Meat eaters give livestock life. Their lives exist only because they are raised for human consumption, the question is what kind of life do they lead? Being resident in a French farming village I can testify to a good quality of life for the cattle, sheep and paltry raised here – but of course they hardly feed many people and I am aware that industrial livestock farming exists in France as in other countries.
Now it’s autumn the village farmers are bringing their cattle in from the fields and because the calves and their mothers have been separated from one another, for the first two days the sound of plaintive calls between them can be heard. But all of us leading the Western way of life have experienced the same separation the first couple of days of going to school and the calves settle into the new set-up just as we did. However the Charolais bull next to the mother and calf in my photograph experienced one separation too many that autumn in 2009, when moved to a field on his own he became so aggressive he had to go to the slaughterhouse. The meat on his old body was so tough it could only be used for burgers the farmer told me, but at least his death wasn’t in vain, he had served his purpose for being given a life: he fathered calves and in the end provided good tasting burgers for people who normally couldn’t afford good quality Charolais beef.
For the calves the slaughterhouse is a year or so away, after winter shelter they will have summer grazing in the fields, rejoining their mothers (nursing newborns once again) and the cattles’ lives will be as if out in the wild. But it’s the milk cows’ calves I feel sorry for, they don’t get to spend months with their mothers, let alone weeks, only about 10 days, then they are separated and I feel sorry for the cows too, not only undergoing separation from their calves year after year but existing only to produce milk, I bet that they’re only used for dog’s food at their end. In the evening when I take my dogs to walk them up at the wind turbines and drive by the milking parlour, if the person doing the milking is late arriving, the cows are queuing at the entrance to go in wanting the relief of having their bloated udders emptied. I remember ‘expressing’ milk for other babies in the nursing home because I had more milk than my baby daughter needed and it wasn’t a pleasant experience, but I suppose the cows get used to it having it done.
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I’m glad I don’t drink cow’s milk, at least I’m not contributing to their unfortunate life. I stopped taking milk in my tea because I learnt that cow’s milk can cause mucus. When I stopped, the only time I had a problem with mucus after that was when I caught a cold. Fortunately this lactose allergy doesn’t apply to goat’s milk cheese (unpasteurised) or sheep’s milk yogurt and fortunately such animals lead a better life than cows, but I suppose they too get early separation from their young.
As regards factory farming, thankfully Brigit Bardot’s intervention caused an EU law to be passed for factory raised chickens to be provided with bigger cages and hopefully more laws will be passed to give factory farmed animals a better quality of life. They are the ones who perhaps wish they’d never been born. That said, I hereby declare that from now on I will only shop for meat that has come from free-range animals, it’ll mean eating less meat of course, but vegetarians manage to get their proteins without meat consumption. Anyone going to join me?
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