Save Bill Now: Choose Love, Not Slaughter

There is only one evil in the world, Fear. There is only one good in the world, Love.” – Anthony DeMello in Awareness.

Green Mountain College (GMC) in Poultney, VT, conducts a Masters program in Sustainable Food Systems, whose central premise appears to be that 19th century animal farming methodologies and 21st century human consumption patterns lead to a sustainable world. Until a few months ago, the star exhibits in this program were Bill and Lou, two 11-year-old oxen, who had been pulling wooden ploughs to till the land on behalf of GMC’s Masters program at their Cerridwen Farm facility for over a decade.

Then Lou injured his leg and the GMC students and faculty, in a majority vote, decided to slaughter both Bill and Lou and eat them in the school cafeteria. This decision led to worldwide outrage. In our cross-country road tour on behalf of Bill and Lou, we have collected signatures from vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters alike, protesting GMC’s treatment of Bill and Lou. Meat eaters also abhor the idea of GMC eating Bill and Lou, who they feel have served the college well and are deserving of healing and rest instead.  

On Sunday, GMC claims to have euthanized Lou in secret, under the cover of darkness and buried him in an undisclosed location as the pain medications rendered him inedible. But they are yet to reveal a veterinarian’s certificate for the euthanasia.

This raises the central question as to what is GMC teaching its students about sustainability, ethics and transparency?

On the question of sustainability, may I recommend that GMC faculty use well-researched books in its curriculum, such as Prof. L. D. Danny Harvey’s opus, “Energy and the New Reality,” especially Volume I, Chapter 7, which deals with agricultural systems. With world meat and dairy consumption expected to double in the next 20 years in our present trajectory, it is disingenuous of GMC to project that wooden ploughs and oxen power can meet that demand without ruining the planet. There are fundamental questions that we need to confront as humanity regarding our present consumption trajectory – e.g., should we double meat and dairy consumption in the next 20 years as the livestock industry would like to see happen or should we reduce it immediately by 25% and follow a steady reduction path as UN scientists recommend? -, but the last thing we need is the false comfort of shoddy science. Animal agriculture is already responsible for at least 51% of the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change and another bio-fuels style fiasco can have devastating consequences for humans and for all Life on Earth.
On the ethics question, I find the “Raise it, Name it, Love it, Slaughter it” ethos that appears to pervade GMC, bone-chilling, to say the least. There is something really wrong with the use of the word Love when it can lead to a deliberately slit throat. The poster pasted on our Prius on our Save Bill and Lou cross-country tour reads, “Choose Love, Not Slaughter”, because we never imagined that Love and Slaughter can go together. If GMC’s ethos allows “Choose Love, Then Slaughter,” then is that really Love?

Philip Ackerman-Leist, the Director of Masters in Sustainable Food Systems at GMC appears to believe that, “Compassion for All” is an extremist agenda. Perhaps this explains why GMC’s ethos can combine Love and then Slaughter. But if “Compassion for All” is an extremist agenda, then the Buddha, Jesus Christ, the Prophet Muhammad – Peace Be Upon Him, Lord Sri Krishna, Lao Tzu, Chief Seattle, Albert Einstein, Lord Mahavira, Mahatma Gandhi, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Theresa, all had an extremist agenda. And so do I. But characterizing this as extremist doesn’t reflect well on the ethics and morals being taught at GMC.

Finally, on the issue of transparency, I urge GMC to release the Veterinarian’s certificate on the euthanasia of Lou and calm inflamed passions on both sides. We are not dealing with “Osama Bin” Lou here. Besides as someone who uses “Compassion for All” as his guiding principle, I assure the administration, faculty and students at GMC that the word “All” encompasses them as well. But it also encompasses Bill, who is still scheduled for slaughter, processing and consumption at any time, if we cease to be vigilant.

A Ceaseless Vigil for Bill and Beyond
Save Bill and Lou Tour: In Sunny Florida, Lou Lives on for Ever
Sailesh Rao
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