In its latest installment of “Should I Eat This?” TIME magazine asks, “Should I Eat Pork?” and provides the answers based on the responses from five “experts.” A dietician discusses the alleged health benefits of eating pig flesh. A doctor mentions pathogens and antibiotic concerns. And only one, a doctor addresses the strangeness of eating an animal that’s smarter than the family dog. I can’t say I’m surprised at the answers thus far. But this one really blew me away:
Barry Estabrook was so fascinated by pork and pigs that he wrote a book about them: the just-released Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for Sustainable Meat. “The conclusion I arrived at after researching Pig Tales is that pork is either the worst meat you can eat from pretty much any perspective—environmental, animal rights, gastronomic—or the very best,” he told us.
Estabrook seems to not understand what animal rights means.
How would the perspective of animal rights — the idea that animals are not ours to be used, and should lives free of suffering and exploitation — give us the go ahead that it’s okay to raise and kill pigs for food? Supporting animal rights means that you don’t support animal exploitation and no one who argues for animals’ rights should be eating bacon, or pulled pork sandwiches, or a Christmas ham.
Pigs are intelligent, caring, and amazing beings. But even if they were the biggest jerks in the animal kingdom, there would still simply be no justification to exploiting them. There is no reason to consume animals, even if they supposedly offer nutritional benefits. We can get all the nutrition we need from plants. And something as trivial as a palate preference should not trump a pig’s right to live out their natural life, free from harm.