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.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. Author of the book Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror, Goldberg also writes the magazine's advice column. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as 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.

His 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. Goldberg rthe recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. 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. He is also the recipient of 2005's Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.

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.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Health

From This Author

Just In