Non-vegetarians, especially children, who saw the film Babe stopped eating pigs. There was a drastic drop in consumption of pork, ham and bacon. Nevertheless, the world still consumes as much as 114 million tonnes of pig meat with claims of annual consumption rising 1.5%.

The ancestors of domesticated swine (piglets, pigs and hogs) are wild boars. The word swine is used as an abuse. The answer as to why swine are looked down upon probably lies in the Bible which warns against throwing pearls before swine.

Another name for a piglet is shoat. A boar is a male stud pig, whereas barrow is one that was castrated before puberty, and a stag is an older castrated animal.

(Every year about 20 million testicles of piglets are removed in Germany. Therefore in 2019 animal activists on behalf of piglets sued over being castrated arguing that if non-human entities like companies and associations have legal personhood why not animals too? The cruel and painful procedure has already been banned in Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.)

Gilt is a young female, but after farrowing a litter she is referred to as a sow. Usually 12 piglets are produced per litter and there are approximately 2 billion pigs world wide.

Few know how clever and endearing pigs can be. After all, pigs are the fourth most intelligent creatures on earth, ranking behind chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants.

Despite this, man shamelessly breeds, raises, and kills pigs for meat, bristle, bone, hide and more, and misleadingly calls it pig breeding and genetics development. A pig is usually sold for slaughter when it reaches maturity at seven months and weighs around 100 kgs. A pig’s carcass is reflected approximately as 52.1% meat, 15% bones, 13.6% internal organs, 5.3% blood, fat also 5.3%, 2.9% skin and miscellaneous left-over parts 5.8%.

Interestingly, the pig was the host animal for 3 of the world’s 4 pandemics which were zoonotic diseases. They were Asian Flu (1957-58 which caused 1.5 million deaths), Hong Kong Flu (1968-70 which caused 2 million deaths), and Swine Flu (2009-10 which caused 575,000 deaths). The first pandemic host was waterfowl and it also originated from China (except Swine Flu which was from Mexico, the other 3 came from China) but was called Spanish Flu and in 1918-20 caused 50 million deaths.

Below are some products derived from pigs, but it should be noted that not all are exclusively derived from them. For example, gelatine and stearic acid can be derived from the body parts of many other animals as well, whereas lard is exclusively pig fat.

Pig Flesh

Scientists from Sweeden’s Karolinska Institute found that eating 50 grams of processed meat like sausages or ham per day can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by as much as 19%.

Bacon, pancetta, brisket, chop, flitch, ham, hand of pork, gammon, gristle, knuckle, lard, pig’s fry, pig’s trotters, pork, rasher, rinds, salami/pepperoni, sausage, scrag end, shoulder, skirt, tongue and trotters all fall under the heading of pig meat. Lard is pig fat.

The centuries’ old Charcuterie cooking techniques specialise in preserving parts of pig carcasses and producing bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pâtés and confit.

A two to six weeks old piglet when cooked/roasted whole with an apple stuffed in its mouth to keep it open so that gasses escape from the its body as it roasts, is called a suckling pig because it had not been weaned.

Pastirma is seasoned and dried pig meat.

Sorpotel is a famous Goan pig offal/meat preparation.

Brawn is a meatloaf made from the head, ears, tongue, feet and heart of a pig.

Blood or black pudding as it is known, is a type of sausage made by cooking dried pig (or other animal’s) blood.

Chitterlings are pig intestines; whereas Gopchang are grilled ones, and Ggup Dae Gi is grilled pig skin, both Korean. The English call pig skin pork rind, crackling or scratching.

Skin, Tissues and Internal Organs

Pig or porcine skin is not only eaten, but also converted into leathers such as carpincho, chamois, flesher, peccary and suede.

Tambourines are made from pigs’ bladders.

Pig bone and hide glues have industrial uses such as for leather and woodwork. Ash of burnt pigs’ bones is used in the production of train brakes.

In countries like UK where soap is made from pig (or any other animal) fat, the glycerine produced is of pig origin. This glycerine is a common ingredient of toothpastes and other items.

Fatty acids derived from animal fat, including pig fat, have very many uses. They land up as ingredients in items such as washing powders, fabric softeners, paints, candles, shampoos, conditioners, moisturisers, body lotions, crayons and floor waxes.

Gelatine and collagen can contain pig parts, produced by boiling pig skin, connective tissues and bones, and might be called suilline gelatine. (Suilline is hog in Latin.) Gelatine is an animal ingredient of many foods – check on product labels. It is also used as a stiffening agent for paper, bonding agent for photographic film and as a binder for cork manufacture.


Gelatine as found in capsules is its number one use. It forms the casing of many medicines ranging from multivitamins to painkillers.

Stearic acid can be a derivative of pig fat.

Pepsin is an enzyme some times derived from the stomach of pigs. Since it clots milk it can replace rennet in cheese making.

Insulin obtained from pig pancreas is close to human insulin and so used to treat diabetics.

Since human tissues are similar to pig tissues the poor animals are subjected to testing of chemical weapons and much more.

Pig heart valves and pig skin are transplant materials for humans.

Duodenum substances found in vitamin tablets are from pigs’ digestive tracks.

Chondroitin used as an ingredient in the medicine that alleviates osteoarthritis is from the cartilage of pigs.

Heparin used to stop the formation of blood clots is taken from the mucus found in pigs’ intestines.Pig haemoglobin is used in a drug that treats retina eye decay. It is also used as a red colouring agent.

Collagen from pigs serves as protein for body building. It is also processed into face masks and foundations, said to reduce wrinkles.

Catgut is suture made by twisting together strands of purified collagen taken from the serosal or submucosal layer of the small intestine of hogs, cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, etc. It is used for stitching wounds. Silk and synthetic sutures are also used. In 2020 scientists from the University of Bordeaux, France, developed yarn made to human skin cells to replace sutures.


Whereas allotransplantation is the taking of living organs (cells, tissues, etc.) within the same species as in organ donations from human to human, xenotransplantation means taking a living organ from one species and transplanting it into another, like from pigs to humans or baboons to humans.

The first corneal xenotransplantation from a pig took place in 1838 – 65 years prior to the first human to human cornea transplant.

Long after and closer home in 1997 Dr Dhani Ram Baruah of Sonapur, near Guwahati illegally transplanted a pig heart into a human. The recipient survived for a week only and Dr Baruah was arrested.

Now pig heart valves are routinely transplanted into human patients. It all began with using pig skin for extensive burns, and went on to transplanting the heart of a baboon in a child known as Baby Fae (mentioned above) who did not survive because the baboon and she were of different blood groups. (If there was even a shred of ethics in those who undertook this experiment, they would have checked the blood groups before killing the baboon and ruled against the transplant.) Luckily for baboons they very rarely have the universal blood group O so the possibility of using their body-parts has dropped.

In 2016 the National Institute of Health, USA, proposed a new policy which would allow researchers to receive federal funds to make part human, part animal embryos. In effect crossbreeding of humans and animals could be undertaken although not approved as such!

The first human-pig embryo was grown in a laboratory in 2016. Scientists of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California announced that they had created human-pig hybrids. The pig embryos were injected with human stem cells and implanted into sows and left to grow. Of 2,075 embryos, only 186 developed to the 28 day stage. In other words biologists grew human stem cells in a pig’s embryo. The approach involved generating stem cells from a patient’s skin for growing the desired new organ in a pig and then harvesting it for transplant into the patient’s body, and since the organ would be of the patient’s own cells there would be little risk of immune rejection. Creatures composed of two different genomes as in this case of human-organ-growing pigs, are called chimeras.

Pigs are being exploited the most. After editing their genes (eliminating porcine endogenous retroviruses abbreviated as PERVs) they will be specially bred for xenotransplantation. So GM kicks in. In 2017 researchers at Harward via gene-editing followed by cloning of these edited cells, created piglets cleansed of viruses that cause disease in humans. But cloning fails often: in this instance they created 30 piglets (i.e. 8 litters of PERV-free piglets) of which most of the embryos and fetuses died before birth, whereas some died soon after they were born. Few survived 4½ months said to be the ideal age to “harvest” their organs for xenotransplantation. Thus the scientists hope that one day they will make it possible to easily grow and transplant livers, hearts and other organs from pigs into humans.

At the 2018 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas, a panel of researcher came up with the following procedure: “Take the fertilised egg of a pig. From each cell in the resulting embryo cut out a gene or genes that promote the development of the animal’s heart. Inject human stem cells from a patient who needs a new heart into the embryo and then place it into the womb of a sow. Wait nine months. The result is an adult pig with a heart made of human cells. The pig can be slaughtered and the heart transplanted into the patient who provided the stem cells, for whom the organ will be a genetic match.” Moreover they feel that sheep and cows can also host human organs and since the animals are already raised for their flesh and skin, their use to grow more valuable things should meet with no objection beyond squeamishness.

In fact, since April 2015 pig corneas are being used in China under the brand name of Acornea. Initial trials were conducted using tissue from chickens, cows, ducks, geese, monkeys and sheep, but pig tissue was favoured because bio-mechanical properties of human and pig corneas are very similar.

It was reported in 2022 that a team of international researchers including from the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences India, had developed an implant made of collagen protein from pig’s skin, which resemble the human cornea and restored vision. In a study published in Nature Biotechnology the implant restored vision to 20 persons in India and Iran who were blind prior to receiving the implant.

In 2016 South Korean researchers of the National Institute of Animal Science reported they had successfully installed a pig’s heart in a monkey. The crab-eating macaque was also given a cornea from the pig’s eye. The pig had been genetically engineered in 2010 to produce an excessive amount of a membrane protein that helps reduce the risk of the organ being rejected after transplantation.

In August 2019, the 87 years old Sir Terence English who had performed the first heart transplant in the UK in 1979 declared that his team would this year transplant a pig’s kidney into a human’s body.

In January 2022 Dr Bartley Griffith the lead surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Centre, USA, transplanted a pig heart into a patient citing organ shortage crisis due to the pandemic. The recipient survived for only 2 months post-surgery and it was suspected tat the patient died of a viral infection in the pig’s heart.

In June and July 2022 a team of researchers at NYU Langone’s Tech Hospital transplanted two genetically engineered pig hearts into recently deceased humans and monitored their heart function for 3 days to check signs of early rejection.

In March 2024 a kidney from a genetically engineered pig was transplanted by surgeons into an ailing living man. Earlier such kidneys had only been transplanted into brain-dead patients.

The ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) guidelines only permit transplants between animals, not xenotransplantation. BWC hopes the Congress of the Asian Society of Transplantation will not recommend xenotransplantation upon discussing it at their conference in New Delhi in September 2019.

Who all does Man playing God benefit? Scientists, researchers, drug companies, hospitals, health care, media, and so on – all financially gain with business and fame as a bonus. The donor (animal) is killed. The donee (human) suffers and eventually dies.

BWC strongly opposes killing animals for their body parts because their lives are as sacred as human lives.

Humane Heart Tissue and other Transplants

Researchers at Massachusetts’ Worcester Polytechnic Institute are developing a method to use the vascular network in spinach leaves to deliver blood, oxygen and nutrients to grow human tissue.

In 2017 Chinese doctors grew in three months a new ear on a man’s arm and successfully transplanted it. The plastic surgeon Guo Shuzhong of the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University and his team first stretched the man’s skin on his arm with a skin expander. Then they took a piece of cartilage from one side of his chest to carve out a new ear before planting the artificial organ on the patient’s forearm.

Pork and Bristles

28% of India’s pig population is found in the NEH (North Eastern Hill) Region of India. In 2013, the ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) estimated that around 15.35 lakh pigs were annually slaughtered there in the organized sector. Since an indigenous pig produced 300-400 grams of high quality bristles, the ICAR felt that the NEH Region could easily produce 10-12 thousand quintals of pig bristles a year. They therefore developed a methodology for collecting via bristle-clipping and processing the pig bristles by first removing dirt (epithelial scales and wax), destroying microbes and parasitic eggs by boiling for 2 hours, then drying, bleaching, softening and colour removal, etc. so that they could be manufactured into shaving, cosmetic, coat & jacket, washing, shoe, carpet, furniture/equipment dusting and hair brushes. However, this “value added product” attracted no serious takers.

A “stray pig menace” crops up in many cities with the authorities some times giving shoot-at-sight orders like at Hubli-Dharwad; and the corporation at Trichy imposing a ban on pigs – and horses. However, it is quite common to find pigs roaming around within most municipal limits, in slum areas, eating out of garbage dumps. “Fresh pork” (pork denotes fresh pig meat any way) is easily available from such sources and is also supplied by small piggeries from which heartrending squeals are regularly heard.

In 2019 after receiving many complaints a 20-member team from Tamil Nadu was called to Nagpur to catch stray pigs and release them in the forest around the city. However, there was a violent opposition from a group of men who must have been illegally breeding them for slaughter.

In April 2022, a dozen crude bombs to kill pigs were found by the Police in Charholi off the Pune-Alandi Road. Two months earlier a girl was killed and 2 children were injured due to such a bomb exploding.

Punjab has unfortunately gone too far… after finding success in using imported semen of bulls, the Animal Husbandry Department began importing sperm of large white Yorkshire pigs from Canada @ $100 per dose. A private company has also set up providing frozen pig semen and buys back for slaughter pigs weighing 100 kgs.


This was followed by the state government of Maharashtra supporting Gargi Genetics Pvt Ltd’s ‘pink revolution’ at Wada in Palghar district as reported in the newspapers in 2019. Three breeds of pigs which were genetically superior to the commonly bred pigs in India, would be imported from Canada and bred under hygienic conditions at a fully-equipped international-standard piggery. The pigs would not only be bred for meat but the company would also supply the animals for organ transplants and insulin production (although human origin insulin is mostly utilised and considered as good if not better). The aim was to teach commercial pig farming to over 1,000 farmers in 5 years so that they breed (to kill) over 5 lakh pigs.

Perhaps the cruellest method of obtaining any product from an animal is the method by which bristles are obtained from the pig to make paint brushes. Hog/pig bristles, extracted in a barbaric manner are supplied to brush manufacturers by slum dwellers: the pig is forcibly held immobile underfoot by one person while its hair is painfully yanked out by another person, the pig all the while in full consciousness, screaming in pain. The price of plucked pig hair/bristles is double that which have been cut.


All kinds of brushes are made of bristles obtained from the pig/hog, but the most common are brushes for painting walls. Other brushes are for shaving, hair grooming, polishing shoes, cleaning cooking vessels, and art-work.

The Bristle Hair and Brush Manufacturers Association, Kanpur, informed Beauty Without Cruelty that desi pigs/hogs are domestically reared for meat and bristles throughout India for which the Government gives loans. The maximum pigs are in Uttar Pradesh. The annual yield of bristles per pig is about 250 grams. Bristles are collected by small village bayaparies who when they have a sizeable quantity sell them to manufacturers at markets/fairs known as haats/bazaars/melas.

White and black coloured pig/hog bristle wall painting brushes are available in the market. Some say that the white ones are made from pig/hog bristles obtained from China. However Beauty Without Cruelty has found that Indian pigs/hogs produce white hair as well and it is some times dyed black.

The good news is that due to the awareness created by BWC more and more people are today demanding non-animal bristle brushes and rollers be used for painting their properties. But, unfortunately the trade in hog hair bristles has not closed down.

In 2014, BWC again pointed out to the Government the intense cruelty inflicted upon pigs to procure bristles, and requested a ban the import and export of pig bristles and hair for which the policy was “free”.

Then in January 2017, the export of pig bristles and hair to the European Union was allowed subject to a ‘Shipment Clearance Certificate’ and a ‘Production Process Certificate’ which is actually a formality required for all Animal By-Products exported from India to the EU. Prior to that in September and October 2016, 30 kgs and 10 pac (brushes/hair bound together) of 40 mm medium stiff bristle back domestic pig hair was exported to Italy for a total of Rs 2,20,568/-. And, in October 2016, 275 kgs of 3¾” UP Indian extra stiff bristle natural black domestic pig hair to the UK for Rs 18,48,346/. These consignments represent the torture of at least 1,260 pigs.

Interestingly, pigs and dogs are considered unclean by many Muslims, who make up 60% of Malaysia’s 30 million citizens, and so it is illegal to see any products made from their bodies. This saves the animals in as much that their hair/bristles can not be used for paint brushes sold in Malaysia. Traders who flout the rule face 3 years in jail and a fine of 1000,000 Ringgit (Rs 15 lakh). There was a big crackdown by the Malaysian authorities who seized thousands of brushes in February 2017.

In certain parts of the world fertilisers are made from processed pig hair, while L’cysteine is a protein derived from pig (or other animal) hair and is used to soften bread dough.

Unimaginable Complexity

To this day, pig bone gelatine is used in England to help transport gunpowder or cordite into bullets.

We have not come a long way since Indian Mutiny of 1857 when the then new gunpowder cartridges were greased with pig or cow fat that affected the religious sentiments of Muslims and Hindus. Pigs and cows continue to be killed in India and their derivatives are utilised in unimaginable ways.

Pork cum Whisky Gimmick

“The Pork Project” is a 2014 joint venture in America between a distiller and farm to raise 25 pigs and make their flesh taste like whisky because it is perceived that pork and whisky go well together. Particular dried grain used in making whisky is added to the pigs feed in the hope that the animals’ flesh will impart a whisky flavour.

Irony of Pig Statues

Smithfield in Virginia (USA) has painted pig statues on sidewalks, not out of love for pigs, but because it is the home of Smithfield Foods the world’s largest hog producer and processor of pig products. In 2012, 27.7 million hogs had been slaughtered by the company. The city’s slogan “Hams, History and Hospitality” says it all, so when the company was bought in 2013 by a Chinese one, people felt apprehensive.

Lucky Pig!

In China, the pig is one of the 12 animals dedicated to a year in the Chinese zodiac. It represents good luck and fortune. So much so that parents plan their child to be born in the year of the pig! Those born at this time are expected to be happy and honest.

Hunting Wild Boar

Pigs originated from wild boars. They were domesticated over 5,000 years ago and those that were not were hunted. Two species are found in India: the Indian wild boar and the rare pygmy hog of Assam.

Hunting in India is banned in protected areas, yet there are so-called elite groups who boast of having gone wild boar hunting. Others claim to love eating wild boar meat. It therefore didn’t come as a surprise when in March 2013 two poachers were arrested with 10 kgs of raw wild boar meat at Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district of Orissa. They were not shooting the animals, but spreading nylon nets with loops to trap not only wild boar, but also deer.

In the North-East poachers who regularly shoot wild boar immediately skin and cook them in the forest. The meat is stuffed with spices inside a bamboo and placed on an open fire.

In Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district, a pack of hunting dogs are often used to attack and corner wild boars after which riflemen come on the scene.

It is unfortunate that in January 2016 the Chandrapur forest administration of Maharashtra hired a sharp shooter from Hyderabad to kill wild boars at Dhaba and Kothari forest ranges. Under the pretext of man-animal conflict to begin with 70 wild boars were shot dead in 12 villages of the area. The carcasses were supposedly fed as meat to animals at the Gorewada Rescue Centre, Nagpur.

A month later in February 2016, despite the peacock being our national bird, the state government of Goa wanted the wildlife board to declare it and the wild bison or gaur as vermin and allow them to be hunted because they were “nuisance animals” for farmers.

In areas like Devipatan division of Uttar Pradesh, farming outputs are said to have lessened because of wild boar and blue bull or nilgai. The government has therefore been issuing permits to kill them. Wild boar and nilgai in Bihar, wild boar in Uttarakhand, and monkeys in Himachal Pradesh were notified as vermin by the Government of India in 2016.

Pig sticking which is a form of boar hunting was popular in different parts of India during the British Raj. It began in the early 1800s and grew fast alongside the decline in bear sticking and hunting with dogs because sloth bears were scarcer than boars. The Meerut Regiment continued to participate in the “sport” which is as cruel as illegal under wildlife laws: riders on horses with the help of beaters drive a wild boar out of its lair in the jungle and chase it, the honours going to the man who first spears it.

Page last updated on 18/04/24