Animals Are Mothers, Too
Posted in: Activism
By Jasmine Taylor
Being a Mom
I love being a mother. I went through so much between pregnancy, delivery and postpartum, but it was all worth it for me to just be with my kids and watch them grow. I couldn’t imagine having to go through all of that, and then have someone tell me I would not even be able to keep my child. However, this happens everyday around the world. March is Women’s History Month, and as a vegan I have come to see female animals as fellow women who also need help escaping from historically passed down beliefs, traditions, misconceptions, stereotypes, and barbaric practices. While contemplating these things in relation to Women’s History Month, I realized I need to advocate for them as much as I do for human women. The more I learn about the dairy industry, the more I believe it is my responsibility, as a woman and a mother, to be the voice for female animals. Let me walk you through what happens to these mothers…
Dairy cows do not get pregnant naturally, even when they are paired up with a bull. Would you consider being forced to breed with a random person natural? “Natural” implies freedom, not captivity. It’s not secluding two animals to force them to mate; not shoving an arm inside a cow to get her pregnant (which is the standard industry practice). Artificial insemination is used for humans when they want to be artificially inseminated. Animals are forced to do this. It shouldn’t be considered the same thing. By definition, these mothers are being raped. We should call it what it is, and maybe it would get more attention. One has to look no further than the recent #metoo movement to see that.
The Uncomfortable Truth
I haven’t even gotten to the worst parts yet. The impregnation is just the first step in the lifelong torture these mothers will be subjected to. Pregnancy is incredibly hard on a woman’s body. I had morning sickness and fatigue that kept me in the house for 2 weeks straight. I gained so much weight that my joints started to hurt. There are so many things that make pregnancy painful and uncomfortable. The only thing that gets women through it all is the knowledge of seeing and raising their child at the end of it. But what about the animals? Cows go through childbirth just to get their babies taken from them. If that happened to me, I would be heartbroken. I would be so upset that I wouldn’t want to live through the pain. After taking a cow’s baby, she moans and screams as she calls out for them. This can go on for hours, days and weeks, as she grieves for the loss of her child.
These mothers don’t have time to grieve, though. Their purpose for being impregnated in the first place was to produce milk for humans. Now it’s time for this distressed mother to be milked despite her emotional state. I imagine someone trying to take my breast milk after kidnapping my child and it makes me feel sick. I tried to breastfeed for a short time, about 3 months, before I gave up and switched my daughter to formula. Breastfeeding is not as easy as it seems. My breasts were swollen and tender. I had cuts on my nipples that wouldn’t heal because I had to keep feeding my daughter. Every time I fed her, those cuts broke open and the pain shot through my body. The worst part for me was the breast pump. I hated being hooked up to that machine. I felt like my body wasn’t mine anymore, and all I was good for was pumping out milk. Just looking back at it and saying that feels a little dramatic, but there’s a point to what I’m saying. I felt like that just for the little time that I did breastfeed, and that was not forced on me and was for MY CHILD. My point is, these females are only seen as worthy to live as long as they can produce milk or lay eggs. I can’t imagine having to breastfeed for the rest of my life! That would be torture! Do not even get me started on hormones! Still, I did it for my daughter. It’s different, because I wanted to do it for her. If someone tried to hook me up to a milk for a stranger who wasn’t my child, there’s no way I would do it willingly. At the end of the day, mothers produce milk for their child, ONLY. We aren’t meant to constantly make milk, and we aren’t supposed to drink milk from anyone other than our own mother. Yet this is what we are doing to women, not humans women but cows. A dairy cow’s life consists of being continuously impregnated, manipulated to produce an unnatural amount of milk, milked over and over again every day until their bodies give up, and then sent to be killed for food.
I still have a full life to look forward to with my family. Dairy cows generally 12-24 hours with their baby before they are taken away. I was able to rest comfortably in my own home while I was pregnant. These cows are living in small areas, in their own filth and mud without any grass in sight. I was able to see a doctor if I got sick or developed some type of medical concern. Dairy cows are pumped with hormones and antibiotics that cause them to have health problems. There is little to no chance they will be treated for their medical issues. I was also able to stop breastfeeding if it became too painful or uncomfortable. Cows have no choice but to endure while their bodies are violated and their milk is stolen. Once the cows stop being able to produce milk for humans, they are seen as “spent” and are sent to slaughter to be turned into cheap meat that often ends up in school cafeterias, fast food and pet food. Being too weak to walk, they are often carried with forklifts and dragged with tractors into the slaughterhouse.
As long as this industry is profitable, nothing will change. It is up to us, the consumers, to make a difference. Cows and other female animals like laying hens are forced to live their entire lives as enslaved for human consumption. They are only worth as much as their bodies will provide. Sound familiar? What is being done to these animals is no different than what humans have been through, and are still recovering from, in our country’s past. Animals deserve the right to their own bodily autonomy. It’s been said that black people were treated like animals during slavery, which demonstrates that we (as a society) know that animals are treated as disposable. No one, human or non-human, should be treated that way. They feel pain, fear, boredom, sadness and joy. They value their lives, just as we value ours. Let’s give them the respect they deserve.