Of all the most gracious and harmless of animals there are, we would go a long way to surpass the innocence of the dairy cow. Indeed, it portrays peace, patience and graciousness. It is therefore little wonder that in India and other eastern parts this creature is sometimes given a divine status. Alas, western 'Christian' civilization - probably the worst predator on the face of God's earth - mercilessly exploits this most defenceless and docile of animals. It is not primarily the carnivorous creatures that are exploited by man, but those that are herbivorous: having no desire whatever to consume others for food.
Indeed, it might be argued: "Why shouldn't we exploit and ultimately feed on beasts when they, themselves, prey on others?" However, such reasoning could never ever be used concerning these gracious creatures. They are as innocent as the lamb. Hence by man they are also callously exploited. Indeed, (apart from fish that basically live off each other) it could be said with true justification that carnivores consume or exploit the gentlest and most harmless of creatures on God’s fair earth. Yes and none more so than cows whose milk we mercilessly extract for factors as trivial and unnecessary as to whiten a vicar's cup of tea!
I state this for after having appeared on The UK Big Breakfast TV Show, to bless some pets, I was also asked to partake in a future commercial; and in it, to respond to the words: "What can I do for you Vicar?", by saying: "Oo-h, I'd really love a cup of tea!" Yes, they knew only too well that the image of a traditional cleric has been identified as synonymous to that of an old woman! No offence to such dear and gracious ladies, but the members of the Episcopal Mother's Union once said to me on the termination of my first parochial appointment: "We here will miss you most of all, Vicar. You see, we all feel you are one of us!". Well, I was only 39 and not at all effeminate.
Joking apart, for far too long the common image of a parson has been one of a clerical gentleman – the epitome of respectability - 'innocently!' partaking of a cup of tea that’s whitened with the milk of a cow. But heaven help the cleric - and I have personally experienced it several times! - who dares to be identified with a pint of good old Irish stout or even Devon scrumpy. Certainly in parts of church going Scotland such beverages would hardly be considered becoming of ‘a man of the cloth’ Neither would they have been approved of by traditional Nonconformist deacons in Wales!
We are the only species who steels the baby food of another and does so without a qualm of conscience. And what is more, we refuse to be weaned from the same! As for the cows, they do not have their surplus milk (over and above what their calves require) taken from them, as so many would like to think. But on the contrary, the calves are forcefully taken from their mums - when no more than a day or two old. Yes, and all so that we ‘humans’ can consume such milk created by God for the consumption of calves. Indeed, the cows low loudly and pitiably for their young; frequently fretting, inconsolably, for many days.
And as for all the male babes of this massive milk business – the fifty percent by-products of a heartless and cruel artificial insemination - these are the bobby calves which largely end up in the live export industry of the UK, destined to end up in veal crates outlawed, at last, in Britain because they’re so abominably cruel.
Milk is usually forcefully extracted, from dairy cows, twice a day mechanically. This contributes to approximately one third of these creatures robbed of young, having to be treated for mastitis: a painful infection resulting in pus coming from their udders and injections by antibiotics being administered to try and combat it. Yes, and the dear pitiable creatures (to keep the milk flowing!) are, from around two years of age, subjected to yearly pregnancies artificially induced; and these usually last for nine months. And, indeed, after delivery of their calves the sad creatures – whoever saw a cheerful cow? - are frequently milked for ten months; BUT then (to add outrage upon outrage!) during the third month they are usually again made pregnant by artificial insemination. This means that six to seven months each year cows, on a rough average, are being milked whilst pregnant!
It is my contention, as a man of God, that the docile dairy cow, from certainly two years onwards, is more exploited than any other animal in Britain! Indeed, many of them are incarcerated indoors, standing upon slats within crates, or else in their own slurry. No wonder then that around twenty-five percent of them are treated for lameness! Drugs and supplements are considered vital also so as to keep milk fever, pneumonia and liver fluke at bay. I tell you, such appalling exploitation persists until, at merely five or six years of age, these worn out, exhausted, bovine creatures are sent off for premature slaughter in order to produce junk ‘food’ such as beef burgers.
As for the dairies from which our milk comes, they are, in all frankness, veritable latrines. No disrespects to those meticulous for hygiene, such establishments surrounded by urine and excreta can be little else! It is equally, therefore, of no surprise to learn that during the far off war years Britain's number one killer was tuberculosis: the chief carrier of which was cows milk! Yet insistence on compulsory milk for schools was much in vogue. No doubt influential members of parliament had as much vested interest in the farming world then as many of them do today!
We can be grateful that milk is nowadays tuberculin tested, but as 'Mad Cow' disease has now threatened to become a European epidemic - more lethal than AIDS and caused by feeding these herbivorous creatures with carnivorous offal and the dead remains of their own kind - I don't mind saying that I'm thankful for being very much vegan in diet. Yes, and learning that hormones are frequently administered to increase further milk yields from these pitiable creatures becomes a further incentive.
Admittedly I’m not as consistent as some would like me to be! On more diminishing occasions I’ll partake of a fish. But then Jesus multiplied fish and ate at least one; while many who would criticize Him quite hypocritically feed fish to their cats. Not to mention meat to their dog! Yes, one thing to avoid at all costs in our cause for animal activism is hypocrisy along with the inauguration of a witch hunt towards those not identical in priorities with ones self.
Nevertheless, nowadays – when there may well be enough vegan food with which to feed every mouth on this planet – we would surely be wise to constantly reconsider the food we choose. And, while this frequently proves a difficulty to those of us who have been programmed over the years and, therefore, less easily prone towards humane and health giving change, it is not so for the young whose character mould has not as yet become fixed in a rigor mortis. Indeed, we have our offspring's future to consider and we must all endeavour to set them a worthy example, no matter how hard we might find it to be. Thankfully, with the passing of each year, more and more luscious vegan choices are created and we are no longer confined to so called ‘rabbit food’:
Bearing the above in mind, I am deeply dismayed when healthy alternatives, such as Soya milk or pure and unadulterated fruit juice (not the chemically manufactured synthetic concoctions!) are not freely available as milk alternatives within so many of our schools!. Indeed, many youngsters - not surprisingly! - are extremely allergic to bovine baby food and it is quite appalling that they should not have been allowed healthy options. For example, while serving as a member of a prominent Scottish education committee I was not a little dismayed to learn of how the milk industry were to install on a free basis milk vending machines in to every school of the region. Very sadly it was an offer fully accepted by all but myself. And as to my question whether alternative machines for dispensing fruit juice would also he freely granted, no answer was forthcoming and business moved speedily to the next item on the agenda. It was hardly surprising that tlie Chairman was ‘a gentleman farmer’. Amongst the committee there were three clerics as well! They no doubt considered me more than eccentric for there’d been a recent photo of myself within the Scottish Daily Post blessing a cow. It would have been traditional practice to bless inanimate weapons such as battle ships. But to bless a sentient beast was to their mind a case of acting strange indeed. Yes, in the eyes of church sobriety and respectability we, in the cause of the Good Shepherd, may well appear as fools for Christ. But as a young believer once responded to a cynical group: ‘Well if I’m a fool for Christ then whose fool are you?’
I was for many years a strong admirer of the top American evangelist Billy Graham. I used to laugh at a quotation attributed to him as well as use it in my sermons. It went something like this:
How it is that brown cows in a stable go out and eat green grass in a field so as to produce white milk in a dairy is something I’ll never know. I simply drink the milk – leave all the process to others - and say ‘hallelujah’ for this juice of the cow!
Well, it’s still a humorous quote, and as the saying has it: ‘where ignorance is bliss it is folly to be wise’. However, this just isn’t good enough! These bovine creatures are NOT inanimate milk machines. They are sentient, defenceless creatures close to the heart of our Lord. ‘The cattle belong to God and the sheep on a thousand hills’. Our God is not mocked and mankind will surely reap the injustices he has sown. Meanwhile, those gentle dairy cows are looking to us to speak up and say on their behalf: ‘enough is enough!’
This vile and despicable ill treatment of the dairy cow must stop. The way that the udders of these poor creatures are distended to produce milk; a large percentage of which is later emptied down our sinks like dishwater, is surely too objectionable to express in words. Consequently, we must preach the wrath of God and the damnation of hell to all those who abuse them. Yes, and wherever opportunity permits, proclaim the Gospel of liberation to these defenceless bovine creatures, with deeds reminiscent of Christ’s in the temple. A daunting task, indeed, but we must not fail them!
Perhaps, dear reader, you’d care to join me in integrating such a moral and spiritual revolution? Yes, at last, a true Revival within Christendom that’s worthy of the name.
Pastor James Thompson
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