“Etre the Cow is one of the most important books written in a generation. Etre’s fight for freedom and dignity is a fight for life itself. Sean Kenniff’s Etre The Cow depicts a very human struggle– and it’s a story I won’t soon forget.
It is a little book, with a big message, told through the eyes of Etre The Cow. Etre means “to be” in French. And in this imaginary cow pasture, much like in our very real world, some ponder the meaning of existence, while others simply graze.
I was so moved by Sean’s book. Yes- it is very much HIS story– written after finding himself out of a job– struggling with the pain of being cast aside by an indifferent employer despite years of thankless, hard work. But haven’t we all found ourselves in a similar place– contemplating, in our darkest moments, what seems like life’s brutal insignificance? Etre’s silent struggle for dignity, self-expression and control is the thinking man’s conundrum.
“When night comes My Cow, Bull Calf, and all the other cows sleep, but I cannot. In the dark I wander and listen to the new cows cry out. Each cow has a different hunger, and I’ve weathered each one the same. They are simple hungers for simple appetites. But none of these cows hunger like I hunger, I think. I am the pasture inside the pasture, and the only cow here truly starving.” – Chapter 7
I recently interviewed Sean for “The Juice.” His story will premiere next Friday and I’ll be sure to post the link here. One of the issues we discussed is how the animal rights community has embraced this book– after all Etre is more than just meat. Sean says this wasn’t his intention– but is grateful. And, he has reduced his red-meat consumption ten-fold after spending weeks with cows in a Miami pasture. He noticed the varying personalities. The struggles. The fights. The nurturing between mother and calf. It is hard to eat something you now know ‘feels.” Perhaps even thinks?
“Different cows die in different ways. Sometimes the stunning pipe kills them flat out, and they never see it coming. Those are the lucky cows. But other times the pipe doesn’t work proper and the cow is hung upside down still alive and frantic. Those cows have the most horrible deaths because the bloodletter slashes their necks with such panicked ferocity he often doesn’t get the cut right on the first try. The cows flail and kick at him but in the end it never really matters much; the bloodletter always gets the job done.” -Chapter 8