Most of us think our milk comes from contented cows, whiling away the hours laying in soft grass and chewing their cud. But the reality is far from bucolic. Most of the milk produced today comes from a highly efficient, mechanized and cruel system, where cows have been reduced to expendable commodities in the production chain.
Like all mammals, cows only produce milk when they are pregnant, so to keep them productive the cows are continually inseminated, that is until their milk dries up, at which point they are sold for hamburger or some other purpose. Calves are usually taken away immediately from the mother, despite the distress of the mother, who can call out for days trying to find her child. Male calves are shuttered in small boxes to make veal, while the females are put in to milk production just as soon as they mature, which can happen quickly thanks to growth hormones.
And if that is not cruel enough, cow tails are routinely docked, a process where blood circulation is cut off until the tail falls off. Dairy farmers claim this is necessary to prevent cows from accidentally brushing manure against their udders, but it’s more for the farmer’s convenience than anything else. Groups like the American Veterinarian Association of America state “Current scientific literature indicates that routine tail docking provides no benefit to the animal, and that tail docking can lead to distress during fly seasons.”
The irony is that we don’t need milk after infancy. Milk is not the only way to get calcium and it has been linked with a number of diseases such as high cholesterol and coronary artery disease. Drinking milk inhibits the human body’s ability to absorb iron and millions of people are lactose intolerant, even though they don’t know it. And let’s not forget the antibiotic residue and growth hormones that milk can contain. The entire “does a body good” campaign is nothing more than a cheap, cruel trick to market an unnecessary product. No one needs cow’s milk, except a calf.
The next time you have a glass of milk, or bowl of ice cream, or slice of cheese, think about how it got to your table and the suffering that might have been involved.