The next time you’re at a baseball game or a barbecue and a friend is reaching for a hot dog, you might want to mention that hot dogs are made from the flesh of pigs who endure prolonged stress prior to slaughter, either because they are underfed or overly fatigued due to transportation and mishandling, or both. These animals, according to a recent article on the meat industry site, MeatingPlace.com, yield what’s known as DFD (dark, firm, and dry) meat, which can be “transformed into high-quality products, especially those made with emulsified meat, such as hot dogs.”
High quality? As if enough gross things didn’t already go into hot dogs—pigs’ stomachs, snouts, spleens, intestines, lips, and anuses (no, it’s not just a myth)—now pork producers are admitting that the meat comes from stressed-out animals who were underfed or overly fatigued? Perhaps this news will convince a few more people to say, “Pass the veggie dogs, please.”
Veggie dogs are delicious, and they don’t contain unappetizing pig parts or high amounts of fat or cholesterol. Most importantly, they aren’t made from frantic animals who are hung upside-down, scalded, and bled to death.
Sitting at the baseball games this spring, watching people order hot dog after hot dog, I worry that still not enough people are giving pigs a second thought—or a first. They are sentient animals who deserve kindness and respect. If you still eat pigs—whether they’re raised in factory farms or on smaller ranches—please consider a few of these fascinating facts about pigs:
*They are smart animals who communicate constantly with one another; more than 20 vocalizations have been identified for different situations, from wooing their mates to expressing emotions.
*In their natural surroundings, pigs will spend hours playing, sunbathing, and exploring. People who run animal sanctuaries often report that pigs, like humans, enjoy listening to music, playing with soccer balls, and getting massages.
*According to Professor Stanley Curtis of Penn State University, pigs are “capable of abstract representation.” Dr. Curtis believes that “there is much more going on in terms of thinking and observing by these pigs than we would ever have guessed.”
*Newborn piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices, and mother pigs sing to their young while nursing.
*Pigs don’t “eat like pigs” or “pig out.” They prefer to eat slowly and savor their foods.
*Pigs don’t “sweat like pigs” either. They’re unable to sweat. They like to bathe in water or mud to keep cool, and actually seem to prefer water to mud.
Pigs don’t belong in buns, and they certainly don’t deserve the kind of treatment that results in DFD meat. If you don’t already, please choose soy sausage and veggie dogs instead of pork sausage and hot dogs. That’s the best way to stop pigs’ prolonged stress and suffering.
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