I was part of “bacon culture” before it became a thing. Morning bacon and cheese sandwiches from the local deli were the only reason I actually got out of bed on the weekends. I would eat bacon with almost anything. Mashed potatoes? Done. Bacon-wrapped hot dogs at every summer barbecue? Sign me up. Candied bacon on ice cream? Heck. Yes.
But that all changed one spring night. You see, I loved elephants. I still do. They’re amazing and beautiful creatures who deserve our utmost respect. So when I heard that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (and all circuses for that matter) abused elephants to make them perform tricks for 15 minutes on a stage for our entertainment, I jumped at the chance to protest.
At the protest a vegan woman piqued my interest by explaining to me how I was protesting the abuse of one animal while actually contributing to the massive suffering of others by consuming bacon cheeseburgers.
When I researched more about elephants, I found that they had self-recognition, or were able to recognize themselves in a mirror. They also have incredibly sensitive skin, something I had never thought of because they’re such large creatures. Their intelligence and sensitivity struck a chord with me.
That’s when I spent hours researching animal intelligence and ended up on a website about pigs. I discovered that like elephants, pigs had self-recognition. In fact, pigs are considered the fifth-most intelligent animal in the world—even more intelligent than dogs—and are capable of playing video games with more focus and success than chimps!
And then I saw an undercover investigation video shot inside a pig factory farm. This is when it clicked: Not only are other animals intelligent; they’re also incredibly sensitive.
I realized no animal should be forced to suffer for my appetite.
While elephants and pigs are clearly different animals, they’re similar enough in all the ways that matter. I realized that while I’m outside protesting the circus to fight for elephants, I should also boycott the cruel factory farming industry’s treatment of animals by not consuming meat, dairy, and eggs.
It was only a few short months later that the smell of bacon I once loved made me sick to my stomach. To this day, my “fight or flight” mode kicks in whenever my family cooks it, and I have to leave the house. Anything to get away from that dreadful smell of burning pig flesh.
Not convinced yet? Let me help you make the connection. Here are five reasons why I won’t eat bacon anymore and you shouldn’t either.
1. Gestation Crates
By now, you may have heard that the pork industry worldwide forces mother pigs to live almost their entire lives in cages so small the animals can’t even turn around—the equivalent of living in an airplane seat. An industry representative actually stated:
So our animals can’t turn around for the 2.5 years that they are in the stalls producing piglets. … I don’t know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around.
Because these cages are so incredibly cruel, the entire European Union and nine U.S. states have banned them.
Taken from their mothers’ sides as young as 10 days old, piglets have their tails cut off, teeth clipped, and testicles ripped out—all without painkillers. Testicles. Ripped. Out. After this painful practice is inflicted on them, they’re packed into filthy, overcrowded pens.
One word: thumping. This horrific, yet legal and standard practice involves taking piglets who are too sick or too small for meat industry standards and slamming them headfirst onto concrete floors to kill them. Other piglets are tossed into overcrowded gassing carts where they slowly suffocate from CO2.
Witnessing thumping in his Ohio schoolroom led Milo Runkle to found Mercy For Animals to fight factory farming.
4. What They’re Fed
This is just downright sick. Farmers were reportedly combating Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, an often-fatal illness, by feeding pigs manure containing the virus or remains of dead piglets who were infected. Factory farms are literally turning pigs into cannibals.
After spending their entire lives at factory farms, where not a single federal law protects them, pigs are killed in violent, brutal ways. At the slaughterhouse, pigs are all killed the same merciless way: They are hung upside down, often while still conscious, and their throats are slit.
So even though I was obsessed with bacon as a meat eater, I could no longer support something so cruel just for the sake of my palate. Once you open your eyes to the suffering of pigs, it’s hard to look away—and I would never want to.
Thankfully, I’ve found vegan versions of bacon that have me completely satisfied without contributing to the industry that viciously abuses them.
This bacon-obsessed woman is now obsessed with plant-based versions. Try some out today.