Many years ago, before we became a sanctuary, my wife and I were “pet pig” owners. We were also meat eaters. Both of us had basically grown up in the South where virtually no meal of the day was complete without meat. In fact, meals were frequently planned around what “meat” was going to be served. To tell the truth…neither of us had ever given our lifestyle choices much serious thought.
Vegetarians and vegans, back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s were actually few and far between. I seriously doubt if we even knew anyone who was vegan or even vegetarian. But once our first miniature pig, Paddy Murphy, came into our lives…many things changed about how we viewed animals and our treatment and consumption of animals. None of these changed did we see coming…nor did we anticipate how a single, small precocious little pig would upset our belief system and change our lives forever.
It was suddenly both incongruous and horrible to my wife and I to be eating ham, bacon and other pork products while the little pig we loved so dearly was rooting around our feet in the kitchen. It didn’t take a massive amount of imagination to span the gap between our beloved miniature pig and the poor farm pig that had provided the meat on our table. So…giving up pork products was a “no-brainer”. We felt very good and very self-righteous about our decision to eliminate pork from our diet.
As we began taking in more and more pigs and, in the process, rubbing elbows with other animal rescuers, we became exposed to the entire gamut of the production farming industry in the world. We actually met a few vegetarians and vegans and started listening and learning about the horrors of the commercial meat industry. We also began learning more about the dairy industry and the numerous medical downsides to living on a meat based diet.
We did not become “overnight vegans”. For us it was more of a gradual, incremental process. As we eliminated something meat related from our diet and moved closer to a plant-based diet, we felt good about what we were doing and we actually started to feel better…physically and emotionally. We began looking at being vegan as more than a dietary change…and more as a lifestyle commitment that encompassed much more than what we chose to put in our mouths. For us, being vegan has become more of a philosophy of compassion and what we choose to eat and wear are just small parts of this compassionate lifestyle.
Not all of becoming vegan came easy and, in truth, we had some “slips” early on in our vegan infancy. Part of the problem was that, back then, there were few vegan products and many of them on the market, quite frankly, didn’t taste all that good. But today, good tasting, healthy vegan products are readily available and are much less expensive than they were a few years ago. There are many more vegans now than in the recent past and most of them (us) enjoy sharing new vegan products and new vegan recipes with one another.
Although we are both committed vegans, we continue to try and find new and exciting ways to improve our vegan lifestyle and extend the benefits of compassionate veganism to others through our work with the animals and The Pig Preserve.
A New Model for the Lifetime Care of Rescued Pigs