Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 27 and I will tell you about cows

I had a lovely and intelligent person this morning ask me why avoiding dairy was a necerssary part of being an ethical vegan.  She said "But if we don't milk the cows, they will be in pain."  This is an understandable misconception and I want to talk about it here in case others wonder the same thing. 

Let's start at the beginning.  In order for a cow to produce milk, she needs to have a baby, just like a human or any other mammal.  Therefore dairy cows are artificially inseminated by their boyfriends, dairy farmers.  The cow then carries a baby in her womb for 9 months, just like we do.  But when her baby is born, they are allowed only 1 day together to ensure a good milk supply comes in, and then the calf is taken away from it's mother and the milk that the cow produced to feed her calf is essentially stolen from her calf and given to humans to drink instead.

For both the mother cow and the calf, being seperated so early is very distressing.  Ask any farmer and he will confirm that they call for one another day and night.  Get between a mother and a baby of any species and you will know that we mothers are hard-wired instinctively to protect, care for and feed our young.   To make matters worse, the calves are kept close by so that the mother cow can hear her calf crying and her milk will therefore flow more freely.

If the calf is a female, she will grow up to be a dairy cow like her mother.  If it's male, he is sold to the veal industry.  Those of us who have sworn off veal because of the extra cruel and disgusting treatment these young calves suffer, are directly supporting the veal industry by consuming dairy products.  This is one of my main motivators in going vegan actually.

In addition to becoming a milk machine to feed un-weaned humans, our mother cow is pumped so full of growth hormone to increase her milk supply that she ends up producing 100 times as much milk as she would for her own calf!  Her udder is so swollen and distended that it often drags on the ground.

Here are a few pictures I took of some dairy cows on a small farm right here in Israel:

Look how low her udder is hanging! And look at the one behind her, ick.

This one's got an exercise ball bewteen her legs!

Because of over-milking the cows often develop mastitis, and infection of their teets (nipples).  It is this reason why they are given antibiotics in their daily feed.  These antibiotics pass into the milk we drink, as do the growth hormones.  We are being exposed to these antibiotics on a daily basis leading the World Health Organization to warn of an inevitable global health crisis!  The growth hormones are causing young boys and girls to go into early puberty and feeding hormone-related tumors in adults.

Aside from the cruelty to cow and calf and the antibiotics and growth hormones in the milk there are two additional issues:  1.  Cow Dairy is NOT the health food it is cracked up to be, in fact 70% of the world's population can't even digest it and high dairy consumption is linked with HIGHER rates of oesteoporosis (you heard me right!), and heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes and many cancers.  The stuff is plain BAD for you!  It just has fabulous PR people who happen to sit in very high governmental places.

And 2, let's stop and think for a minute about WHAT it is.  We are talking about the breast milk of another species.  Would you take human breast milk in your coffee?  Dog milk maybe?  Pig Milk?  Ew.  Cow milk is no less ickier, we have just become used to the concept.  It's still breast milk and it's made to grow giant, fat COWS with 4 stomachs.  It is not suitable for our bodies AT ALL.  Humans are the only species in the world who continue to drink milk after weaning from their own mother's breast milk and certainly the only creatures who then drink the milk of another species.  It's a lot freakish if you think about it.

NOT Yummy.

I will be back tomorrow or the next day with recipes!  Thank you for reading this Vegan Ed Interlude.  Feel free to discuss, share ideas or ask questions below.

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1 comment:

  1. Emily, this is such a great summation of why we should NOT have dairy! And reminded me why I want to stop eating it! Thank you! Thank you! I think I am on my way to being a vegan!