Milk is the main source of nutrition for growing babies. But is it right for adults? Should it be shared across species? And is its consumption ethical?
This is how we get milk nowadays: A cow is first genetically manipulated to give up to four times more milk than is natural. The animal is tied down and raped by an artificial inseminator. Natural pregnancy would be too time consuming to sustain the profits that the industry demands. After the same nine month gestation period as a human being, a baby calf is born. Sadly, it is taken away from its mother later the same day and confined in a dark crate for up to twenty-two weeks where it is fed a very small amount of liquid food to keep its flesh tender and white for the human consumption of veal. If the calf is intended for beef, it is instead sent to a feedlot. The calf will have to get a shot of antibiotics because it was not fed enough of the colostrums, or antibody-rich mother’s milk, that nature intended for him.
This video shows you what calves look like. Please visit farmsactuary.org for more information.
Frightened, sick, and alone, the calf will sometimes call out to its mother for weeks. The same goes for the mother, who is still tied up or held within a small space inside a factory milk farm and hooked up several times a day to a milking machine. She will then be impregnated again only three months after giving birth and will continue lactating for about a year. She will most likely suffer from mastitis, a painful inflammation of the breasts. Her hooves will also suffer strains because of the lack of movement and the weight of her genetically modified, overgrown udder.
This is what will happen to the cow’s children if they survive infancy:
The male calves meant for beef will be fattened with grains, and not with the grass that healthy cows consume in nature. Sometimes the cattle feed is mixed with the ground-up remains of other cows that died from illness. Certain farms even feed their cows the remains of your dead, euthanized pets, passing a small amount of poison from the dead animals to the cows, and ultimately to human consumers.
For their part, the female calves will be destined to replace their mothers. They will never have the opportunity to go outside, and among other supplements, vitamin D be added to their diet to compensate for what would normally be provided by the sun’s rays. Cows usually live twenty-five years, but dairy cows are killed after only four years because as they get older their milk production decreases and does not come as easily.
The following two videos show us how cows and their calves are treated. Obviously these are extreme cases, but in absence of laws protecting cows and with most dairy production taking place behind the closed doors of factory farms, these cases happen more often than we might think, even in supposedly civilized countries like Canada and the US. Let’s not forget, factory farms are the main suppliers of big grocery stores.
Please visit humanesociety.org and mercyforanimals.org to learn more.
The confinement and pain that these animals have to go through is absolutely atrocious. It is a far cry from the drawings seen on milk cartons of cows roaming green fields with a big, smiling sun shining down on them. Humans are the only creatures on the planet who take milk away from another animal. It is something we never think about when a gallon of milk is simply another item on the weekly shopping list. But ask yourself: would you take away a baby from its mother cow and then suck on the mother’s teats for its milk?
The worst part of all these inhumane practices is their ultimate futility. Many studies inform us that over 75% of the human population is lactose intolerant to some degree. Most vegan and even most meat-promoting health books clearly state that cow’s milk and gluten are the two worst offenders when it comes to intolerances. On the other hand, humans are virtually always tolerant to their own mother’s milk. Perhaps it’s a sign that cow’s milk was not intended for humans, but rather for a cow’s child, the calf.
There is little reason to go on consuming something that is obtained through abject cruelty and that the human body doesn’t seem to want anyway. Many alternatives to cow’s milk are available, including soy, rice, almond, and hemp milk. They are healthful, animal-friendly, and taste delicious. Cheeses formulated out of these products also exist. I suggest you try a few to figure out which pleases your palate best. In addition, green vegetables contain plenty of calcium, which most people fear missing in their diet if they exclude milk.
If you’ve decided to continue drinking milk and eating cheese anyway, I would advise you to at least visit the farm you purchase your milk products from and to educate yourself about the milking process. You’d be surprised to see how many companies prioritize efficiency and money over the welfare of animals and the health of humans. Most likely, they won’t allow you to visit at all. It is to the benefit of corporations and factory farms that consumers remain naïve and embrace the image of happy cows in a field under the warmth of the sun. The reality, however, is about as far from that as you can imagine.
Photo was taken from http://www.milkmyths.org.uk. Please visit their website for further information on the milk industry.