BEING VEGAN – If I Were A Cow…
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
“I became a vegan the day I watched a video of a calf being born on a dairy farm. The baby was dragged away from his mother before he hit the ground. The helpless calf strained his head backwards to find his mother. The mother bolted after her son and exploded into a rage when the rancher slammed the gate on her. She wailed the saddest noise I’d ever heard an animal make and then thrashed and dug into the ground burying her face in the muddy placenta.” James McWilliams
If I were a cow, I would want others to know that I am so much more than a piece of meat for consumption, a dispensing machine for my baby’s milk, or a commodity whose skin can be turned into leather for humans to wear.
I would want people to take a moment to look into my gentle eyes, where they would see the world. A world of possibility with grass fields for grazing and nurturing my young freely. I am by nature a happy creature. Living life gently and co-existing peacefully with other animals. I would not move very quickly unless I needed to, but instead would take life one step at a time with grace and dignity. This is the life that I would see and imagine, but reality of life for me would be a harsh and cruel realization of something else. I would want people to know that I am much more intelligent than they think and that I can see and feel everything that they do and try to reason why these things are happening to me. I can feel pain in more ways than you can imagine.
If I were a cow I would be used, one way or another, from the moment I was born. If I was a male cow that was being raised for my flesh, I would be castrated by a sharp blade or pliers. Or I could have a tight band put around my scrotum until they would eventually shrivel and fall off. The pain…the shame. My horns would either be sawed or chopped off my head. If I am younger they will gouge or scrape them out. That all hurts for so long. They take hot irons at almost 1000 degrees and brand my flesh. They will feed me things that I don’t like eating to try and make me grow as fast as possible. I smell death in the food. Eventually, I would be herded with others for transport somewhere. None know for sure where but we are all scared. Some don’t want to get on the trucks and the humans would hit us or poke us with things to shock us to get us to move. It is a long ride and some don’t survive. Why is there no food or water? We would arrive at a place that we know is our end. We can see…we can hear it…we can feel it…we can smell it.
If I were a cow I wish every one of these places could have glass walls that everyone could see in to. To see other cows being dragged in screaming or pulled in by chains until limbs are broken. Ripped by our tails…beaten about the head and body. Why…just because we don’t want to die? Put in a line…shot with steel bolts in our heads and chained to a conveyer system where our throats are stabbed or slashed. We are supposed to be unconscious but from the sounds of the bellowing cries this is not the case…even as some are being skinned or gutted. It is true that some of us will die piece by piece. There is no dignity in this death, just as there has been little dignity in our life other than what we have naturally brought to it. Our lives are so much shorter than they could or should be. Humans will end up using every bit of us for their pleasure and purposes.
If I were a cow and were part of a dairy factory farm, life would be no better. If I were a female, my life would be about living in a confined place and having a human regularly reach into my body and deposit something necessary to make me pregnant. They will want my milk that is intended for my babies. My babies…I spend those months feeling them grow in my body…and then when it is finally ready and I give birth…they take my baby from me. I hear their cries and they hear mine. If it is a female, somehow I know that their life will end up being much like mine…they will use them just like they use me. If it is a male calf…they will see if the calf is strong enough to get up on its own. If it is they will take them and keep them in solitary cages and feed them for six months or so and then kill them and use their tender flesh for veal. If they are not strong enough they will just put them on a pile to die. I never get over the loss of them. They hook up machines to me and take my milk. My baby’s milk. This hurts so much and I can feel myself bleeding and sore constantly. I always feel sick and they put things in my body and my food that I don’t understand. They drain me dry and then the process starts all over again. When they are done with me in a few years they will load me onto a truck and take me somewhere. I only know that whenever they take these other cows away…they never come back.
If I were a cow and raised to be entertainment for others, my life would be about being herded into arenas where so many people would be watching, laughing or cheering. Some humans would try and ride the bulls. Young calves run scared and human riders on horses chase them and throw ropes about their necks or legs to eventually wrestle them down and tie them up. There is so much noise and we are scared and we get hurt as so often our limbs are ripped and torn, bones broken and we bleed inside. Sometimes we die because of it. Eventually they will be done with us and we will all be taken on a truck somewhere. In some places in the world they put the bulls in arenas filled with people and a man with a strange hat and red cape teases and torments the bull and stabs them with very sharp blades. People cheer as blood is being spilled around the arena. Why do humans find pleasure in any of this? It only cause pain and death for us.
If I were a cow, I would wish that these farms and factories would one day all go away. I would wish that humans would see that they don’t need the flesh of my body or the milk that I excrete to live or be healthy. In fact, they would be so much healthier if they didn’t eat or drink anything that came from me. I would hope that humans would see that my skin is not necessary to make their shoes, their purses. their jackets, their couches or the seats of their cars…there are so many other things that they can wear and use that do not cause another to feel any pain or experience death. I would wish that I could just live and not have my babies taken away from me…that they could enjoy their mother’s milk to help them to grow…that I could nurture them to life. I hear there are sanctuaries where they take animals like me and they don’t kill us or use us in any way and let us stay with our babies. Lots of nice people come and visit us and they like to hug us and touch us…and sometimes they cry. It just makes us happy. We would love it when children come because they are so full of love. People look into our eyes and see us and feel us and know that we would never bring them any harm. We know these humans would not harm us either. If I were a cow, would this kind of life be too much to ask for?
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at email@example.com or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.
Paul’s e-book, “Eating Vegan in Vegas: If It Can Happen Here, It Can Happen Anywhere” is now available at www.sullivanstpress.com.