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Bernie Bell: The Tale of the Pot-Bellied Pet

……………..

………….or, a non –meat –eaters view.

Some years ago, when we lived in Suffolk, we used to walk Ben-The-Dog down to the marshes near where we lived.  Along the way, we passed through a farm where there were pigs in an enclosure near the path. We always stopped to say ‘hello’ and scratch their heads – pigs like that.  One time, as we walked away from the pigs, I started puttering at Mike about my idea that ……if a person is happy to eat a pig, they should be happy to eat a dog, and if they’re not happy to eat a dog, they shouldn’t eat a pig.  The basis of this argument being, that pigs are undeniably intelligent animals.  Maybe not seen as being as attractive as dogs but, definitely intelligent, and can be very affectionate, too. ‘Smells a bit, but a heart of gold.’  I likes pigs.

I was puttering away at the patient man who is my husband, when, ahead of us, we saw……a couple of humans, two Jack Russell terriers, and….I said it was a black pig. Mike insisted it was a Labrador. I said it didn’t walk right for a Labrador, and even a Labrador shouldn’t be that fat! As we got nearer, we could see that it was un-mistakably a pig.

The dogs ran up to us, to say hello and get their heads scratched and  ears tickled, and so did the pig.  Our Ben accepted the pig and the dogs, on equal terms.  We then got talking with the people. They have the two dogs, and the pig, as pets.  The pig is fully house-trained, same as the dogs.  He has his little bed in the kitchen, with the dogs.  When the animals are out in the garden ( the four-legged ones, that is), the pig will sound the alarm if anyone approaches the house, same as the dogs do. The only difference is at meal-times, when – he’s a pig.  He will happily gorge himself on all the food, if he gets the chance, so they feed him separately. Though – a Labrador would do exactly the same thing, given half a chance!

So, we said good-bye to the humans, the dogs and the pig, and continued our walk.

Mike then asked “How did you do that? How did you conjure up that situation, to support your argument?”  It was just good happen–stance, that’s all. Illustrates the point I was making, perfectly though, doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong – if an animal has a good life, and a clean death and folk want to eat them – fair enough.  My big objection is when they don’t have a good life, and a clean death, when, in fact their lives are uncomfortable, even to the point of being pain-full, cramped, over medicated and, just plain wrong for any sentient being.  Also, when their deaths are not quick and clean, as they should be – injuries acquired during long transportation not treated,  throats slit and left to bleed to death, stun-guns which don’t work efficiently.

I don’t eat them, because of how I relate to them, as fellow creatures, fellow beings.  That’s my choice.

They are sentient beings – very much so.  Many people like to conveniently not think about that.  ‘Do as you would be done by’ applies here again.

pigHaving said all this, I can imagine my Uncle Anthony saying something along the lines of  “I’d have to be very short of friends, before I’d take a pig into the house for company.”

Pigs were to be fattened up and eaten – but they were treated right along the way.


Bernie Bell is a regular contributor to The Orkney News.  If you would like to share a story, an opinion, a letter or a photo you can e:mail fiona@theorkneynews.scot or use the contact page. 

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4 replies »

  1. This is why I am veggy. I must be the most reluctant veggy in the world … and I crumple at bacon. But I cannot condone it. My pleasure is not worth their suffering. I’ve been on-and-off veggy all my life then came the decision-maker: when we kept bantams, when we first moved here, we had a whole pile of chicks which were male, so we had to despatch them, pluck them and eat them ourselves. I always thought I’d be OK with this, but I wasn’t. If I can’t do it for myself (for moral reasons) I don’t have any right to ask / pay someone to do it for me. Thanks, Bernie.

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  2. I have to admit, one of the few things I miss is a bacon butty – a bacon butty as I had when young – white bread, crispy bacon, butter, lots of tomato ketchup. But…as you say ….my bit of pleasure, really isn’t worth their pain.
    The other one is chicken breast – just chicken breast, with a bit of mayonnaise, but………
    Yes, I’m another somewhat reluctant non-meat-eater, but……………..

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