What better way for kids to learn about dairy than straight from the cow's mouth? A new project from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and one of your favorite celebrity mamas is working to do just that. Alicia Silverstone and PETA are teaching children about dairy in a unique, family-friendly way that's sure to grab the attention of your child — and maybe even you, too.
For the project, Silverstone is providing the voice for Carly, a life-size animatronic cow who escaped from a dairy farm and now lives at an animal sanctuary. Carly is embarking on a nationwide tour of schools to teach children about where milk comes from, PETA exclusively tells Romper via email. The tour will officially begin at Maryland Elementary School in Vista, California this Friday.
The animal welfare organization shared a video of children watching some of Carly's early appearances, alongside footage of Silverstone in the recording booth. "When people drink cow's milk or eat food made from our milk, like cheese, butter, and ice cream, I don't think they have any idea what our lives are really like," Carly the cow tells kids via Silverstone's soothing voice. "Cows can feel happy, sad, and scared. We cry when we're upset. We definitely have things that we like and things that we don't like. Each cow is as special and different as each of you."
"On the dairy farm, my babies were taken away from me when they were just a day or two old so that my milk could be sold in stores instead of given to them," Silverstone's Carly the cow also tells the kids. "I still think about my babies every day, and I miss them soooo much."
While most people know that dairy milk comes from cows, many may not realize that cows do not naturally produce milk without having a baby first. In order for a cow to produce milk in the world of factory farming, she is artificially inseminated, and about 36 hours after she gives birth her baby calf is taken way from her so that her milk can be bottled for humans, The Guardian explained. When cows give birth to male babies, they are typically sent to veal producers where they spend their entire lives, which span about 4 to 5 months, in confinement before being turned into veal, according to The Humane Society. And once a dairy cow is no longer producing enough milk, she is sent to the slaughterhouse to be turned into meat, according to a report by Viva.
The reality of the ways cows are treated is heartbreaking, and can be really hard for anyone to hear, let alone an impressionable child. That's why Silverstone and PETA's approachable and child-friendly method of educating children about dairy is so important. Plenty of studies suggest that plant-based alternatives to dairy are actually healthier for you, too, according to NutritionFacts.org.
So, for those who were affected by Carly the cow's message, she has a few suggestions of food and drinks you can enjoy instead of dairy. Instead of milk, try a plant milk — there's almond, coconut, cashew, soy, and oat milk, to name a few. There are also delicious vegan cheeses, including Field Roast's Chao Creamery, Miyoko's vegan mozzarella, and even a ton of DIY vegan cheese recipes on the internet. Popular ice cream brands including Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's make delish non-dairy flavors, too.
Silverstone is a longtime vegan, meaning she doesn't eat milk, dairy, eggs, or any other animal products. The actress is in good company when it comes to being a vegan in Hollywood — other vegan celebrity moms include Jenna Dewan, Mayim Bialik, Natalie Portman, Penélope Cruz, and Taraji P. Henson. Silverstone is also raising her son Bear, 7, primarily as a vegan, SELF reported last year. “[B]eing able to do something that is good for the earth, good for the animals, and good for you all at the same time seems like such a no-brainer. It’s like the biggest ‘Duh!'” she told SELF. (Is it just me, or was that "duh" a sly Clueless reference?)
Here's hoping Carly the cow is spotted grazing in my area sometime soon. Hey, I may be an adult, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate a talking cow!