Today is more or less officially Cow Appreciation Day, but fast food chicken chain Chick-fil-A decided to celebrate on Friday instead, holding the second annual event in which customers who dress in cow costumes receive a free meal.
The event—and the chain’s “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign—is packaged like an effort to save cows, but really, it’s just a way to drive profits. And unfortunately, the company’s Cow Appreciation Day spot is really fun—I got sucked in—with cool animation and music, and what at first glance seems like an animal-friendly message (at one point, it features cows holding signs that say things like, “Weed Out Burgerz”).
But one thing the commercial doesn’t cover is the horrendous conditions suffered by the chickens that ultimately end up on Chick-fil-A’s customers’ plates. It’s like the chain is saying, “Cows are cool—don’t eat them. But chickens? Go ahead and chow down!”
I kept looking for some celebration of the holiday that actually seemed to make sense, but I couldn’t find any. The Billings Farm & Museum plans to celebrate Cow Appreciation Day on Saturday (longest! holiday! ever!), but its idea of festivities is to teach butter and ice cream making and to offer lectures on topics like “An Introduction to Milking.” Schools haven’t come very far, either, despite the restructuring of the food pyramid: Among the children’s coursework from First-School Preschool Activities & Crafts, dairy-basketmaking figures prominently, and the other calendared holidays they celebrate include Milk Day, Cheese Day, and Dairy Month. And in an article in the Tampa Tribune, the author jokingly ascribes mad cow disease to low self-esteem in cows, and one of the quoted cow “lovers” says that bovines are “gentle creatures that live to give.” As if they had a choice.…
I don’t think Hallmark or anyone else would promote Father’s Day by suggesting that people abuse their mothers instead. And maybe it’s just me, but it seems kind of twisted to celebrate someone or something because of what it can give us rather than because it simply exists, as every single one of us has a right to simply exist. So if you really care about animals, write to Chick-fil-A and let them know that chickens are just as worthy of our appreciation—and of not being eaten—as cows, and keep Farm Sanctuary updated on your efforts. Send a Cow Appreciation Day e-card to someone who really cares about animals. And sponsor one of the little dudes being cared for by Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. The cows and the chickens will thank you for it.