With one-third of Americans obese and a full two-thirds overweight, at least some Americans are re-thinking their pigging out.
"I work hard every day to bring home the bacon for my family," explains downtown New Yorker Lance Angelo, who, at a modest five-foot-six, tips the scales at a generous two hundred forty-five pounds. "So I always figured hey, I ought to get my fair share of that bacon, too."
And get his fair share he did. Lance loved pigging out on pig products so much - whether in the form of bacon, sausage, grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches, pulled pork, or otherwise - that at times he wondered...could it be possible that he actually loved pigs?
"They get a bad rap," Lance elaborates now. "But I'm a compassionate, open-minded guy. I saw Charlotte's Web, I saw Babe. Growing up in Norman, Oklahoma, I saw those adorable greased baby piglets wiggle out of people's reach at the county fair. Yes, pigs are delicious - but they're also smart and really cute. That fact never completely escaped me."
Lance's porcine evolution reached a tipping point early one Monday morning in August outside Ansel Bakery in SoHo. It was barely eight o'clock a.m. After eight weeks of trying and a three-hour-plus-wait, Lance had finally - finally! - managed to procure his first-ever Cronut, the croissant-donut hybrid, the craze for which has consumed sweet-toothed New Yorkers. ('It was good,' he says.)
Unfortunately for the dozens of folks behind him in line, Lance's Cronut was the bakery's last Cronut of the day - and those Cronut-less folks turned their trans-fat-deficient-disappointment on Lance, not sugarcoating their animosity in the slightest.
"One woman was crying," Lance recounts, "and people were calling me all kinds of nasty names. Then this one lady yelled out, 'You fat lazy pig! The last thing you should be eating is a Cronut.' Everyone else started chiming in yelling, 'Yeah, go home, pig! Go roll around in some mud or something.'"
Here, Lance pauses; clearly, the words, even repeated by him, still hit extremely close to home.
"They were right," he says, emotion flickering across his chubby red cheeks. "I realized in that moment, I am a pig. More fat than lazy, but a pig, no question about it. I eat like a pig, and plenty of people say I look like one. On the plus side, just like pigs, I'm also cute and fun and smart. Essentially, pigs and me - no different."
That awareness changed Lance's life - or at least his diet.
"How could I eat what I am?" he asks, his tone philosopical. "I wouldn't anyone to eat me. I wouldn't want my cute curly tail chopped off without anesthetics, I wouldn't want to spend my life in some crowded factory farm barely able to move on a floor covered in my own crap. That would suck! I'm a fat pig, I admit it. But I'm one of the lucky ones; no one's going to eat me."
Supplementing that last remark with a cautionary knock on the wooden door frame of his Lower East Side home, Lance continues, "And I'm not going to eat them. Not ever. Pigs and me, we're in this together."
Somewhat to his own surprise, Lance's shift in perspective had a profound effect on his plus-sized friends, who began forgoing their own pork chops and hot dogs in favor of tofu, tempeh, and even the occasional apple. Turning the standard "You are what you eat" mantra on its head, their refrain became, "Don't eat what you are." Born-and-raised Manhattanites, Lance's buddies informally refer to themselves as "Native New Porkers."
"Pigs don't eat pigs," pronounced Lance's curvy girlfriend, Debbie Lee Harding, proudly. "I may be a pig, but I'm no cannibal."
And the same holds true for police detective Seamus O'Connor, proud wearer of the shiny silver NYPD badge.
Says Detective O'Connor, "How many times over the course of my career have I been called a pig? Too many to count. We pigs need to stick together. This may be a dog-eat-dog world we're living in, but no more pig-eat-pig. Not anymore. Not if my colleagues and I have anything to do with it."