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Photo: Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter
esther the wonder pig
Photo: Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter

For most people, getting a random Facebook message from a friend asking if you’d be willing to adopt a pet might be exciting (or, on the flip side: annoying)—but it wouldn’t be revolutionary. For Steve Jenkins and Derek Walters, however, it turned out to be a major turning point in their lives.

Esther The Wonder Pig book
Photo: Grand Central Publishing

When a friend asked them if they’d take a wee little teacup piglet off his hands, they obliged. They didn’t know much about pigs, but figured they would learn along the way—besides, they were told that their new pet, Esther, would only get to be about 70 pounds. Spoiler alert: this little piggy grew to be 600 pounds.

The couple took the whole thing in stride, and have been learning a ton along the way—and, meanwhile, Esther has totally changed the way they live.

First the meat-eating, bacon-loving duo went vegan. Then they bought a farm in Ontario, turned it into a safe haven for abused farm animals, and named it the Happily Ever Esther Farm. And it’s all happened in just three years.

Now, they’re sharing their story in the new book, Esther The Wonder Pig. (And yes, lots of adorable photos of Esther are tucked inside.)

esther the wonder pig
Photo: Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter

“Esther would have spent her entire adult life confined to a two-foot-wide metal crate, which would not have allowed her to stand up, turn around, or even lie down comfortably,” Jenkins and Walter tell Well+Good. “She would likely have developed bedsores from lack of movement, and this intensive confinement, loneliness, and deprivation would have caused her to go insane, which is manifested in repetitive behaviors such as neurotically chewing on her cage bars or chewing nothing.”

Instead, Esther is living her best life—and inspiring a lot of people along the way.

Feeling motivated to cut back on meat (or already completely plant-based)? Check out these three I-can’t-believe-this-is-vegan recipes. And regardless of where you stand on food politics, everyone should get familiar with this upstate farm that New York City women built.