Lou, a beloved ox at Green Mountain College in Vermont, was quietly euthanized Sunday, according to The Boston Globe. The euthanasia took place amid outrage that Lou and another ox would be slaughtered and served in the campus dining hall.
In early October, the college announced its plan to serve the ox’s’ meat “in keeping with its emphasis on sustainable agriculture,” according to the Globe.
Lou was euthanized Sunday because he suffered from an injury, not because his meat was going to be served.
The college’s decision to euthanize the sickly ox seems appropriate. Veterinarians determined that Lou’s condition “would not improve and that his quality of life would continue to diminish,” according to the Globe. If that is case, then euthanasia seems like the humane choice.
However, the college should never have proposed to serve the ox’s meat in the dining hall in the first place. It’s noble that the college wanted to promote sustainable food practices, but serving a beloved ox’s meat seems inappropriate. Lou lived on the farm for about a decade and had become a symbol of the college’s farm program during that time. Because the school had formed a sort of emotional attachment to the ox, serving its meat to students seems insensitive.
No matter how resourceful or practical their intentions were, the college should have taken Lou’s status into account. It will be interesting to see what the school chooses to do with Lou’s work partner, Bill. Following Lou’s death, the college announced that Bill will remain on the farm, where he will “receive care consistent with appropriate livestock practice”, according to an article in The New York Times on Monday. However, that statement seems open-ended. Hopefully in its future dealings with Bill, the college weighs the ox’s status more closely.