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But What’s Wrong with Milk ?

You’re EO, you get it.  You’re doing your best to alleviate animal suffering by choosing meat only from animals raised in the most humane conditions possible.  Same goes for eggs - those battery cages are so cruel!  But there’s nothing wrong with milk, right?

Unfortunately, dairy products are one of the trickiest issues for the conscientious EO, and this goes for vegetarians, too!  Firstly, some of the most horrible cases of animal abuse in this country occur on dairy farms.  Secondly, what people might not know is that cows don’t give milk “naturally”, as we’re often taught, but go through a cycle of repeated impregnation, gestation, and birthing, in order to constantly produce milk.    This is physically very stressful for these females.

A cow gestates for 9 months just like a human, during which time her udder begins to produce milk in preparation for the baby.  But the industry cannot let the mama cow keep her baby, or the milk would all be drunk, and not available for human consumption.

What happens to the babies?  It’s a sad story.  Calves are taken away from their mothers a day after birth, if not immediately after birth.  The females face the same fate as their mothers – to become dairy production cows for about 5 years (5 birth cycles) before their bodies are considered “spent” and they are shipped to slaughter.

For baby boys, it’s even worse.  Baby boys are “useless” to the dairy industry.  If they are not just neglected and dead within a few days from malnourishment, they are auctioned off to the veal industry.

Yes, THAT veal industry.

Unfortunately the above-mentioned practices sometimes exist even on many humane farms as well, though living conditions for these animals are exponentially better.

Many people who give up any form of meat chose to give up veal first – we’ve all heard the horror stories about veal crates, and the forced anemia that these baby boys suffer, before being slaughtered at 4 months young for their “pale tender flesh.”  But unfortunately even the most well-intentioned vegetarian probably has no idea there is a veal calf hiding behind that glass of milk, that pat of batter, that wedge of cheese, or that spoonful of yogurt.

What’s the solution?  Unfortunately, it’s not easy, and it’s a decision that every EO will have to make for him or herself.  You can’t have cow’s milk without baby calves being born, no matter how humane the rest of the operation is. Well one thing to do is to try and reduce your dairy consumption (for many of us this can sometimes be more difficult than reducing meat consumption!)

Secondly, there are tons of non-dairy milk options on the market – and believe it or not, they’re much healthier for you than cow’s milk!  Nearly everything the industry has taught you about the “health benefits” of cow’s milk is mere marketing.  The protein in cow’s milk actually depletes the calcium absorption by your body, making it a very poor way to get your calcium (leafy greens and plant foods are much better).  Non-dairy milks abound now on the market.  Perhaps give soy or almond milk a try!

(Milk)    Almond Breeze

(Cheese)  Daiya Cheese

(Yogurt & Ice Cream)  Turtle Mountain So Delicious

All of these products can be an exact one-to-one substitute for cow’s milk in every format you’re familiar with – in a bowl of cereal, in your favorite cookie recipe, in a store-bought yogurt. 

Regardless of whether dairy substitutes are options you would consider, we urge all the Ethical Omnivores out there to try to consciously cut back on your dairy consumption.  You’ll be doing your body good (and saving a veal calf in the process!)