Are you dabbling with veganism whilst battling your love of cheese? Made it through meat-free Monday, went pescatarian then flexitarian, before barbecue season set in? Join the club. Hettie discusses how her love of her pet pooch is leading her to live a more cruelty-free lifestyle…
We know that eating less meat is one of the best things we can do for the planet, yet we’re suckers for a sirloin. Especially when served with triple cooked chips and lashings of peppercorn sauce.
A good rule is not to eat anything that you’re not prepared to hunt in the wild. Pork went off the menu after I shared a yoga retreat with a piglet. Roast lamb lost its appeal after having a baby in spring. As for cows, they are loving, form lifelong friendships and mourn the separation from those they love. A bit like man’s best friend. I figured, I wouldn’t eat my dog, so why should I eat a cow?
The realisation hit me whilst watching a herd of these gentle giants glide past my car on route to the beach. One peered through my window inquisitively at my spaniel on the passenger seat. They locked eyes long enough for me to see them as one and the same. Except one I choose to eat medium rare, while the other sleeps in my bed.
“We love our dogs as our best friends. If you live on a farm with cows, you may discover that cows can be fun and affectionate, just like your dog. Cows can be playful, they like to be petted, they snuggle, learn tricks and give face kisses”, says dog walking site Wag!. Still fancy that chateaubriand?
As neuroscientists Lori Marino and Kristin Allen write in their essay The Psychology of Cows: “Despite empirical evidence for complex emotional, social, and cognitive functioning, there is still a gap between our understanding and acceptance of complex emotions and intelligence between our pets (namely, dogs and cats) and farmed or ‘food’ animals”.
As a dog lover, and subscriber of ‘The Dodo’ that serves up emotionally compelling videos to help make caring about animals a viral cause, it’s hard not to get weak in the knees when you see videos like this…
I Love Oxytocin
Then there’s the oxytocin thing. The ‘O’ in DOSE, more commonly known as “the love hormone”, implicated in social bonding and hormonal changes leading up to and following birth. According to Animal behaviourist Takeumi Kikusui of Azabu University in Japan, dogs used their lovable stare to win over the hearts of humans thousands of years ago. In a recent study, when interacting and exchanging gazes, both dogs and their owners experienced rushes of love hormone oxytocin in their brains. According to dog walking site “Wag!” “It is likely that when your dog is near to cows when their oxytocin levels are elevated (through milking) the cow may be inclined to ‘love’ your dog”.
I may not be a fully fledged vegan just yet and never want to be that person that makes a fuss at a dinner party when someone has gone to great efforts. But moving back to the countryside has definitely played a part in my newfound empathy with cows.
It’s easy to see them as burgers and steak from the safe distance of a trendy restaurant but connecting with them in nature is a powerful thing. Throw a puppy into the mix and i’m melting. This picture is worth opting for seitan over sirloin any day…
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