Five years ago I released my feature documentary film, Pig Business, which exposed the global scandal of factory pig farming and the true cost of cheap meat. Since then I have been making shorter films and using these as a tool to encourage a shift in current farming methods away from unnatural, intensive animal factories and towards real, hands-on farming.

We have lobbied MPs and MEPs and talked to food and farming CEOs and bankers, all of whom are tied to a global economic paradigm of exponential growth and a centralised, industrialised system. They are not going to generate the systemic change that we need. But there is another way to bring about the end of animal factories – by harnessing the power of consumers.

The Pig Pledge logo

The Pig Pledge asks people to boycott animal factories and buy only high welfare pork from sustainable farms. How? In supermarkets, by only buying pork with labels that say Freedom Food, Outdoor Bred, Free Range or Organic. If you are buying meat at a farmers’ market or butchers, ask how the animals are raised, and then cover the extra cost of high-welfare pork by buying cheaper cuts or eating less meat. It’s not a big difference in terms of price – two sausages from pigs raised in an animal factory cost the same as one and a half sausages from farms where the pigs are happy and healthy.

Wendell Berry said that ‘eating is an agricultural act’. Every time we consume any food, we endorse a certain type of farming. So when we buy the cheapest pork, we are giving a vote of confidence, and more importantly an economic incentive, to factory meat production in which:

  • Biodegrading pig waste sickens locals residents with a cocktail of toxic gasses and pollutes watercourses.
  • Genetically modified feed is imported, mostly from South America where much of it is grown on land that has been deforested for soya protein to feed European livestock.
  • Human health is threatened globally by overuse of antibiotics, especially in animals, leading to antibiotic resistant bacteria that will make common diseases untreatable.
  • Animals are abused by confinement in overcrowded, unhealthy conditions, often on bare concrete where they lead stressful and frustrated lives.
  • Costs are cut by ignoring welfare and health regulations, unfairly undercutting local producers and thus destroying rural communities.

There is a growing knowledge of the true cost of animal factories and so a growing movement against animal factories as more and more people are choosing pork from sustainable, high-welfare farms where the pigs are healthy, hardly ever need antibiotics and do not pollute. As people become aware of the gruesome realities of animal factories, more are buying only high welfare pork and in so doing are helping to bring an end to this inhumane, industrial system.

Our social media campaign, which includes a 3-minute video, will launch online on 13th October and continue all week through World Food Day on 16th October. Scores of partner organisations including the Sustainable Food Trust and Compassion in World Farming as well as Stephen Fry, Dominic West, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and many others who will be tweeting, posting and e-mailing all week. On each day the focus will be on one of the damaging aspects of animal factories: overuse of antibiotics, pollution of air and water, animal cruelty and the economic destruction and threat to family farms caused by industrial animal factories.

We support those who have taken the Pig Pledge via our website which provides resources such as a guide to pork labelling, a directory of high-welfare farms, butchers and restaurants and a guide to finding and cooking cheaper cuts of meat, which helps to offset the increased price of ethical pork.

The Pig Pledge is another step in our ongoing campaign to inspire people to make better food choices, enabling people to find local, healthy and fair farming systems – better for people, animals and the planet.

Featured image by Steph French

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