The Two Legged Piglet


A pig born with only two front legs became well known in China, as she learned to balance and walk despite her condition. Her strong will and determination to live with only two front legs seems to really inspire our compassion and sympathy.

A. Bloxham. Pig Learns to Walk on Two Legs. The Telegram. 2010 Sep. 30. Available here (accessed July 14, 2017).

“The 10-month-old porker is known by villagers as “Zhu Jianqiang” (Strong-willed Pig) after it was born with only two front legs and learned to balance on them well enough to walk.”

R. Bailey. Farmers’ Tearful Farewell to Flooded Pigs Prompts Sympathy Online. BBC News. 2016 Jul. 5. Available here (accessed July 14, 2017).

“[The] two farmers bidding an emotional farewell to 6,000 pigs who they feared would drown in severe flooding in China may have helped secure their rescue.”

Rescue Operation to Save 6,000 Pigs from Flooding in China after Photos of Distraught Farmers Go Viral. The Telegram. 2016 Jul. 5. Available here (accessed July 14, 2017).

“Viral photographs of two distraught farmers in China may have sparked a rescue mission to save 6,000 pigs that were imperilled by severe flooding.”

Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health website: The Nutrition Source – Healthy Eating Pyramid – 5 Quick Tips, Following the Healthy Eating Pyramid. Available here (accessed July 14, 2017).

“Go with plants. Eating a plant-based diet is healthiest.”

PJ Tuso, MH Ismail, BP Ha and C Bartolotto. Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets. Perm J. 2013 Spring; 17(2): 61-66. Available here (accessed Jul. 14, 2017).

“Further research is needed to find ways to make plant-based diets the new normal for our patients and employees.”

Rush University Medical Center website: News: Top Cardiologist Preaches Vegan Diet – Kim Williams, MD, to Speak at Veggie Fest. 2016 Jul. 18. Available here (accessed Jul. 14, 2017).

“The head of the Division of Cardiology at Rush University Medical Center and immediate past president of the American College of Cardiology, [Dr. Kim] Williams follows a vegan diet.”

PJ Skerrett and WC Willett. Essentials of healthy eating: a guide. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2010 Nov-Dec; 55(6): 492-501. Available here (accessed Jul. 14, 2017).

“Pick the best protein packages by emphasizing plant sources of protein rather than animal sources.”

H Steinfeld, P Gerber, T Wassenaar, V Castel, M Rosales and C. de Haan. Livestock’s Long Shadow – Environmental Issues and Options. United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization. 2006 Nov. Available here (accessed Jul. 14, 2017).

“Livestock now account for…30 percent of the earth’s land service [and] may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity, since it is the major driver of deforestation, as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas and facilitation of invasions by alien species. [And] livestock’s contribution…amounts to about 18 percent of the global warming effect – an even larger contribution than the transportation sector worldwide.”

Dr. Sofia Pineda Ochoa:

A pig born with only two front legs has become well known in China, as she learned to balance enough with her front legs to do some walking. The farmer said his wife wanted him to get rid of the pig, but he was so moved by the animal’s determination and strong will, that he decided to keep her.

There are other piglets who have been born without hind legs, like this one from the Philippines. And, their strong will and determination to live with only two front legs seems to really inspire our compassion and sympathy.

These pictures from China also drew quite a bit of online sympathy. What happened was a storm caused a pig farm to flood, so the farmer said a tearful goodbye to his pigs before he evacuated, thinking he was leaving the pigs there to drown.

But, when these images were shared over the Internet, there was widespread public outcry, and the pigs were eventually saved. Well, they were saved from the flood that is; they were not saved from their ultimate fate at the slaughterhouse.

The fact is, tears and all, these animals were bred into existence for their flesh and destined for a violent slaughter at a fraction of their natural lifespans – regardless of any handicap or flooding.

Although the two-legged piglet and the pigs in the flood rightfully evoke our empathy, the intentional harm and slaughter that we regularly impose upon these animals stands in stark contradiction.

Every time there’s an undercover investigation into an animal agriculture operation, we see footage of what we imagine must be the “worst of the worst”. But, the fact of the matter is that, even under the best of circumstances, the treatment of animals used for food is nothing short of what we would otherwise label as torture.

Even the so-called “highest” welfare standards for raising and killing these animals involve truly horrendous treatment and harm. We simply cannot turn a living, breathing, complex animal who does not want to die into food without inflicting immense harm on that animal.

I recently visited a slaughterhouse with the other Meat Your Future co-founder, Bob Rapfogel.

Bob Rapfogel:

What we saw at the slaughterhouse is something you will see at virtually any slaughterhouse anywhere in the world – that these animals do not want to die, and they fight desperately to stay alive.

Our natural inclination is to empathize with and rally behind those animals with whom we connect, whether it’s a personal connection with our pets at home or a story about a particular animal like the two-legged piglet.

But don’t all animals deserve our moral consideration? Why have empathy for one but pay for countless others to be mercilessly exploited and killed for foods and products that we don’t need?

Dr. Sofia Pineda Ochoa:

Animal foods are not necessary for our health. In fact, as a physician, I can tell you that a balanced plant-based vegan diet also happens to be very healthy.

That’s why Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate says a plant-based diet is healthiest; and why Kaiser Permanente, the largest HMO in the country, wants to find ways to make plant-based diets the new normal for their patients and employees; and why the president of the American College of Cardiology recommends a vegan diet; and why the chair of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition recommends that you pick plant sources of protein over animal sources of protein.

Bob Rapfogel:

Animal agriculture is also devastating for the environment. It uses more land than any other human activity, taking up 30% of all the land surface of the planet.

It’s enormous land-footprint is also why it’s the number one driver of deforestation, which, in turn, is resulting in a profound loss of biodiversity and species, as animals lose their habitats.

In addition, according to the United Nations, animal agriculture also produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector worldwide.

Dr. Sofia Pineda Ochoa:

Let’s embrace our common sense and respect for animals, and abstain from consuming animal products. It’s very easy to do, it’s healthy, and it’s urgently needed to help protect and restore our environment. Thank you very much.

This transcript is an approximation of the audio in above video. To hear the audio and see the accompanying visuals, please play the video.

This video was written and narrated by Sofia Pineda Ochoa, MD and Bob Rapfogel, with special thanks to Leo Lopez for assistance editing.

This presentation may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Meat Your Future is using such material in its efforts to advance the public’s understanding of the implications of animal consumption on health, the environment and ethics. We believe that this not-for-profit, non-commercial and educational use constitutes a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in 17 U.S. Code §107). If you wish to use this material for purposes of your own that go beyond “fair use,” you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Without limiting the foregoing, this presentation also includes the following:

  • Background music, “Almost Home”, by Moby (with Damien Jurado), under noncommercial license from moby gratis.
  • Photographs of (1) featured cover image of two-legged piglet credit Quirky China News / Rex Features from Daily Mail; (2) additional images of two-legged pigs from The Telegraph; (3) photos of flooded pigs from BBC News and The Telegraph; (4) photo of dog and cat licensed from Adobe Stock; and (5) photographs of tule elk, ring-tailed lemur and spined-headed frog from Bob Rapfogel Photography.