A couple months ago I posted a blog entry called “A Moment for the Pigs.” It was so popular that I decided to do a similar post focusing on a different animal that is treated as a commodity in our society today.
Meet: The Cow
The question we all need to be asking ourselves is:
Are the more than just a number and an item our plate?
Make the connection. Is it worth it?
They want to live. But it’s not up to them. It’s up to us.
Sanctuary noun 1. A place of refuge. 2. A shelter from danger or hardship.
Finding sanctuary is not something most Americans think about regularly–the lucky ones of us don’t need to at all. Some of us have found it already, and some are still searching. But for the majority of animals on this earth, farm animals, the idea of sanctuary–a place of shelter, protection, and safety, is but a distant dream.
Farm Sanctuaries are some of the most beautiful places in the world. They rescue animals who lived lives as machines in factories, and were in line to die as products being manufactured. Sanctuaries open their doors to animals who have lived through a more horrific hell than any one of us could begin to imagine, and provide them with peace and freedom from the incessant suffering and pain, both mental and physical, that had plagued their prior lives. Farm Sanctuaries are a glimmer of hope in an ice cold world.
I was given the opportunity to visit Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY this past summer for their annual Hoe Down event, and the animals I met there touched my heart in a way I never knew any creature could. It was my first time meeting a cow, and I nearly lost my breath at their patient, gentle characters. The saying “gentle giant” took on a new meaning, for never before had I experience a creature (or person) as gentle, nor as big, as those cows.
And to think, animals in factory farms don’t even have enough room to turn around.
I was so moved my experience with these incredible animals that our society treats as commodities that I wanted to share my experience. As the president of the Case Animal Rights & Ethics Society (CARES) at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, I came back to school this year ready to organize a sanctuary trip for students. I found a closer Sanctuary in Ravenna, Ohio, called Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, and planned a trip there.
The trip was fantastic. We took a 15 person Case van down to Ravenna and got to spend the afternoon with a farm full of incredibly friendly, not to mention playful, eager and nuzzley farm animals. Here’s a little taste of the trip:
These gentle horses were rescued from slaughter. Horses that can no longer be slaughtered in the US are auctioned off and instead shipped to Mexico for slaughter. The whole process, from auction to transport to slaughter, is incredibly traumatic for the horses. What a sad way to treat a spent horse that not only trusts you, but often would do anything for you.
The event was a huge success, and everyone that came had a fantastic and enlightening experience. Yearly trips to the Sanctuary will definitely become a CARES tradition. To all you readers, if you have never been to a Farm Sanctuary, I cannot recommend it enough. I guarantee it will change your life, as it did mine.
A close friend asked me a question that I now realize is central to the miscommunication between vegetarians and omnivores. He asked me if I would eat an animal raised on an ‘old-school’ grass farm like that described in the book “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. I responded that although I personally would not eat it because I know I don’t need to and I see no reason to kill needlessly, I am not opposed to the killing and eating of these humanely treated animals. What? Yes, you heard me right:
I am a vegan and I am not opposed to eating meat.
No this isn’t an oxymoron, and no it isn’t rare. It is not meat eating that most vegetarians and vegans are opposed to, but the inhumane treatment of animals while they are alive. I am not opposed to the killing of animals (everyone’s gotta die, right? And it’s rarely pleasant), I’m opposed to infliction of unnecessary suffering. I do in fact support grass farms where animals get to live out lives free from intensive confinement, constant pain, suffering, abuse and neglect before they are killed and eaten.
Why, then, am I a vegetarian?
Unfortunately, 98-99% of the meat in this country is produced through factory farming (Peter Singer, “The Ethics of What We Eat”), so ‘humane’ alternatives are very difficult to find. Truly humane meat is almost impossible to find. Labels such as “free range” “humane certified” “organic” etc. are deceiving and in reality mean very little. “Organic” meat and dairy, for example, often comes from animals that suffer more than non-organic animals, because they are kept in the same conditions but are not given antibiotics and treatment that the others are provided. Ultimately, unless I raised the animals myself or visited the farms I purchased meat from, I could not trust that the animals were humanely raised.
For anyone interested in this subject, I highly recommend the book “The Ethics of What We Eat” by Peter Singer. It’s an eye opener about the meat industry and its relation with this country. It is an incredibly well researched book, and sheds light on the practices and the labels (“free range” “humane certified” “organic” etc.) without being preachy.
“Great Cheese Comes From Happy Cows”
Do you really believe that?
Cows are a lot like dogs. But Calmer. With slightly softer eyes. This is one of the lucky ones saved from factory farms and from slaughter. She’s a sweetheart…she’ll come up to you and sniff inquisitively, of if she trusts you she will nuzzle her nose into you. If only they were all this lucky…
Humane Society investigations have revealed the brutal mistreatment of these gentle animals time and again. Please take a moment to watch what these animals endure day after day until being slaughtered for our food.
So this is interesting…
“Since April 15, 2007, pricier, grain-based animal feed (which consumed 40 percent of 2007’s 13 billion bushel U.S. corn crop) has helped hike eggs 46 percent. Got milk? You paid 26 percent more. Conversely, meat prices have dropped, as farmers slaughter animals rather than pay so much to feed them.”
Check out the rest of the article here.
Meat prices may fall… but how much are they worth to you?