Barbara Walters Sympathizes With Escaped Cow

Barbara Walters announced on The View yesterday that she was getting closer to becoming a vegetarian. This after the top news story of Wednesday in New York City was a cow escaping from a slaughterhouse and roaming Queens.

The cow was ultimately captured, and sent to the Brooklyn Animal Care and Control facility. There she was named Molly, and the plan was to send her to a farm. Read more about the escaped cow story here.

“I am more and more becoming a vegetarian,” Barbara Walters said in the opening Hot Topics segment of the May 7th episode of The View. “This broke my heart.”

She goes further in her discussion of cows. “When you really start to think of them, you know, as having feelings and stuff, I find it very hard …”

Then in typical The View fashion, another of the ladies cut her off in mid sentence. It’s just as well in this case. Does Walters really think cows have feelings? It’s scary when people start assigning human characteristics to animals.

Walters falls just short of offering this cow a safe haven at her home. “If I had a big back yard, I would have Molly the cow,” she said.

Does she have any idea how awful it would be to keep a cow in her yard? It could never be big enough to serve as a permanent residence for a cow. There would be no grass left, and there would be cow pies/piles of manure and hoof prints everywhere. I have a small flock of sheep roam around my yard from time to time, and they leave their own, albeit smaller, mark on the landscape.

But a couple of the other ladies from The View were more reasonable about Molly and eating meat or beef in general. Sherri Shepherd said she had bacon and eggs for breakfast even after reading the morning’s front-page news. Whoopi Goldberg went the furthest to polarize Walter’s comments.

“If I had a big back yard, I’d be having a barbecue with Molly,” Goldberg said. And she even clarified that she wasn’t talking about inviting the cow as a guest.

Sounds tasty to me.

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3 thoughts on “Barbara Walters Sympathizes With Escaped Cow

  1. Of course cows have feelings. So do many other animals, including all the ones killed on farms. Like dogs and cats, cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and numerous other species of animals display a wide range of emotions.

    Rosamund Young, who lives among cows on Kite’s Nest Farm in England, tells author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson that she has no doubt that cows “feel all the major emotions that humans do.” “Especially worry…They have so many different kinds of worry, ranging from the most mild, when a calf wanders out of sight, to the most extreme, when they think something terrible has happened to it.”

    Jewish scholar and physician Maimonedes, in the twelfth century, said, “There is no difference between the worry of a human mother and an animal mother for their offspring. A mother’s love does not derive from the intellect but from the emotions, in animals just as in humans.”

    On dairy farms, where workers routinely steal baby calves from their mothers so that all the milk can be diverted to humans, the mother cows become distraught when their babies are taken from them. Author Rory Freeman tells the story of one cow who was so upset after her baby was stolen that she went into convulsions and broke her neck. She lay on the ground, in a grotesquely convoluted position, for hours, until someone put her out of her misery.

    During an interview, slaughter industry consultant Temple Grandin – certainly no vegetarian – pointed to a mother dairy cow who was roaming, looking for her calf, and bellowing, and said, “That’s one sad, unhappy, upset cow. She wants her baby. Bellowing for it, hunting for it…It’s like grieving, mourning…People don’t like to allow them thoughts or feelings.”

    In my volunteer work at a farmed animal sanctuary, I’ve seen cows go into depression after losing a friend. The loyal friendships between animals are often amazing to see. There are abundant accounts of animals showing signs of deep grief after losing a long-time companion.

    Joe Hutto – a hunter, of all things – said that after spending a year with turkeys to whom he’d become a surrogate father, watching them play, do chores, and form relationships, he could see that turkeys had “a clear distillation of purpose and design that is beyond my ability to comprehend.” He also observed “the absolute joy that these birds experience in their lives…they are in love with being alive.”

    In the last few decades, scientists have confirmed what observers have seen for centuries: that many nonhuman animals have a rich and diverse emotional capacity.

    Emotions stem from primitive areas of the brain. They are not unique to humans.

    Throughout our history, we have dismissed and downgraded the abilities of those whom we have exploited, human or nonhuman. Denying the capabilities, profound interests, life experiences, and individuality of our victims may be a superficial salve for our consciences, but it causes great cruelty and suffering.

    I urge you to do as I did – for I once felt the same way as you about animals – and re-think your assessment of animal feelings. The scientific evidence for animal emotions is overwhelming. But you do not need to read any studies. When you look at the diversity of nonhuman individuals with open eyes and an open heart, and with empathy, the experience can be transformative. It may take some time. But the rewards may be wonderful. I feel like I now appreciate and am connected with a vast magnificence of co-travelers on this planet. It is so much more fulfilling than consuming the flesh of thinking, feeling, living beings who didn’t want to die.

    Some resources:

    http://www.chickenindustry.com/cfi/intelligence/ – chickens’ cognitive abilities surprise most people

    http://www.veganoutreach.org/whyvegan/WhyVegan.pdf – This pamphlet has caused many to question their meat-centered diets. It explains some of the routine practices in animal agriculture, such as grinding up newborn male chicks in hen hatcheries, sending “excess” calves to the horrid veal pen, and insufficiently stunning chickens in slaughterhouses so that they are fully conscious when bleeding to death and being dunked in scalding water to loosen their feathers. Its central message: everyday choices can reduce suffering.

    “The Face on Your Plate,” from which I quoted. Well-written; non-judgmental. (On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Face-Your-Plate-Truth-About/dp/0393065952/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241810798&sr=1-1)

    http://www.veganhealth.com – a no-nonsense site about vegan health issues that, although written by a vegan dietician, practically goes out of its way to avoid exaggerated claims about vegan health benefits

    Also – in any search engine, enter “recipe vegan” followed by whatever type of dish you can possibly imagine. You may be amazed at the plethora of meals – simple or complicated, casual or fancy, down home or exotic – that are available. There are about a hundred decent vegan cookbooks, also. At first blush you may not believe this, but the honest truth is that since my wife and I became vegan five years ago, our diets are far more diverse and enjoyable than they were when we ate animal products. If Howard Lyman (http://www.madcowboy.com/), who once had the biggest cattle ranch in Montana, can go vegan, anyone can.

    • Hello Gary,

      I appreciate your comment. It is obviously well thought out and researched — and it’s longer than my original post!

      I am nothing if not open minded. After all, the only blog I list on my “Blogroll” is Lisa P. Writes. Check it out. Lisa is a college roommate of mine who just finished a vegan cleanse. I found it interesting.

      I believe you and I are from different worlds with very different perspectives, and I hope we can simply agree to disagree on the issue of eating meat.

      And while animals may have some “feelings,” I believe much of their responses are simply instinctual.

      As for the Howard Lyman example, there are also lots of people who were once vegetarian or vegan who go back to consuming meat and animal products. I don’t knock any of them.

  2. I started eating meat again last year, after 17 years as a vegetarian. My reasons for becoming vegetarian in the first place were less about animals’ rights and more about large-scale industrial meat production and its use of natural resources. My reasons for eating meat again were varied … I began to crave it, for one (I think I needed a heartier diet in this cold, rainy climate). Also, I have a friend who likes to cook and inquired if I was a “flexitarian,” to which I replied, “sure, as long as you’re cooking.” And I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. In it, her daughter writes an essay about eating meat, and it made sense to me.

    I think you’re very lucky to be so close to the production of meat. Most of us are completely removed from it. The best we can do is buy it from the local farmers’ market, and that can be cost-prohibitive.

    I’m not sure whether animals have feelings or not is grounds for deciding whether or not to eat meat. I do think it’s preferable to eat the meat from a cow that you’ve looked in the eyes, rather than a fast-food hamburger made from fifty different cows from god-knows-where. Just my two cents. 😉

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