Chinese Urged To Welcome Pig Year By Becoming Vegetarians

February 16, 2007

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Forget about those tempting pork dishes traditionally consumed to welcome the Chinese New Year.

Adopt a “healthy, humane vegetarian diet” instead.

That advice comes from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as Chinese around the world prepare to usher in the new year under the zodiac sign of the pig starting February 18.

“Treat pigs with kindness and respect,” the group said in predominantly Chinese Singapore where streets are lined with posters depicting chubby pigs and piglets and similar adornments went up in stores as soon as the Christmas decorations came down.

“Pigs are highly intelligent, sensitive and, contrary to common misconceptions, very clean animals who don’t deserve to be abused, slaughtered and eaten.

“Many Chinese are not aware of just how smart pigs are,” said Coco Yu, a PETA spokeswoman. “We’re hoping many will curb their appetite for pork once they realize” all the positive attributes of the animal, contrary to misconceptions.

PETA cited the findings of experts.

Among them is Dr Sarah Boysen at Pennsylvania State University. She said pigs are much smarter than dogs and “able to focus with an intensity I have never seen in a chimp.”

Scientists at the University of Illinois found that pigs can learn to turn on the heat in a cold barn and off again when they become too warm.

They communicate with one another as well. More than 20 of their oinks, grunts and squeals have been identified as applicable to different situations, from wooing to expressing hunger.

Despite their reputation as dirty, pigs are actually very clean animals. Pigs don’t “sweat like pigs,” according to the list of revelations. They are actually unable to sweat.

Pigs enjoy bathing in water or mud to keep cool.

Attributes such as an acute sense of direction, heroism and gentleness were also highlighted.

Leading firefighters to a barn shed to save a calf was among piggy feats mentioned along with chasing away intruders.

The link between the consumption of pork and other meats to heart disease, strokes, diabetes, obesity and several types of cancer was stressed.

“Going vegetarian is the best way for Chinese people to make sure they’ll be ringing in many more New Years to come,” Yu said.

By Ruth Youngblood

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