“Hero cow” becomes media darling to non-vegans everywhere
Every now and again it happens; an animal in line for slaughter goes viral. In this case, a nameless Polish cow fought through a metal fence, broke a worker’s arm, and swam across a lake to find refuge on a small island. Her farmer’s best follow-up attempts to tranquilize and capture her were futile, too. And so, a heroine is born.
A cow unlike the assumed average; emotionless, tip-able vessels that mindlessly trudge forward along the path to death in a self-sacrificing cycle. A variable queen among cows deemed more deserving of life than the average animal who contributes nothing to society by living and dying per our schedule. This pariah has earned her freedom through resistance and a seat atop the pedestal few non-human animals have ever sat. It’s The Hunger Games and she’s our Cow-niss.
Liberal news media drapes a temporary cape on our bovine superhero and continues to ignore the very horrific and normalized circumstances that led to this. Non-vegans everywhere fire up their dusty twitter accounts and forgotten Tumblrs to make sure #JUSTICEFORHEROCOW trends for this brave animated movie character candidate. Pixar and Disney are already fighting for her rights. A Polish politician offers to pay whatever it costs to save this cow, too, as all viral glory is somehow diverted to other “causes.”
Her owner went so far as saying: “I am not a vegetarian, but fortitude and the will to fight for this cow’s life is invaluable. Therefore, I decided to do everything to cause the cow to be delivered to a safe place and in the second stage, as a reward for her attitude, give her a guarantee of a long-term retirement and natural death.” It’s as if she has won the right to live, a right all sentient beings should be afforded without a heroic battle. She is given back her life from her captors, something that should have never been their’s in the first place. She goes from property to person in a switch that only ever goes the other way in these systems of exploitation. One cow in a production line of billions is spared and we’re supposed to weep with enthusiasm.
Readers won’t consider that the burgers they have thawing in the kitchen sink for tonight’s grill came from very real, very distressed, and very similar cows to the current social media starlet. That the milk in their smoothies come from other cows living somewhere between torture and death, without an island to escape to.
They won’t contemplate what life before the island really looked like for this cow and the others in the shadow of her spotlight. The non-vegans swept up in the narrative can feel happiness and even pride for her and their idea of her future, all the while causing her former hell for countless living beings who face the same slaughterhouse and unmeasurable others. We can smile and share and reflect fondly on how great this cow is but continue to send other cows, chicken, pigs, horse, rabbits, fish, lobsters, turkeys, bees, goats, sheep, dogs, deer, and all other “less superior species” than ours to the life this cow was meant to have.
We cannot go on straddling the line of what we quantify as valuable sentience. It’s not a matter of what the smartest, fastest, or most news worthy are deserving of. All animals deserve freedom from property status and use. Our recognition of this cow’s fight for life should be enough for us to accept veganism as the only reasonable reaction and solution. Sentient beings do not lie down for us to take from them their children, their freedom and their lives. Each act of non-veganism we participate in unfairly steals from someone who would just as quickly kick, break and flee for an island retirement if given the opportunity.
I hope the story of this Polish cow isn’t just the sort of news to distract people momentarily from their work, but can instead act as a catalyst to remind people that all sentient beings want to live.