Thoughts on Animal Cruelty

I have read a great book called The Untold Story of Milk, by Ron Schmid, ND and I came upon the following moving story:

“Mooing loudly, a cow runs toward a man walking through a field.  Alarmed, the man suspects madness, but as she nears him the cow turns and heads back, still looking back over her shoulder at the man and mooing.  He walk on, and she again approaches him, gazing at him, appearing anxious, again mooing.  Then she trots away in the same direction as before.  Curious, the man follows her, and she leads him to the far end of the field, where her calf lies fallen into a ditch nearly drowned.  He rescues the little animal, and the mother awkwardly but joyfully skips and prances about.”1

I found this story moving, partly because I’m a sap, but also because it demonstrates that cows are not the dumb, unfeeling beasts that they are made out to be.  Like so many other creatures, they have intelligence.  They feel emotion and pain.

I’m not an animal rights activist, and I’m certainly not a vegetarian.  But I am against animal cruelty, especially to animals with the intelligence and humanity that the cow in this story demonstrated.

That’s why it saddens me the way our modern world mistreats cows and other animals.  As anyone who meets a cow will quickly discover, cows are curious and gentle creatures.  They all-but-beg to spend their entire lives nourishing man with their milk, and in death with their flesh.  They ask for nothing in return but to be left alone to munch on the grassy-foods that nature provides, however, even when denied this basic right, they still demonstrate no ill will and continue to unselfishly give us what little they have.

Despite all this, from our modern culture cows receive almost nothing but cruelty.2  Many spend their entire days standing on concrete floors that cause them painful hoof ailments.  Others spend their days standing knee deep in mud or feces, with nary a blade of grass to be found for miles.  Many live their lives almost entirely indoors in a metal pen with little room to move.  Almost all are denied the freedom to do that which they evolved to do–roam on pasture and eat grass.  Rather, they receive almost nothing but chemical-laced grain, if not something worse, which wreaks havoc on their digestive systems.  Most live their lives in such a state of sickness that they would live only one or two years, a fraction of their life potential, if they were not slaughtered.  In short, in return for their willingness to give endlessly to mankind, they receive from mankind the same disregard shown to a beat-up couch.3

Even worse than knowing how men treat animals is knowing that such treatment is indicative of how men are capable of treating other men.  The movie Food, Inc. included an insightful quote from PolyFace Farms farmer Joel Salatin.  Joel spoke of pigs, but his remark would certainly apply to all animals, cow or otherwise.  He said:

“A culture that just views a pig as a pile of protoplasmic inanimate structure to be manipulated by whatever creative design the human can foist on that critter will probably view individuals within its community and other cultures in the community of nations with the same type of disdain and disrespect and controlling type mentality.”

Right on.

1  The Untold Story of Milk, The History, Politics and Science of nature’s Perfect Food: Raw Milk from Pasture-Fed Cows, by Ron Schmid, ND (with a forward by Sally Fallon Morell), p. 371 (2009).
2  Although it’s been said that, as badly as cows are mistreated, they have it much better than chickens or pigs.
3  Actually my old couches were fairly well treated.  At least they spent their last few hours sitting on a curb ON GRASS!

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About Patrick Crawford

Patrick Crawford was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He attended college and law school at the University of Notre Dame, spending one year during law school studying at Notre Dame’s campus in London, England. He is now living and practicing family law in Annapolis, Maryland. When he is not practicing law, he follows the strong interest that he has acquired in the interaction between big business, government, the media, and the lives of individuals affected by these influences. He is particularly interested in the severely negative effects these forces have on nutrition, food production processes, local agriculture, and therefore, on health. He hopes that, through his articles, he will be able to educate others on the importance of traditional and sustainable foodways and agricultural practices, for the sake of both individual health and the security of local food systems. He runs his own website, called: National Fork.
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