We were driving down a long dusty highway, just after crossing from Texas into New Mexico. There wasn’t much to see at first; it was an expansive brown and sporadically industrialized desert speckled with patches of irrigated green… But then, in amongst the industrial buildings, contrasting figures of black and white came into view.
A couple of hundred feet from the highway, standing under thin tin roofs, in what little shade there was, paddock after paddock of cows began to whirl by. There were no blades of grass or even weeds to be found under hoof here, only compacted sun-broiled dirt. Still, some cows braved the heat, perhaps because there was not enough room in the shade for all, and lolled around the yard.
There did not seem to be a bull, male cow or young calves of any gender in the herds. We discovered later that these were most likely dairy cows, kept on site so that they could be moved in and out of the nearby factory at milking time.
Their lives appeared to consist of “waiting”. Waiting to eat, waiting to give birth, waiting for their children to be taken from them, waiting for their bodies to be drained of the milk they futilely created for their missing calves. They knew these routines, but I wonder if they knew that all the “waiting” was only leading to an early death.
If every carton of milk, package of cheese, sour cream and yogurt told the true story of these cows’ lives; the loss of their children and the bloody end both they and their calves ultimately meet… would the greater public still turn a blind eye?
Or would they stop and honestly look at the animal holocaust they are helping to create and say, as one of my driving companions did:
“How can we stop this? This has to be stopped…”
My answer is the same now as it was then.
“Stop participating in it.”
Stop eating meat and dairy, stop wearing leather, stop using animal products. It is all connected. It is all part of the process by which we separate friend from food and clothing. It is all part of the process by which we categorize other living sentient beings as property and expendable, as less than us, and thus unworthy of liberty and the right to life.
For each cow displayed near the side of the highway there are millions more cows, chickens, turkeys, fish, lobsters, sheep and other “farmed animals” living in a range of different conditions, some much better and some much worse than what I’ve spoken of. But all live their lives “waiting”… waiting to be inseminated, to give birth (or lay eggs), to be milked, and finally, to be killed… to be used and then discarded just because of the species they were born into.