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If Cows Could Speak

by Andrew Kirschner

I am 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 do your own.

I also like to groom them

and explore the world around us

like any other animal that inhabits the earth.

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 humans, 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 a bucolic setting, 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 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.

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 tortured.

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.

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 and white.

The crates have no bedding.

They sleep on a cement floor

until workers grind 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 in the 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 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.

The greenhouse effect is worse than carbon dioxide

and every form of transportation combined.

We also consume billions of pounds of food because we are fed grain

instead of grass

that could be better used to feed starving people

since we provide so little food in comparison to the food we eat

that could also be consumed by hungry children.

It takes thousands of gallons of water

to produce one pound of our flesh

and the improper disposal of our feces

and chemicals used to raise us

pollute your air, oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams

making ill and killing many people just like you.

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.

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 came from me.

This was me.

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.

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