Piglets Are Cute – lets stop eating them … or at least less of them.
By Sumiitra Yiohan Sooriaarratchi
A few weeks ago I happened to be at a food court in Pudu (I.C.C Pudu) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; I was with my mother who is a vegetarian. As I scanned the entire ground floor I finally laid eyes on the sole vegetarian mixed-riced (buffet style) hawker outlet. A hawker is a food vendor commonly found on streets or food courts of Southeast Asia, hawker outlets are cheaper than traditional restaurants. Anyway, the food was delicious. We had mee hoon goreng (fried rice-noodles) and a few accompanying vegetable dishes.
It then struck me that the sheer demand for meat is a bit crazy and unnecessary. If only a vegetarian diet were more popular; perhaps then fewer animals would need to suffer horrible deaths in the slaughter house. I am not saying that the whole world needs to be vegan or vegetarian; but we could all take steps to reduce our meat in-take which will help to reduce animal suffering and also benefit our individual health.
It seems as though our diets have become more meat-based since society became affluent and farming techniques (including animal husbandry) improved. However, I can’t help but feel that poor eating habits and the food industry has led people to believe that they can’t eat a meal without meat or fish. Another contributor is the meat, fishing and poultry industry that profits immensely from the demand. In fact the demand for animal produce is so high that animals are now pumped with hormones to accelerate their growth rate artificially. Strangely none of this seems to bother anyone as meat eating has become an addiction of sorts. We need to stop the factory-farming industry where animals are rared for human consumption in the most inhumane conditions.
I have heard that historically meat-eating was not a daily occurrence but reserved for special occasions and celebrations. This may explain why people in the old days weren’t obese or over-weight which seems to be the norm today. An example of this can be seen in a Malaysian dish called Nasi Lemak – it’s a national favorite. A typical single serving used to be just rice cooked using coconut milk, served with a boiled egg, sliced cucumber, sambal (a type of spicy chili gravy), fried ground nuts and fried anchovies.
But today this simple, elegant dish has been super-sized to include fried eggs, deep fried chicken and other side-dishes like beef, squid or fish.
It all comes down to the laws of supply and demand and how much information the average consumer gets to access. I hope that more people adopt a diet that includes less meat – it’s more sustainable, healthy and will reduce the hideous animal cruelty. On a personal level I am trying to reduce my consumption of meat to one meal per week. I’ll keep you posted here on how this experiment works out.
I recommend the following documentaries on food (Food Inc., 2008 and Food Choices, 2016).
***Viewer discretion is advised for the third and fourth video of a pig being slaughtered in Vietnam.
Food Inc., 2008
Food Choices, 2016
Pig Being Slaughtered by Vietnamese Villagers – Part 1
Pig Being Slaughtered by Vietnamese Villagers -Part 2