This Little Piggie . . . Is Just Like Me

The Rise for Animals Team, June 13, 2024

Pigs, like all living beings, are many things — so many, in fact, that, even in humans’ conceptions and rampant exploitation of them, they are multi-faceted: 

In popular culture, they appear as everything from sweet simpletons (Charlotte’s Web) to wicked tyrants (Animal Farm) to brave heroes (Babe). To pig farmers, the animal is a commodity. To truffle harvesters, pigs are reliable hunters whose keen sense of smell locates these pricey fungi. To scientists, pigs are unique as one of the only large mammals that exists, in one form or another, in every part of the world.

(Unfortunately, to scientists, pigs are also experimental subjects of choice — as we looked at earlier this week.)

Regardless of how we classify them, we must recognize two important and fundamental truths. One, pigs are not many of the things our culture has indoctrinated us to believe

For example, did you know that, when not confined and overfed by humans, pigs are naturally lean?

Or that, far from filthy creatures who choose to dwell among dirt and mess, pigs – when given choice – are among the “cleanest animals around”, who refuse (starting at about five days-old) to potty “anywhere near their living or eating areas”? (Indeed, pig styes are human-made and literally defined as “fenced-in area[s] of mud or dirt”). When pigs do wallow in mud, an activity humans have equated with dirtiness, they do so to regulate their own body temperature (because they cannot sweat); once regulated and “[b]ecause they care about keeping clean, they then rub themselves against tree bark to clean the mud off”.

Two, pigs are so many things that our exploitative culture ignores, denies, or dismisses. 

Indeed, pigs are just like humans in all ways that matter (and some that don’t!):

Most importantly of all, pigs — while being so many things — are not “things” at all. They are sentient beings who deserve equal consideration. 

We humans must stop focusing on “what” pigs are, and start recognizing, appreciating, and honoring “who” they are: animals of this Earth who — like all others — matter in their own right and deserve to be free. 

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