What’s the big deal with pig meat? Turn one way and pork is bad for you look another and it’s good! So which one is it? As with everything else this topic is not red and white; it’s pink!
I choose to not eat meat. My choice not yours. I have numerous reasons and not one is more right than another; I do not have to defend my choice to you. I do not expect you to defend your choice to me. Eat meat if you want. In fact there are many benefits to a meat based diet. Your reasons are no more right than mine. This is not a vegetarian good, meat bad kind of topic. The question was asked so this is my answer.
A History Lesson
Pork has a history that may lend some light on the whole pig meat bad/good dilemma. It all begins with religious texts; but is this where it will end? For some maybe!
Pigs have cloven hooves; a sign of the devil, or a devil depending on your view point. Some people will stop right here this may be reason enough to avoid pork products. Read on if you need more than that!
Any animal that has a cloven hoof that is completely split into double hooves, and which brings up its cud that one you may eat. — Leviticus 11:3
And the pig, because it has a cloven hoof that is completely split, but will not regurgitate its cud; it is unclean for you. You shall not eat of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.
The consumption of pork dates back to 5000 BC and now makes up about 38% of meat production worldwide.
Pigs were one of the first animals to be domesticated for food because of their adaptable nature. As omnivores they would consume human rubbish and help to keep settlements clean.
The entire animal was useable for early settlements; with very tough skin the hide was used for shields and/or shoes. Hair and bones used for brushes, brooms and tools. Of course all this can be said for other animals as wells.
So here is where things get sticky when considering reasons to consume pork. While the pork industry wants you to believe that pork is “the other white meat” biologically speaking it is red meat. Myoglobin, an iron/oxygen binding protein found in muscle tissue, is in high abundance in pig flesh, while not as high as that of beef it is much higher than turkey or chicken.
The most common cut of pork is the shoulder; just for fun let’s compare that to a beef shoulder.
In general pork comes out on top at lower calories and lower fat content when looking at different cuts. But what else is going on here to give piglets the bad rap?
The Sciency Stuff
Statically speaking pork comes in last place when asking the general population thoughts on the healthiest meats; with fish being in first place. Back in 2012 an article was published on the Psychology Today website (find it here) that looked at studies on pork meat. I’ll condense it:
Liver Cirrhosis, Liver Cancer and Multiple Sclerosis all show a positive correlation to the consumption of pig flesh. Meaning that as consumption increases so does the incidence of disease. Specifically cirrhosis of the liver by pork had a higher correlation than cirrhosis by alcohol! Where beef had no correlation whatsoever. So again, what is it about pork? One theory is the amount of polyunsaturated fats present in pork: saturated fats protect against liver disease and polyunsaturated causes it.
Ok so we get into some confusion here. Saturated fats are considered a bad fat increasing blood cholesterol while polyunsaturated are considered the “good fats” helping to reduce blood cholesterol. But we’re talking liver not heart health here. In reality all fat is good to some extent and all fat is bad to some extent. “Pink” area! Depending on the study you read, on the organ in question and the original thesis presented we can make any claim we want.
What to Believe?
Believe everything and nothing all at the same time. Yep that’s right! Be a skeptic. Ask questions. But in the end you must look to the self. What is going on in your body? This is the only real reason to avoid or include pork, or any food for that matter, in your diet. Most importantly eat in moderation. All good food can be “bad” when consumed in abundance.
Did this help you? Or confuse you more? Leave comments, ask questions!