This letter was submitted to TODAY Online on 13 January 2020, but they declined to publish it.
With the arrival of the Chinese New Year festive season, people’s thoughts turn to spring cleaning, hongbao and reunions with family and friends. Of course, another unforgettable part of CNY is the food, such as lo hei, pineapple tarts, love letters and bak kwa.
Indeed, for many people, bak kwa and other pork dishes play a big role in the joy of CNY. Regrettably, joy for our taste buds means sadness for many millions of pigs. The assumption people quite reasonably make is that most pigs whom we raise for meat live for many years before ending up pleasing our palete. Indeed, pigs can live 15-20 years
However, the reality is that pigs raised for meat normally live less than a year, even if the pigs are healthy, let alone if they contract African Swine Fever, as has occurred recently to millions of pigs, forcing agribusiness to slaughter them even earlier than usual.
According to www.pork.org and modernfarmer.com, pigs reach slaughter weight after only about six months, thanks to modern farming techniques. Thus, the pigs dying from African Swine Fever in China and elsewhere would have lived much less than their life expectancy even if they were healthy.
Probably, the lives of the pigs on modern farms are not especially pleasant ones. For example, to enhance efficiency in pig farming, male pigs are castrated, and piglets of both sexes have their teeth clipped and their tails cut off in order to avoid injury during their close confinement in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). See here on pig-welfare.
Fortunately, we now have alternatives to eating pork from live animals.
Omnimeat, available in restaurants and supermarkets here, was designed as a plant-based pork substitute, and similar products, such as Impossible Pork – impossible-pork-captivated-ces-2020-how-it-tastes-and-if-its-healthy/– are due to arrive soon.