Who are the animals that have most inspired people in 2013 to add their voices to the growing movement for animals? Leading up to the end of the year, AWP is celebrating the causes, campaigns and characters that have been at the forefront of helping make history for animals. Each day until the end of the year we’ll be focusing on another story. Please share far and wide.
Day 11: Esther the Wonder Pig
“Pigs are the most incredible, sensitive, and loving animals you’ll ever meet when given the right environment. I’m not saying you should jump into a pen at a factory farm. Those pigs are terrified and fully aware of what’s happening. When you take them away from that, and show them affection, they give it back tenfold. I could go on forever. You need to look into her eyes to understand, they’re almost human.”
These are the words of Steve Jenkins, who lives with Esther the Wonder Pig, the new Facebook sensation, after realising that the trendy micro-pig he and his partner Derek thought they were adopting turned into a standard, big, farm pig, the type many people eat as bacon, ham and sausage.
But it wasn’t only Esther that made 2013 the year in which we really thought about pigs before they’re food; about their intelligence, sensitivity, and how much they suffer in the animal-industrial complex. It was the work done by the amazing people at Toronto Pig Save, including co-founder Anita Kranjc and including Jo-Anne McArthur, whose book We Animals, also published this year, has been formative in bringing the plight of hundreds of millions of pigs each year to the public.
Pigs are the most consumed land animal on the planet, accounting for around 40% of all meat consumption. However, pigs are as intelligent as dogs, if not more so. Pigs are also, according to research, as intelligent as a three-year-old-child, and socially organised.
Toronto Pig Save is a vigil that takes place in the centre of Toronto on the route followed by animal slaughter trucks (poignantly brought to our perception this year by Banksy) which take over 5,000 pigs a week to Quality Meat Packers and other slaughterhouses in Toronto. (Pig Save has now grown into an international movement—where will it begin in the UK?)
During the heat of the fierce Toronto summer, the people of Toronto Pig Save offer the pigs water and compassion, very often the only human compassion they ever receive in their short lives. The type of compassion that Esther enjoys every day from Steve and Derek.
It is a compassion that is utterly lacking when, for example, the pig industry castrates piglets without anaesthesia, docks their tails, clips their ears, or attempts to re-label gestation crates as ‘individual housing’ or ‘maternity hutches’ to keep invisible the tremendous suffering of pigs within the farming industry. Research has found that many pigs suffer from symptoms we would recognize as boredom, frustration and insanity when they are kept from moving, socialising, nesting or ever seeing the outdoors.
In Sweden and the UK such crates (called sow stalls) are illegal, and across Europe such gestation crates were banned last year. But that does not mean this law has been fully enforced. The Animal Welfare Party believes the UK public wants tougher policing of animal welfare legislation, and tougher penalties and convictions for those who still refuse to implement new legislation. This is why we’re standing for election in the European Parliament this May.
But it is not only animal welfare that is at stake, but the welfare of each of us and our planet. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, livestock accounts for 18% of all climate change emissions. Reducing meat consumption makes a huge impact on an individual’s part in reducing the dangers of climate change.
Can you make 2014 an even safer place for pigs like Esther (and for all of us) by becoming a visionary for animals? Support the Animal Welfare Party’s campaign in the EU Elections in May. If you live in London you can PLEDGE TO VOTE, and if you live anywhere and care about animals you can support us in our campaign to raise funds. Fundraising is crucial in our efforts to make history for animals. Make the difference now.
For more data on meat’s impact on the planet, visit Global Agriculture
Image of Esther the Wonder Pig © Steve and Derek