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Mothers.

Today, as the UK celebrates Mother’s Day, all channels are awash with family photos and tributes to the most wonderful of Mums. One post, a casual snap with an excited caption about what lay in store for lunch, caught my attention in particular. It was a whole leg of lamb, gruesome and fleshy in the packaging, with a Happy Mother’s Day sticker on it.

 

The leg of a baby as a feast to celebrate motherhood.


Ok.

 

I’ve heard pregnancy described as a profound and emotional experience. The physical capabilities of the female body are truly incredible, and those who are pregnant often form a strong bond with their baby long before it pops out into the world, prepared to go to great lengths to protect it. We celebrate the maternal qualities of lovingness, protectiveness, and nurturing. We offer pregnant women seats in public places, shower them with gifts when their baby arrives, and celebrate with them as their child grows. In all, we honour motherhood and have naturally protective instincts for those who are carrying a child.

 

So returning to the irony of the lamb leg, let’s take a look at how we treat mothers of different species.

 

Cows

Surely the most exploited of all female bodies. Forcibly impregnated, over and over, just to have their babies taken from them within hours or birth. That’s after they carried them for 9 months – just like human mothers do. Strongly maternal animals, not only do cows then suffer the grief of losing their babies (and there are hundreds of videos online to demonstrate the grief felt at separation), they then endure the indignity and suffering of being hooked up to machines that drain them of the milk their incredible bodies produced to feed and nurture their offspring. Lots more on the horror of dairy here.

 

Sheep

In contrast to the stereotype, sheep are actually very intelligent and emotionally complex creatures. Ewes are strongly maternal and form deep bonds with their babies.


Farmed sheep are typically impregnated every 12 months, producing 1 or 2 lambs each year.

 

Lamb as a meat is very interesting to me. We go to great lengths to disassociate our food from the animal it came from….cows become beef, pigs become pork, deer becomes venison. But the babies that we slaughter and eat as young as 10 weeks old? Yea, we’re cool with those.

 

So this is the deal for sheep mums: we steal their babies each year and kill them when they're between 10 weeks and 6 months, traditionally serving them up on family occasions such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, or my favourite, Easter, the celebration of life, hope and love.

 

In addition, some ewes are also exploited for their milk, which is used to make feta and ricotta cheeses. They face the same risk of painful mastitis as dairy cows.

 

Just under 11.7 million sheep and lambs were slaughtered in the UK in 2021.

 

Dogs

Our closest companions, yet exploited for that very reason – the demand for pet puppies never seems to cease, and despite there being tens of thousands of dogs in rescue centres across the UK, breeders continue to exploit females of every breed in order to profit from their wombs.

 

Female dogs enslaved by rogue dog breeders often live in mass facilities, confined to dirty cages, are not exercised, loved, or given veterinary attention when poorly or injured. When, after multiple litters, their bodies are worn out, they’re very often killed, dumped, or taken to a shelter to become someone else’s problem.  

 

There are also dogs such as the Beagle Mums at MBR Acres – producing offspring for an even darker reason. Again, housed in shameful conditions, they're forced to produce litter after litter of puppies, to be sold off to laboratories to be used for animal testing. (Find out more about MBR Acres here.)

 

Chickens

There are 40.5 million egg-laying hens farmed in the UK each year. We  consume over 30 million of their eggs every day. Through selective breeding, a modern commercial hen will lay around 300 eggs in a year, putting a huge strain on her body and leaving her pysically unable to continue with that level of productivity. So after her first year of laying she’ll typically be slaughtered, around 5 years short of her natural lifespan. Many of these intelligent, social creatures live in cramped, dirty cages, and of course, they never get to see their babies hatch. A whole post on this very topic here.


The list goes on. I'm going to have to write another post about veganism and feminism. For now, I'll simply close with saying that if ever I saw something that truly illustrates just how disconnected from our fellow Earthlings we as humans really are…it's a baby leg being eaten on Mother's Day.

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