But what about the cows? 

I have been vegan for 8 months now, and as I continually try to educate myself by reading and seeking more information about veganism I come across many different arguments for and against veganism. On my blog I will from time to time try to give my perspective on these arguments. I make no apologies for what I believe in and what I stand for, but I’m not here to force my opinion onto anyone, feel free to scroll past, or click off of my blog, unless this is something that interests you. 

Something that people question about veganism, and something I’ve been asked personally a number of times is What about the cows? What would happen to the cows that already exist and would cows become extinct? 

The truth is it’s a difficult question to answer. And I am by no means an expert, but here’s what I think. 

First of all the likelihood of people all becoming vegan at once is probably zero and I don’t think it’s likely that even most people will become vegan, at least not in my lifetime, however much I wish they would. 

So rather than the world suddenly being left with vast numbers of cows, that are surplus to requirements, as more and more people become vegan, the demand for meat and dairy cows will slowly decrease. And so, fewer cows will be bred and raised for meat and dairy. 

We aren’t going to wake up next week and find ourselves knee deep in cows that nobody needs. 

Therefore the suggestion that there will be a mass, worldwide cow slaughter is a moot point.  But then what do people think is going to happen to all of the meat and dairy cows anyway? 

They are all going to be slaughtered. 

Meat cattle is typically slaughtered at around 18 months, calves are slaughtered for veal between just 1 – 24 days of age and a dairy cow is usually slaughtered at around 4 years of age. Cows have a natural lifespan of around 20 years so they are all killed unnaturally young. 

Therefore the fact that meat eaters express concern at cows being slaughtered is a little odd to me. 

It also strikes me as odd that non vegans worry about cows at all when they literally advocate killing them for meat or exploiting them for dairy. Do people think these animals are happily grazing, uninterfered with,  in open fields and living the high life until their time comes, much like beloved pets? This simply is not the case. 

Will cows one day become extinct if the majority of people were to go vegan? 

I don’t know. 

Perhaps for a cow, a life never lived is better than a life lived purely to be factory farmed or exploited for milk? 

There are many, many animals either already extinct or facing extinction because of the actions of human beings, what about the animals facing extinction because of land being cleared for animal agriculture? So it’s possible that they could, but I feel it’s unlikely. 

Livestock have played such a huge role in our development as a species that it’s not unimaginable that manageable populations would be kept going even if not for food and dairy purposes. Vegans are definitely not going to advocate a mass slaughter leading to extinction. 

Cows could perhaps be left in peace,  in manageable numbers  to graze fields, animal sanctuaries may work to preserve them, in Hinduism, I believe cows are thought to be sacred.  so the Hindu population is not likely to sit back and watch cows becoming extinct. 

There are probably many species that may have been saved from extinction had we factory farmed them for food, but does that mean we should have raised them, kept the species going just to eat them?Would  that have been fair? In my opinion, no. 

The question of cows becoming extinct is a hugely hypothetical one, and arguably a disingenuous one. I mean how concerned can a person be about an animal that is born purely to feed them? 

The more pressing concerns in my opinion,  are animal abuse and exploitation, and the fact that animal agriculture is the leading threat to the future of our planet. 

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One thought on “But what about the cows? 

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  1. Great post! The question of “what’ll happen to the cows” is a really bizarre one to me too, and I don’t understand how people try to use it as an argument. Even if everyone went vegan at the same time (which like you said, wouldn’t happen), slaughtering every cow that exists for ‘consumption’ currently at once would be better than continuously breeding and slaughtering cows without any end. But ultimately, how it’ll happen is exactly like you said – less demand for products creating less need for the sheer amount of animals slaughtered. Supply and demand.

    Liked by 1 person

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