs in a single building, and the pigs are never allowed outside.
On most industrial farms, female breeding pigs spend their adult lives in “gestation crates” – 7’ x 2’ metal cages. These cages make it impossible for the mother to turn around or even lie down comfortably. They are repeatedly impregnated until they are slaughtered.
There is no legal definition of “humane.” This means that any “certified humane” products follow an arbitrary and unregulated definition of rules. Practices that are still permitted under “humane” labels include tail docking, castration, and teeth clipping—all without painkillers.
“Humane” and small-scale “farm to table” enterprises are not always cruelty free. There have been multiple incidents of “backyard yard” farms being shut down by the USDA for animal abuse. Read about one of these here.
Learn more here:
The greatest change you can make for your health, the planet, and the animals is to switch to a plant-based diet! There are lots of resources to help you get started:
Use your wallet: patronize restaurants that serve vegetarian and vegan meals, and tell your local grocery store to carry more vegetarian and vegan food options!
Support your local sanctuary – or volunteer!
Educate yourself – and help educate others. Find out more about factory farms, animal welfare, and eating a plant-based diet.
Some states have banned the use of gestation crates. Is your state one of them? Check here.
Vote! Study the issues and spread the word. Information helps us all make better choices.
Join forces with like-minded groups. Here are just a few:
A Well-Fed World http://awfw.org/
Farm Animal Rights Movement http://www.farmusa.org/
Mercy for Animals http://www.mercyforanimals.org/