January 26, 2016

How Do We Know an Animal Doesn’t Want to Be Eaten? {Video}

cow sign open range

This is how.

He escapes from a slaughterhouse and runs for his life down the streets of Queens, New York.

You can argue that it’s anthropomorphic to believe a cow knows he’s going to wind up as somebody’s steak or hamburger if you want to. But this story has to give everyone pause.

The cow was spotted around 12:15 pm on Thursday (January 21st) on Jamaica Avenue in Queens and was loose for almost an hour. Needless to say he caused quite a stir for the city dwellers who witnessed his freedom run. “He was running for his life,” said one witness. Other witnesses shot video after being completely surprised by the sight of a bovine animal running though oncoming traffic in the middle of the city. New Yorkers are wholly unprepared for a police chase involving a cow instead of people.



This is actually the second time the police have laid chase to an animal from the slaughterhouse in Queens in the last week. Who knew there were slaughterhouses in Queens, NY anyway? A baby goat escaped certain death just a few days earlier. Come to think about it, I’m starting to wonder if this might be an inside job—just sayin’.

The good news, at least for these two animals, is that they have both been given a reprieve from the death penalty and will be living out their lives on animal sanctuaries.

In the case of the baby goat, three of New York’s finest pooled their money and paid the slaughterhouse $40 for the goat. They named him Merrick for the street he was captured on. Sargeant Mary Humburg said, “He was just a baby. How could I let him be killed.”

The cow’s fate was less certain for a time. The slaughterhouse was prepared to slaughter him after his recapture. He had been promised to a family who had a big event coming up, according to the owner of the slaughterhouse. After an onslaught of protesters and media, the owner agreed to turn the cow, now named Freddie, over to animal rights activist, Mike Stura. Freddie is headed to the Skyland Animal Sanctuary that Mr. Stura created a year ago.

So this is a good news, feel good story. But the reality is over 9,000,000 cows are slaughtered in the United States each year. Although cows can live for 25 years, beef cows are usually dead within two years. And even though cows are still mainly raised outdoors, according to the ASPCA, beef cows are branded and castrated without painkillers and live outside in all weather.

Sometime between the ages of six months and one year, beef cows are sent to live their last few months in feedlots with hundreds or even thousands of others. Without pasture and often without shelter, the cows must stand in mud, ice, and their own waste.”

I’m a pragmatist. I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 40 years. I’ve been primarily vegan for only a year. Unfortunately I don’t believe people are going to stop eating meat. So here’s what I tell most of my non-vegan and non-vegetarian friends. As we say at elephant journal, be a conscious consumer.

I know organizations like PETA don’t believe “animals are ours to eat.” And while I agree personally, I think we have to give meat eaters reasonable options.

We need to educate. I believe when people are made aware of the horrific and unhealthy conditions under which the vast majority of animals raised for food live, they will be willing to entertain some changes to their meat consumption. Likewise, when people understand the environmental harm done by factory farming, their willingness to seek alternatives will be heightened. The Humane Society educates the public on their website and offers suggestions.

In order to make good choices, you need to do your own due diligence. Just like with so-called green or eco-friendly products, there are is a lot of fudging of the facts. So beware. The farm that supplies meat at my local farmers market is also a Bed and Breakfast. You can see the farm animals up close and personal. Some CSA farms like Roxbury Farm in NY also let you buy shares of humanely treated animals.

So to paraphrase the PETA motto, animals are not ours to mistreat.


Author: Gayle Fleming

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Alan Levine/Flickr

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