Numbers or Individuals: A Perspective

When you take a look at this photo, what do you see? If you’re like some people, you see 83, 41, 97, and 76 (the numbers on their ear tags) as random animals standing out in a field. It was interesting when Jim took this picture, the cows were all grazing quietly in their little space—and as we walked towards them, one by one, each lifted their heads and looked directly into our eyes. They allowed him a wonderful photo opportunity. I had to stand there for a minute and look at each of them, individually, to say hello.These guys are “grass-finished” red Angus cows. I looked at the web site of the farm where we saw them and was not surprised to see statements such as “Grass fed animals are healthy and happy,” “Low fat is not no-fat … and the fat is healthy to eat!” and my personal favorite (regarding their slaughter), “Handling practices of both these places meet our high standards of care & cleanliness.”

If, instead of labeling these guys as 83, 41, 97, and 76, they were called by names that we use—say Blossom, Maggie, Paulette, and Calypso—would you see them differently? And if you read about how animals are treated in slaughterhouses, would you consider eating something else (even though these guys are “grass-finished” on a farm, they are technically finished at an FDA-approved slaughterhouse—which is how all farmers kill their animals if they want to sell the meat)? If you had educated yourself about nutrition and knew that there is no such thing as healthy animal fat, would you see this statement as inaccurate or even just wrong?

Instead of taking their word for it (or taking my word for it), please consider doing your own research on nutrition, animal slaughtering practices in the US, and the inner lives of animals. The more you educate yourself, the more you see these are marketing tools to get you and I to buy products. I can’t, in good conscience, continue to let someone else make these important decisions for me—and neither should you! Pick up a book or a video, or ask someone you know (or maybe don’t know) some questions. In my experience, vegans are always willing to step up and speak out–as we see these lovely animals for their individuality, not as the potential food on our plates.

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