[Visiting friendly cows on my birthday exactly one year ago. They went crazy with happiness when I picked handfuls of clover and fed it to them.]
The cow is one of my favorite animals. Since about age 13, I’ve been enamoured by its peaceful essence and strong beauty. The huge head is awesome. The bellowing cry is both soothing and powerful. There is a dreamy magic about the cow. Have you ever smelled a cow’s breath? I have, and truth be told, I kinda like it. It smells green like the earth. And there was nothing I would rather have been doing on my 25th birthday than listening to their soft, continuous munching on grass in the quiet countryside of lower Saxony.
Now I really have to wonder why—why would I ever desire such a creature to be killed for the sole purpose of being my dinner, or confined to a stall and kept constantly pregnant to produce my milk and cheese? I loved cows for several years before I became vegan, and I always did feel uncomfortable with the idea that animals were killed to be my food, but I never thought twice about downing a big hamburger or a bowl of beef stew. Eating animal products just seemed like the normal and reasonable thing to do.
And I believe this has to do with my growing up under the teaching of the notion that animals are on this planet to be our food, to be ruled and controlled and killed by humans—that they “belong” to us, so they are ours to do with what we will. This is an idea that some societies, particularly the Western world, have taken way too far, to the point of unbelievable mass cruelty. We can deny and justify and ignore all we want (we’re good at that). Ignorance may be bliss for us, but it is undoubtedly pain for them.
To put it succinctly—there have been circumstances in history (which may still exist in some places) where killing and farming animals for food was necessary to human survival. This is no longer the case in most parts of the world. The fact is that most people simply do not need animal protein to have a nutritious, healthy diet. I like this article, written by a dietician, on possible deficiencies and recommended supplements for a plant-based diet–unbiased and helpful.
Considering this fact, along with the tremendous amount of suffering that most livestock endures for the purpose human consumption (not to mention the hugely detrimental effects on environment and health), is what really sent me over the edge to make the decision to stop eating animal products entirely, If I don’t need to contribute to the suffering of animals, whom I appreciate and respect, why on Earth should I? And no denial here—your dollar is your vote.
“We are the consumer, the demand, and the fuel for ever industry we choose to support.” -O.W.
I choose compassion and respect.