Man who Tried Becoming a Goat Reports Success/Friendship. Goat #18 Begs to Differ.
Updated: Aug 27
In 2014, Thomas Thwaites, a British designer, eager to escape the worries inherent in being human embarked on becoming a goat. After the success of his Toaster Project in 2011, (an effort to reverse-engineer a cheap toaster entirely from scratch.) Thwaites was in debt, living
with his father and sending out résumés to no avail. By his own admission he was at a low point and in search of another equally compelling research idea. “Human life can just be so difficult…And you look at a goat and it’s just, you know, it’s free. It doesn’t have any concerns.” Thwaites’ first choice was to become an elephant but was dissuaded after a Scandinavian shaman told him an Englishman has no business being an elephant; he should be a sheep or a goat. Upon receiving some choice words from the National Sheep Foundation, he narrowed his focus to seeking goathood.
After a meeting with a neuroscientist dispelled any fantasy of being able to think like a goat Thwaites, instead, focused on physically manifesting goat-ness. During his year-long, grant-supported(!) research his final goat persona consisted of: prosthetic goat legs, a rumen bag to mimic that of a goat stomach, a goat-colored Gore-Tex jacket
and a helmet designed to give him, at first glance, the face of a goat. Preparation complete, Thwaites took off to join a domesticated goat herd in Wolfenschiessen Switzerland. His three-day experience is detailed in the book, GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human (published by Princeton Architectural Press which, to be clear, is unrelated to Princeton University or its Press, a detail I found oddly disappointing.)
The best part of the whole experience? “Probably just hanging out with the other goats and being part of the herd…I genuinely think I made a kind of goat friend, a bit of a pal, and hung out with Goat No. 18,” says Thwaites.
What follows are excerpts from an exclusive interview with Goat #18. While the two didn’t butt heads, #18 wants the general public to know that goat life is far from worry free. “I'm so tired of people thinking the life of a goat is nothing but
rainbows, butterflies and balancing on cows,” she says. “I'm here to dispel the myths. Before you think about becoming a goat, please take the following into serious consideration."
Worry #1: GAS
I’m a ruminant aka I eat grass therefore I have gas. I have to burp literally every minute or I blow up like Violet Beauregard in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Sometimes if my esophagus gets blocked, like when I ate a plastic bag*, I get a frothy bloat and can’t breathe. I once had a friend, her bloat got so bad they stabbed her rumen with a cannula and deflated her like a party balloon. She was never the same. Hey Thwaites, did you try that on your let’s-be-a goat adventure? Right, didn’t think so.
Worry #2: MOUNTAIN CLIMBING
There are more than 100 different types of goats and not all of us can climb mountains. I am so tired of some ram asking why my online profile doesn’t have any photos of me bounding across the Pyrenees as if I’m just being modest. I’m a domestic goat for cry eye. Put me on a mountain, I die.
Worry #3: PRODUCTION
Late at night, I get to thinking, Are they buying my milk? Are they buying my cheese? Will goat yogurt ever be as popular as sheep yogurt? I try to label these negative thoughts for what they are—thinking, thinking and let them go, but it’s not always that easy. Then I remind myself, I am not my milk, I am not my cheese and visualize the sun streaming in through my withers, entering my flanks and melting away all my tension (and gas.)
Worry #4: CHANGING U.S. PUBLIC PERCEPTION
Dairy cows think they’re the sh*t just because their milk is more popular in Western societies even though worldwide—worldwide people!—65% of milk consumption is goat versus that from HRH, the cow. No surprise really as I provide more protein, more calcium, more vitamin A, more niacin, fewer carbs, lower lactose, not to mention I take up less space, I eat less—I could go on and on. But no matter how many times I get into it with say, a cow over in Jersey they just go, “Ka-ching,” and walk away. Some cows are just aholes.
Worry #5: BROWSING vs GRAZING
This is more of a pet peeve than a worry but I’m tired of people thinking goats eat everything in sight. We don’t. We’re browsers, not grazers like cow-holes and sheep. While it’s true, I will chew on just about anything remotely resembling plant material (so I once ate a bag*, sue me) I will just as quickly spit it out, but it’s this last part that’s hard to see so I’m working on a YouTube.
Worries #6 - 9: Lesser-known but high-ranking goat worries, in no particular order:
I want to be loved for who I am, not what I look like. I am so tired of hearing, “Got a burger to go with that shake?” Hello, do you mind? My eyes are over here…and here.
I have no front top teeth, only a dental pad. Thanks Darwin. It’s fine if I’m dating another goat but nerve-wracking when I date say a sheep or a burro. When do I tell them? How long do I wait?
Occasionally, I will cough up a cud. Bad habit, I know and so unladylike. As you can imagine, it makes for some embarrassing moments. Sometimes I turn my head and sort of cough/bleat all at once, but I don’t think I’m fooling anyone.
• Little known goat fact: we hate being wet. OMG, hate it! The farm is drawing straws next week to see who’s going to work the dunk tank at this year’s fundraiser and all I can tell you is it ain’t gonna be me. Charlie, a sheepdog I’m sort of dating says if I get picked he’ll switch with me which is sweet. I take back what I said about sheepdogs only being concerned with their OCD.
Biggest worry of them all #10:
Finishing my novel.
~Thanks for reading! Please share with loved/hated ones (depending) and if you’d like to be notified of new posts, click this button right here: