The Picture of Death (Reply)

You may have seen a blog titled “The Picture of Death” being shared on twitter, here is our response ( 

On #farm365 I keep hearing vegan activists cry “You only show happy calves and cows!  You never show death! Stop hiding the truth! Show us everything!”

I don’t have “death pictures” to share on request because I see death regularly and it is hard emotionally.

The whole point of people asking for “death” pictures is because all that has been posted by farmers on #farm365 so far, is misleading. The end product that consumers buy, are dead animals or parts of dead animals, carcasses and secretions. And even if it doesn’t involve death directly, such as eggs and dairy, it involves man inflicted pain and suffering in some form and eventually premature death by slaughter.

Everything that animal agriculture farmers are trying to do, is to “sell” the public a better conscience. However, the few farmers on #farm365 own small farms, that produce only a fraction of meat and dairy produced by factory farms and do not represent the machinery behind our food system. It is actually even worse, all these farmers on #farm365 also speak out against cruelty and factory farming, yet they are the marketing tool for all farmers, even those big AG and corporations. They are trying to make consumers feel like ALL animal products come from “feel good” and “happy exploitation” small family farms.

No matter how well the animals are treated, the outcome and the common business practices (artificial insemination, mutilation, young being removed from their mothers and in the end death) are all the same. Some animals may be more confined, dirtier, sicker, more neglected, and some may have a slightly better life. That however does not exclude any of the regular, acceptable treatments towards farm animals, which would be considered extremely cruel and punishable by law, if performed on any of our companion animals. There is a huge moral hypocrisy in animal farming.

I don’t need pictures to remind me.  I can recall the exact details of many a death on our farm.  I don’t need photographic reminders. I remember checking the herd and every one is happy and healthy then you go out the next morning and your favourite cow is dead.  I remember finding a sick calf, spending days trying to care and treat it, doing everything in your power to get it healthy only to watch it die.  I remember birthing unresponsive calves.  I remember a calf dying because its mother cleaned it’s back-end first, leaving placenta over its nose so it suffocated.  If I was only there it would have lived. I was in the pen when an adult cow stepped square on the head of a calf who was only a few days old (that one survived miraculously but I remember the horror at seeing it’s little limp body not moving).  I carry all of these images with me.

Here comes the first major hypocrisy. How can a farmer be all emotional over a dead animal, the same animals, whose sole purpose is to be born, used, fattened up and then brutally killed by man? Meat, dairy, eggs and any other animal products are not natural, normal or necessary for human consumption. We are not talking about survival or people in the wild fending for themselves. If you are reading this, you have absolutely no need for animal products, if you can afford a computer and technology you live enough civilized to get all vital nutrients from plant foods and are not out in the wild fighting to survive.

The major hypocrisy is that farmers say they love and care for animals and have emotions when their animals get sick or die, yet their motives are very different than those of truly caring people. They are simply afraid of loosing an asset, for example; you can usually get one calf every 9 months, if it’s a heifer, they just lost a new replacement milk cow, and if it is a bull they just lost an income to be sold to another farmer/auction to make him into beef or veal.

These farmer blogs, stories and statements just show, that the care and love is not about the animal, but pure cognitive dissonance and a marketing tool to convince the public, that the farmer cares, therefore it has to be ok to eat animal products. But it actually isn’t, many truly loving and caring farmers have woken up to their own hypocrisy and ended animal farming, because one day they no longer could send them off on trucks into their deaths, even if they knew the slaughterhouse and knew it was close by and the killing was as “humanely” as possible. They felt that they were betraying their own animals, which they cared, loved and fed for a period of time. They did not allow themselves to bond with them, or else the departure would have been impossible. Yet these “feel good” story-telling farmers have to tell themselves and the public these stories for various reasons. 1. To sell a product. 2. To feel better about their own betrayal towards their animals.  3. They simply do not want to change or care and use various excuses and fallacious arguments to justify the death sentences for their own animals.

About 4 years back we had a calf late in the calving season off a bred commercial cow we purchased.  He was a little runt and we noticed early on he wasn’t quite as lively and bright as the other calves.  We knew he would be a special case we needed to keep an eye on.  Weeks went by and we kept an eye on him.  It was time for the cow herd and their calves to go to pasture.  He and his mother and a handful of other cows stayed home.  We knew he wasn’t ready to go to pasture.  He needed to stay close to home for us to keep an eye on. One day I picked up supper after work in the city to drop off to Iain as he was cutting hay.  After an 8 hour work day and a 45 minute commute home I was looking at an additional 20 minutes past my house to the hay field just to deliver supper.  It was a long day and I was starving. All I wanted was to eat, lay on the couch and relax.  On my drive by our field to drop off supper I noticed 3 crows standing on a pile of dirt.  A few seconds later I realized the pile of dirt was in fact a calf.  I pulled the car over and climbed through the fence to check things out.  As I approached what I assumed was a dead calf I noticed it wasn’t dead.  It was the runt and he was at the end of his life.  The herd and his mother had left him and he was too weak to stop the crows pecking at him.  This is Mother Nature in all her beauty.  A calf that never got a good start in life. 

This story continues where the farmer wants to portray himself/herself as the ultimate “hero” or caregiver. Let’s not forget who breeds these animals, the farmers. Farm animals are overbred and have to yield maximum profits. When everything runs according to plan, the farmer did a “great job”, but if something unforeseen, dangerous or cruel happens, the blame always falls on to the mother cow, the herd, nature etc., even though all of that had no part in the artificial insemination or the animal farming process in general.

However, most of the farmers’ excuses as to why animals do not connect, don’t have maternal instincts or don’t seem to “care”, are another tool to make the public feel like the farmer is the “hero”. Yet anybody who understands and observes animals knows, they have instincts and these don’t fail them. Domesticated farm animals have been overbred, have to live in unnatural conditions and only exist to make a profit. They are artificially inseminated with the most perfect match, which may not even be the biological offspring of the carrying cow. In nature animals don’t just breed like crazy, nor do they always protect all their young. If food source is rare or they don’t see a survival for their future young, they will not continue breeding. If a weak or injured animal could be an attraction for predators, therefore a harm to the herd, they have to do what is best for that particular herd or the animal, often they put them out of their misery themselves or have to abandon them. Yes nature is and can be cruel, yet nature is no excuse to justify the killing of billions of animals by man for unnatural human consumption and palate pleasure (including the killing by man of wildlife for animal agriculture).

A calf that we did everything we could for.  Abandoned and alone in a field with crows pecking at him.  Did his mother stand over him and protect him from pain until he passed away? No.  She had cared for him for weeks but recognized he was done and moved on to focus on her survival and her next baby.  Did the crows show any empathy or compassion for the calf?  Acknowledge that pecking away at him while alive was cruel and painful? No.  They only cared for a meal.  Did Mother Nature look down on her creation, her miracle of life and heal the calf? No.  The only living being in that entire field who cared for that calf and showed it any empathy or compassion was me.  Me. The cruel farmer with the heart of stone.  The rancher that only sees commodities and dollar signs when they see an animal.  The cattle person who must have no understanding of pain. I was the one who kept the crows away.  I was the one who sat in the middle of a field and talked to the calf in its last moments.  I was the only thing in that field that cared even the slightest about that calf in those last moments.  I cried when I got back in the car.  I still tear up when I think about that poor calf. 

Here comes the hypocrisy again, so this farmer was the “hero”, “protector”, “mother” who sat with the calf, who scared the crows away, and is again blaming anything but himself/herself. Yet does this particular farmer or any farmer who tears up and gets emotional about this story, go to the slaughterhouse with each of their animals? Hold their hoofs or talk to them before they get hauled in like a bag of sand, dragged, shocked, shot, hung up, sliced open etc? No, they don’t, because they simply do not and cannot care. This entire story is absolutely ridiculous regarding the whole picture of animal agriculture; it is again to fool the public, trying to sell them a “feel good” story about the farmer and his loving, caring heart. It also benefits the farmer as a marketing tool, yet when they send them off to slaughter (an intended man inflicted death), that heart has suddenly gone cold. They are lying to themselves; if farmers really feel that death is painful, emotional and horrible, they would stop breeding animals, because humans can live healthy lives without animal products.

Next time you try to label me as a monster think of me sitting in a field keeping crows off a dying calf.  I knew there was no saving him.  I wasn’t going to make any money off of him. Sitting there was, in all honesty, a waste of my time. I could have driven right by, had my supper and said “meh, such is life.” But I didn’t.  I couldn’t just leave that poor little bugger.

The story goes on and on, trying to get sympathy, trying to blame the wrong people, animals, nature with fallacious arguments, and to beg for understanding to continue the killing of hundreds and thousands more animals in brutal ways, but completely unnecessary in the first place.

This year I will see more death.  I will see Nature at her most cruelest.  But I will also see Nature at her best.  I will see the birth of life. I will see calves run around in the sunshine and play king of the hill.  I’ll hear cows moo their soft, low bonding sound.  I will see those calves grow.  None of them would exist and have lives to enjoy and frolick in the sun and enjoy fresh grass if it wasn’t for people like me.  Yes, I will see them go to new farms.  Yes, some will die and become food. Their lives will go to support the lives of many individuals through food, medicine and critical products and materials. 

And vegans see life and nature at it’s best when they minimize their own part on suffering as much as they possibly can, because they have learned and realized that there is absolutely no need for animal products and that there are alternatives for everything.

Yes, none of those farm animals would exist if it wasn’t for the farmers, and also none of them would have to die. The absolute majority of all farm animals are not on pastures running around communicating or having a happy life, most of them are born, confined, used and then slaughtered. The few “feel good” farms do not make up for the 99% of animals that have to live in highly confined, at maximum capacity producing factory farms, with minimal amount of input to yield maximum output, so everybody can have cheap, tax subsidized, unnatural, unhealthy and unnecessarily suffered, animal products.

Families will gather around a table to celebrate life.  They will do it around a roast that I cared for in life and raised.   It is a noble end to a life I have the utmost respect for. Eventually I will die.  I will become the grass that feeds the next generations of cows.  We are all connected and a part of each other.

Families that gather around the table to celebrate life have also been brainwashed, lied to and actually don’t celebrate life, but the deaths of billions of animals. This is what this article ultimately comes down to. It is trying to continue in the deceitful footsteps of food and animal agriculture brainwashing. It is not noble to end a life of a farm animal and it is not respectful to end a life that could have gone on naturally for many more years. There is nothing noble or respectful in unnecessarily creating new life that is only used, at times abused, mutilated, unnaturally raised and killed years before it’s natural life span.

Yes, we will all die one day, but that is no justification to kill 56 billion animals per year for unnecessary culinary pleasure, while we have alternatives for all animal products. On top of all, animal products are linked and partially responsible for the majority of all our environmental, health and world hunger problems. It is nothing to be proud of. All excuses as to why we need animal agriculture are completely outdated.

We are all connected, that is correct, we shouldn’t think of ourselves as superior to any race, gender, sexual preferences or species. If we are connected we should respect every living being. Nothing is perfect in this world, but we have a clear choice to either inflict suffering (directly or indirectly) or not, and if you have a choice, alternatives and a logical and compassionate conscience, you chose to go vegan!


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