Today I am going to answer a question from Ginger in Los Gatos, CA. Ginger has asked me several questions via facebook over the past months and I really appreciate where she is coming from. Ginger & I have different experiences when it comes to interacting with animals but we share a deep respect and concern for their welfare. So I am happy to finally have an opportunity to answer one of her questions here.
I have always loved cows (to look at ) and their dairy products. Do you have a suggestion as to how I can get my spouse to stop eating meat? If you suggest therapy for him, it won’t happen. Thank you and I like your blog idea.
The answer to your question is you can’t. First, there is that whole thing about not being able to change who people are. I have been married for five years and my wife is learning this lesson the hard way! What I am going to attempt to do here is help you appreciate the many benefits of eating the meat that comes from dairy cows.
Cows are the most amazing creatures. I interact with them every day and I never get over the beauty of their design. The symbiotic relationship between cows and humans is like no other relationship in nature. And what is most interesting is that as society changes and becomes more modern, the cow actually becomes more useful. In fact, the cow is largely responsible for humans’ ability to leave the farm to create modern societies. (Has to do with nutrient dense foods and transportation, long version in another post.)
So what is so magical about these animals? The Rumen.
Side note, the wikipedia article on ruminants claims animal agriculture is responsible for 20% of the worlds green house gasses. This statistic has been debunked by multiple university research projects including those by Dr. Frank Mitloehner: UC Davis, and Dr. Jude Capper: Washington State University. The actual number is less than 2.5% and the authors of “Livestocks Long Shadow” have accepted this statistic and are reworking their study.
Because the cow has a four chambered stomach they are able to break down cellulose through fermentation. That allows a cow to eat all kinds of things humans can’t and turn it into something very, very good for us. Not only do they convert things we can’t eat into things we can, they also produce other extremely valuable products which will be listed below.
One of the most obvious ways cows become more useful to humans as we modernize is in what they eat. Cows eat literally millions of tons worth of trash that humans throw away every day. Cows divert massive amounts of industrial and food byproducts away from land fills and convert those waste products to food and fertilizer.
A couple years ago I went to India. One of the most interesting things I saw was how some neighborhoods had central concrete bins where people threw their trash. Much of their trash is cellulose based, like bowls made of leaves, etc. The cows and goats roam around the streets and eat from the trash left behind by the humans. Cheap trash collection, cheap milk.
In the US, we have a similar system but it is a little more modern. Some of the many things cows eat that have little use to humans are:
Corn Stalks – after corn is harvested for grain (for lots of other things) cows can eat the dried stalks
Wheat Mill Run – Making wheat into flour produces a waste product often called flour sweepings
Orange Peels/Orange culls – When Minute-Maid and others squeeze oranges for juice, the cows get the peels, they love them.
Distillers Grain/DDG – Ethanol is produced by grinding corn and turning it into whiskey. After the sugar is extracted from the corn, cows get the leftovers. If it weren’t for cows, billions of pounds of ethanol waste would occupy land fills. One of the criteria for building an ethanol plant is weather or not there are cows around to eat their waste.
Soy Bean Meal – Soy beans are primarily crushed for oil, not eaten in sushi restaurants. After the oil is extracted the bean carcases are fed to cows for protein.
Canola Meal – Same deal as soy meal, rapeseed is crushed, cows get the leftovers
Old bread and doughnuts – We call this bakery waste, cows love this too.
Almond Hulls and shells – Before an almond gets covered in chocolate and delivered to you it startes out inside of a shell, which lives inside of a hull. Whole almonds are sent to a place where they take off the hull and crack the shell to get the almond out. Cows really love the hulls for their fiber content and our cows sleep on the almond shells.
Cotton Seed – Your underwear is made from cotton. Cotton is basically a flower. The lint, which is spun into yarn, is attached to a seed. The ginning process separates the lint from the seed. The seed is fed to cows. Cotton seed is a very good feed item for cows, it basically has everything they need, fat for energy, protein, and fiber. All good stuff.
Peaches, Plumbs, Nectarines, Pomegranate peels, Onions, Carrots, sugar beet pulp, sweet potates, broccoli, and every other culled food item that is not fit for human consumption gets fed to our cows. This list is literally endless.
There is another thing cows eat that we can’t, grass. Grass grows over millions of acres of plains and foothill areas. Humans can not use this land to produce lettuce or french fries. Cows can graze on this resource and turn it into something useful to us.
So now lets look at what they produce.
Non-Fat Milk, 1% fat milk, 2% fat milk, 3.5% fat milk (aka whole milk), cheese (virtually thousands of varieties), butter, yoghurt with fruit & nuts, ice cream, cottage cheese, ghee, frozen yoghurt, keefir, cream, whip cream, clotted cream, sweet & condensed milk, lactose free milk, Crème fraîche, Smetana, sour cream, Cultured buttermilk, real buttermilk, whey protein powders, evaporated milk, ricotta, infant formula, quark, whey, casien, milk protein concentrates and isolates, hydrolysates, my favorite, Gelato, and many, many more.
I don’t think I need to go any further explaining why dairy products are good for you. We have millions of years worth of research and observation to prove it.
One of my favorite subjects when I give tours of the dairy is the “cycle of poo”. This is the process of recycling nutrients within our dairy system. We take all those cool human waste products, mix that with feed grown on our farm, give that to the cows, they produce milk, and they produce poo. We give the milk to you but we keep the poo and use it as organic fertilizer to grow our crops.
The crops take the free energy from the sun and transform the nutrients given to the soil by the cows into fibrous plants which in turn get fed to the cows and the cycle starts over again. Over and over again. This cycle has been occurring here on our farm for 118 consecutive years.
Like in any part of life, all good things must come to an end. And when a dairy cow is finished giving milk and producing natures greatest fertilizer she then gives us a whole list of other useful and beneficial products.
The obvious things she gives us are meat and leather. I could write pages on the things made with leather. I believe humans are meant to eat meat. It is part of the symbiotic relationship. Just like on the Savanna in Africa, the gazzelle eats the grass and the lion eats the gazelle. It is part of the larger cycle. (I believe Disney made a movie about it) We have just learned to manage this cycle more efficiently. Beef, especially lean beef is very healthy for you and one of the most important sources of protein and iron you can get.
Almost everything on a cow can be used. On a 1000 pond cow, 400 will go to meat and 600 to other products.
HERE ARE SOME:
Bone, Horn, Hooves, & Gelatin
Combs, gelatin candy (Gummy Bears), marshmallows, mayonnaise, gelatin, photographic film, steel ball bearings with bone charcoal, fine bone china, pet food, and vitamin capsules/gel coatings.
Hide & Hair
Insulation, paint brushes, glue for bookmaking and band aids, clothes, shoes, luggage, saddles, furniture, automobiles, volleyballs, basketballs, and baseball gloves.
Fats and Fatty Acids
Shampoo, soaps, shaving creams, cosmetics, deodorants, candles, crayons, floor wax, detergents, hydraulic break fluid, plastics, insecticides, paints, perfumes, and synthetic rubber.
Don’t forget pet food! 100% of the cow gets used for something. Just like the Native Americans and the buffalo.
I have a great amount of respect and adoration for these animals and I thank them every day for not only what they provide for me and my family but for what they do for the world.
So Ginger, I hope your spouse has an opportunity to read this long list of arguments to use against your pleas for vegetarianism. If you need any further assistance please let me now. 🙂