Animals Are Mothers Too
An Animal Rights Article from


Gentle World
April 2014

dairy cow mother calf
“All Dairy operations, including Organic, exist solely by doing to millions of defenseless females the worst thing anyone can do to a mother.”

grieving mother dairy cow
~ Milk Comes from a Grieving Mother, Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary
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Every year in the month of May, the arrival of Mother’s Day marks an occasion to reflect on not only the love of our own mothers, but the essence of motherhood itself, and what it means for us and our culture. But as we send cards, flowers, gifts and poetry to the women in our lives who have cared for and nurtured us, we are perhaps overlooking an opportunity to look more honestly at our society’s hypocrisy when it comes to the same profound relationship among members of other species.

It is impossible to separate our use of animals as economic resources from our exploitation of their reproductive systems. After all, there would be no animal industries (whether on a small or a large scale), without ongoing breeding and birthing. When domesticated animals become mothers, their children belong to someone else, and not only are they nearly always separated from their young shortly after birth, but they have no power whatsoever over the future their child will be forced to endure.

For those who see Mothers’ Day as an important opportunity for education, we have put together a collection of excerpts from articles depicting the reality of motherhood in the animal industry to help you inspire others toward embracing veganism in their own lives. 

Mother’s Milk

Humans are far from the only animals to experience the deep connection between mother and child. In fact, this might be one of the very experiences that is universal — crossing all boundaries between species. And yet, somehow, we manage to suppress our awareness of this all-important bond when it involves individuals who are different from us, especially when acknowledging this fact would require us to make a change in our own behavior, such as eliminating our dependence on the products of animal husbandry. For more read Mothers' Milk.

Mariolana: Life Lessons from a Goat

goat milkOne day Mariolana swished her tail in the characteristic way of an ovulating goat. Although it was unclear whether her body could bear it, getting pregnant was her only stay of execution; it was her only hope to unknowingly “pay” for another six months of life. When I told my host that I was pretty sure Mariolana became pregnant the day I saw her tail swish, she told me it was unlikely… but we would see. Sure enough, after mating season was over, the vet came and confirmed that, against all odds, Mariolana had conceived what would most likely be her last child. Because she had struggled so much with her pregnancy the year before, it was unclear what this would mean for her, but both Mariolana and I knew she was still full of life. If only her child birthing years were over and she could simply be… For more read Mariolana: Life Lessons from a Goat..

The Missing Children You Won’t See on Milk Cartons

Their lives appeared to consist of “waiting”. Waiting to eat, waiting to give birth, waiting for their children to be taken from them, waiting for their bodies to be drained of the milk they futilely created for their missing calves. They knew these routines, but I wonder if they knew that all the “waiting” was only leading to an early death. If every carton of milk, package of cheese, sour cream and yogurt told the true story of these cows’ lives; the loss of their children and the bloody end both they and their calves ultimately meet… would the greater public still turn a blind eye? For more read The Missing Children You Won’t See on Milk Cartons.

A Hen’s Relationship with her Eggs

mother hen eggsWhen I went back outside I found the black hen frantically weaving in and out of the lavender, calling to her fellow chickens, some of whom ran over to her aid as she continued searching for her missing eggs. I tried to push my guilt aside and continue on my day. But when we returned for lunch, hours later, she was still there moving slowly in and out of the lavender and muttering to herself as she searched in vain. For more read A Hen's Relationship with her Eggs.

The Biggest Feminist Issue There Is

How would we feel being forced to reproduce so that members of this other species could use our milk and our eggs, or take our children away and kill them for food? How would we feel being bred into captivity, being separated from our babies, being milked by machine (or even by someone’s hand), and ultimately being killed so that someone else could eat our bodies? How would we feel about our daughters being condemned to the same lifetime of breeding slavery? How would we feel if each of our sons was taken away to have his flesh sold as veal and the lining of his stomach used to make cheese? How would we feel if our bodies were literally the property of someone else, and we were defenseless against the ongoing assault upon our reproductive systems? For more read The Biggest Feminist Issue There Is.

Return to Animal Rights Articles
Read more at The Meat and Dairy Industries
Read more at Egg Production Articles