- Emily the Cow is Sherborns best known bovine and her current
home, the Peace Abbey, celebrated her miraculous escape from a slaughterhouse
five years ago with an open house on Sunday for the Great American
Any family who showed up for a petting zoo, though, quickly discovered
that as delightful as Emilys story is, it was part of a much
the Abbey was a flurry of activity, with staff and volunteers greeting
and engaging visitors, talking about the Abbeys mission, pointing
children to the playroom downstairs, and steering families toward
the kitchen, where a garden of vegetarian delights were being offered.
attraction was a spread of various veggie burgers, which are apparently
still mysterious to some, despite their availability in regular
didnt occur to me that people werent even familiar with
them," admitted Dot Walsh, the Abbeys program coordinator,
who hoped that the gathering would dispel some myths about vegetarianism.
think when people first become vegetarians, they think theyre
going to be very limited, but in reality, theres so much available
the meat and cattle industry has the attention of the world, for
good and ill, particularly given this widespread concerns in Europe
and Argentina about foot-and-mouth disease.
well-timed open house on the Great American Meat Out was one way
for the Peace Abbey to let people know they are doing their part
to find a solution.
did get a call last week from someone who works in the Department
of Health and they wanted to know about soy products and recipes,"
she said. "I told her that if sometime she wanted us to have
a workshop for a group of people, wed be willing to do that."
attraction of the day for many, though, was Emily the Cow. Families
gathered around her to get a glimpse of the legendary cow and took
photos while kids petted her and got their faces licked.
Hall, a Harvard Divinity School student who does volunteer work
at the Abbey, fielded all Emily questions from families, his job
for the day. Well, that and making sure some attention was paid
to the Abbeys other residents.
Gabriel, a friendly tan cow who shares a pen with Emily and excitedly
nudged and licked some of the kids. He is also, Hall explained,
Emilys adopted son.
was going to be a veal calf. Emily adopted Gabriel and took care
of him," he said. Hall whipped out a photo of Gabriel as a
calf to the tittering delight of the kids.
was, however, another purpose to meeting these cute, fuzzy animals,
and it was made apparent as Hall handed out buying guides to non-leather
do we need these?" asked a little girl.
you heard of leather? You have to kill the cow to get leather, because
its the cows skin," Hall told her. "These
are clothes and shoes you can buy, but you dont have to kill
animals. So then Emily can live; she wont be killed for shoes."
parents seemed uneasy right then and only looked slightly more comfortable
with the story of how Thanks and Giving, the Abbeys turkeys,
were rescued from the slaughterhouse.
little kids gathered around a pen of goats. One, Annie, was rescued
from a petting zoo, whose owners are interested only in the younger,
cuter animals and routinely split up families.
were the children of Belle, the oldest goat in the pen, who, like
Emily, escaped from a slaughterhouse. Belle came knocking on a womans
door one night and dashed inside when the door was opened, immediately
claiming the dogs water dish as her own. The woman called
the Abbey immediately.
a slaughterhouse?" asked one little girl, after the story.
where they make hamburger," interrupted the mother.
where they kill animals," Hall added.
trying very hard not to drive that point home," the mother
sorts of exchanges were rare, but they did happen and Hall tried
his best to deal with them amicably, though honestly. Awareness
of cruelty to animals - and that includes being shipped to slaughterhouses
- was all part of what this day at the Peace Abbey was about, and
that meant a certain amount of frank talk.
staff, it was a bit like walking a tightrope. They wanted to educate
children on the reality of eating meat, but hoped to avoid being
too over the top.
dont want to be too graphic with the kids, but I think its
fine to say that the animals are killed," Hall explained. "Otherwise,
the kids dont make the connection, if you try and hide that.
She didnt seem to want me to say it, but Ill say it
anyway because its the reality."
has observed many such exchanges and advocated being honest with
kids about how meat is produced.
dont always want to hear it, but the kids have to know it,"
she said. Walsh practices this in her own life, with her grandchildren,
and finds the information gives the kids a perspective on things.
have more of an understanding than we give them credit for. Its
not as if youre forcing them into vegetarianism, but I think
they have a right to know that," she said.
difficult moments, though, did not hinder the day. Walsh proclaimed
it a big success, with at least half the visitors being unfamiliar
with the Abbey and vegetarianism, but departing with a great interest
to the unconverted was the obvious goal here and no one could have
predicted it would work so well.
several new vegetarians had their own ideas about the next event
at the Abbey.
were asking about and talked about maybe having a kind of pot luck
where you bring a recipe and a dish and share that and talk about
that," said Walsh.
newcomers invite themselves over for vegetarian pot luck dinners
was encouraging to the Abbey and a good indicator of the days
maybe something we would do later on," Walsh hinted happily.