Emmett and Jez are the best of friends. They have so much in common! They’re both 2 pounds. They both love belly rubs, playing with toys, and sleeping on the big pink pillow by the window. Both went through the tragedy of losing their families, and the fortune of landing in foster care together. They are the same: happy babies dreaming big as they soak up the sunshine.
20 years ago I met my first piglet. I was 12 years old, gleefully watching a mama nurse her sweet little babies at a state fair. Kneeling to pet them, I was giddy! This was long before social media, but in present day, that mental snapshot would have been a heart-eye upload.
Moments later, I walked outside to the jarring sight of a lifeless pig on a spit. I felt ill. It was the first moment it hit me that when I ate meat, I was eating the corpse of an animal who was once alive—who was once someone’s mother. Who was once someone. Sounds silly, because of course that’s what it is! But the animal’s body had always been chopped up and nicely packaged for maximum cognitive dissonance, and I’d had enough of a blind spot to feel like I could love animals and consume their bodies at the same time. I just didn’t make the connection til then.
There was a lot I didn’t know. I learned that pigs are smart and curious animals, but that in factory farms they are confined to crates so small they can’t turn around. I learned that mama pigs sing to comfort their young as they nurse, but that her babies are kept away through metal bars, and forced to have their teeth and tails painfully cut. I learned that pigs can live for 10+ years, but that most are killed when they’re mere months old; a cycle of painful life and death, for no reason other than an arbitrary palate preference.
Once I knew these things, it was impossible to reconcile my love for animals with my participation in cruelty to some. After all, what is the difference between Emmett & Jez? The only difference is our perception.
We’re all on our own path. If this post isn’t for you, just scroll past. But I want to offer support to anyone watching Emmett & feeling how I did back then—on a path away from eating animals.