Happy Pigs!

With all this fear of Swine Flu going around, one is forced to hear and see a lot of information about pigs. I first saw a pig, when I was a few years old. I used to travel to school via the Kodambakkam high road and at the large dump yard which is now right across from the new Onyx dump yard, I used to see dirty pigs comfortably rolling in filth. I abhored pigs. Having seen those pigs, I wondered how people ate pork. But then, I saw this movie – “Charlotte’s web“. It’s kind of hard to not love a cute pink pig, that talks so sweetly and seems so innocent. So while I still abhor pork, I am now in a better position with respect to tolerating the pigs themselves.

Now that I have established my position on the interest in this animal, you can imagine my reaction at listening to this piece on the radio.

At the end, I was saying aloud.. “Do you guys even listen to yourselves?” This last section just drove me crazy..

“They had a spring in their step. They played in the sunlight and nuzzled each other in the mud. They made a lot of healthy noise. And Ermine was, well…delicious.”

I’ve been mulling over this for the past few days. I argued it, and counter-argued it inside my head.

Nri Maami (me):  Firstly, how can they kill an animal and eat it.

The other Nri Maami (my head): Get over it, everyone does not think like you. They have been brought up eating meat and liking it, so they tune out the history of their food, just like you tune out the fact that ice-cream puts on more weight even though it tastes good.

Nri Maami (me):  Hmm.. true, see Americans oooh and aaaw over silly things. There was a guy on Amazing race that saw cows eat out of garbage and almost started crying. How come, they don’t react that way when it comes to slaughtering the same cows and eating a cheeseburger?

The other Nri Maami (my head):  In India, I’ve seen the butcher’s shop – it would have a big chopping block with an axe stuck on it, not to mention the buzzing flies, goats or whatever it is they sold hanging from hooks dead and upside-down. If you got close enough, you could even see blood. In America, I believe most people see meat only after it has been cleaned and packed and weighed and frozen. Americans may be a sympathetic lot, but it’s because they have been so carefully shielded from all that bloodshed, do they continue to eat so much meat.

Nri Maami (me): Whatever.. How could any person describe how happy those creatures were, how they skipped  and played, and in the very next  sentence talk about how tasty they were.

The other Nri Maami (my head): If you were growing Spinach, wouldn’t you take great care planting it, watering it, protecting it etc etc.. and in the end pluck it all out and wonder if you should make Palak Paneer or Keerai Sambar?

Nri Maami:  Somehow, I cannot equate plants and animals. Yes they are both living things as we were well taught in school, yet there is a difference. Animals are higher up the list – they move and they think, so they aren’t quite the same as plants.

And so.. I continue to find an explanation that will shut at least one of the two NriMaamis up, but haven’t so far.

So, before I go on further about this and end up either converting a few of you meat-eating folks to vegetarians or I end up antagonizing the few readers I have, all I can say is

Poor happy pigs, apparently they taste better !


20 thoughts on “Happy Pigs!

  1. prem

    oh boy what a tragedy…another one of the GEU (grass eater union) wondering how people eat stuff that used to move once little knowing what they miss by staying on the other side!

    my deepest condolences. whats even more tragic is, these people in the GEU dont even realise what they are missing !


    Rekha: You never know what you are missing, that’s why it’s called “missing”. In this case, I think I am happy to miss.

    1. Hi Prem. Have you ever considered that you are eating a roasted or fried carcass of an other living being. Now don’t get into all that BS about “you killed plants”. Plants don’t have nerves/nerve endings — they don’t feel the pain.

      You might also want to consider that human teeth and jaws were meant for us to be herbivores and not omnivores.

      Thirdly, go get a life!

  2. Biswa

    Great post, you have summed up the dilemma appropriately. It is probably not just a moral issue as then all tigers, jackals, vultures etc. can only aspire to go to hell.

    I think it is also a health issue. The West is gradually coming to realize that humans are more suited to a vegetarian diet; it reduces the chance of 100s of diseases, except diabetes.

    Both Maami’s are right! 🙂

    Rekha: The west may gradually come to realize, but for the time-being I don’t have much choice when I eat out. I hope the fancy restaurants could start improvising some vegetarian recipes.

  3. Pal

    Hopped over from Oorja’s blog, and cure glad I did! What a lovely post. I am a vegetarian too, though Chicken Sizzlers were an interesting piece of my past life!! But I agree with you.. I cannot eat something that eats and shits itself!! It kind of feels like eating a large slab of rubber!!
    Keep writing!

    Rekha: Welcome here and wish you vegetarian sizzlers for the future.

  4. I was once out in Bangalore to buy Chicken. I saw them being killed. I felt guilty from then on, I continued to eat it buying from the same shop, carefully avoiding not to watch any killings in the hope that it will get out of my mind. It didn’t. I became a vegetarian on and off, my meat eating frequency slowed drastically. It slowed down a lot, I had such same thoughts in my head like yours – Plants are living things too, how can it be ok to eat them while you feel terrible eating other living things. The answer was “You shouldn’t harm any living thing including plants, but since you have to eat to live, you can eat the least conscious of the living beings – plants, to have the least effect on your body and mind”.
    I am now a vegetarian and feel really good about it. No one can convert others to be a vegetarian, they have to face it and become one on their own.

    Rekha: Some of my friends gave up, stayed off non-veg for a few months or few years, but eventually got back. Interesting to see you’re staying vegetarian.

  5. Ayyo, I face the same dilemma. This country is so so so worried about missing their pork and their food that there are ads on TV about pork being safe. I’m not sure it is safe EVER.

    – Must watch for you – Fast Food Nation and Super Size Me ( read the books, they are better)

  6. Jaya

    Hi Maami,

    It’s like you’ve read my mind….I once used to have meat and saw a goat & chicken being slaughtered at a Keda virundhu!! thats wat they call it at my native land, where ppl gather to feast on a full course lunch with all varities of meat…the sight of the goat and chicken being beheaded just struck to my mind and i became just a vegetarian.
    My parents for a while tried to force me, but their attempts were futile..
    Often i used to ponder upon the same things, even plants have life…but well, hey they dont scream when u chop them…atleast there is no resistance and i get a satisfaction that i rely on the min possible resources for my existence…
    But its not that i shrink my face at the sight of meat and voice my opinion loudly in front of others…but I just cant stand the sight of animal slaughtery…it makes me very sad!

  7. Now did the panni catch flu from us which got mutated due to the crap they eat and become deadly?

    Anyways now the cafeterias in aabees don’t serve panni meat anymore aajkal…..

  8. prem

    hehe…i really dont think there were two maamis to start with…the other maami just came up to satisfy her conscience!

    yoohoo…we willling to live along with people killing people but not with people killing pannis because pannis are cuter? and we dont mind eating grass because there is no visible ‘blood’ and it doesnt have a voice? and because of that…its more suitable for our heath..hehe! if thats the case..india should be the heathiest country in the world!

    comeon! we are humans! we just have to learn to live with a few contradictions! you could find as many excuses as you want..but contradictions will exist!

  9. I thought I was a vegetarian. Until the time I realised that the ice cream/chocolates I ate had gelatin ( from cow’s insides).Those were days before vegetarian ice creams with the labels mentioning gelatin etc etc.

    As a person with poor health there have been countless cows I’ve consumed in the form of capsules I’ve swallowed. I was once told sheep/cow intestines are used in making some kinds of sutures to stitch torn body parts. I am fond of my croc bag and sheepskin handbag-these are not objects for survival like food. I love my silk saris made from boiling pupae silk worms-terrible vanity if I may scold myself. And I am sure animal byproducts are used in many things that I don’t know and are aware of and yet continue to consume or use.

    For myself I choose eating plants as food over animals. But I will not claim any moral superiority over it. How can I judge eskimos who have no source of plants for eating whatever animal they eat? Or tribes people who eat roots, fruits and hunt even now for food?Vegetarianism is an evolved idea. Whether it’s sustainable, I’m not sure. Common wisdom dictates that the predominant percentage of mankind will consume animals for its survival.

    If we choose vegetarianism so be it. I said this before:food choices alone doesn’t morally elevate a people.

    Sorry for going oink ionk…

    1. Biswa

      Bravo, well said! Can’t help nit-picking, but gelatin comes from bones (not insides, though technically bones are inside). Of course the US is the land of choice, so you can get vegetarian gelatin made from sea weed. Today I found some “vegetarian” sausage as well. Such items are perhaps useful for reluctant vegetarians. And nowadays, sutures are not made from sheep and neither are tennis rackets strung with cat-gut. Everything is nylon/plastic, provided by the god of petroleum. If you insist on digging deeper though, oil comes from remains of plankton which are after all animals.

      But coming back to your point, all enlightened people are not vegetarians, and neither are all vegetarians enlightened. You might be one of the few who is in the middle 🙂

  10. Unmai

    How about people who live in Desert, places like Saudi Arabia and some of the middle eastern countries? Where would they get vegetarian food in the desert?

    Check your shoes… Where does it come from? Do you use one pair of leather shoe at the least?

  11. Great Topic..

    What do you think about this hallowe’en costume?

    Anyhow- all the comments bring more to my mind. Gelatin is also in some brands of yogurt- so curd rice lovers beware! Read the ingredients. Unless it is stated it’s veg gelatin, it most likely isn’t.

    Talking on the topic if plants have more/less feeling than animals, a Kerala blogger (who’s blog is unfortunately suspended…) wrote on making pookkalam for Onam last year. In this post she talked about how she was mad at her non-veg friends for trying to convert her to vegetarianism when they so rudely plucked living, breathing and growing flowers for their own ‘selfish’ decors known as pookkalam. The way she described it was superb and wish I could give the link, but it’s gone. She has a good point. Since I read that, if I make pookkalam I think twice but if I pick fresh flowers from outside for it, before picking the flower, may sound funny but I thank the tree for giving the flower and sorry for taking it at the same time. It makes me feel better. She’s right though in the sense taking a flower for pookalam or palak for palak paneer or pork for bacon all have one common thread- taking a life of something so we can so selfishly enjoy it somehow. Taking the feelings out- plants feeling less (differently) than animals makes this argument more even in my mind, anyway.

    Another point came to mind….The other day in watching Kairali tv, I saw an ad for sambar powder. The tag line (only thing in ENglish, my hubbys a Malayalee) was something like ‘makes tasty vegetarian sambar’. What? Why do they have to specifically mention ‘vegetarian sambar’? I though by default and tradition sambar is vegetarian? After posting on my facebook, I found out that one person visited someone in Kerala and took sambar because of course we all think it’s safe for veggies. Only after picking and biting an odd texture was told fish was in the sambar! It seems fish and chicken go into some sambar in Kerala. Be careful! Even my father in law says some places in Kerala where you could only find dosa/idli or appam with potato stew for breakfast – now it’s hard pressed to find dosa/idli and that appam comes with chicken or mutton curry- for breakfast! Just imagine.

    What a world we live in, indeed!

    Rekha: That costume is so funny… whywould anyone dress up their kid as meat? I recently found out about Gelatin and have been trying to make my Yogurt myself since then. Kerala is a very non-vegetarian place.. but their aapams and ishtus are to die for!

    1. Google for red beetle food coloring…everything from flavored yogurt to juices have that coloring agent….& it is called natural red!

      Rekha: Ugh! 😦

  12. Sorry to go on and on… there is one more interesting point.

    Maybe people know why mad cow came about? People wanted to fatten cows to get more profit on milk and beef- so they fed the cows ground up meat from dead farm animals- they added this in the regular vegetarian feed. This practice has not really stopped and unless you drink organic grass-fed cow’s milk we do not really know if your milk is vegetarian.

    This concept of feeding non-vege feed to veg animals also translates into the plant world too. I have heard some farms to increase productions of some vegetables take this animal by-product (not only manures, but animal meat, bones, intestines, etc) and grind it with the normal fertilizers and put it on the crop to increase size and yield. This means some vegetables we eat are not really vegetarian. What is the world coming to?

    Sorry to gross you out!

    Rekha: Yeww… how awful that we have decided to make herbivores carnivores by feeding them minced meat!

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