Reject the Dairy Industry’s Real-Life ‘Handmaid’s Tale’—Go Vegan

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5 min read

Imprisonment, rape, reproductive control, kidnapping, and other abuse—these are only a few traumatizing matters explored in The Handmaid’s Tale. But while the book and TV series can be classified as speculative fiction, for cows imprisoned on dairy farms or pigs killed for their flesh, these horrifying experiences are all too real.

May 2, 2018: Wearing cow masks and The Handmaid’s Tale’s signature red capes, six impossible-to-ignore PETA supporters in Cambridge, Massachusetts—the setting of Margaret Atwood’s bestselling book—struck a powerful pose to advocate for cows who suffer on dairy farms.

And it seems perfectly fitting that a show that exposes the dairy and pork industries for what they really are is heavy with PETA friends: Mckenna Grace (Mrs. Esther Keyes), Laura Vandervoort (Daisy), and Yvonne Strahovski (Serena Joy Waterford) have all lent their talents to the award-winning series as well as to PETA’s vital work for animals.

Yvonne Strahovski PSA 2

(Warning: Spoilers ahead)

Season 4, Episode 1: ‘Pigs’

From the beginning, the flagship Hulu series has drawn stark parallels between women in the Republic of Gilead and mother cows in the dairy industry. (Both are used as baby-making machines and are left grieving for the newborns who are stolen from them.) But with the show’s season 4 premiere (duly titled “Pigs”), viewers get to witness the moment when Janine Lindo (played by Madeline Brewer) and other handmaids are transported in a truck to their new location. The grim ride and the truck’s thin slats …

… make it almost impossible not to consider the heartbreaking journey that pigs are forced to endure on their way to slaughter.

Once at a “safe house” (a farm where a commander and his family illegally hide the women and keep them safe), Janine meets Mr. Darcy, a female pig. Mr. Darcy is seemingly shot and killed after Janine, who seems taken with the animal, says a prayer over her. In the next scene, Janine appears physically and emotionally uncomfortable—unable to eat—as she’s forced to pass the plate of pig flesh across the table during dinner. Not wanting to disappoint her hosts, the reluctant handmaid takes a bite—and breaks down in tears.

You can pass on pig flesh.

What Mr. Darcy, Janine, and others endure in The Handmaid’s Tale is harrowing. Buying soy chorizo at the 99 Cents Only Store is not. Shed only happy tears by discovering how easy it is to find vegan bacon and other pig-free pork products when you don’t live in Gilead.

Buying Dairy Supports a Real-Life Handmaid’s Tale

Studded with an ear tag. Transported in cramped, dark trucks. Corralled by barking dogs. Limbs bound. Jabbed with electric prods. Impregnated. Chained. Their babies stolen from them. Led to slaughter. These are moments from The Handmaid’s Tale’s first season—moments that could easily be mistaken for real-life scenes from a PETA Asia eyewitness investigation into a typical commercial dairy farm.

The Handmaid’s Tale resonates with women who can relate to being seen as nothing more than their bodies. Cows imprisoned on dairy farms are valued only for their biology, just like the handmaids in Gilead. These cows and their daughters endure a lifetime of trauma and misery, while their sons—who are considered worthless to the dairy industry—are often sold for veal.

Cows used by the dairy industry are forcibly impregnated through artificial insemination again and again on rape racks. That’s right—rape racks. All for your milk, cheese, and yogurt.

During a 2018 PETA demonstration, mesmerized onlookers were urged by handmaid “cows” to stop supporting dairy-industry abuse and go vegan.

Like the handmaids’ babies in the Hulu series, these cows’ babies are generally torn away from their mothers within a day of birth, which causes them both extreme distress. Mother cows can be heard calling for their calves for days.

Five to six years after they’re born, after their bodies have been broken by a life of incessant pregnancy and lactation, these cows meet a violent death at the slaughterhouse—something that Elisabeth Moss’ character, June Osborne, knows a thing or two about. In episode two of season two, June tells Nick, who’s trying to help her escape, “Do you know what this is? Do you know what happened here? It’s a slaughterhouse.” The fear and torment evident in her eyes are the same harrowing terror and heartbreak surely felt by every cow who is used and abused in the dairy industry.

So if you thought food couldn’t be sexist, think again. Cheese, milk, and other dairy “products” are among the most sexist foods that you can eat. Every time you purchase one of these items, you’re directly supporting the almost unimaginable suffering of and violence against mothers and their babies.

Mothers and Female Members of All Species Deserve Better

If cows imprisoned on dairy farms could speak, they’d beg, “Get me out of here,” just like June in The Handmaid’s Tale. You can help these cows and help end the reproductive control, rape, and other violence that female animals are subjected to. They desperately need us to speak up for them—click the button below to help end their suffering:

Click here to learn more about the undeniable connection between feminism and animal rights.

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