Bill and Lou, the now internationally famous oxen team who have worked the fields at Green Mountain College (GMC) for the last 10 years, will soon be available as hamburgers on the college’s cafeteria menu.
Despite more than 30,000 signatures delivered to the school asking for mercy for these life-long best friends, as well as an offer from Vine Animal Sanctuary to allow the oxen to live out their retirement there for free, the college has announced that after discussions with students and faculty, allowing Bill and Lou to live would go against the college’s ethical code.
Lou suffered an injury to his leg earlier in the year and was deemed unable to work any further. Because oxen work as a team and these two are so tight the college decided that it would be better to just send both to slaughter so poor Bill didn’t have to miss Lou.
GMC is a small liberal arts college that focuses on environmental sustainability. The argument goes that Bill and Lou could both provide close to a ton of hamburger meat to the school, meat which would otherwise come from a confined animal feed lot (CAFO), which, we can all agree are an environmental mess.
According to the college’s statement, “As a sustainable farm, we can’t just consider the responsible stewardship of the resources within our boundaries, but of all the earth’s resources.”
What I mean is, my grandmother uses up a lot of resources. And she’s no longer able to work. Family members would question my sanity after receiving my statement regarding the necessity of proving my dedication to an environmental code of ethics by euthanizing my unproductive grandma and freeing the resources she would otherwise be sucking up.
Following my environmental values with no regard to other issues still does not lead to the kind of world even my environmentalists would want to live in.
I question a school’s sustainability principles that claims if it doesn’t kill these two gentle animals to feed to people the animals considered friends, then CAFO meat must be used.
“If this meat doesn’t come from our animals, it likely will come from a factory farm setting which carries with it a significant amount of ecological impact,” the statement asserts.
Yes. We all know factory farms carry a significant ecological impact. If the school finds factory farming is at odds with its values, why would it sell meat from CAFO cows at all?
The college says it strives “to meet the dietary preferences of all students.” That’s fine, to a point. I’m hoping the working dogs don’t make their way into the cafeteria nuggets. And neither should two animals who see humans as their friends and who deserve a few years of retirement after many years of hard work and dedication.
Besides, arguing that killing Bill and Lou is somehow the environmentally ethical move completely skirts the real issue – that meat is an incredibly inefficient food delivery system. And the toll it is taking on our health exacerbates it impact as sick people are less productive and suck up more resources.
These decision makers want to eat their hamburgers and have them too. To really prove dedication to sustainability, the college should not serve hamburgers period, especially from factory farms. If this makes the burger more expensive all the better for the broke student, and for the environment he will someday raise his kids in.
But while the college has only to look ridiculous for using the lives of these animals to make an illogical point, Bill and Lou have to lose each other, and their lives.
They gave them names. They acknowledged them as individuals. How can they possibly convince themselves that the world they are striving for is one in which we sacrifice compassion and mercy to “meet the dietary preferences of all students?”
There’s one last-ditch effort to save Bill and Lou. Click here to sign and email the decision makers.