Jewish World Review June 17, 2002 / 7 Tamuz, 5762
Happy cows are really miserable?
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, has weighed in again,
proclaiming that the latest round of ads from the California Milk Advisory
Board, is misleading. The spots show happy cows enjoying the bliss of the
sundrenched California lifestyle. Because of their bliss, they produce a higher
quality milk and cheese for a lactose-tolerant America than cows in the Midwest,
who do not have the benefits of balmy weather, surfing, and movie stars.
"The truth is," Matthew Penze, a lawyer for PETA, told the San Francisco
Chronicle, "that there's misery in every glass of milk."
I'm not a milk drinker myself, though I must admit I do enjoy a cracker with a
wedge of Havarti dill on occasion, without giving a single thought to the
emotional state of either the bovine creature from whence the cheese first
issued, or of the humans who processed the cheese, inserted the dill, wrapped it
in plastic, and placed it on the store shelf. Call me heartless, but I have
seen a cow or two milked in my time, and I have seen my share of suffering as
well. In my opinion, a cow milked is not a cow tortured. A cow bored maybe,
but then cows always seem a little bored, don't they?
Sure, PETA has a point. Cows don't talk. Cows don't sing "Sunshine Day." Cows
don't harbor horrible memories of Wisconsin. Cows probably don't consider
California earthquakes to be a soothing foot massage. But again, when I'm
sucking a chocolate malted through a straw, the emotional well-being of the
entities which produced this fine product is not something I dwell on. Whether
the cow or dairy farmer has achieved satori, or is shivering in a barn working
through personal issues, is frankly a matter of indifference to me.
Previously, PETA has tried to stop the "Got Milk?" campaign on the basis that it
promoted unhealthy products. But what has that go to do with the ethical
treatment of animals? Skateboards aren't healthy for us either. Has PETA
spoken out about that?
Certainly, we'd all be better off if the airwaves were uncluttered with rampant
anthropomorphism, whether it's talking cows in the pasture or fuzzy little bears
in the drier. And we'd probably be better off eating raw beets and soy beans
and respecting our fur-bearing brethren as we ride our ten-speeds to our
eco-conscious places of employment. In the meantime, set down that soy latte,
and pass the Havarti, pal.
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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Ian Shoales