For Immediate Release:
June 21, 2023
Sara Groves 202-483-7382
Columbus, Ohio – This morning, PETA sent a letter to Ohio Expo Center & State Fair General Manager Virgil Strickler offering to sponsor the state fair’s upcoming annual cow-and-calf butter sculpture display—if it’s made of vegan butter.
PETA points out that the revamp would better reflect the values of modern fairgoers—Gen Z’s dairy consumption is down 20%—and the growing number of people who choose vegan options to protect animals, slash their carbon footprint, and improve their health. In the dairy industry, calves are torn away from their mothers so that the milk meant to nourish them can be sold to humans.
“Dairy farmers don’t like to talk about it, but mother cows produce milk only after pregnancy, which means they’re forcibly impregnated over and over again to ensure that they maintain a steady supply of milk—only to see their beloved babies taken away from them within hours of birth,” writes PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “This is nothing to glorify, and it’s especially macabre to sculpt the victims out of a product that causes them terrible suffering.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—offers a free vegan starter kit on its website. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Strickler follows.
June 21, 2023
Ohio Expo Center & State Fair
Dear Mr. Strickler:
Greetings! I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, including many thousands in Ohio—with an offer that would send a kinder message to fair attendees and help modernize the Ohio State Fair’s “butter cow” exhibit by reflecting the ever-growing demand for vegan butter. This year and beyond, please show true reverence to mother cows and calves by sculpting them only from dairy-free butter. We’d even donate all that’s needed.
As you know, displaying butter sculptures of serene, smiling cows and calves beside kind-looking farmers is a drastically misleading depiction of today’s dairy industry. Dairy farmers don’t like to talk about it, but mother cows produce milk only after pregnancy, which means they’re forcibly impregnated over and over again to ensure they maintain a steady supply of milk—only to see their beloved babies taken away from them within hours of birth. Cows on modern farms are forced to produce so much milk that they typically become worn out by the time they’re just 4 or 5 years old—a fraction of their natural life expectancy. At that point, they’re sent to slaughter. Male calves, who are useless to the dairy industry, are usually slaughtered when they’re just a few months old. This is nothing to glorify, and it’s especially macabre to sculpt the victims from a product that causes them terrible suffering.
Making the switch to vegan butter also means staying relevant and caring for the environment and human health. The vegan butter industry is flourishing, and dairy consumption is down 20% among Gen Zers, 65% of whom say they want a more plant-based diet. The production of vegan butter emits less greenhouse gases and uses less land and water than dairy farms do. Dairy has also been linked to numerous health problems, including diabetes, allergies, and prostate and breast cancer, and approximately 36% of Americans are lactose intolerant.
Times and traditions change. A dairy-free butter sculpture would offer the ever-growing number of people who don’t consume meat or dairy for ethical, environmental, or health reasons something to visit at a fair that honors cows, rather than glossing over their suffering. We’d love to work with the “home to the largest butter sculpture display of any fair in the country” to set a compassionate example for fairs around the nation to emulate. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.
Executive Vice President