By Wil Forbis
Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, it'd cease
to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
Jules: Well we gotta be talkin' about one charmin' motherfuckin'
pig. I mean he'd have to be ten times more charmin' than that Arnold
on Green Acres, you know what I'm sayin'?
From Pulp Fiction
Over the past several months, two people in my life have made a concerted attempt to eliminate
pork from their diet. This alteration was not made pursuant
to some kooky religion (an oxymoron) or the realization that their cholesterol
level had surpassed their best teenage Pac-Man score. Instead , the adjustment
was brought about by the insight that "pigs are nice people."
This assertion matches
a belief I've always held. While I've had limited interaction with pigs
(other than those well salted and mounted on my fork), I've always found
the creatures to be exceptionally amiable. Like most children,
field trips to a country farm were part of my schooling and I remember
young swine running up to greet us with all the excitement of a bushel of
puppies. I also met a free roaming, four legged porker upon
entering a pet store in Redmond, Washington years ago and he’s stayed in
my memory as an unusually agreeable sort. Despite their snorting and
reputation for being unclean, pigs are doubtless some of the friendliest,
most intelligent members of the animal kingdom.*
So why do I so unashamedly
To be fair, my pork consumption
is limited, primarily bacon. I don't like ham, sausages are too phallic
and most Chinese pork dishes look like boiled gorilla meat. But
put a nice chewy, meaty, slice of bacon in front of me and I'm hog heaven.
(As, hopefully, is the soul of the pig whose flesh I'm consuming.) However, with that limitation in mind, I doubt a talking pig would
excuse my behavior. "Oh, you only eat bacon?" he'd say sarcastically.
"Well that's okay, I can't resist frying up a little fat myself."
It's a bit like a cannibal trying to justify his actions by claiming he only eats ears.
Why then do I continue my
love affair with the other white meat? A few reasons spring to mind.
For one, I'm at heart a Darwinian. I think all animals, including man,
are subject to the brutal laws of nature. Why should I refrain from
eating pork when a hungry coyote would make no such abstention? Why
should I deny myself a extra greasy serving of Denny's bacon when there's
a golden furred cougar in the next booth who'd devour it in an instant?
Charm and panache may get pigs extra points in Disney films, but in
the cold, hard, dog-eat-pig world of reality we play by a different
set of rules.
Additionally there's something
about removing only one creature from your diet that feels like animal
racism. It's saying, "Why you charming little porker, there no
way I'd eat you. But you - boring old Mrs. Cow! Get ready to offer yourself
to the hamburger gods, bitch!" (Can cows help it that they come
across so bland? (In character, certainly not in flavor.) When you spend
all day digesting, it's hard to find time to develop a winning personality.)
Or what about chickens? They may be all smiles behind those pointed
beaks. And let's not neglect the fish dishes. For all we know,
salmon have some very interesting opinions on the state of the world,
but being that their face is always frozen in a mask of wide-eyed distress,
we never stop to find out.
My third defense of pork consumption is probably
the most worrisome. I think a lot of people shy away from pig meat because
pigs are so human in behavior. The idea is that it's disturbing to eat
something that is "like" you. But truth be told, I've never
been all that repelled by cannibalism. I mean look, flesh is flesh,
human or otherwise. I think modern post mortem practices such as burial
or cremation seem like a waste of good TV dinner. Isn't there a better
way to ensure that Aunt Judy stays a "part of us forever."
(Or at least until our next bowel movement.) For god's sake people-
there are folks DYING of starvation out there and yet we throw pounds
and pounds of protein rich human flesh to the worms each day. If I'm willing to feast upon the
dead flesh of my brother is it not inconsistent to refuse to eat his
Nonetheless, I think society
is moving in an opposite direction. As can been seen by visiting any
one of the numerous fast food joints that now peddle bocha burgers,
it's obvious that vegetarianism is catching on. (Ten years ago "McSalad"
would have been a Saturday Night Live sketch.) While I doubt we will
ever entirely disregard our carnivorous roots, it appears that PETA,
mad cows and clogging arteries are conspiring to make flesh eating a
faux paux of rhino-sized proportions. (Mmmmm... rhino...) So for those of you who have sworn
off swine, take heed, the day when men and pigs can trot freely together may be close at paw.
*To confirm the
assertion that hogs are intelligent, likeable creatures with rich emotionally
lives they need look no further than the mountains of scientific
evidence that points in that direction. Or sit down for a rousing
viewing of "BABE II: Pig in the City."