Vegan Activist Put to Shame By World’s Happiest Cow

This is a cow called Fiete. He was rescued from slaughter and lives on a sanctuary in Germany. Hearing him, I am ashamed that he says better in 30 seconds what I have been trying to say for over a decade as a vegan activist. How beautifully, and how irrefutably, he answers the question: Why vegan?

But I have another question once you have listened to Fiete. It’s a simple question: if you met Fiete in his field, and you had no need to hurt him — would you rather harm him, or cause him no harm?

Here’s why I ask. Humans have no biological need to consume animal products; this is a fact unequivocally confirmed by an overwhelming body of scientific literature. Therefore, when we have access to nutritious plant-based foods, and understand that eating animals is not a requirement for good health, then the choice to eat animal products anyway is a choice to harm and kill animals for pleasure — simply because we like the taste.

But harming animals for pleasure goes against core values caring people hold in common — which is why, for example, we oppose practices like dog fighting on principle. The notion of deriving pleasure from needless violence toward animals is repulsive to us; so how can we justify harming animals simply for the taste of their flesh, milk, or eggs? How can it be wrong to harm for pleasure in one instance, and not the other? The same reasons that compel us to oppose dog fighting compel us to abstain from eating animals we have no need to eat: namely, that it is wrong to harm animals for pleasure, and it is wrong to kill animals for pleasure.

The only way for our values to mean anything — the only way for our values to actually be our values — is if they are reflected in the choices we freely make. And every day, we have the opportunity to live our values through our food choices. If we value kindness over violence, if we value justice over power, if we value compassion over causing unnecessary harm, then veganism is the only consistent expression of our values.

For most of us, the question of eating animals really comes down to this basic question: all things being equal, would you rather harm an animal, or cause him no harm? If you believe it is wrong to harm others for pleasure, then living your values means living vegan.

Please learn more about the harm caused to animals used for meat, dairy and eggs; learn more about so-called humane animal farming; and visit our Guide to Vegan Nutrition as well as our Guide to Going Dairy Free.


Note: Some viewers have asked why there are still tags in Fiete’s ears if he is at a sanctuary. I visited Hof Butenland’s website and and learned that after the BSE scare in the early 1990s, EU regulations for cattle identification and inventory became much more stringent. Ear tags in both ears are mandatory for all cattle in Europe, and may not be removed even from cows who have been rescued to sanctuaries.

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About Ashley Capps

Ashley Capps received an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first book of poems is Mistaking the Sea for Green Fields. The recipient of a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, she works as a writer, editor and researcher specializing in farmed animal welfare and vegan advocacy. Ashley has written for numerous animal rights organizations, and in addition to her ongoing work for Free from Harm, she is a writer and researcher at A Well-Fed World. For more information on her poetry or advocacy writing, please visit her website. She also runs the vegan facebook page Make Compassion Consistent.


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  3. Thanks Ashley! Love this video of you and Fiete.
    She’s beautiful! (but she’s not a “HE’) 🙂

    • Thanks! But Fiete is indeed a he, as it says on his profile page at the sanctuary which has rescued him, and on the original youtube video they uploaded. Also, the lovely human in this video is Anna, an animal caregiver at Hof Butenland sanctuary.

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  5. What a beautiful video 🙂 Your words in this article are powerful and reflect my thoughts exactly. I’ve been vegan for nearly 5 years and vegetarian for 10 years before that. Sometimes I find it so hard to get the animal rights message across to friends and family. Most of them agree that cruelty to animals is wrong, but there’s 2 things I don’t understand about them and can’t seem to communicate to them.
    1 – the very cruelty you say you are against is part of every animal product you consume, yet when I offer to show you evidence (eg Earthlings), you either refuse to watch it or make excuses like, that doesn’t happen in Australia – which of course it does and I can show you the videos….cue further excuses or changing of topic.
    2 – you say killing animals for pleasure other than eating is wrong, yet continue to believe there’s nothing morally wrong with killing them for food! What the?!
    Ashley, do you have any advice for me as to what to say in these situations? I feel like I’ve tried everything! Because animals are so important to me and I’m so passionate about veganism, sometimes I find it hard to be as close to my family and friends as I’d like to be.
    I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks, Alice

  6. Why the cow has labels in her ears? Thats good she lives a free life keep her safe and good.

    • Hi Rajashri,

      There is a note at the end of the post to explain this. Fiete lives on a sanctuary in Germany. After the BSE or “mad cow disease” scare in the early 1990s, EU regulations for cattle identification became much more stringent. Ear tags in both ears are mandatory for all cattle in Europe, and may not be removed even from cows who have been rescued to sanctuaries. It is unfortunate. But as you say, how good that Fiete is now free and safe from harm.

  7. I posted this on my timeline with the message that you will need to make a decision after you watch this, and, if you don’t make a decision, that’s a decision, too! Cows are such devoted mothers. They cry pitifully for their male calves that are snatched from them shortly after they give birth to them. Not much use for male calves in the dairy industry. They become pink veal to satisfy the palates of the foodies.

  8. How beautiful. How the connection between Human and Animal should be, like this , for all eternity. I too, am Vegan. May all Animals know the love and peace he does.

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