Note: This post was just for my interest and not meant for any serious purpose.
At 06:45 on a Sunday morning, I laid in bed thinking about how many pigs I would kill to save a stranger’s life.
Yes, I did have a strange dream about pigs the previous night.
So when Wonderful Husband woke up, I asked him too. We spoke about how many pigs he would kill to save a stranger’s life. After thinking for a while, Wonderful Husband said that his number would be between 10,000 and 1,000,000 pigs.
I couldn’t stop there though, I needed to ask more people, so I chose ten people from my friends and family. Some are vegan, some are non-vegan, some have pets, some don’t have pets. I tried to be as fair as possible, and set up questions based on a made-up person: Dave.
There is an average guy, we can call him Dave. He is average in every way. Average height, weight, intelligence, relationships with his family, wage, social skills, etc. Let’s assume Dave is a single guy with no immediate family for now.
Then I asked the following questions.
- If someone said that they were going to kill Dave or a pig and you had to choose which one had to die, who would you choose?
- This time if it was a choice between Dave and two pigs, who would you choose to kill?
- How many pigs would it take for you to save the pigs and kill Dave?
- Now let’s assume that Dave has a family. He has an average wife and an average child. Does this change the number of pigs you would need to save the pigs over Dave?
- OK, now let’s assume that instead of pigs, there are dogs. Does this change your number? (For this question I changed it to whatever companion animal that I thought the person was connected to the most).
The answers were really interesting.
|1. Pig vs Dave||2. Two pigs vs Dave||3. How many pigs?||4. Dave family||5. Change Pigs for Dogs/Cats|
|Person 1||Pig||Pigs||No limit||Pigs||Dogs|
|Person 2||Pig||Pigs||3||More than 3 pigs||2 Dogs|
|Person 3||Pig||Pigs||No limit||Pigs||Cats|
|Person 4||Pig||Pigs||No limit||Pigs||They’d kill Dave for 1 cat|
|Person 6||Pig||Pigs||Not sure||Pigs||Not sure|
|Person 7||Pig||Pigs||No limit||Pigs||Dogs|
|Person 8||Pig||Pigs||No limit||Pigs||Dogs|
|Person 9||Pig||Pigs||No limit||Pigs||Dogs|
A few key points from the survey:
- Some people have a lot of loyalty for humans.
One person was so loyal to humans that they would kill 1,000,000 cats over Dave. This seemed particularly strange to me as this person has spent the last 5 years rescuing cats.
With another participant, I got to have a very honest conversation about why they were so loyal to humans.
I asked him, what was it about human life that he valued so much? He replied that he valued consciousness, being self-aware and living not according to instinct. This is what made humans different to other animals for him and I thought this was well thought out. I then asked what he thought about people that had intellectual disabilities that were incapable of the attributes he had listed, would these people not be worth saving versus Dave? My friend said he would value these people as any other human being and we concluded that it may not be the traits he valued, but rather humans just being humans.
We then discussed the idea of racism, sexism, and speciesism. These biases mean we draw an arbitrary line where it suits our feelings at the time. Valuing someone for simply being human could be dangerous, as dangerous as valuing someone for being white. Overall I felt very grateful for the conversation I had with my friend.
My next point…
- Some people that would kill an unlimited number of anonymous pigs, cats and dogs to save Dave would actually choose Dave to die instead of an animal they knew.
This throws my last point out of the window.
This was not something that was a part of the survey, but something I noted when chatting to a few of the participants after the survey was over. Some people that showed a blind loyalty to humans throughout the survey, value their relationships with their companion animals far beyond a stranger’s life.
Several of them stated that they would kill Dave for an animal they had a personal relationship with. This means that they don’t necessarily value the human for being human, but rather the relationship with that being.
This could be very valuable information for me. All I need to do is introduce my non-vegan friends and family to the animals before they’re slaughtered and then they won’t want to eat them anymore. Problem Solved.
- One person made a huge distinction between pigs and cats.
As I went through the questions with one person, their answers were incredibly consistent, saving Dave at every opportunity with no limit of pigs that they would kill. However, this changed when I swapped pigs to cats. The person said they would kill Dave for one cat. This was an extreme change and led to a very interesting conversation about how we are taught to love some animals and not others. For more information on this bias, you can check out a previous article I wrote here.
- This survey brought up a lot of bad feelings for the majority of participants.
I had assumed that vegans would struggle with my questions more than the other participants but this wasn’t the case. However, there was a clear distinction between the people that had previously bonded with an individual animal and the ones that hadn’t.
I genuinely appreciate everyone that took part and value their honesty.
If anyone has any questions regarding this survey, please feel free to comment below. I had a lot of fun so I’d love to talk about it more and maybe in the future, set-up a survey with a bigger sample size.
Thanks for reading and go vegan 💚