It is often claimed that the ban on pork found in Jewish and Muslim dietary laws is founded solely or primarily on health concerns regarding trichinoisis.
This suggests two questions:
1.) If the law givers were concerned about the health consequences of eating pork, why did they not simply say “pork is not healthy”? It was done in other contexts; for instance, in Leviticus there is practical advice on determining what is and is not a mark of leprosy, without it being dressed up with talk about how an ordinary pimple is not an adomination before the Lord.
2.) Since proper cooking eliminates the danger of infection, why were the laws concerning pork in the form of an outright ban, rather than in the form of instructions to cook the pork thoroughly? After all, it is a bad idea to eat produce that is unwashed, but the response of religious leaders was not to ban eating produce; rather, people were expected to clean it first.
Anthropologist Marvin Harris has argued at some length that the ban on pork, like a lot of religious strictures, was primarily based on economics. A desert society which invested a great deal of resources to raising swine could find itself in serious trouble when harvests were poor. In support of this idea that the laws are designed to uphold wise economic policy, Harris cites a tropical culture where raising and eating pork is actually a religious requirement. By analogy, he also cites arguments that the Hindu ban on killing cows has, in the long run, actually been benificial to Indian society.
While some social scientists have been critical of Harris’ argument, it may serve as least a partial (and substantial) explanation of the condemnation of pork among Mideasterners.
This is a WAG, but the fact that pigs, left to their natural state, are not at all like Arnold Ziffel but actually pretty disgusting–wallowing in filth, and mean besides, might also have helped give them an image problem in some cultures.