Is it ethical to farm cows?

Our ethical columnist discusses methane belches and udder stories.

Ethan Greenhart

Topics Politics

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Dear Ethan,

Help! I have two cows – Lynas and Carson – in my back garden. I love them dearly, but now we’re told that cows, with their methane-based farting and belching, contribute more carbon to the environment than CARS! What should I do?

Shelly Montgomery

Dear Shelly,

This is what I like to call the ‘Cows Cause Climate Change Con’. Or the ‘Great Cattle-Blaming Swindle’, to paraphrase that Dr Goebbels of our age, Martin Durkin, whose scandalous Channel 4 film was aired in Australia this week, no doubt duping men and Sheilas who already drink too many tinnies, eat too much meat, and vomit up too much polluted puke into thinking that the sun, rather than their own disgusting habits, causes climate change.

The ‘cows are worse than cars’ argument has allowed every carbon-fascist and climate change criminal – from Nigel Lawson to Jeremy Clarkson – to say: ‘Ha, those tree-hugging pansies have got it all wrong! Animals are the problem, not humans!’ It has given a licence to the thick and unthinking to continue driving and holidaying and shopping at Tesco in the mistaken belief that it’s the cows’ fault that Gaia currently lingers in a purgatory of pollution and will shortly face the hellfires of heat-extermination.

Well, this tree-hugging pansy has got news for the carbon mafia: the cows’ contribution to climate change is ALSO OUR FAULT. It is our greed, our lust for flesh, that has led to the enslavement of millions of cows who have no choice but to graze on cheap grass or manmade chemicalised feed so that they can get fat for the culinary pleasure of a family of fat humans. We have turned cows into machines – I’m almost weeping as I write this! – and like all machines they emit noxious gases that damage the environment.

As the owner of two cows, you will know how special they are – despite what people who suffer from cattlephobia might claim. The second most shocking thing I have ever seen on TV (after Durkin’s film, obviously) was a stand-up gig by the comedian Lee Evans (whose accent betrays a very common and uneducated background). Evans said, and I quote: ‘People say, why do we kill so many cows? Because they’re crap! They have no survival instincts whatsoever. You stand next to any fence in the country and a cow will walk towards you going, “Is it my time yet? I don’t mind, just shoot me.” They’re dumb animals, otherwise they would learn to shit without it hitting the back of their legs.’

It got worse. This ‘comic’ claimed that cows ‘can’t even run away properly’: ‘You chase a cow across a field and they run away like an old drunk.’ He then proceeded to impersonate a running cow in the manner of a mentally ill person with a distorted face and swinging limbs. (You can see the shocking footage here.)

I wrote to Ofcom. I demanded to know why it is forbidden to call a black person a nigger but okay to call a cow a dumb animal. I pointed out that Evans’ rotten routine might encourage people to chase cows through fields, a wicked thing to do to animals that have already been stripped of their liberty and dignity. I got no reply – yet further evidence that Britain is riddled with institutionalised speciesism.

All forms of farming are vile and corrupt. The cultivation of land and beast for the benefit of human stomachs is built on the idea that man has a RIGHT to use and abuse the planet. But we’re only guests here – and like those horrid drunken guests who ruin a good nuts-and-lentils dinner party, Gaia, the maître d’ of mankind, will eject us when She is ready.

Meat farming is the worst kind. As my friends at PETA have pointed out, we are doing to cows and sheep and chickens what the Nazis did to the Jews. A PETA spokesman recently said: ‘During the Holocaust, the Nazis used cattle cars to transport people to concentration camps. Animals today are powerless to stop the long, painful trip to their deaths.’ I hope any carnivores reading this will think about that next time they tuck into their SSteak or cheSSeburger. There’s a Holocaust on Your Plate; you’re feasting on the flesh of an oppressed being that was transported to a concentration camp and EXECUTED for your pleasure. Would you eat a Jew’s pound of flesh so quickly?

Now that we know that breeding cows and keeping them prisoner damages the environment as well as being barbaric, it is time we took two urgent steps. First, we must clamp down on meat farmers. For too long, farmers have pumped animals with chemicals and genes and sprinkled the devil’s dust (pesticides) on to their crops. Who will stand up and say that they are guilty of murder (as pop’s wise man Morrissey said, meat is murder) and rape (of the countryside)? We need a Cow Liberation Army to set free our cloven-hoofed friends. I predict their numbers will naturally decline, freeing millions of cows from a life of hard labour and the planet from their methane.

Second, we must pressure the government to proselytise (if you get my drift) about the benefits of vegetarianism. We must wean the masses off their addiction to junk meat – those jumbo burgers that are a jumbled mix of flesh and bone and beak and claw. We can now march under a new banner: ‘Save the animals AND the planet – go veggie!’ Many incentives can be used to ‘force’ (I know, I don’t like that word either) people to go vegetarian. For example, it’s been mooted that doctors should not treat smokers because they bring on their own ill-health. Well, how about withholding healthcare from carnivores who clog up their own arteries and veins because they cannot resist wolfing down a leg that has been ripped from a chicken and dipped in acidy fat?

There is an irony in my demand for state-sanctioned vegetarianism: we veggies are known to fart quite a lot! Just ask Sheba. She once made me sleep in our unheated patio (bbrrr!) after I consumed a particularly lovely lentil loaf. But this is a powerful reminder that it is NOT JUST COWS that fart out rotten gas; so do we humans. Isn’t it time we developed innovative ways to harness this wind and turn it into energy? I propose putting a fart box in every home, a contraption that would capture our leaking methane and turn it into gases with which we can warm our homes, work our ovens and heat our bloody patios! Now that’s what I call wind power.

Ethan Greenhart is here to answer all your questions about ethical living in the twenty-first century. Email him at {encode=”” title=””}. Read his earlier columns here.

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Topics Politics


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