Cows are often seen on cartons of milk or restaurant signages, and they’re often seen as just food instead of living, sentient beings who have their own quirks and emotions.
As it’s the Year of the Ox, it’s time we put Cows in the limelight and get to know them better!
Cows can be picky eaters
Lori Marino and Kristin Allen wrote an essay in 2017 published in the journal Animal Behavior and Cognition about how Cows can distinguish between the four primary tastes. They prefer sweet and salty foods for high caloric value and electrolyte balance while avoiding bitter-tasting foods, which could be potentially toxic.
In a way similar to how people have favorite food items and think there might be something wrong with them if they’re bitter, Cows also have their own food preferences.
Cow farts and burps are greenhouse gases
Alayna DeMartini wrote in a 2017 article for The Ohio State University’s website that whenever Cows burp or fart, they release methane, a greenhouse gas. On average, one Cow generates about 200 liters of methane and given the number of Cows worldwide, the effect can be disastrous.
According to PETA, around 29 million Cows are being killed (and therefore bred into existence) for meat and dairy consumption in the US> That’s around 5.8 billion liters of methane from that country alone! If one were to compute on a global scale the amount of greenhouse gases contributed by the consumption of Cows, it is no longer shocking how animal agriculture is one of the top drivers of the climate crisis.
Cows can be judgemental
In their essay, Marino and Allen wrote, “A rich understanding of Cow personalities has been limited by their use as commodities and their use can sometimes mask personality features.” Their findings in a number of scientific papers on Cow psychology show that these animals are more intelligent than assumed by humans, and have rich mental, emotional, and social lives.
Cows possess not just simple emotions but complex ones, possessing cognitive biases, just like humans.
They can recognize people and objects
According to Marino and Allen’s essay, Cows can tell the difference among not only objects, but also human individuals. They’re capable of making sophisticated discriminations among different stimuli, such as two similar shapes that might be of different sizes.
Cows can also remember humans based on how the latter have handled them in the past.
What’s in your coffee?
A lot of people love milk and cheese, but what does it mean for the Cow?
“Cows on dairy farms are repeatedly artificially impregnated (in order to keep their milk flowing) and then traumatically separated from their newborn calves until finally their bodies wear out and they are sent to be killed, too,” said PETA.
A mother Cow would cry for hours over a child taken away from her, usually within a day of being born. Marino and Allen’s essay describes how she “would stay at the end of the paddock, vocalize continually, and display signs of high degrees of restlessness.”
Animal milk: Not for humans
In a 2014 article titled Why You Should Stop Drinking Milk Right Now published online in The Daily Meal, it was noted how humans seem to be the only species to drink milk after infancy.
The article, which was based on reputable studies published in The American Journal of Epidemiology and the Journal of Nutrition, among others, also explained that Cow’s milk was not even designed for human consumption. It contains three times the amount of protein that human milk does, and it creates metabolic disturbances – including calcium loss from bones, despite the high amount of calcium in dairy.
These studies have debunked the myth that humans should drink milk for health, especially given the risks it poses. Adding this to the fact that Cows suffer a lifetime of suffering, why then should humans even continue to drink it?
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s March-April 2021 issue.