I know! Seriously. They’re ridiculous right?
I mean. They’ve been bred like that, it’s disturbing when you think about it. An animal made as impractical as possible in terms of survival and well being, in favour of being able to provide maximum flesh and milk for the ‘survival’ of another species. And they’re everywhere. Fields full of large eyed walls of flesh. Calm as anything, chewing and wandering, just waiting to be slaughtered.
I mean. That’s a bleak assessment, but it seems to be what happens, and has been the way for (quick wikipedia chect) eight thousand years. We’ve had almost complete control over this species and its breeding for eight thousand years.
Does that not make you feel a little creepy? As a representative of your species, you take some small amount of responsibility for thousands of generations of walking meat beasts. A whole species domesticated and owned for millenia.
And if you eat meat or dairy, then you’re financially complicit. (I’m vegetarian, but failing to be vegan, so note I’m calling myself out on this).
I mean. Obviously for most people this is okay. This is the normal run of things. Humans as dominant species, cows as our flesh slaves. If we’re smart enough to domesticate then what’s to stop us? We’d probably argue that we ensure a good life for the animals in question, and without us they wouldn’t be alive.
I don’t think any of that argument stands up, but it’s a matter of perspective. I think I look at the world differently to many people. I find it important to think of other perspectives, including those of animals and ecosystems. The land has a say in this too, is my philosophy.
This potentially makes me a loon. But we probably knew that already.
I actually think, for all their monstrous weirdness, cows are quite beautiful. There’s a deepness in those eyes, and an odd visibility in their structure. The hugeness of those legs, particularly the thighs. Bone and muscle are all so vividly visible. Almost exoskeletal. Something about those legs, watching the bones circle around each other and judder and jolt, as the cow slowly maneuvers around its land.
But the boredness and sadness in the eyes seems palpable. I realise this is a projection. That cowness probably feels so different to anything I’ve experienced to be in in anyway understandable, so it’s ridiculous to push my emotional understandings on to it.
But. Those eyes.
My first long term girlfriend was terrified of cows. She always cited ‘those cold dead eyes, just staring deep into you’.
I don’t know what cows know. But they’ve got big eyes.
This is not enough to base a system of morality on, and any ‘eyes are the window to the soul’ crap is just romanticism. Eyes are so beautiful that we expect to find things hidden within. We are arrogant like that.
And so we have cows.
Pretty, strange, sad cows.
For dinner, largely.
Illustration by Helen.