What does the cow say? If you're like me, the first thing that came to mind is "moo". However, a colleague, who is a fellow fan of animal agriculture, recently pointed out to me the obvious. A cow doesn't SAY anything, it is an animal, and it is unable to speak. Until my colleague pointed this out, when I was teaching my children about animals I would use the typical line "what does the ____ say?" Now I say "what sound does the _____ make?"
This brings me to the concept of "anthropomorphism". I first heard this term from Dr. Wes Jamison, one of the speakers at the Young Dairy Leaders Institute. Dr. Jamison explained that anthropomorphism is when we give human characteristics to non-human creatures (animals).
The more I've thought about this, the more I recognize how rampant anthropomorphism is in our culture. My children have enough stuffed animals to start their own toy store. Disney has made billions on animal cartoon characters with human abilities and features. Millions of families around the world have pets that they would rank as family members.
This is a slippery slope. Yes, it might seem rather harmless to surround our children with humanized animals, and to have a family pet that's pampered, but we've got to be proactive on where to draw the line.
Animals are NOT humans.
In the book of Genesis God gave we humans "dominion", or supreme authority, over animals.
"...be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over ever living thing that moveth upon the earth." (Genesis 1:28)
God created a hierarchy where utilizing animals and consuming them is acceptable. In fact, God not only accepts this, but instructs us to eat animals.
In Genesis 9:3, it is written "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things."
If we are not proactive in teaching our children the basic principle that mankind is responsible for caring for animals and that God gave us animals to nourish us so that we can serve His purposes, they will be overrun with messages of anthropomorphism and will likely feel some sort of guilt associated with consuming animal products.
There is no reason for our children to ever feel guilt when eating meat, eggs, or dairy products. The animals that provide us with these products fulfilled their God-given purpose. They were born, lived their lives, and they died. This is the cycle of life.