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What Happens to Cows Used for Food?

What Happens to Cows Used for Food?

Ever looked into the big brown eyes of a cow? They’re enough to make your heart melt!

Cows are actually a lot like us. They play games, hold grudges, and form lasting friendships. They’re also excellent mothers who love and protect their calves—they even take turns babysitting for each other. Cows have been known to jump fences to search for lost calves. The milk they make is for their babies, not for humans.

Black and White Cow in Pasture

Cows Suffer When They’re Used for Milk and Meat

In order to make them grow more quickly, cows on factory farms are pumped full of antibiotics that are illegal in many countries. They’re also dehorned—which means that farmers remove their sensitive horn tissue or the horns themselves using hot irons, chemicals, or hand saws. This hurts cows very much, but farmers do it anyway so the animals can’t defend themselves. Cows are also branded with burning-hot irons without being given any pain relief. If you’ve ever accidentally touched a hot pan, this feels similar but much worse!

Mother and Baby Cow

Here’s What You Can Do to Help Cows Used for Food!

Cows are smart, friendly animals. They don’t want to be made into hamburgers or steaks, and they don’t want their milk to be stolen. So humans shouldn’t eat their bodies or drink their milk.

Close Up of Cow's Face Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

There are lots of meat-free and dairy-free foods available in most grocery stores. Meat-free meatballs, Beyond Burgers, oat milk, and cashew-based ice cream are all delicious, and no cows are hurt for them. Don’t think you could give up cheese? You don’t have to! Just try Follow Your Heart vegan cheese slices and shreds or Daiya wedges.

Get more information on helping cows used for food:

Cows Used for Leather

Cows Used for Leather

Cows are curious, kind-natured animals. They love listening to music, and when you get to know them and build their trust, they may like you so much that they’ll lick your face, just like a dog! Cows get excited when they solve problems and enjoy playing with beach balls.

What Is Leather?

Did you know that some shoes, jackets, belts, bags, and even footballs are made from cows’ skin? We call it leather, but what you might not know is that this material comes from killing and skinning gentle animals and treating the skin with toxic chemicals so that it doesn’t rot. Then products are made out of it. But cows don’t want their skin to be stolen and turned into products—they need it to live! And there are lots of vegan materials that humans can use to make the same types of products instead.

This Is What’s Done to Cows Used for Leather

A lot of leather comes from cows who are raised on factory farms, where they are forced to live in crowded, filthy conditions and are defenseless against the cruel things that workers do to them—like branding them with red-hot irons, burning off or cutting out their horns, and cutting off part of their tails—all without painkillers. After a miserable life trapped in a shed or locked in a little stall, these animals are crammed into trucks and hauled to the slaughterhouse. Many are still conscious when workers hang them upside down and slit their throats.

o-Anne McArthur, spain, dairy and veal farm, cows, overgrown hooves© Jo-Anne McArthur / Animal Equality

Lots of Other Animals Are Used for Leather, Too

It’s not only cows who are used to make leather products. Every year, millions of pigs, sheep, goats, ostriches, and even kangaroos suffer terribly before they’re killed for their skin. And some leather products that come from China are actually made from dogs and cats, and that’s not listed on labels, so it’s hard to tell whose skin you’re wearing. But no matter which animal a piece of leather came from, it’s wrong to wear it, because no animal deserved to be harmed.

Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

Don’t panic the next time you go shopping. It’s really easy to find shoes, clothes, and other items made from vegan materials like organic cotton, Tencel, modal, or Piñatex. Just read the labels! So many great vegan leathers are available now, too, including ones made from cork, mushrooms, grapes, and even apples. Vegan shoes and other gear are usually more affordable than leather ones and can be found just about everywhere. Not only are these materials kind to animals, they’re also much more sustainable, so you can feel good about buying and wearing them.