Roger Scruton, News from Somewhere: On Settling
(London: Continuum, 2004), pp. 61-62:
Like the landscape, the cow is a man-made object. This helpless box-shaped imbecile on tottering legs, with toothless mouth, was bred for human uses, and steadily deprived of the ability to survive on her own. Yet the cow is also an animal, as remote from us in her feelings as any creature of the wild. Living and working with cows you are immersed in the natural order, responding not to reason or emotion but to instinct and need. The cow is the channel through which nature feeds us — literally, by giving us milk, and also morally, by putting us side by side with silent herds in a living landscape.
When people describe what they love in the English countryside, they mention the many small green fields with their meticulous boundaries; the streams that run through pasture, and the copses that crown the hills; sometimes too they remember the shady trees in the parklands, their branches cropped level six feet above the ground. These features of the landscape were made either by cows or for them. Every children's animal book dwells on the cow as the moral centre of the farmyard. Not for nothing does the Koran open with the great Surah of the Cow, describing the reluctant sacrifice of a perfect animal at the command of Moses. Not for nothing do the Hindus venerate this creature, who so perfectly illustrates the interdependence of nature and man.