Disclaimer: I am not vegan, nor am I against the agricultural/livestock community.
Did you know that June 3rd is National Animal Rights day? I only found out about a week or so ago, however, the timing works out well with my most recent piece, a watercolour portrait of a cow decorated with a crown and collar of bold flowers.
It’s only been recently that I have learned about how cows (and all other farm animals for that matter) are raised for consumption, both here in America and the rest of the world. What I’ve come to know as a sad truth, is that most animals live and die horrific lives on factory farms every day. Even though I am not morally opposed to the consumption of living things – as all creatures great and small consume each other in one way or another – I do not believe in the unethical and inhumane practices of factory and large-scale farms. Since I love to make art with heart, I decided to use my cow painting to help raise awareness about the meat and dairy industry in hopes that improvements will be made as consumers become more aware and educated about the products they consume and the lives they affect – both humans and non-humans.
Why are factory farms so terrible for cows and animal rights? They operate on a quantity over quality production model. Cows on factory farms are raised with little to no care for their health and wellbeing. Any animal deemed unhealthy or sickly is literally tossed aside to die as caring for them would cut into profits. Those who can mature, are made to live in in dirty, cramped quarters. Unsurprising, their final moments are even more brutal, as cows are packed into cramped trucks with no water for hours on end in confusion of what is happening to them.
Even dairy cows get the short end of the stick in the agricultural world. It is easy to assume cows just give milk and live happy lives in green pastures. However, to produce milk, they must be pregnant. They are continually impregnated and once they give birth their calf is taken away. It’s so upsetting for these cows that removing the calf can be extremely dangerous for the farmer. For about five years or so, this process is repeated. Once a dairy cow has become to old to give milk, she is usually sent to become cheap canned meat.
These practices are abusive, greedy, and evil to say the least by most moral standards. Large corporations view these creatures as a commodity that cannot think or feel. However, research has shown that bovines are quite intelligent.
Some may scoff at that notion to be concerned over the abhorrent treatment of cows, but I believe that most people are simply unware of what goes on behind closed barn doors. Just as I did, I encourage everyone to do a little research themselves to see how terrible the meat industry and factory farms are. Educate yourself on the products/brands you buy and use.
For the record, I am not a vegan. My own personal belief is that in the law of nature. Things – all things – eat and are eaten. When we die are bodies feed the worms, who feed the birds, and so on and so forth. However, nature doesn’t hold a candle to how cruel factory farms can be to cows. Even now, with GMO products falling under constant scrutiny, many cows are purposely bred to be larger and produce more milk despite the negative effects hormones have on humans and selective breeding has had on the cows themselves.
It should also be noted that not all farms are bad. There are farmers that do care about their cows and do not compromise their wellbeing for greed or lack of compassion. They raise them responsibly and do not take more from the cow than what they can give. There are dairy cows who do not have their calves snatched away only to be milked several times a day. There are even farms in which cattle is not seen as food until their very last breath is given in the same pasture in which they were born and lived in.
As I worked on my cow portrait, I did my best to inject feeling and personality into her eyes. I hope that when you view this piece, you can make a personal connection to it and consider for a least a moment that real life cows are sentient beings much like ourselves. They feel pain, they feel happiness, they are worthy of compassion, and that our current practices in the meat and dairy industry are fundamentally and morally wrong.
I ask you not to be vegan (unless you wish to do so), but to at least consider limiting your consumption of animal-based products. Try to choose and support brands and farms that do not compromise animal rights for dollars, and boycott brands and factory farms who know nothing of respect and dignitary for the very cows that make up their livelihood.