Is It Better to Eat a Pig Than a Dog?

Nicolette Hahn Niman defends the taboo against eating dogs, arguing that their unique relationship with humans makes them unfit for consumption. Pigs, on the other hand, she's okay with. Goldblog, however, is opposed to eating both pigs and dogs, pigs in part because this blogger is an adherent of an objectively pro-pig religion, and dogs, well, because some taboos are taboos for a reason.

Here is a bit of her argument for eating pigs as opposed to dogs:

The dog-equals-pig argument has some serious flaws. First, individuals and cultures have always made countless decisions about what things are food and what are not. The basis for these decisions is about much more than whether something is edible or palatable. Until recent years, for instance, few modern Americans had eaten dandelions, nettles, or purslane, even though each of these plants (generally considered "weeds") are not only highly nutritious, they're quite tasty.

What each of us eats is the result of multiple factors, including income, geography, climate, culture, heritage, habit, and even, to a certain extent evolution (more on that in a moment), and there's simply nothing wrong with that. Evidently, these norms are the basis for the modern Western view that eating dogs is wrong. It's no more contradictory to eat a pig but not a dog than it is to eat arugula but not purslane. When it comes to eating, we all rule some things in and other things out.

Not much of an argument, actually, but, in fairness, read the whole piece. What she fails to mention anywhere in her argument is another fundamental difference between pigs and dogs: Pigs are smart, whereas dogs are dumb, which is why it was so easy for humans to domesticate them in the first place. Science has proven that pigs are among the smartest animals on the planet (up there with dolphins and non-human primates) and one consequence of having  brain is that pigs, as Jonathan Safran Foer has shown, can sense that they are destined to die well before they are actually slaughtered. Swine-eaters of America should contemplate the mental torture pigs experience before ordering a ham-and-cheese sandwich. It is true that some farms -- boutique farms -- have devised ways to mitigate the mental and physical anguish of pigs, but the pig-slaughtering industry, as a whole, is a torture machine. Dogs should not be eaten because of their unique qualities and their unique relationship with humans, but pigs should not be eaten because they are noble and intelligent creatures.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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