Why You Shouldn’t Eat Ham This Holiday Season (Or Any Other Time of Year)

Regardless of what you celebrate (or don’t celebrate), the holidays are a time of togetherness, kindness, family, and friends. So why is the centerpiece of a holiday meal often that of a dead animal? Tradition is no reason to harm someone, so let’s take a moment to consider the reasons why we should leave ham off our plates this year. 

FEMALE PIGS LANGUISH IN INTENSE CONFINEMENT: In the meat industry, female pigs are forcibly impregnated over and over again. They’re typically kept in crates so small that they cannot lie down comfortably, turn around, or take more than a step forward or backward. Once they give birth, the mothers are unable to do anything that comes naturally to them, like nurture, or even see, their own babies. These crates are not only physically painful for the pigs, but they’re also psychological torture for them.

BABIES ARE MISERABLE FROM THE MOMENT THEY’RE BORN: Piglets are born into a life of pain on commercial farms. Farmers clip their teeth, punch holes in their ears, cut off their tails, and in the U.S., cut or tear out their testicles — all without anesthetics. Piglets who are too small or weak are sometimes killed by being slammed against the concrete floor. This practice is often referred to as “thumping” in the industry.

PIGS STILL SUFFER ON FARMS MARKETED AS “HIGH WELFARE”: Animal Equality and other groups have found time and time again that pigs on farms considered “humane” are living in conditions that most consumers would be appalled by. They’re typically crowded into filthy sheds, unable to engage in any of the behaviors that are natural to them. 

TRANSPORT IS GRUELING: When pigs reach market weight they’re referred to as “hogs,” and are shipped to the slaughterhouse in all weather conditions. There’s no law regulating how long these trips are, and pigs sometimes travel for days without access to food or water. Confused and terrified, these animals are likely seeing the sun and breathing fresh air for the first time as they’re prodded onto the trucks.

THEY’RE KILLED IN HORRIFIC WAYS: Currently, a typical slaughterhouse kills about 1,000 pigs per hour. Pigs are supposed to be rendered unconscious with a stun gun before their throats are cut, but because slaughterhouse workers are moving so quickly, many animals aren’t stunned properly and are still alive and conscious when they’re shackled by their legs, their throats are sliced, and they’re dunked into the scalding hot water bath that’s meant to remove their hair and soften their skin. If this wasn’t bad enough, the USDA has recently decided to remove a regulation that limits slaughter line speeds, putting the pigs at further risk of excessive suffering. 

PIGS ARE INTELLIGENT AND CAN FEEL PAIN: Pigs are considered highly intelligent animals, but what’s most concerning is that they have the same capacity to feel pain and emotions as other animals do. Scientists agree on this fact, but pigs still have few legal protections regarding how they’re treated or killed. They’re typically regarded as commodities by the industry. 

YOU CAN EAT SOMETHING ELSE: Last, but not least, another reason not to eat ham this season is all of the delicious plant-based options you can try instead! It’s been proven that humans are healthier on a plant-based diet, and making the switch is now easier than ever.

For your holiday this year, why not show compassion for these sensitive animals, and try one of the many vegan roasts available, or Torfuky’s plant-based ham instead?