Archive for the ‘ pigs ’ Category


Porky, Stinky and Basil

When I was 16 I went veggie. I had read a stunning series of articles about meat production in the Sunday Times which captured, through words and pictures and graphics, the life and times of farmed animals.

I particularly recall my horror at the incredibly short life of a chick reared for the table, pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, and dead within weeks. I immediately declared I was never going to touch meat again.

The year was 1984. The Smiths released the anger-fuelled Meat is Murder the following year, with it’s in-your-face lyric:

It’s not natural, normal or kind,

The flesh you so fancifully fry,

The meat in your mouth,

As you savour the flavour,


My conversion was complete. I spent the next 24 years of my life meat-free, although (and all vegeterians will scream “cheat” at me) I did quickly allow fish back into my diet, ostensibly on health grounds. I guess I somehow felt the suffering of fish was acceptable, who knows.

Anyway, I was never a particularly evangelical or fussy non-meat-eater. I didn’t balk at cooking it for other people, nor cast dagger-strewn looks at anyone who dared to tuck into a burger in my presence. I didn’t even make a fuss if mum “accidentally” poured meat gravy over my nut roast.

My husband is a carnivore-extraordinaire. He can do wonderful things with a pork joint or a boring chicken. Our boys have been raised as meat-eaters. I did once sit my eldest, then aged five, down and asked him if he wanted to eat meat like daddy or if he wanted the cute lambs, piglets and chicks to have a long and happy life. He still eats meat.

Then last year I did something I hadn’t done but had often thought about. I tucked into a bacon sarnie. Boy, it tasted sweet. The juices dribbled down the corner of my mouth as I bit through the white crusty bread into the tantalisingly perfect sliver of meat below. Oh. My. God. It was delicious.

I berated myself afterwards of course – but then I got to thinking about why I had abandoned meat in the first place. It wasn’t the killing of animals I had objected to. It was the life they had lived that had turned my stomach. Ergo, if I could stick to free range, locally produced, organically reared meats, surely that would be okay?

There was no stopping me after that. Locally produced sausages, free range pork joints, a leg of lamb, chicken curry – all of this and more was greedily consumed over the course of six wonderful months.

However, this did lead to an interesting dilemma. Did I tell my friends and, particularly, my parents and parents-in-laws, of my change of habit? And if so, could I insist on knowing the provenance of every piece of meat offered to me? Would I not sound like a complete arse if I questioned where they had bought the chicken roasted for Sunday lunch?

So instead, like the proverbial chicken, I opted to say nothing. Instead I lived a weird double life, eating meat at home and reverting to pseudo-vegetarianism when out and about. This reached its zenith the weekend both sets of parents came for lunch. Slices of pork and a morsel of crackling were deliberately left out on the kitchen top for me to secretly pick at, while my plate was piled high with veggies and a quorn fillet.

It was pathetic. I was back to my teen days as a furtive smoker, doing the equivalent of stuffing tissue into a matchbox to stop the contents rattling and developing a passion for Polos.

I also realised I was dangerously subverting the view I had of myself. I prided myself on being a caring, socialist-of-sorts type who didn’t follow the herd and who stood up for the underdog (no puns intended). What I most definitely was not was a selfish, boring traditionalist.

Was I going to let all that teenage angst and noble desire to do my bit to change the world, one meal at time, go down the pan? What would go next? Before I knew it I’d be arguing the case for Phil Collins and Simply Red, and deciding the BNP actually made a bit of sense. It was time to make a decision.

It had to be “all meat, a real treat”, or no meat at all. So now the fridge and freezer are stocked up with veggie options, things made of quorn, and vege mince. But the whiff of bacon gently cooking in the pan is still there, drawing me in….

By way of penance for my wavering, I took some time out yesterday to take some pictures of pigs. I headed off to a nearby pig farm at Mose where I hoped to capture the beauty and intelligence of these lovely beasts. What I found was lots of mud – lots and lots of it – but also some pretty happy seeming pigs. I know diddly-squat about the ideal living conditions for pigs, but this lot appeared to be in piggy heaven, with ample food to ferret about for, lots of space to roam around, and straw-filled homes to shelter in. Occasionally they would look up at me as I knelt to photograph them, and I would gaze into their little piggy eyes to see if I could discern whether this impression was justified or not.

My visit did make me think twice about that desire for a bacon butty. When the urge strikes, I’ll remember looking into the eyes of Porky and Stinky (you can only name them if you’re not going to eat them) and resist, resist, resist!

Stinky, Porky and Basil

Piggy snout

Pigs in mud

Pigs searching for food

Pig's ear...