Year of the Pig: Here Are 5 Reasons Why Pigs’ Lives Aren’t Filled With Good Fortune
From being horrifically slaughtered for the meat and leather industries to being cruelly bred as “pets” and exploited for entertainment, hundreds of millions of pigs face horrendous abuse every year. As we enter the Chinese Year of the Pig, let’s take a moment to contemplate the immense suffering these highly intelligent animals endure.
- They’re slaughtered for food.
On UK factory farms, pigs are typically kept in cramped sheds, where they’re denied the chance to do anything that comes naturally to them. Frustration and the stress of extreme confinement can drive them to engage in aggressive behaviour such as tail-biting, so farmers routinely cut off their tails and clip or grind down their sensitive teeth, often without painkillers. Most pigs are strung up and their throats slit when they’re just 5 or 6 months old. Some are exported alive by ferry, often in extreme temperatures and without access to food, water, or veterinary care, and many of these animals become critically ill or die en route.
- They’re abused in experiments.
In laboratories, pigs receive the same barbaric treatment that they do on farms and at abattoirs. Those used in experiments may be given diseases like diabetes, made to suffer from depression, or mutilated to test wound healing or plastic surgery techniques. They’re even used for horrifying military trauma tests in which they’re shot repeatedly with pistols or subjected to severe blast wounds from explosions.
- They’re exploited for entertainment.
In the UK, pigs are sometimes forced to take part in races, typically during summer fairs and similar events. Carted from place to place and made to run in hot temperatures amongst loud and boisterous crowds, these highly intelligent, sensitive animals become extremely stressed. In the US, they’re tormented for pig wrestling, a barbaric activity in which groups of people chase, grab, tackle, and drag terrified pigs before slamming them into barrel drums or tyres. Their “reward” for surviving this abuse is often a trip to the abattoir.
- They’re cruelly bred for the pet trade.
Pigs are smarter than any other domesticated animal – in fact, animal experts consider them more trainable than dogs and cats. But breeding “micro”, “teacup”, or “mini” pigs as “pets” is cruel. Breeders usually pair up very young piglets and force them to mate. Then, when their litter is born, potential buyers are misled into thinking that the parents are fully grown adults. Living conditions in a human home are a far cry from pigs’ natural environment, and when they outgrow their advertised size, it can be difficult to meet their needs. As a result, thousands of pigs are abandoned, neglected, handed to shelters, and euthanised each year.
- They’re killed and skinned for leather.
As leather is a lucrative co-product of the meat industry, pigs endure all the horrors of factory farming before they’re killed to produce “pigskin” or “pig suede” for garments, shoes, and other items. They face intensive confinement to filthy crates or pens, castration without pain relief, the chronic infections and disease caused by extreme crowding, and a terrifying trip to the abattoir. Furthermore, leather is one of the most environmentally damaging materials, because animal skins must be treated with a whole host of chemicals, many of them toxic, to stop them from decomposing.© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
What You Can Do to Help Pigs
- Refuse to eat them – and go vegan. Order our free vegan starter kit, which is packed full of recipes, tips, and advice, including information on plant-based nutrition and ideas for quick and tasty vegan meals.
- Refuse to buy leather and other animal-derived materials. Opt instead for vegan alternatives, which are much better for animals and the planet.
- Don’t attend pig races, and if you see that an upcoming event in your area will feature one, contact the organiser via letter or on social media or write to your local council to explain why the race should be cancelled.
- Never buy a pig from a breeder.
- Urge the Ministry of Defence to stop shooting, stabbing, and dismembering pigs and other animals in military training exercises.
- Please support PETA’s work for animals by making a special Chinese New Year gift. Your contribution today will help us spread compassion for pigs and other animals who are being exploited, abused, and killed by the millions at this very moment.