Charles Ramsey, the internet sensation rightly heralded as a hero for helping to rescue three Cleveland women who were kidnapped, raped and imprisoned for a decade, has earned the following reward: an endless supply of free burgers made from animals who were kidnapped, sexually violated, and imprisoned for their entire lives.
After publicly stating that any reward money should go to the victims, Mr. Ramsey was surprised to begin hearing from local fast food restaurants. In addition to a year’s supply of free burgers from McDonald’s, more than a dozen local fast food spots have bequeathed burgers for life to Charles Ramsey, in opportunistic honor of the fact that he was enjoying a Big Mac on his front porch when he first heard the screams of Amanda Berry, one of the kidnap victims. While Mr. Ramsey’s courage is rightly celebrated, the irony of his reward should not be overlooked. There are far more appropriate ways to reward a man’s role in the liberation of abused women than to gift him with a lifetime of health-destroying foods that are themselves the products of extreme violence and abuse.
Fast food burgers are made from a mix of the bodies of “culled” dairy cows and conventional “beef” cows; historically, fast food burgers are 60% culled dairy cow beef, and 40% beef cow trimmings. (1) Although a cow’s natural life span is 20 plus years, dairy cows are generally slaughtered (referred to as “culling”) between 3 and 5 years of age, when their over-worked bodies stop making as much milk. In October of 2012, roughly 12,400 dairy cows per day were slaughtered in the U.S. alone. (2)
According to the USDA, most dairy cows are culled for reasons associated with their ability to profitably produce high-quality milk and calves: “reproductive problems, udder or mastitis problems, poor production unrelated to disease, or lameness or injury. These reasons for culling are not usually related to ill health or systemic disease…” (3) Locked in a cycle of forced impregnation, perpetual lactation and near constant confinement, dairy cows’ worn out bodies are so battered that their flesh is considered too poor in quality to be sold for steaks or “prime” cuts; thus most dairy cows are processed into ground beef, comprising around 25% of the nation’s ground beef supply.
In addition to being slaughtered at only a fraction of their natural lifespan, dairy cows are subjected to most of the same cruel practices as animal raised for meat. Among the many routine abuses they endure, dairy cows are:
1. Kidnapped: Like all mammals, cows only produce milk to feed their young. Calves born to dairy cows are forcibly removed from their mothers, usually within 24 hours of birth, in order for humans to take the milk intended for them.
“The very saddest sound in all my memory was burned into my awareness at age five on my uncle’s dairy farm in Wisconsin. A cow had given birth to a beautiful male calf…On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn—only ten yards away, in plain view of his mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth—minute after minute, hour after hour, for five long days—were excruciating to listen to. They are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain.” -Michael Klaper, M.D.
See footage of a dairy cow being separated from her calf here.
2. Sexually violated: Nearly 80% of dairy cows are forcibly impregnated via artificial insemination, a highly invasive procedure which involves breeders inserting their arms into both the rectal and vaginal openings of the individuals they are violating. Learn more about the sexual violation of dairy cows here.
3. Imprisoned: In addition to having their most basic liberties denied— the freedom to decide when and with whom they will mate, and the freedom to nurture and remain with their own babies— most dairy cows are imprisoned in massive confinement operations in which their physical movement is grossly restricted. Over 90% of dairy cows are confined in primarily indoor operations, with between 75 and 90% being tethered by the neck in indoor stalls. (3) Cows kept in tie-stalls are confined except when they are milked, severely restricting natural activities such as walking, exploring, socializing, and grooming; all behaviors essential to a cow’s wellbeing.
Dairy cows are also prisoners inside their own bodies. Industrial dairy cows have been genetically manipulated to produce roughly 100 pounds of milk a day; ten times more than they would naturally produce. According to John Webster, Emeritus Professor of Animal Husbandry at Bristol University, “the amount of work done by the dairy cow in peak lactation is immense. To achieve a comparable high work rate, a human would have to jog for about 6 hours a day, every day.”
Of the roughly 9 million dairy cows in the U.S., nearly 3 million cows are milked each year to the point of exhaustion, then slaughtered. At the slaughterhouse, dairy cows endure the same nightmarish conditions as cows raised for beef: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRS-kzgoRq0
Learn more about the cruel dairy industry here.