Would you eat pork if the pigs were raised in happier conditions?
I know this is going to sound weird, but I have a funny way of describing my food habits. Ever since I lost 100 pounds, I've started calling myself a "flexitarian" eater in an effort to keep up healthy eating habits to maintain my weight loss. You see, a flexitarian is a "flexible vegetarian" which, to me, means that I eat vegetarian or fruit-and-veggie-heavy foods as much as possible but still allow myself to consume poultry, fish, red meat, and pork on occasion (typically a few times a week to once a day, depending on my mood). The main thing that I worry about when eating animal products, though, is the quality of the meat. So when I read that The British Pig Executive funded a $16,000 program to improve pigs' living conditions, including giving them toys, I got REALLY, really happy.
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I know it might seem a little contradictory to want a pig's life to be a pleasant one before he's, well, executed in the name of delicious bacon or pernil but, to be honest, I think about becoming a vegetarian often. I feel bad for eating animals, especially cute and intelligent ones like pigs. Growing up Cuban, though, I know I could never fully give up my favorites for good--which is why I take pride in knowing that if I choose to make chicken, it didn't grow up in some cage, being tortured and pumped full of hormones until its ankles break because it's too fat to support its own weight. Instead, I buy organic, cage-free chickens that I know at least got to roam around outside a bit.
I honestly can't stand the thought of tortured animals. I know that, at the same time, I won't ever stop eating them but that doesn't mean that we can't be more humane about our production. I try to convince my whole family of this mantra every single time I see them.
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What's wrong with investing a couple more dollars and a little more humanity into the care of the animals that are going to feed us later? As MSN Now reports, the toys that are going to be given to those British pigs help to reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol that the pigs produce, which actually helps to make their meat more delicious since cortisol actually causes the meat to become paler and softer (which are NOT good things).
It makes my heart feel better to know that the pig I may be eating for dinner tonight had a happy life. Okay, so maybe it ended too abruptly, but if I'm going to eat animal meat, I'd rather it not be tortured. As much as possible, I try to buy from farmer's markets or local stores so that I know exactly where my meat is coming from. With all of the pink slime, contaminated chicken, and other gross food news that have happened this year, it's the least I can do for my family--ensure that the meat they're getting is the best quality raised under cruelty-free conditions which, in turn, just makes it taste better in the long run.
Image via Irina Gonzalez