Pigs have been an important part of the Chinese economy for thousands of years. Since they are omnivorous and scavengers they do not compete for arable land as do cattle. Earlier this century, pork was estimated to make up 46% of the animal diet of the Chinese of the southern province of Kwangtung. The Chinese laborers of Yema-po, who came from that area, apparently ate pork in even greater quantities;78% (16.6 kilos) of the Yema-po mammal bones were pig bones.
This pattern contrasts dramatically with the one seen in the Euro-American diet of the same time period. As shown in the figure below, the English, Irish, Germans, etc. in California preferred beef and mutton over pork.