Aug 20th


    Four legs, oink oink, ketchup, british policeman

    Not so mysterious at all.

    Or is it?

    How much does the average person know about the average animal that they eat so regularly for their average breakfast?

    I’ve decided that over the next few months I will tell the life of a typical pig from birth to death and the welfare issues associated with it. At this point I hear the click of departure to other blogs and to more entertaining animal fodder. Kitten dances to ABBA. Monkey sticks finger up bum.

    What a smell....

    What a smell….

    But pigs can be sooo cute too...

    But pigs can be sooo cute too…

    mini pigs


    But I want to strike a deal. If its true that the prevalence of intensive farming depends largely on ignorance (or denial) of what happens behind closed doors then the last thing I want is to make you turn  away. You clearly CARE. Who will listen if not you?


    I’m not travelling to India to see pigs attacked with hammers. I’m not going to tiny farms in remote Laos. I’m heading to good upstanding EU countries that are subjected to strict welfare laws far more rigid than in China or India or Brazil (where they kill far more pigs than in Europe). In return I hope you’ll carry on reading.I don’t want to seek out gore, I don’t want to show pictures of death or slaughter or one in a thousand cruelty. I want simple truths about what happens to a  EU pig from birth to death. Should we not know?

    Every year around 1 billion pigs are killed. Nearly half are killed in China but a large proportion of the rest in Europe, with Germany being the biggest consumer.

    I will witness for you the life of one of the many millions of EU pigs. I will describe my emotions with honesty and I will show the good side of European farms as well as the not so good.


    Two problems

    1) The first problem is that 90% of pigs that are farmed in Europe are intensively farmed. Which means living their lives indoors for a few months before they meat, I mean meet, their end. I’ve no doubt that many of you are vege/vegan or organic meat eaters. But clearly if I’m to do justice to a TYPICAL EU pig I have to spend a fair amount of time looking at typical intensive farms.

    2) The second problem is:  how on earth do I get access?


    Happy Pigs

    But first I’m going to go and meat, I mean meet, some happy pigs. I’m off to visit a wonderful woman in London who has two pet pigs and who knows about the animals and also abotu farming.

    This may sound ridiculous but I figure if I don’t know pigs as individuals – what they are LIKE, then how can I begin to understand their emotional journey? A pig in Fulham is not an intensively farmed pig – but that is the point.

    Come with me as we get to know pigs in all their guises.

    If he thinks he's going to get access to me with that business card he's having a a laugh.

    If he thinks he’s going to get access into intensive farms he’s having a laugh

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    11 Responses to “DAY 328: AND THE MYSTERY ANIMAL IS…..”

    1. I like and admire what you do Martin.
      But isn’t the pig logo on your fake business card a bit too much? I mean, a real Agricultural Research Scientist would probably not put such a log on a real business card… 😉

    2. That is probably right! Although I actually based it on the business card of a very good farmer and scientist who did have a pig on it!

    3. I can’t imagine that any intensive unit-holder or other farmer would take the slighest bit of notice of yor card; if they did, it’d be to call the police or the equivalent of DEFRA, DSV, etc. I’ve visited intensive units, but I got to know the people, asked nicely and, in some cases, was allowed in, but not in many, as they’d be in trouble for breaking the rules.
      Nor can I see the point, when there already so many written, pictorial and video accounts of this available and, although I don’t know your readership, I’d guess that if people are keeping up with the blog, most probably already know this, or know where to find it. I don’t think you’ll help save pigs this way – much better to join a few groups and volunteer to do what they ask you to do, not what you want to do. Mainly, I should think you could offer your photographic skills and your time. As Zooey told Franny – the best way to work for Jesus (or animals, etc.) usn’t to starve yourself and pray all day. You’re an actress, so act – and do it for Jesus/animals..” Well, words to that effect.

      The pangolin posts were worthwhile, because you showed things that aren’t usually shown – I’d certainly never seen any of it, although i knew they were endangered. It was heart-breaking, poor, defenceless creatures.
      The bear ones, too, with that amazing man, and some of the other heros in harsh places – those showed things that one doesn’t usually see or know about. Here, or not in such detail and so well-photographed.
      The cold, cold, plastic-wrapped ex-life in the confiscated smuggled murdered-animal trade – they were utterly stunning, froze my blood as they’re frozen – and, again, they were a revelation to me – I mean, the sheer quantity and the trade being so massive.
      Galgos and Pods – not new to me, but they were to a lot of people and your photos are sublime and I think were in the D.M., so there you did a lot of good..
      ..but I think this pig project is a let-down and, to be honest, it seems rather childish, a bit self-indulgent and probably quite unecessary, except to you.
      If you do get in, mind the sows’ jaws – they’ll take justified revenge if they can.

    4. I’m really looking forward to the next post Martin. In response to Destruida, these posts appeal to a broad pool of readers, each with their own motives for reading. The one thing that unites us is that we’re on this journey with Martin together and if the next subject is pigs – then bring it on!
      This next blog will be more relevant to me than any other so far. Of all animals I feel guilty about eating, it’s the pig. I need to hear from a trusted source (that’s Martin, just to be clear) what exactly it is that they go through to get on my plate.
      I try to buy only free-range ham/pigs but I know I often fail – so I’m guessing this next week might well change my eating habits for good.
      To quote from one of my favourite books: ‘we’re all equal – but some, are more equal than others’. I think that may indeed be true for some readers of this blog too. Some animals may indeed be more important than others in terms of how they live, how they suffer and how they die. But I dare say that to Martin – and that to many of us here – each of these posts – covering everything from slugs (!) to bears, to pigs, contains a gem that might just change our lives – or better still, the life of just one precious animal – for good.

    5. Ha! Thanks Cat. To be honest I welcome everyone’s opinion on this. The more engagement the better. I also feel – and am feeling more so every day – that the work I am starting on with pigs is more relevant and disturbing than anything else I have done. Farming causes more animal suffering than anything else and if it is true that people are totally aware of what is going on then I’m amazed more aren’t vege. I have to politely (totally) disagree with your sentiment Kate, but I appreciate your passionate engagement. In fact I love it! Keep it up.

    6. Hi Cat, thank you for the thoughtful response. In that case, I was mistaken and apologise. I’m always surprised by what other people do or don’t know!
      I still think, Martin, that you’ll need a more convincing card than that and not just a card, either. Still, it’ll be interesting to see!

    7. Martin, you never know what people can put on their business cards these days 😉

    8. I don’t think the pig logo’s the problem, except that then you’ll be expected to know about pigs (beter specialise in the colour spectrum of the lighting in intensive units, as you know more about that and they don’t) but the paucity of other information. Just an email address (mail returned undeliverable, incidentally) and nowt else – not convincing.

    9. Oh, of course I agree that this is the most IMPORTANT and RELEVANT of the subjects you’ve treated, at least in the sense that your readers are far more likely to eat pig than pangolin; also because it’s the thing that not only destroys huge numbers of animals, but also the land (to grow the GM soy and stuff to feed them) and all that grows; then there’s the transport, construction, factories, packaging, filth-food, lighting, cooling, heating, sanitation, medication, processing, demolition, disposal.. it’s massive. So yes, it’s the most important, but what I meant was that I couldn’t see why you need to go off to another country and play boy-detective to try to discover things that are already discovered and when you haven’t really the background knowledge to know what to look for or how to understand what you see. That was what I meant by “unecessary,” but I know I may have been completely wrong – it’s very likely. (Next episode – Martin languishes in foreign gaol, awaiting trial for fraudulently attempting entry to protected premises, but is befriended by Kindly Rats and has an epiphany (works out how to make rat stew.))

      It’s 55 years since I first saw a chicken battery shed and was horrifed – it was tiny and charmingly constructed from timber frame and shiplap boarding and held about 500 birds. CIWF was founded nine years later, a lot more people are vege or vegan, but still the units grow in size, number and horror. I don’t see how people can not know; apparently you didn’t until now, but I don’t understand why or how people don’t know – I suppose they trust that their government regulates things humanely and intelligently – ha fracking ha! However, I think a lot of people simply couldn’t care less. Very few humans are at all empathetic,even with other humans, so of course they’re not compassionate. Also, they have this insane self-importance and entitlism which they can stretch to include or excuse anything they fancy, apparently. We’ve always been foul, but technology has allowed us to reach extremes of foulness hitherto only dreaded in nightmares – and now we’re using technology to look for the “God particle!” Duh..

      Incidentally, I too thought that chickens would be killed in the highest numbers, but guess what – rabbits have overtaken them. I knew rabbit meat was getting popular, but not to that extent, and the rabbit farms they show on the CWIF site, in Spain, France and Italy, are horrendous.

    10. The other reason i reacted negatively to this blog post (and the next, a bit) is that you seem to me to have suddenly changed your attitude both to the animals and to your readers, though I don’t know why. One of the things that makes the blog so unusual and so readable is your humility and unpretentiousness; you’re seeing and learning all these new things and new emotions, so it’s quite different from an expert website or book. But suddenly, since you started on the pig thing, you seem to be rather patronising and disrespectful to both your readers and the animals. I’m being honest because I think that’s what you want (though i probably would be anyway!)

      Patronising to your readers in that you seem to be assuming that we’re a)as ignorant as you are/were about intensive rearing and about pigs and b)the sort of people who’d turn away as soon as you announce that the chosen animal is a pig, or that we’d turn to watch videos of kittens dancing to Abba or rude monkeys – videos that are boring, silly and demeaning to the animals. I’ve never watched any such thing in my life! Then, to make it worse, you argue that “pigs are cute, too,” as though cuteness (by human standards) should be a criterion! Then, to make worse worser, you post three pictures: two pink things which may be sugar pigs or may be plastic my-little-pigs – how on earth are they relevant? – a piglet in wellies (ahem) and another or the same looking all sweet and babby. But, even if cuteness were a criterion, you’ve shown very young piglets and all very young creatures are cute – even humans, yet look what we grow into – so I think it’s insulting to your readers’ intelligence, disrespectful to the pigs and quite irrelevant. I suppose it’s because, as you say, you’ve never known a pig and you’re trying to get your head round a new way of seeing them – like posh white imperialists who had to take in that their black slaves had feelings and thoughts just like them!

    11. cor Martin this has stirred up some passion!

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