Evidence of Emotion in Animals and Why We Shouldn’t Eat Them

Mother Cow and Her Calf

A mother calf grieves the loss of her deceased baby with mournful bellows and tries to revive the corpse. How can anyone deny animals feel emotion?

I was just reading a story on Facebook about how a dog was branded (yes, branded, like cattle are branded with a hot poker) and people were posting comments full of anger and outrage. I immediately thought to myself, “the people posting these comments of disgust about a hateful act towards a dog probably just finished a steak dinner.”

Let Me Tell You a Little Story About a Mother’s Love

My sister-in-law lives in rural Pennsylvania surrounded by rolling hills, lavender fields and farmland. Across from her house is a farm with 20 or so cows. A lot of them have just given birth to babies this spring, but one of the babies died. The mother was clearly devastated. The rest of the herd stayed far away from her and her dead baby, so as to let her be alone with it. The mother would stay close by the body, then come over and lick it walk away, walk back and lick it over and over, like she was trying to revive it. All the while, she was bellowing in grief. Once she realized the baby was surely dead, the bellowing became more intense and frequent. Finally, the rest of the herd came over and licked, smelled or looked at the dead calf, like humans say their last goodbyes to a dead loved one at a wake. Once the farmer found out about the dead calf, he removed it from the pasture. For days, the cow would bellow and bellow in grief over her lost baby.

Think Outside the Box for a Second

In certain parts of the world, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat dog. Like, chihuahua or golden retriever, or whatever other kind of dog, you know, “man’s best friend.” In the United States, we’d never fathom eating a dog or cat. Why? Why do we not do this? Socialization. We are socialized to think of cats and dogs as “pets” and cows, chicken and pigs as “food.” In India, the cow is sacred and is not consumed as food. Why? The religion regards cows as sacred and therefore the socialization of this culture puts cows off the plate. For vegans and animal advocates, however, there is no difference between a cat, dog, horse, pig, monkey, pigeon or sea anemone. They’re all animals and still deserve to live their lives uninterrupted by exploitation by humans for “a good burger” or “some great wings” or “insert whatever one would say about a tasty meal of dog.”

Animals Know

When I was a little girl, about only 3, I knew no better and probably played a little too rough with the kitten my parents got me (I didn’t hurt her. She just didn’t like being chased around or put in boxes). Those who say animals have no memory or ability to hold grudges are wrong – very wrong. On several occasions, this kitten would literally hide behind the car or a plant and ambush my 3 year old legs with claws extended, resulting in my bloody screams of pain and kitty’s soft purr of satisfaction.

Is This Hard to Stomach?

Personally, I have tried to tell others that all animals are equal. They may have differing levels of “intelligence,” but they’re still equal beings, minding their own business as cows, pigs, doves, whales, seals, lions or ducks. Spend a little time around or observing animals other than commonly domesticated ones like cats and dogs, and you’ll quickly notice they are very aware of themselves, others and their surroundings. Abuse towards ALL animals is wrong. The amount of backlash I’ve received isn’t shocking when I mention this fact. If something is ugly, we run from it and don’t want to believe it’s true. Sometimes the truth hurts.

I read a book once called “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows.” This blog post only scratches the surface of what this book will cover. It goes much deeper into the schemas we develop and the culture we are socialized into in regards to how animals are treated. Sometimes the truth is ugly and nobody wants to accept, especially if it’s not pretty.

Oftentimes, we reject what we don’t want to believe to be true. We run from and it shout at it with anger. Give the truth a chance. It won’t be nice at first, but at the end of it all, hopefully we’ll at least think twice before buying a slab of ribs at the store. Remember, those ribs once protected lungs filled with the breath of life.


4 thoughts on “Evidence of Emotion in Animals and Why We Shouldn’t Eat Them

  1. Poppy says:

    Elephants make graves by breaking branches to cover their dead. They also mourn.
    Gibbons take care of their elderly. They move through forests hand over hand and will only go as fast as the slowest member of the group.
    Sheep can recognise the faces of at least 10 people and 50 other sheep. When isolated from their flock, they experience stress. They can also form deep deep friendships.

    • Veggie Diva says:

      You are so right. Aren’t dolphins the only other animals on the planet besides humans that mate for life? Or is that penguins? We are all so different, yet the same!

      • Poppy says:

        Dolphins mate for pleasure. They, us and bonobos are the only known species to do that!
        Penguins mate for life, they are so sweet, the males give the female he desires a pebble and if she likes it, they become mates for life! Now how can anyone argue against animal sentience and emotion. Bless them :)


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