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If you rooted for the Prospect Park bull, reconsider that burger order: Why save one cow and kill millions more?

January 8, 2018

Source NY Daily News
By Jessica Scott-Reid

Tales of farmed animals escaping slaughter, making that last-ditch mad dash to freedom, seem to be able to turn nearly any burger lover into a cow cheerleader, rooting for the animal as he darts through traffic, running for his life. Bystanders don’t want to see the animal hurt, hit by a vehicle or handled too roughly by authorities.

No, unlike the millions of anonymous farmed animals, suffering out of sight in warehouses and slaughterhouses, these escapees somehow become more deserving of our concern and support. They are often given names, like the now famous Freddy and Frank Lee, cows who eluded slaughter last year by running to freedom in Queens.

And they are granted reprieve. Much to the relief of the invested public, once carefully captured, these animals often end up at sanctuaries rather than back on the kill floor.

And such is the case for New York’s latest little asylum seeker, a yet-to-be-named calf who escaped from a Brooklyn slaughterhouse and made a run for it in Prospect Park on Tuesday. The calf will now be granted the amnesty he so bravely battled for, as he too is reported to be heading to a sanctuary.

“Everybody was rooting for this bull,” said one witness. “Nobody wanted to see him go back to the slaughterhouse.”

“We were cheering him on,” said another witness. “I was just hoping they (police) were more gentle with the cow than sometimes they are with people.”

Though most humans claim to love animals, and to be against animal cruelty, it is somehow possible in these cases to deeply desire a happy ending for one animal, while intentionally ignoring the inevitable, violent fate of all the rest. How is it that we can have such an emotional response to one creature, while experiencing zero concern for the herd from which he came?

The answer is because it is just too easy to disregard the connection between one frightened calf, fighting for his life before our eyes, and the plastic-wrapped patty that ends up in our shopping cart. And as long as the consuming public only sees frightened baby cows in the context of courageous tales with happily-ever-afters, and not in the everyday narrative of electric prodding and throat slitting, then beef can continue to be what’s for dinner.

If slaughterhouses only had glass walls, as the saying goes . . .

Thus perhaps we ought to take this moment, as we savor the favorable outcome of this latest sweet story, to stop and think about those cows who instead ended up as dinner, how they too battled for their lives, out of our sight and out of our minds.

Like you or me, farmed animals do not want to die. Far from the archaic belief that cows and pigs and chickens do not have the capacity to feel or fear or fight to live, modern research vehemently proves non-human animals are sentient, conscious and capable of great suffering.

Terrified escaped cows offer hard proof.

So if the story of Freddy or Frank Lee, or our yet-to-be-named little bovine had you hoping and cheering then exhaling with relief, it may be time reconsider that burger. For if only he could have starred in a charming tale of bravery and been given a name, then maybe that cow too could have had his happy ending. Cows, like all animals, are not things, but complex characters deserving of their own life story.

Or, in the words of J.M. Coetzee, “Anyone who says that life matters less to animals than it does to us has not held in his hands an animal fighting for its life. The whole of the being of the animal is thrown into that fight, without reserve.”

Scott-Reid is a freelance writer.

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We are team bull chicken cow fish
No animals should ever be
Served in your dish

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2018 5:56 am

    Truth in advertising should be enforced in the meat and dairy aisles. If people could see what life is REALLY like for those chopped up in cellophane-wrapped packages and newborn calves being pulled from their mothers to keep them on the pumps, perhaps those equipped with the same moral fortitude as us vegans — and there are many! — would abstain from their purchases.

    Of course, there are those who enjoy the veil so that they don’t have to think too much. It’s easier to ignore.

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 8, 2018 5:57 am

      ‘Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.’ ~ Albert Schweitzer

      Liked by 2 people

      • January 8, 2018 12:18 pm

        It’s called empathy; too few people actually have it. (Vegans do!) Thanks, Shannon, I love that quote.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. karenlyonskalmenson permalink
    January 8, 2018 10:18 am

    We are team bull chicken cow fish
    No animals should ever be
    Served in your dish

    Liked by 1 person

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