Pints for Pigs Event

I’m so happy that there’s another animal fundraiser social event in my future. In October I wrote about a vegan wine and cheese tasting I went to. Sadly (or happily) the tickets sold out in less than two days so a lot of people I know couldn’t attend.

pints for pigs

NARN is organizing another fundraiser–this one benefits Pigs Peace Sanctuary. And it’s in a bigger venue! That means that even though tickets are selling fast, there are still tickets available! I say get ’em while you can!

Pints for Pigs Peace is a pig-themed afternoon of fun at Central Cinema. There will be beer, movies, vegan food, brew-themed drawing prizes, and other treats. The cinema will be playing Babe, you know, the sweet, mid-90s movie about a little pig. And they’ll also show a heartwarming documentary about the important work at Pigs Peace Sanctuary.

This will be a fun event for beer lovers, wine lovers, and of course, animal lovers! Unlike the wine tasting, this event is all ages. You’ll be able to buy vegan food too, including Central Cinema’s vegan “pig in a blanket” and vegan pizza.

When: January 11th, 2014 from 2:00 to 5:00 pm
Where: Central Cinema (1411 21st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122)
Cost: $20 (Get your tickets here)

Check out Facebook to see the event info (but don’t forget your tickets).

Visiting Pigs Peace Sanctuary

Last Saturday I had the chance to visit Pigs Peace, a sanctuary for abused and neglected animals. A hundred and ninety-one pigs now call the sanctuary home. They, and a few non-pigs, will get to spend the rest of their lives in peace. Old age is something most pigs never see, so living a long life is very special.

Pigs Peace

I went to the sanctuary because Jo Lombardi, a grief counselor, was offering a healing retreat for animal rights activists. Activists are often the people who see the things that others turn away from. We see the damage that others cause, and we know the dire situation that a lot of animals are in. That can be stressful, so having a safe place to talk among like-minded people was refreshing.

Jo is switching the focus of her practice to help animal activists exclusively. What a treat! She led us on guided meditation, a way to de-stress, and gave us materials so we could create an action plan and work toward balance in our lives. We were treated to vegan chili and snacks, and got a chance to share our stories with others.

After the retreat, sanctuary founder Judy Woods took us on a tour of the sanctuary.

A pig poses

We saw a group of pot-belly pigs rescued from a hording situation, we saw pigs who’d escaped slaughter and others who’d been rescued from neglect and abuse. The biggest pigs were 900 pounds! Unfortunately humans have been breeding pigs to be bigger and bigger. In the mid-1800s, a pig on a farm usually grew to 150 pounds.

One thing that struck me is how clean the farm was. It didn’t stink. The barn smelled like fresh hay. Pigs are naturally clean animals and don’t eliminate where they sleep. The barn was a place where the pigs could pile up, nest, cover up with hay, and get cozy. They did their business elsewhere. Of course pigs can’t sweat, so on hot days, you might find them cooling off in water or mud!

three pigs

I was also surprised by how hairy the pigs were. I always pictures “pink pigs” as being hairless. Well the “pink ones” had white hair. Others were brown, black, spotted or two-tone.

Pigs are smart! Smarter than dogs. They’re funny, playful, responsive, inquisitive, and a joy to watch.

We got to throw pumpkins to the pigs. They came running through the fields from all directions when Judy called them. And within a few minutes, two wheelbarrows full of pumpkins were gone!

pumpkins

Next up: Carrots. Judy rang the dinner bell and the pigs ran to the cement feeding area that we were busy littering with carrots. One again, the pigs ate them all–all 100 pounds of carrots!

carrots

One pig, a beautiful gray spotted one, would gather up as many carrots as she could. She walked far away, carrots spilling from her mouth the whole way, and then ate her “stash.” None of the other pigs did that, but she preferred to eat “buffet-style.”

spotted pig

If you ever get a chance to visit Pig Peace, I encourage you to. If you can’t get there, visit their website and look at all the pigs and read their stories. Judging by the amount we fed them, I’m guessing it’s not cheap to run a pig sanctuary. Pigs Peace is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, so consider making a donation.

In case it’s not obvious by now, I want to remind people that pigs are beautiful creatures who don’t belong on a dinner plate. I’m so sick of the cult of bacon. Bacon, pork chops, sausage–they’re all the same. It’s the flesh of a pig. And pigs deserve better than this. They deserve peace too!

And now for your viewing pleasure: pigs!

Is there such a thing as humane slaughter?

Humane (adj.) – Marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for humans or animals.

Slaughter (verb) – To kill animals for food (butcher); To kill in a bloody or violent manner;  To kill in large numbers.

The words humane slaughter seem oxymoronic to me. One can either be compassionate and considerate, or one can kill animals violently and in large numbers.

painting of pigs

I recently read an article in OnEarth.org about Russ Kremer, a man they call the Pope of Pork. He’s being held in such high regard for the wonderful ways he treats his pigs–before he kills them. I realize that there are people who treat animals much worse than he does, but I have a few problems with his approach:

As a boy Kremer worked on his dad’s farm and helped nurse pigs back to health. There’s no victory in saving an animal only to send it to slaughter later. The only gain is financial.

As an adult, Kremer operated his own factory farm, where pigs were warehoused in dark, confined buildings. They were sick, pumped full of antibiotics, and lived above their own waste run-off.  Kremer eventually sold all the pigs he owned, but not until after he got injured by a boar and contracted a nasty virus. The virus was the same antibiotic-resistant version that his pigs had. It wasn’t the pigs’ welfare or the meat-eating population that got Kremer to quit. It was his own brush with death and his own sense of self-preservation.

He didn’t quit farming though. He started raising free-range, organic pigs. The new model nets him $50 more per pig. Again, money is at the root of his choices, not the humane treatment of animals.

I dislike the “new” way of farming because it lulls people into thinking they’re doing the right thing. The “new” method is really just going back to the old, pre-factory farm way. That makes it marginally better than a factory farm, but it still involves extensive use of land, feed, and water. Free-range pigs still produce the same amount of waste that their crated cousins expel. They all still get slaughtered. And when they become sausage, their flesh will clog your arteries just the same.

Neither free range or factory farm is an option from a pig’s point of view. It’s like moving from a prison cell to a mansion. The mansion sounds better but if you’re going to be executed in a few months, what difference do your living conditions make? I bet your biggest concern would be avoiding death.

Throughout the article, Kremer’s pigs are compared to dogs. They’re described as “piglets the size of obese beagles,” and “puppy-like.” But if you talked about how your dog was “bred for well-marbled, tasty meat” people would have you committed! And if indeed you did slaughter your dogs, you’d be arrested. Kremer seems well-meaning, but he’s a businessman. He’s marketing faux-compassion–and it sells. There’s a complete disconnect between the way he “lovingly” raises his animals and the fact that he kills them for money. It’s not euthanasia. He’s not alleviating the suffering of a dying animal, he’s killing healthy animals in the prime of their lives.

Kremer’s business model assumes animals are property, that they don’t have the right to live, and that they are meant for our consumption. No slaughter is good slaughter. Animals deserve to live their own lives; they are not ours to profit from or consume. We don’t need meat to be healthy. Pigs don’t need to die in vain. The only humane choice is to be vegan.