Have you ever wondered why consuming dairy products isn’t vegan? After all, the cow doesn’t die or suffer by giving us milk, right? I believed this for a long time. I was blissfully unaware of the suffering cows endure for the consumption of dairy products that were not meant for me. I was addicted to cottage cheese and whole milk, but once I learned about the practices used to obtain milk, I could no longer support this industry. Along with the treatment of these animals, these animal products only cause harm and wreak havoc on our health and are a huge contributor to global warming.
I’m sure, like me, you grew up being told that diary products are an essential part of our diet and we need it for calcium and strong bones.
I was even told that if we don’t milk the cows, their udders will explode (I’m not sure if that’s true — it’s just something that sticks out in my mind). I justified my consumption of dairy products by telling myself we were doing these cows a service; we were helping them. What I didn’t realize until I was breastfeeding my daughter was that the milk these cows were making were meant for their babies, just like the milk I was producing was for my daughter. So if humans are consuming cow’s milk, what are their babies drinking, and what was their fate?
Friends, it’s not pretty. In fact, it makes me sick to see the practices being used on cows. Female cows are continuously artificially inseminated year after year. When their babies are born, they are sometimes taken from their mothers within 24 hours. I’ve seen videos of mother cows running after their babies, crying out as the farmer drives the poor helpless calf away. I’m not saying that all farms are like this, but I have seen this happen and I suspect it happens more regularly on factory farms.
Male calves are sold as veal, kept in tiny, cramped veal crates and killed at just 18-20 weeks old. They’re just babies. Some calves (depending on the farm) are brought up on a milk replacer so that humans can consume its mother’s milk. And if the mother cow’s udders become infected with mastitis, they’re sent off for slaughter. Could you imagine being born as a dairy cow, enduring this torture year after year? If you’re not okay with this reality, you don’t have to continue to support it.
Milk is a cocktail of hormones designed to rapidly grow it’s offspring.
It’s full of pus and feces. Countries that consume more dairy have higher rates of osteoporosis. Many people who suffer from skin and digestive disorders notice a dramatic improvement when they ditch the dairy products. There are a plethora of non-dairy milks on the market today, such as hemp, almond, cashew, oat and soy, just to name a few.
In all honesty, I find it difficult to talk about the mistreatment of animals because it is a dark tunnel of sadness that a lot of people don’t want to confront. It’s much easier disassociating the meat on your plate from being a living, breathing animal that feels pain and love just like we do. But when I put the horrible images of slaughter in front of my eyes, of the torture these intelligent creatures endure, I could no longer in good conscience consume those products for a momentary, fleeting taste.
Another reason it’s hard to talk about, especially living in a state known for its dairy and hog farms, is that many people’s livelihood revolves around meat and dairy products. I sincerely do not mean to offend farmers or business owners and know that there are many forces at work bringing these lines of work into play. We all have to make money to survive in this world, and for some people, they pay the bills by milking cows or selling meat.
In our culture, eating meat is normalized (but I sincerely believe this is changing!). That does not mean that I view others as “bad” people. Like them, I was once a consumer of meat and dairy products. I know so many wonderful, bright individuals who are part of these industries or consume animal products. We just see animals through a different lens and live according to our own value system.
Ultimately, I see the injustice against these poor, helpless animals who are brought into this world for the sole purpose of being killed and consumed, and it goes against everything I believe.
So even though it’s difficult to speak this truth, with fear of being judged or ridiculed, I remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote,
“A [wo]man dies when [s]he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A [wo]man dies when [s]he refuses to stand up for justice.”
My hope is that when we are brave enough to be vulnerable and live our truth, we will shift the world’s consciousness and we will help wake people up to the habits that we rarely question.
Join me in being the change you wish to see in this world.