I made a dream come true in 2011.
I moved to the Alpujarras, the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Andalucia, Spain.
A collection of villages dot the vast, lush lands of the Alpujarras. It is a paradise for those looking to return to a simple way of living. With a perfect climate, the fertile lands are abundant and many choose to buy a little corner of the earth filled with more fruit trees than you can imagine: lemons and oranges, walnuts and almonds, olive trees that are grown on the most difficult terrain. Everything and anything grows for those willing to tend to the soil; anyone who has a care for what they sow will reap the fruits of their labour.
Every day felt brand new as I explored the area, culture, and food. Yet, I was in for a bit of a shock. While Spain is considered to be a first-world country, the land of the toro has a dark side, especially when it comes to eating habits of its citizens, and even more so in the remote areas of the countryside such as the Alpujarras.
One day, while shopping in my local market, I came across an entire cellophane-wrapped suckling piglet in the frozen food section. It was dead, of course, destined to be someone’s dinner.
To say I was heartbroken is an understatement. I felt sick to my stomach.
Suckling pig is a popular dish in Spain, and it’s normal to see a piglet on a spit, its flesh charred and burnt, roasting over hot coals in a restaurant. Indeed, suckling pig is known to be a delicacy served on special occasions.
The name of the dish speaks for itself. Piglets are taken from their mother at two to six weeks old to have their throats slit. They then end up on a spit, roasted whole, and served up on a plate for the sensory pleasure of those who choose to eat the dish. Apparently, the flesh of the young is far tastier.
It’s sickening, isn’t it?
Whenever I share this story with an accompanying image, especially on social media, there is always an outpouring of outrage from meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans alike.
“How wrong it is. The piglet is too young. It’s cruel. It’s barbaric. Let it have a little life first. It’s only fair.”
The dish of suckling pig is perhaps one of the worst examples of how we continue to abuse animals in the name of food.
To see a young piglet curled up in a ball, frozen to the touch when it should be suckling from its mother’s breast can crack the hardest of hearts and make us rethink our meat-eating habits as a whole.
While many say they would never eat the flesh of an animal so young, it doesn’t get any better for the piglets who live into adulthood.
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This is the hard, cold reality of a bacon butty, a plate of sausages, a ham shank, a pork chop or belly. And suckling pig, of course.
Whether killed too young or left to grow into adulthood only to be slaughtered in the end, this is the reality for the piglet that is killed for the eating pleasures of many.
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