Valentine’s Day: Nothing says “I want you (and the pig) dead” like bacon roses

Say “I love you” with bacon – click image

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

As Valentine’s Day approaches, the question on many a mind–or maybe just mine–is, Where’s the dissonance in “cognitive dissonance”?  According to About.com Psychology,

The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance.

An apt example of cognitive dissonance is the human propensity to love animals and to loathe seeing them suffer–nonetheless, to consider them tasty and edible even while suspecting (if not downright knowing) that the journey from lovable to edible requires suffering. If you’re one of those people, hang in there–we’ll talk you through it. Just relax and allow yourself to cognitively embrace the dissonance…  

Arnold, pre-bacon – click image

What set me off on this unharmonious path was a post I stumbled across at “pork, knife & spoon,” the official blog of the National Pork Board. (My motto: I troll meat industry websites so you don’t have to.) A February 7, 2012 post entitled “Valentine’s Day Gifts for Pork Lovers” shamelessly features cute pig gifts–as if cute pigs are entirely divorced from the horrors of meat production. You’ll find Beanie Baby piglets, pig figurines, pig-shaped cookies, pig jewelry, Arnold the Snoring Pig (a plush pig who wiggles and snores!), and more–and all offered without the least hint of irony. People love pigs in all their permutations, and the pork industry–and pig paraphernalia purveyors–know it. Compartmentalization is key here, people.

But notice how quickly things take an ominous turn from the cute and cuddly to the cured and crispy. This is where the cognitive dissonance comes in–or, more’s the pity, doesn’t come in.  Here’s another plush pig that wiggles and oinks, but his name–Mr. Bacon–spells certain doom. Here’s one that enters the realm of the surreal, given that it’s at a site called Bacon Freak: The Sooo-weet Heart Plush Piggy:

Who doesn’t want a cute little plush piggy for Valentine’s Day? Certainly not anyone who doesn’t like adorable, huggable piggies, that’s for sure! These little guys come in an assortment of Valentine colors (red, pink, and white) with little embroidered hearts scattered around their piggy bodies. Think of them as little heart kisses.

Do these people really think we don’t know that the living, sentient stand-ins for the huggable, plush piggies are getting their adorable piglet tails and testicles cut off without anesthesia in factory farms this very moment? (Graphic photo: scroll down here.) Then again, given the secrecy surrounding industrial animal production, and the current surge by the industry–aided and abetted by willing state legislatures–to pass ag-gag laws criminalizing the ability to secretly record these atrocities, maybe we actually don’t know. Maybe we can have our piggies…and eat them, too.

AP photo-Barbara Rodriguez

While this doesn’t involve Valentine’s Day, it is a jaw-dropping, forehead-slapping example of cognitive dissonance at work: The Iowa Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, held a few days ago. Yep, it’s in Iowa, the state that far outranks any other for factory farmed pig misery (according to the Factory Farm Map) with 17,938,431 suffering animals.

Got irony? Watch as children rush to get close to Bonnie, the precious piglet who served as the festival mascot. “Be gentle!” admonishes a parent (oh, if she only knew what lurks in Bonnie’s future…). Then, in an act of phony magnanimity, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (the very same governor who signed the nation’s first ag-gag bill into law last March) “pardons” Bonnie by proudly proclaiming her “free from the sizzle of the frying pan for this year’s festival.”

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up. If Bonnie becomes a breeding sow, she’ll have 3-5 years before the sizzle catches up with her. In the meantime, cruelly confined, she’ll endure repeated cycles of impregnation, gestation, and birth. She’ll be robbed of her piglets before they’re weaned, and the cycle will begin anew until she’s just plain worn-out. The trip to slaughter will be its own special nightmare for the pig who once served as the darling of the festival.

But Bonnie, Shmonnie…forget about Bonnie! Back to Valentine’s Day! If red roses proclaim one’s love and passion, what do bacon roses say? Considering what the 2010 Harvard meat study revealed about cured, processed meats, they might be saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day! Let’s update your life insurance policy, dear!”

Vegan Peace

Vegan Peace e-cards

Now that you’ve confronted your dissonance, cognitively-speaking, here are just a couple of suggestions for Valentine’s Day observances. I know, I know, it’s beyond the last minute, but these gifts take just a couple of mouse clicks, and one of them doesn’t even require money. First, make a donation to your local farmed animal sanctuary in honor of someone special. Small sanctuaries are almost always looking for help with feed and electricity costs, especially at this time of year. In each and every one of those sanctuaries–guaranteed–are animals with stories as compelling as Bonnie’s. Next, announce your gift with a valentine e-card from Vegan Peace. Finally–and this is simply a suggested gift to give to yourself and the animals–if you’re still eating the Bonnies of the world, consider cutting back, going vegetarian, or going whole hog (couldn’t resist) by going vegan.

And you’re done, you compassionate devil, you!

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9 Responses

  1. Cognitive dissonance, indeed! “You become what you do not resist.” (Catharine MacKinnon) And Carol J. Adams has written that the animal’s body is an “absent referent” in consumer society where supermarket meat is physically transformed into de-animalized categories such as “beef” or “pork”; philosopher Jacques Derrida has warned that mankind will pay a heavy price for this moral schizophrenia

  2. So glad to see the link to “small sanctuaries” leads to Montana’s one and only — and wonderful — haven for rescued “farm” animals: New Dawn. Sue & Lee Eakins’ sanctuary has spared (pun intended) many a pig from becoming “spare ribs.”

    Keep exposing those CDs (cognitive dissonances) with your witty and wise words, Kathleen. Your posts always make me smile and frown at the same time, if that’s possible.

  3. In a mixed bag of emotions I too am grateful for all your posts Kathleen.

    I heard a week or so ago on tv a blurb about a pardoned pig for some kind of “festival”. After seeing it though – it’s really a lot worse than I imagined. Yes, it’s all so terrible for the pig victims, but beyond that there’s the degrading way that the human pig eaters portray themselves. They wallow in their gluttonous, trivial decadence. It truly is ugly. Embarrassing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgpRAgvX7Gg

    Meanwhile because I know these aren’t the most forth-right folks I can’t help but wonder about Bonnie… “Pardoned” for how long? Everything about them is all for show – Bet somewhere they’re already planning a Bonnie-Bacon-Bonanza. Anyone who lies to themselves with such narcissistic conceit just can’t help themselves.

  4. Those “roses” look revolting…and I can only imagine the foul smell once those sit out in room temperature for awhile. The only creature I can imagine they would appeal to is my dog…and he eats his own poop.

  5. Thanks for a much-needed laugh, 19peace80.

    Provoked–that video is truly an embarrassment. “Trivial decadence”–yes. I suspect that the genesis of this whole bacon frenzy thing is an industry inside job, don’t you?

  6. @ Kathleen– Yup. Has to be. Everyone even slightly literate in health knows bacon is one of the worst meats health-wise. Packed with fat and cholesterol, heavy consumption of bacon and similar processed meats is also implicated in Type 2 diabetes. So there’s nothing positive you can really say about bacon, advertising wise.

    Picture the board meeting in which some PR person leaps to their feet and says, “I know! We’ll make bacon COOL! Tell ‘em all the hip kids are eating it and they don’t wanna be left out!” Genius.

  7. Agreed Kathleen! Fanatical lard love is an inside job for sure: The United States of Bacon illustrates the rotten decay from within.

  8. […] written about bacon psychosis before–remember bacon roses for Valentine’s Day? Broaching the subject again feels like beating a dead…well, pig, […]

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