Editor’s note: Meat eating is often intellectually inconsistent. If pork belly was referred to as pig’s underside, would it still excite? When it comes to eating pork in particular, the moral and religious implications for vegetarians, sustainable food activists, Muslims and Jews and many more make it ripe for contradiction. I suppose it makes sense since the pig is so emotionally intelligent and shares many physical features with humans, yet we treat it no different than a cow or a chicken; for centuries pork has been one of the cheapest proteins available, yet is now a centerpiece of the finest cuisine. All these contradictions make pork fodder for great stories. And the following three super short stories, or “pork chops,” explore these themes.
Pigs are Nice People
Salt Lake City, UT
I was around 14 when I first ate bacon. It tasted great. I told myself later, when I first ate ham, that it was really just corned beef. Sometime in my 20s I decided that if my parents didn’t need to eat pork, neither did I. So I quit pork, cold turkey—mostly. Pizza was the exception for a while, which I sometimes had to share.
I still don’t like to force others to leave the pepperoni off the pizza just because I don’t eat it, but I also learned at an agriculture school that pigs are really mellow and friendly. They’re also God’s creatures, and now I really get pissed off at the thought of folks slaughtering them, even more so at the way pigs are raised on factory farms. I still don’t feel all that sorry for steers. Too bad for them, I guess.
Deal with God
Long Island, NY
I knew a man who, while kosher at home, almost always ate pork and shellfish out in restaurants. One day at a meal, I noticed him not eating treyf. I asked him about it. He said that he had had a dream that God told him that if he kept eating treyf he would come down with esophageal cancer.
Some months later I saw him eating treyf again, and when I inquired about this change, he told me that he had come to an agreement with God.
A Cannibalistic Realization
My friend Ben worked on a farm where there were pigs. After working at this farm for some time, he shared his blossoming, new perspective with me: Eating pork is nearer to cannibalism than eating any other typical sort of meat. He found pigs to be more like humans than other farm animals. Apparently, pigs have similar dietary habits to humans (the omnivory aspect, not the eating-slop-out-of-a-trough aspect), and have a more human-esque “personality” than other animals. Coincidentally, I haven’t eaten pork in many years, but apparently Ben still continues to eat it with fascination.