Mother's Day

Thinking About the Meaning of Motherhood For All This Mother’s Day

jennyAnimals, Veg Eating Leave a Comment

Each Mother’s Day, I think about both my own experience as a mother and the way our society treats the mother-child bond for so many non-human moms. To me, the essence of motherhood is both strength and vulnerability, with the celebration of new life and all of its promise and need for nurturing to realize its potential. Mothers and children forge bonds through the strength a mother develops in her protection and the baby’s increasing independence made possible by that protection. I can’t help but think of the plight of farmed animals, which turns the very essence of motherhood — of life — on its head, violently and systematically taking away the chance for strength and for celebration of life.

Mother’s Day For Pigs

Female pigs are artificially inseminated and imprisoned in barren, cramped cages made of metal and concrete. They can’t even turn around. Sadly, workers mutilate the piglets and take them away from their mothers at just a few weeks of age. Next, they impregnate the mothers again, repeatedly denying them of any chance to form a natural bond. 

Mother’s Day For Cows

When allowed, mother cows form lifelong bonds with their calves. Like humans and all mammals, cows produce milk to nourish their young. The dairy industry shatters these bonds. Workers repeatedly artificially inseminate the cows, taking each calf away at only a few days old. They either raise and kill them for veal or raise them to be dairy cows, repeating the cruel cycle. And although the natural lifespan of a cow is up to 20 years, dairy cows are slaughtered at around five years of age — once their milk production begins to decline — to be turned into cheap ground beef. Learn more about the cruel truth the dairy industry tries so hard to keep hidden. 

Mother’s Day For Chickens

When allowed to stay with their eggs, hens bond with their chicks begins even before they hatch. A few days before hatching, a hen begins chirping to her eggs. Her developing babies chirp back from inside their eggs. But hens farmed for laying eggs never get to take part in this or most other natural behaviors. Their eggs are hatched at massive industrial hatcheries, where the male chicks are ground up alive just after they hatch.  Workers sear off the females’ beaks and keep them kept crammed into tiny wire cages. They can’t even turn around or spread their wings. These birds will never get to care for their eggs or meet a single one of their chicks. 

Animal agribusiness relies on a systemic cycle of exploitation of these female animals to produce dairy, eggs and meat. Thankfully, each time we sit down for a vegan meal, we are standing up for all of these loving moms.

What You Can Do With This Knowledge

Amid this suffering and deprivation, my own experience as a mother has taught me to see this dismal information differently. Far from being a source of paralysis or despair, this information has empowered me and my children in understanding our own humanity. Knowing the cruel realities of how our society treats animals gives us the necessary perspective to build our own values on this topic, and to turn that into action. The opportunity to live vegan values and to teach others to find the resonance with their own values comes only from understanding these truths. And it strengthens my own bond with my children, appreciating and celebrating the promise of young life and the protection of the chance for each new life to grow. 

I invite you to hear the perspectives of vegan parents and kids, and contribute your questions about, and thoughts on, vegan families at Animal Outlook’s Vegan Family Podcast. Our Mother’s Day episode is a conversation with Tawnee Preisner, horse rescuer, vegan mom of four (including three adopted siblings) and founder of Horse Plus Humane Society. We talk about rescuing animals, caring for animals to teach compassion, what horses mean to kids, and more. 

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