If Cows Could Speak
By Andrew Kirschner
An Animal Rights Poem from All-Creatures.org

All of God's creatures have rights, a fact that most people don't seem to recognize. This includes both human and non-human animals, but not all of them can speak for themselves.

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.
cow profile

This came from me.

This was me.
meat flesh cow death

This was me.
animals as food

This was me.
ground animal flesh

This was me.
leather bag

This was me.
animals shoes flesh

This was me.
shoes animal flesh

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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