How is everything we use and eat made from pigs and cattle?

Nigerians are increasingly becoming very aware of and getting active about where what they eat, drink, wear and use come from. How eco-friendly, ethical and kind-to-creatures the manufacturers of their everyday products are. This trend has led to an insane amount of #FitFam across social media platforms.

Of course being fit and healthy (which is what the #FitFam globally represents) is often not an indicator of being ethically and environmentally conscious. In Nigeria, everything goes. Although it is also not uncommon to find the more appropriate @GoGreen #EcoFriendly here and there. The bottom line is that Nigerians have embraced this trend and are now more than ever reading labels and demanding to know the source of fabrics used in their clothing. There are even a few popular vegan food places scattered around Lagos serving Tofus and varieties of plant/protein based beef. Interesting times.

However, like in many other countries where these trends towards environmentally and health-conscious lifestyles have been widely embraced, Nigerians treading this path often do not get the full picture. A lot of focus is placed on the

A lot of focus is placed on the materials that go into the making of the finished products while we neglect the making of raw materials and even some obscure and inconspicuous culprits like hairbrush bristles.

The matter is even worsened for people who subscribe to faiths where certain animals or materials are forbidden for them. Like Muslims who should never consume pork meat or pig parts and any intoxicants or Jews who keep kosher.

But it is not just pigs. There are countless other products ranging from testers for chemical weapons to photography films made from at least 40 different body parts of a cow.

Because of its close similarity with the human tissue, the ear of a cattle is used in chemical weapons testing. Cow bones are also used in the process of making guns. The bone gelatin is used to transfer gunpowder into the casing.

Soaps, candles, shampoos, fabric softeners, face masks and moisturisers all derive heavily from the fatty acids of cows and other animals. Apparently, there are more than 20 components from animals that could be in any of those products. The tricky part is when you read “Panthenol”, “Amino acids”, or “Vitamin B” on the ingredients list, it can be either from animal or plant source — making it hard to tell. Companies are not compelled to disclose this information and many don’t in order to keep as many customers as possible.


Even Glycerin! It can either be sourced from animal or vegetable fat but you can already guess which source is easily accessible and more often than not used. Once glycerin is separated from the animal fat, it goes into the making of products like toothpaste and even so-called “natural products” that exalt the virtues of glycerin.

The bladder of a cow is also said to be used to make tambourines. And that’s not all. Train brakes, shoes, paper and adhesives are made from bone ash, bone glue, bone gelatin and collagens respectively and all from cattle.

According to photography website, Petapixel:

If you’re a vegan film photographer, you might want to think about switching to digital. Why? Because virtually all photographic films and papers are made with animal parts. Most of the thickness in film comes from gelatin, which is used to hold the silver halide crystals in an emulsion. Gelatin is made from animal hides and bones — mainly cows and pigs. People have tried to come up with substitutes, but they haven’t been able to find anything suitable that’s as stable or cheap as gelatin.

So it is not that the manufacturers do try or are no as animal-friendly and ethical as the rest of us. They just haven’t found the needed alternative in the same quantity needed for production.

According to a 37-year-old researcher, Christein Meindertsma, “ it’s almost as if these days, a pig is no longer thought of an animal –  more like an industrial raw material with a mind-blowing amount of different uses.” She found that 4.9lbs of her 16st 3lb pig went to making wine gums, while 4.8lbs went into liquorice. In this process, collagen is taken from the pig and is then converted into gelatine. This finds its way into the many materials mentioned earlier including ice creams, yoghurts, sweets, low-fat butter, fruit juices and much more.

Even in medicine, the mucus in the intestines of cows is extracted to produce heparins which are used to help speed up blood clotting. Insulin used for diabetic patients are taken from cow pancreas.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail