17 September 2012

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

In “Where Cows Are Happy and Food Is Healthy” (column, Sept. 9), Nicholas D. Kristof describes “happy” cows that are loved “like children” by an organic dairy farmer. I applaud his recognition that cows are individual feeling beings that share with us the ability to experience happiness and contentment, fear and pain.

The article does, however, gloss over the undeniable fact that even cows with names produce milk only because they have recently given birth to calves who, if male, have been taken away from them. Consumers should consider that cows like Edie or Sophia are often fiercely protective, grieving mothers whose anguished cries the farmer undoubtedly heard as he removed their young.

The article also doesn’t mention the common practices of castrating male calves and amputating the horns of cows and calves, typically without any pain relief. Most cows are also forcibly impregnated, and the closely spaced pregnancies impose significant metabolic stress on cows.

Even at Bob Bansen’s dairy, food comes at the cost of animal welfare. It’s a safe bet that any glass of milk is from a grieving mother, named or unnamed, that will end up dying at the slaughterhouse.

President, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Norfolk, Va., Sept. 10, 2012