The Ethical And Health Implications Of Dairy Consumption
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When transitioning to a vegan diet, most people find it easier to give up meat. Maybe that’s why the most common path is to go vegetarian first. In my experience, most people struggle with the idea of living dairy-free. People simply fail to relate dairy consumption to animal cruelty. It’s much more difficult to understand how consuming animal by-products can cause suffering to an animal. The ethical and health implications of dairy consumption though are truly devastating.
How it all begins
Let’s face it! We all grew up with images of happy cows on cheese and milk cartons. The education system and media brainwashing us to believe that dairy is vital to our health and survival.
Up until the point where we make the connection and choose to abstain from animal cruelty, cheese, milk and eggs are part of our daily diets!
Let’s first take a look at the health implications of consuming dairy.
The evolution of the dairy industry
From the 1950’s to today, dairy farms have been reduced by 50% whilst the production of dairy has tripled. What does that mean exactly? No, unfortunately it doesn’t mean less animal suffering. On the contrary, small dairy farms have closed down because big companies in the industry have taken over and are able to produce 3 times as much product.
Antibiotics and IGF
Cows are being over and force fed unnatural diets in order to produce more milk. They are also being fed a lot of synthetic hormones.
Cows naturally live free range, eating a lot of grass which is a diet high in omega 3. The industry feeds them so much grain and protein to increase body fat and produce higher amounts of milk that they become unhealthy. In order to keep an unhealthy cow producing milk, you have to give it antibiotics.
They are also injected with a synthetic growth hormone called IGF (Insulin Growth Factor) which is directly linked to breast and prostate cancer and essentially all these substances end up in our bodies.
Not a cow? No wonder you are lactose intolerant
Considering that we only started domesticating animals ten thousand years ago, which from an evolutionary standpoint wasn’t that long ago, our bodies have not evolved in order to be able to digest cow’s milk. No wonder 70% of the human population is to some degree lactose intolerant.
Major health issues
Having mentioned the direct link between milk consumption and cancer, it’s also important to note that dairy is also related to other major health issues such as digestive distress, inability to lose weight, acne, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Pus and blood legally allowed in milk
Pus and blood is a common occurrence in milk since in Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand up to 40000 somatic cells and up to 750000 in the U.S, are legally allowed in every milliliter.
Now, let’s discuss the ethical implications of dairy consumption from an animal rights advocate viewpoint.
Repeated and violent impregnation
Cows are repeatedly and violently impregnated from as early as 12 months of age while confined in what the industry calls a ‘rape rack‘.
The separation and fate of mother and child
The baby cows are immediately taken away from their mothers who cries for days on end in search of them. It is widely known that just like most mammals, cows form an extremely strong bond with their offspring.
Male calves are confined for 16 weeks to tiny veal crates. These weak, 4-month-old calves are thereafter sent to the slaughterhouse and then sold as veal.
Female calves are raised as future milk producers. This leads to premature aging, exhaustion, inflammation and infection of the udder.
What happens after they dry up
After four or five years of continuous milking, the cows collapse from physical and emotional exhaustion. They are then called ‘downers‘ and immediately send to slaughter by any violent means to be sold as beef. Every single dairy cow ends up being killed for meat.
Let’s take a moment to consider the amount of food these animals are being force fed. Did you know that 925 million humans around the world are suffering from the effects of hunger? Even though there are enough plant-based foods grown to feed the entire human population, the majority of crops are fed to livestock for affluent nations.
Is it worth it?
The average life span of a non-exploited cow is around 20-25 years. We limit that to around 5 years of confinement, rape, exploitation, abuse and eventually slaughter. Ask yourself: is a glass of milk or a slice of cheese really worth it? If we can avoid all this cruelty, why don’t we?
Choose a dairy free alternative!
Nowadays, there are so many brands that offer dairy free alternatives. With so many options available, it’s easier than it has even been to cut out dairy from your daily diet for good!