Let's Not Forget
Down and Feathers
The dairy industry spends a lot of money on advertising. You
can find dairy ads in magazines, on television, in school cafeterias and on
billboards. It is almost impossible to grow up in our society without
being told how great dairy products are.
fooled me. As a teenager, I was a very proud dairy consumer. Even after I
had become vegetarian, I still continued to consume dairy products. I knew that animals were
abused and killed for
meat, but didn't see anything wrong with dairy. Cows need to be milked and
milk is good for us. Those messages were completely ingrained in me. When I
was twenty, I found out the true facts about the dairy industry and
decided to make the step to veganism. I
would like to share those facts with you, so you can make your own informed
Do Cows Need to be Milked?
Cows are mammals. Just like other mammals,
when a cow has a baby, her body will make enough milk for her baby. In a normal situation, cows don't need any help getting rid of too much milk.
The goal of the dairy industry however, is to make as much money as
possible. To get more money, they have several commonly used methods to get
cows to produce more milk:
a dairy cow is impregnated every year, so
she continues to produce a steady supply of milk. This is usually done
through artificial insemination.
calves are removed from their mothers almost
right after birth.
especially in intensive dairy farming, cows
are genetically engineered and fed growth hormones to force them to produce
Cassie after having given birth to her
How the Dairy Industry Operates
I recently visited a small dairy farm in
Most dairy cows are raised in intensive factory farms, where the situation
for the cows
is of course much worse. Still, I think this small dairy farm
illustrates some common dairy practices really well.
The dairy cows are chained by their necks and
kept indoors most of the day. Cow trainers hang above the cows to give them
a shock when they arch their backs. This forces them to move back to drop
urine and manure into a gutter. They are artificially inseminated each year
and are milked on average 305 days per year. As with humans, a cow's
pregnancy lasts nine months. Having to give birth every year is physically
Even though this small dairy farm has given their cows names in addition to
their numbers, it is very clear that their cows are viewed as
not much more than milk machines.
After giving birth, their babies are
removed from them and kept in another building. I asked someone who
works at the dairy farm about this and was told that removing the calves
after birth is "standard practice in the dairy industry".
"The very saddest
sound in all my memory was burned into my awareness at age five on my
uncle's dairy farm in Wisconsin. A cow had given birth to a beautiful
male calf. The mother was allowed to nurse her calf but for a single
night. On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the
mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn - only ten yards away,
in plain view of the mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell
him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The
heartrending bellows that she poured forth - minute after minute, hour
after hour, for five long days - were excruciating to listen to. They
are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my
-- Dr. Michael Klaper
Cassie's baby being kept in another building.
Most cows in the regular dairy industry are
also given growth hormones, causing their udders to become unnaturally
big and heavy, resulting in frequent infections. The Bovine Growth
Hormone (BGH) also increases birth defects in calves.
The average modern dairy cow will produce
about 100 pounds of milk per day, which is 10 times more than it would
naturally produce. Normally cows can live an average of 25 years. Dairy
cows are slaughtered and made into ground beef after about 3-4 years.
Because of the intense abuse wrought upon their poor bodies, dairy cows
- like beef cattle - also frequently end up being unable to walk or
stand, causing them to be severely mistreated.
What Happens to the Calves?
In the dairy industry, calves are removed
from their mothers not long after being born (either right after birth or
within 1-2 days). Female calves will be raised to become dairy cows and male
calves will be raised and slaughtered for meat. Most male calves are killed
for beef, but some will end up in the awful veal industry.
After being removed from their mothers, veal calves are loaded onto
trucks and often sold at auctions. These small and fragile calves are
often treated very roughly. If they are unable to walk, they will be
dragged by their legs or ears.
Veal calves are confined in crates measuring about two feet wide. To
make their meat more "tender", their movements are restrained by
chains around their necks. To give a white color to their meat, the calves
are fed an all-liquid milk-substitute, purposely deficient in iron and
fiber. After about 16 weeks, these poor calves are slaughtered and their
meat is sold labeled as "white" veal. "Bob" veal comes
from calves who are slaughtered when they are only a few hours or days
Cow in Head Stall at the Horizon
Organic Dairy Farm
Is Organic Dairy Okay?
The organic meat and dairy industry have
become very popular recently. However, just like any other industry, the
organic dairy industry has to make a profit. Even at organic dairy farms,
cows are kept constantly pregnant, calves are removed from their mothers and
male calves are turned into beef or veal.
Especially at larger organic farms, the
treatment of the animals very much resembles that of factory farmed animals.
There are very few regulations in place that deal with the amount of space
the animals should be given or the amount of time they should be allowed
Most animals raised organically are still
handled, transported and slaughtered the same awful way factory farm animals
are. They are still forcefully thrown into trucks where they are subjected to
transportation without protection from heat or cold and without access to food
or water. They are still hung upside down, have their throats slit and bleed to
death, often while fully conscious.
Is Dairy Healthy?
Definitely! It is very healthy food for the calves whose tiny bodies need to grow
into big cows. Just like the breast milk from any other mammal, it is
especially formulated for the babies for whom it is intended. Dairy is
high in fat, protein and cholesterol. It is low in carbohydrates and
contains no fiber.
Should humans be consuming it? Absolutely
not! There is no need at all for humans to be consuming the breast milk
from another species. The best food for human babies is human breast
milk. After a baby is done nursing, there is no need to switch to the
breast milk from a cow.
"There is no reason to drink
cow's milk at any time in your life. It was designed for calves, not
humans, and we should all stop drinking it today."
-- Dr. Frank A. Oski
former director of Pediatrics, John Hopkins University.
Calf taken away from his mother and sold
at an auction.
Dairy products are in fact the leading cause
of food allergies. They contain more than 25 different proteins that may
induce allergic reactions in humans. Lactose intolerance, the inability to
digest the carbohydrate known as lactose found in milk, is common to about
90% of adult blacks and Asians. This condition causes symptoms like
diarrhea, gas and stomach cramps.
Breastfed babies can get colic and other
milk-related food allergies if the mother consumes dairy products. Colic is
the common allergic reaction infants have to proteins found in cow's milk.
They give the baby stomach cramps, which cause persistent fussing and
How Do We Get Enough Calcium?
So how do we get enough calcium? Check out my
Good Sources - Calcium page and the dairy clip at the right. I also
highly recommend that you check out the following links for more
Click to go to
the Dairy Clip