In order to focus on an interesting point in lwymarie's recently closed thread (due to my outburst), I'd like to criticize the commonly accepted notion that this taboo arose in order to avoid trichinosis. Some reflections ought to make this proposition highly dubious: 1. The incubation period of the trichines(?) is fairly long (up to several years, if I'm not mistaken) That is, you can go a long time after having eaten infected pork before you actually get ill. Thus, it seems unlikely that any culture which does not allocate resources to scientific research would be able to identify the culprit (i.e, what part of their diet caused an eventual disease) . Note that this doesn't mean that earlier cultures were unaware of that certain products should not be eaten; for example, it is quite universal that "self-dead" animals should not be eaten (that is, using a found carcass as a food source). But food-poisoning, which is a common complication by eating rotten meat, will develop in the course of HOURS, rather than years. Thus, a "primitive" culture's ability to identify the culprit here is much easier than in the trichinosis case. 2. There exists a much simpler explanation: Pigs have been extensively used as REFUSE EATERS, even as eating sewage (i.e, s**t). They had a sanitary function in many village communities, but that these animals were regarded as "unclean" is not highly surprising from this perspective.. We can certainly still understand (and feel) the physical revulsion at the thought of eating s**t eaters. To bolster up the argument here, we may note that goats had a similar sanitary function in many Norwegian mountain villages; and sure enough, in these areas, people would not eat goat. The taboos against eating dog meat might well have a similar origin. EDIT: I googled on trichinosis; although it can occur within a couple of days, it is more usual that symptoms appear 2-8 weeks after digestion. See for example: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/trichinosis/factsht_trichinosis.htm The argument in 1. still holds, though; what "primitive" culture keeps careful track and control of what they ate a month ago?