I am a cow. I like to feel the sun on my back, graze in an open field, roam freely, and nurse my young.
I provide milk for my babies and I love them as you love your family.
I also like to groom them and explore the world around us like any other animal that inhabits the earth.
I am a cow. If I could speak your language I would tell you about my life in an industrial factory and you would probably never eat hamburger, veal, or steak or buy shoes, purses, clothes, chairs, or sports equipment made of leather for the rest of your life.
I am born for the sole purpose of being killed so you can eat me or wear or use my skin. I live a life of pain and suffering and I die a gruesome death.
It is not the idyllic and humane scene you may imagine. If I am selected to produce milk, I am forced to have a calf every year. Like women, I have a nine-month gestation period. Imagine the discomfort of giving birth every year for your entire life.
I am also forced to produce 100 pounds of milk every day. In the wild, I would produce only 10 pounds. Normally I would live to be more than 25 years old but I’m ground into meat after just three years which means I will only live approximately 12% of my life. That’s the equivalent of ending your life at age 8.
I am a cow. I am scared when I am rounded up for transport and I am often injured in the process. After removing my horns, I am packed on trucks and sold like a slave at auction.
In order to identify me, I am branded with a hot iron. It is frightening, unnecessary, ruthless, and painful. There are other ways to mark my identity but factory workers don’t do it because I am just a commodity to them.
The workers also cut a chunk out of my neck so they can tell I belong to them from a distance. I receive no painkillers.
I am a cow. My owners show me no mercy. If they did, compassionate humans wouldn’t have to create organizations called Mercy for Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Farm Animal Rights Movement, The Humane Society of the United States, or Farm Sanctuary. These organizations exist because I am abused.
I am force-fed genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to increase my size and milk production which also contains my pus and blood that you drink. The growth hormones cause my milk to contain high levels of Insulin Growth Factor-1 which has been shown to cause breast and colon cancer in people like you. There are much healthier options that don’t involve hurting animals.
As a result of ingesting these steroids, my calves often have birth defects.
I never have the chance to interact with them and their father is killed for meat since he can’t produce milk. Since there are so many males that don’t produce milk, my owners decided to find new ways to use them so they created the veal industry.
They force males into wood crates for months so they can’t even turn around stretch their legs or lie in comfort. They wear chains around their necks and they feed them diets deficient in necessary nutrients so they will be anemic and atrophy, causing their flesh to soften. The crates have no bedding. They sleep on a the cement floor until workers cut them up so people can eat them for dinner.
I live in dust and manure-filled holding pens for months. As a result, I suffer from respiratory ailments. Many of us contract cancer eye. Left untreated, it eats away at our eyes and face and creates a hole in the side of our heads. It is painful beyond measure.
I am a cow. I am transported multiple times before slaughter sometimes traveling thousands of miles on trucks. Many of us die of heat exhaustion and disease. The stress is enormous.
Raising us for slaughter also harms the planet. We release massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions wrecking havoc on the environment through the emission of methane released from burping and excretions. The greenhouse effect is worse than carbon dioxide and every form of transportation combined.
We also consume billions of pounds of food because factory workers feed us grain instead of grass. The grain could be better used to feed starving people since we provide so little food in comparison to the food we eat. The grain should be consumed by hungry children, not us.
It takes thousands of gallons of water to produce one pound of our flesh. The improper disposal of our feces and chemicals used to raise us pollutes your air, oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams sickening and killing thousands of people.
We often become terribly sick or break our legs and can’t walk. They call us “downed” cows. Our illness and inability to move angers some factory workers so they brutally beat us and drag us to our deaths. They often use heavy equipment to transport us while we’re still alive putting hooks into our backs to lug us to our fate.
I am a cow. Before they hang me upside down and bleed me to death, I am supposed to be knocked unconscious with a bolt gun to the head but it often fails so many times cows like me hang upside down kicking and wailing in unthinkable pain until if we’re lucky someone comes along and sticks a knife in our throats and ends our misery.
Please think about your actions.
They matter to animals, your health, and the planet.
I was a cow.
This was me.
This was me.
This was me.
This was me.
This was me.
I’m dead now.
But it’s not too late for you to save others from the life I lived. You have the power to save thousands of animals just like me from abuse and suffering simply by not eating us or buying products made of us. I know you care. I know you have the capacity to show mercy. I hope you will.
Andrew Kirschner, Ed.D., is a volunteer grassroots animal rights advocate and the organizer of the 2013 Florida March Against Cruelty to Animals. He writes a zero-profit blog, Kirschner’s Korner, to help raise awareness about issues affecting the global community to make the world a more humane place. To receive Dr. Kirschner’s new articles via email, enter your email in the “Follow Blog Via Email” link at the top right of the blog.