Ethical considerations impact cash cows

Marley Butcher, Managing Editor

Something in a grassy field shifts slightly, angling its enormous head down to feast. Weighing 1,400 pounds on average, the common American cow rips a chunk out of the ground. Many people will go their whole lives without sparing cows a second thought, however, little do they know, cows impact society tremendously. Every time beef is consumed, a cow has died for it. Every time milk is bought, a cow was milked for it. Every time leather is bought, a cow was skinned for it. Ice cream, purses, dairy products, beef,  candles, oils, fertilizers, cosmetics, gelatin, buttons, shoe polish, glue, sausage and  hundreds of other things are all by-products from cows.

According to the Food Safety Inspection Service of USDA, in the USA alone, 33 million cows are killed every year. Should the overproduction of cattle just for human purposes be stopped?

“I love my leather purses,” junior Rachel Kershaw said, cradling her leather Cholé bag closer. “And if a burger comes my way, I won’t pass it up just because it comes from a cow. Overproduction of cows is fine. It doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone. Look, at least they’re using all the parts of the cow right? I mean they use the skin, the meat, the fat. They use the fat right? They use it all. And one thing’s for sure: My leather purses are going nowhere.”

On the other hand, sophomore Paula Kostro has been a vegetarian since fourth grade.

“It’s a personal choice,” she said. “I did a project on slaughterhouses when I became a vegetarian, and it just scarred me for life. Even if they are using every part of the cow, it’s still barbaric to think that they kill millions of cows every single year. There is no way that I’m going to eat something that was raised to be killed. Can you imagine if they did that with humans? Cows and every other animal are just as important. A life is a life.”

International dairy consultant and author Bruce Woodacre, who lives in the United Kingdom, supports Kostro’s view.

“Cows are amazing creatures,” he said via telephone. “They have four stomachs that are constantly working to digest their food. But more than that, they are essential to life on earth. Overproduction of cattle needs to be stopped. I specialize in helping cows produce more of their natural products. Milk and other dairy that is. I create a special diet and regimen that can increase the amount of products. What our world should eventually work for is to become poultritarians [only eating chicken or fish] as opposed to eat every animal that offers meat.”

Gracia Cabrera, owner of Cabrera’s Beef and Pork Inc. located in Hialeah, operates a slaughterhouse for cattle and pigs.

“Not all slaughterhouses are bad,” Cabrera said. “We specialize in organic products. We operate on our own accord and ship to our own businesses. We don’t dabble with any federal officials. We treat our cattle very nicely, not like what you see on television. We make sure they’re well fed and kept in clean stalls where they can move about if they want. We have many employees that ensure the cows are treated their best. We don’t overproduce them. When it’s their time to go, we take them elsewhere, for lack of a better term. We use the calfs that come from our cows to either make veal or raise them for full on beef. We run a qualified slaughterhouse here. People need to eat and although organic products are expensive, it’s better to know where your products are coming from and that the animals have been treated well.”

Although it’s ideal to be poultritarians in Woodacre’s eye, the notion is unrealistic.

“Health would be better overall and overproduction of cattle and such would be stopped,” he said. “But it’s really not that simple. Are you really prepared to give up burgers? Or steak? What about that leather purse? There are a lot of people that wouldn’t go for it and our economy would be impacted. We’re not ready for overproduction of cattle to stop just yet.”