How To Love A Pig (When the Answer Isn't Bacon)

I have a vegan friend named Karen. Karen loves pigs. REALLY loves pigs.

Whenever I see cute photos of pigs, I send them to her. In fact, I’ve found that there is a nearly involuntary exclamation of “AWWWWW!” that escapes the lips of most people when presented with an image of a piglet. Think about it; you know it’s true.

I’ll be the first to admit that I used to love the taste of bacon. Carnivorous humans seem to be able to rather easily dissociate the cute little piggy from the crispy, salty piece of flesh on our plates. I did it. I stopped eating meat for ethical reasons. I have not, as yet, had the opportunity to love an entire, living, pig. But this is how I would do it.

(Photo Credit: Mark Peters)

Give her a name and call her by it often.

I think she would be Zodiac. Zoe for short. The pig in the Chinese zodiac is a symbol of sincerity, friendliness, caring and honesty. I am proud to say that I am a child of a Year of the Pig.

“Come here, Miss Zoe! Where are you? It’s time for a belly rub!” Pigs recognize their mother’s voices, and also their people-given names. In a perfect world, Zoe would live a happy life with her piggy mommy, and I would visit them often.

Help her clean her room and make sure she has her own separate bathroom.

Zoe, like all pigs, would be kind of a stickler for having a nice, clean place to sleep, eat and play. She may roll around in the mud to keep cool on a hot day, but she certainly would NOT like to have to do these things where she goes to the potty. Would you?

Give her a nice place to eat with lots of fresh food, and plenty of time to enjoy it.

Zoe would not like to be rushed while dining (she definitely would not appreciate knowing that people who shovel food into their faces are said to be “pigging out”!).

She would love to have the time to savor and enjoy her food…and she wouldn’t appreciate being fed in a tiny space fighting for every bite! I know when I eat too fast I get a tummy ache, and I would never want Miss Z to have one of those!

Make a nice, clean swimming hole in which she could bathe, play and keep cool.

Pigs love to swim. Just because they wear mud-coats to keep cool doesn’t mean they like to be dirty. Given the choice between being clean but hot or dirty but cool, the latter is a no-brainer!! That said, I think that the Fabulous Z would want a natural pool, complete with beach balls and a swim-up snack bar!

Nap time = SNUGGLE TIME!

Just like you probably love a good snuggle with someone special, so do pigs. Sleeping can be the perfect time for pigs to be close to their loved ones. I am picturing a nice, warm Spring afternoon. Miss Z and I, playing a bit, eating apples, then settling down under a tree for a nice little rest. Can you see it?

(Photo Credit: Stephen & Claire Farnsworth)

The truth is, I could easily have written essentially the same piece about any animal. “How to Love a Cow (Or, Eating Steak Fries Without the Steak)”. “How to Love a Chicken (When This Bird Says ‘I’m Fried’, It’s Because She’s At the Beach)”. My point is, animals deserve our love, compassion and assistance to live happy, safe lives.

We can’t control how Mother Earth decides to treat her children (animal or human), but we can control how we treat each other. The lion kills the gazelle for food, but he doesn’t keep the gazelle in a tiny, filthy cage until dinner. A lion kills quickly and mercifully, and doesn’t torture.

We as humans claim to be the superior ones, and yet we fail to show the pigs, cows, chickens and their friends the same compassion that the lion shows the gazelle. Lions can’t survive on a plant-based diet. We can.


Larissa Galenes is a vegetarian and full-time blogger, podcaster and entrepreneur, and (at present) a spare-time artist. She is co-founder of Vegetarian Zen, a website and podcast dedicated to offering a non-judgmental, educational and entertaining space which vegetarians, vegans and the veg-curious may visit to find general information on vegetarianism/veganism, healthy vegetarian recipes, exercise motivation and tips for living a healthy lifestyle. Please feel free to contact Larissa at