The Ameglian Major Cow (also referred to as the Dish of the Day) was one example of a race of artificially created, sentient creatures which were bred to want to be eaten. It appeared in the television adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the second novel, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and in the sixth novel, And Another Thing....
In the second book, the Major Cow was the Dish of the Day at Milliways, which arrived when Zaphod Beeblebrox (accompanied by Arthur, Ford, and Trillian) requested to 'meet the meat'. It was described as a large dairy animal, a "large fat meaty quadruped of the bovine type." It was said to have large watery eyes, as well as small horns and what might have been an ingratiating smile on its lips. The creature seems peaceful and at ease, and at one point is described to have "mooed."
The creature offers Zaphod and his party his shoulder, braised in a white wine sauce, then goes on to offer other parts of its body, having worked hard to fatten itself up through force-feeding itself for months. Eventually, after Arthur and Trillian have expressed their shock and Ford has expressed his disinterest, Zaphod requests four rare steaks and the Dish of the Day goes off to shoot himself, telling Arthur not to worry, as he says "I'll be very humane."
In the television series, the Ameglian Major Cow appeared very similar to how it was described in the second novel. It was large and fat, a bovine-looking quadruped with leathery, beige-pink skin, and two horns. It was presented on a tray surrounded by salad leaves, instead of merely arriving at the table on its own, as was implied in the book, and it was given a West Country accent.
The Major Cow first appeared at Milliways, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and expressed a desire to be consumed by Milliways' patrons, having been bred to want to be consumed. Arthur Dent expressed great disgust at the idea of eating a sentient, speaking creature and ordered a green salad instead, however, the Ameglian Major Cow noted that many vegetables that were "very clear" on the point of not wanting to be eaten.
Later, a herd of Ameglian Major Cows were encountered on the planet Nano. Ford Prefect and Arthur (who had become far more open-minded after years spent traversing the galaxy) considered the Cows' offer to be eaten, only to be interrupted by the arrival of the Norse thunder god Thor.
However, the lightning display accompanying Thor's arrival killed and charred several Major Cows (while their still-living herdmates cursed their fellows' luck), giving Ford and Arthur the opportunity to sample the cooked meat. Later, a Major Cow offered itself to Thor at the thunder god's victory party.
Played by Peter Davison
- Fit the Twenty-Sixth (cameo appearance)
- All quotes from Chapter 17 of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, 1980, Douglas Adams.