A couple of weeks ago, I had an interesting conversation with my mother. As a vegetarian, she understands some aspects of our way of life, being vegan. During the conversation, we came to talk about milk and dairy products. She did not know (although as a child she grew up at a farm with cows, pigs and other animals) that a cow does not naturally give milk 365 days a year. Through hormones and artificial insemination, cows are forced to give milk for years – 3 to 4 to be exact. The calf is separated from the mother shortly after birth and the milk can flow for us. Male pups are either killed right away or sold immediately and then killed for the meat. Some of the female calves are raised to be dairy cows. Some are never even given the chance to learn how to walk, kept in cages where they will never even stand, and are killed within months to be served as Veal. The mother gives milk for about two months until re-fertilisation takes place. A dairy cow is disposed of after about three years, as the constant milk production leads to diseases and infections. With disposed meaning, of course, being killed. A cow has a life expectancy of about 20 years, some cows even can get well over 40 years old. But we decide to throw their life away after just 2 or 3 years only because the milk production no longer meets our standards for milk and dairy products, which aren’t even truly good for us in the first place.
Today, we live in a time when we carry every piece of information directly in our phones. There are studies, evidence and proof that meat and other animal products are not healthy in the long term. We know that factory farming and the consumption of animal products are destroying our planet. Livestock farming claims a huge share of the worlds’ land area. Pastureland and farmland used for animal feed account for almost 80% of agricultural land. According to this, one third of the global agricultural land is only used for the cultivation of animal feed. Ascending trend. Why? Because we do not want to change. You can survive without meat, milk, cheese and eggs. Not only that, but on average, you live healthier, longer and physically age much slower. Nevertheless, we are still stuffing ourselves with unhealthy foods, not only polluting the environment but killing masses of animals. We ship young cows for thousands of kilometres to other countries where they get either killed or raised in insanely big dairy farms. All of that simply for our pleasure.
Why is it, that almost all of us believe that milk is good for us? That a dairy cow is a happy cow? Where do those sayings come from? The answer is easy to find. Of course, from huge advertisement campaigns, which are paid for by the dairy industry. They try to make us believe that our kids need milk to make their bones stronger. Which can be true, because of the calcium in milk. But we can find more calcium in a liter of plant-based milk than in cows’ milk. Plant-based milk doesn’t come with the risk of making you sick or the risk of having antibiotics and other things in it. Did you know that about ¾ of the world population is lactose intolerant? Think also about this; humans are the only mammal on the planet that consume milk 1) from another animal species other than our own, and 2) that we continue to consume milk after infancy. No other mammal on the planet does this, and we don’t care to even recognize that only because we’ve been doing it for as long as we can remember, and therefore, that makes it “normal” and okay. In reality, we are choosing to take away milk from a calf that actually needs it only to use it for our pleasure and consumption. We do that, because society tells us to and because we have done it for a few thousand years. Can you imagine, however, if we did this with other kinds of milk? Humans are animals. Plain and simple. Just because a cow is not human does not make them any different from us. They are just a different species of mammal, just as we are. So imagine if cows were drinking human milk for enjoyment. Imagine if we made cheese from dogs’ milk. What’s different about that? A dog is not human, a dog is another species of mammal, so what’s the difference from milk from a dog and milk from a cow? Imagine if someone took away your breast milk, milk that your child needs to survive, and gave it away to someone else or to another species because it was more profitable that way. Don’t you see how completely backwards this all is? So why then is it okay for us to take away nourishment for a baby cow?
Dairy is not exactly a health food. Fact is, too much dairy is bad for us and can have serious affects on our health. If we also consider the environmental impact and the harm we do to cows, then it should be an easy decision to just avoid dairy and be more aware of the products we buy and if it contains dairy or other side products. Just look at this chart showing the amount of Emissions, Land Use and Water Use for producing dairy milk as opposed to some plant based milks.
I think it is common sense at this point to say that dairy cows are, in fact, not happy cows. We kill them after 3-4 years when they are done serving us. Yes, the dairy industry has a big problem and will try to not only avoid bad press but also make us believe we in fact need milk from cows. Many dairy companies put out ads to truly make us think that we need dairy products. Some dairy companies even provide the funding for advertisements to get this false message out there to convince people to keep supporting the horrible things that they do. A huge problem, is that many people don’t check sources these days, and believe every article and every headline that they read. The dairy industry is getting scared because more and more people are saying no to dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt and we think this is great! You can get all the calcium from other plant-based milks which are produced without the suffering, without the insane amount of wasted water, food and energy and they are overall better for your health. So in the end you are not only doing something good for yourself but also for the environment. Let’s #ditchdairy together.
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