Tags: humane farming, meat free, pork-free
My friend Chris (front man of the band Scary Little Friends) used to eat pork, and now he doesn’t. Below Chris shares his journey to a pork-free life:
Confessions from a Previous Pig Eater by Chris Jones
My name is Chris and I grew up in the South. I was pretty much raised on pork my whole life and really embraced that aspect of my culture. I was a huge fan of bacon, pulled pork, al pastor…you name it. It wasn’t any one experience that made me decide to stop eating pigs, but after 33 years of doing so I have come to a point in my life where I feel I must change.
My first experience connecting with a pig was when I was on tour and stayed on the couch of a family who lived in the country. They had a Vietnamese Pot Bellied pig who I met after I heard strange grunting noises early in the morning and woke up to him licking my face! This pig had so much swagger he reminded me of a grumpy old man.
The second experience I had was the last time I passed the Harris Ranch on the way back from LA. I know that cows are not pigs, but the stench-cloud of noxious odors that arose from that 1,000-acre field of enslaved bovine did something to me that day. I had passed that ranch dozens of times before, but that was the day I vowed to stop eating beef, or at least limit my intake. It was a step in the right direction, I think.
The experience that finally set in motion my decision was when I went to Tex’s house for the first time, who you may know as the owner of this blog. I noticed that she had a collection of pig memorabilia throughout the house, and she shared with me her love for pigs, and I couldn’t help but agree with her. Swine are not just cute and adorable, which really is not the point here, but they are incredibly intelligent and sympathetic animals that can learn from and interact with the world on an incredibly high level. I couldn’t help but think how they must feel to live in pens being artificially fattened up and pumped with hormones, while crawling all over each other, unable to run freely and explore their world. I was one of the people causing that to happen.
From there I slowly made an effort to eat less pork and more chicken and turkey. When I did eat pigs I tried to select those that were fed with organic produce and allowed to live free range, but it was soon evident that I was lying to myself. Yes, these animals had better lives than other pigs, but ultimately they were raised and slaughtered so that my lazy ass could stuff my face. That may be assurance enough for some people, but for me there is still a huge disconnect between me and where my food comes from.
My ancestors were farming families and raised their own food. If you wanted a chicken or a pig, you went out to the barn and grabbed one and slit its throat. As a child my father remembers his “pet pig” that disappeared and reappeared on his plate one day. There was a reverence and a price for the taking of an animal’s life. You raised it from a baby and fed it every day. You knew its parents and siblings and could tell the difference between all of them. They greeted you each morning when you went to clean their pens and take care of them. And in return they gave their life so you could stay strong and continue living off and giving back to the land. And you were the one holding the knife or the gun and took responsibility for what you did. I don’t mean to romanticize it, but that’s what it was. Even if you didn’t slaughter your own meat you still knew the person that did. And at times when meat was scarce, so you knew what it was like to ration it and appreciate it as a luxury. You didn’t just drive to the supermarket and throw it in your cart or order it at the drive-thru.
I believe that if you want to raise an animal and take it’s life that is your right and freedom to do so. If you want to take it to market and sell it, that is also your right, and if people want to buy it then more power to them – they are supporting a way of life that has worked for thousands of years. What I can’t wrap my head around is someone going to McDonald’s and saying, “Gimme number 3”, then eating it and not feeling a thing but ill. I can’t believe I did exactly this for so many years, and I’m mad at myself because I knew better. I thought, “It doesn’t matter that businesses make it easy for you not to think about what you’re doing or where your food comes from, it is your responsibility to do the right thing and make some sort of commitment.” It’s clearly indicative of what’s gone wrong with America.
So I stopped eating pig (and beef) about three months ago. One time I screwed up and ordered something with ham in it. I ate it because I didn’t want to waste it. It was good, but I didn’t feel great about it. I don’t think eating meat is gross and I don’t think killing animals is wrong, I just don’t want to continue supporting an industry that is using unhealthy means of producing poisonous food. I don’t perform physical labor, so I really don’t need meat to survive, and I feel a little better actually. I wish there was more I could do, and there probably is, but I can’t tell other people what to do, I can just say that I never thought in a million years I would change and I have. My father was astounded when I told him I don’t eat pork any more; he was genuinely surprised that me, of all people, could actually give up eating something I raved about for so long. But all I had to do was think about what worked for me and I feel positive about the decisions I have made and I’m looking forward to doing even more in the future.
Thanks to Chris for sharing his thoughts about transitioning to a pork-free diet. We may not all agree with each others decisions about animals and diet, but keeping the dialogue going can only help.