Today’s vegan Mofo prompt is to “honour a human or non-human animal who inspires your veganism”.
It didn’t take me long to think of cows.
I love cows, even if I do feel a bit wary when running through a field of them. They are beautiful creatures, they form strong bonds and friendships in their herds and are the reason I became vegan.
I remember being on a school holiday at a working farm (at the time they liked to send inner city kids to farms for school holidays to get a taste of the countryside. Perhaps they still do!) and having to herd a group of cows to the milking shed. I must have been around 9 or 10 and I remember being given a stick to whip them along if they were stubborn. I’m pleased to say I never used it but instead gently talked to them. At the time I was vegetarian and didn’t know about the horrors of dairy farming. I just knew I loved the cows and thought they were beautiful.
When I became vegan as a teenager it was because of the cows. I started to realise that in order to produce milk cows had to have calves each year and that these calves were taken away from the cows so that they could be milked.
I think my understanding started with the veal protests in the 90s. There were a lot of demonstrations at Dover and other ports against the live export of calves to mainland Europe for veal. These demos made the news regularly and I started to make the connection. If we didn’t drink milk, there wouldn’t be calves to export.
The demos planted the seed but it was a few years later that I became vegan. Once I knew exactly how milk and dairy is produced and the suffering it causes I couldn’t carry on consuming it.
So this post is for the hardest working mothers, the dairy cows who give birth every year but can never keep their calves, all so another species can drink the milk intended for their offspring.
And to celebrate them here is a beautiful video of German dairy cows whose farm became a sanctuary.