Whenever we talk of vegetarianism, the first thing that comes to mind is non-consumption of meat. And non-vegetarianism is often associated with animal cruelty, slaughter of innocent animals to satiate the taste buds of heartless humans. Vegetarians don’t eat meat in any form but they happily consume milk and other dairy products. Now what if someone tells us that dairy is just as cruel (if not more!) as a slaughterhouse? Sadly, this is a harsh reality!
Have you ever wondered if there are enough cows in your country to produce all that milk and milk products that you consume on a daily basis? Cream, cheese, butter, yoghurt, sweets, buttermilk, condensed milk, milk powder, gelato—the list of milk products is pretty long. Do you really think that there are flourishing dairy farms with thousands of happy cows that are willingly producing all that milk required to fill those countless supermarket shelves with milk and other dairy products?
The answer is a big NO! No matter what you are made to believe, thousands of cows and buffaloes are living in miserable conditions in dairy farms across the globe… and that is putting it lightly. An animal that is raised in a slaughterhouse is often better off than the one on a dairy farm. At least the poor being is killed once and for all and not subjected to repeated torture like its dairy counterpart.
The sordid state of affairs-
The dairy industry has been referred to as “the darkest part of farming” by The Guardian’s vegan columnist Chas Newkey-Burden. The cattle are not only cruelly exploited in most dairy farms, they live in pitiable conditions too. Since the dairy industry thrives on mass production of milk, the cows are artificially impregnated repeatedly and forced to produce more milk then their capacity- milk that ethically belongs to the baby calves. Studies have revealed that due to frequent impregnations and loathsome living conditions, the life span of cattle drastically decreases.
And the cruelty doesn’t end here! The cow is separated from its newborn calf almost immediately after it is born. Do you know why? Because the young fellow will demand milk from its mother- milk that the dairy farms are supposed to sell to us humans! Further, if it is a male calf, its only fate is the slaughterhouse. And if it is a female, the poor animal has to undergo the same vicious cycle as its mother.
The agony that the mother cow undergoes when she is separated from her newborn is something we can’t even begin to imagine. And to think she has to face it year after year, if that is not the height of cruelty, then what is?
Also, a cow’s udder ideally carries 2 liters of milk, but dairy farmers force them to carry ten times that quantity in their sensitive udders. When every ounce of milk is extracted from the cow’s body, it is sent to the slaughterhouse for beef. While the average age of a cow is expected to be around 25 years, milk cows have a much lesser life span of 5 to 10 years.
Do you still think that it is ethical to drink milk from a cow that has been brutally exploited all its life and emotionally and physically drained to give us milk that its own calf is deprived of?
Dairy products are supremely healthy- The biggest myth!
Right from our childhood, we’re fed with stories of how milk and milk products are healthy for us and how we should drink milk daily to meet our protein and calcium requirements (it makes our bones stronger!). But a lesser known fact is that several studies have proved people who depend on dairy products for their daily calcium intake actually suffer from more bone-related ailments as compared to those who don’t.
Also, cattle in most dairy farms are forced to live in super unhygienic conditions and frequent milking exposes them to painful udder infections like mastitis. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise if their milk is laden with blood and pus that is conveniently filtered by the farmers. Now how healthy is that?
Now the dairy industry people are very smart and don’t want us to know all this. They spend millions of dollars on advertisements, hiring popular faces telling people how healthy and important milk is, when the reality is anything but! We can easily meet our body’s daily protein and calcium requirement through a balanced plant diet. A plant diet is not only healthier, it has lesser impact on the environment too.
INDIA: The largest producer of milk AND beef-
Cows are considered sacred in India, with few states even putting a ban on the sale of beef. Milk and dairy products, on the other hand, are always in huge demand throughout the country and are considered very healthy too.
However, an article published in The Hindu by Krithika Srinivasan, Rajesh Kasturirangan and Smitha Rao reveals that the monetary value of milk production almost tripled between 2004–05 and 2011–12 and that there was a 98.6% match between milk and beef production over this period. It means that the beef industry in India is growing almost at the same pace as the dairy industry, and now we know the correlation between the two! Sadly, few people are willing to acknowledge that dairy and beef industry go hand in hand.
Dairy and its environmental impact-
The dairy farms are not only inflicting unimaginable cruelty on cattle, they are pretty harmful for the environment too. The global water footprint of animal agriculture is about 25% of the total global water footprint. Dairy accounts for 19% of it. Also, around 52% of the greenhouse gases emitted by the dairy industry is methane- the most lethal of them all. So the more milk/ milk products you consume, the more is your carbon footprint.
What is the solution?
There is simply no easier way to help these poor animals and minimize their suffering than by choosing to go vegan. It is said that every vegan saves more than 100 animals annually!
Also, veganism is undoubtedly the healthier option and more sustainable one too. If you are a nature lover and want to seriously reduce your carbon footprint, try to substitute dairy products with plant-based ones whenever you go shopping. In doing so, you are taking a stand for all those poor animals suffering a cruel fate in a dairy farm somewhere in the world.
For more information and awareness on the topic, see this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcN7SGGoCNI