We like to live by the motto, “Not my mom, not my milk.” We do not support or condone the dairy industry. Not only does this industry contribute to both the suffering of the mother cow and her calf, but the industry also feeds us lies about the “health benefits” of these products. Dairy is a perfect, nutrient-dense food… for calves.
Let’s start by talking about the biological components of the dairy industry. Female cows, or heifers, are forcibly impregnated by artificial insemination so that they can create milk. The mothers are taken away from their babies within a day of giving birth. On average, 97% of calves are forcibly removed from their mothers within 24 hours. On “humane” farms, workers try to remove the calf from their mother within a measly hour of birth so that they do not form a bond. To us, this argument makes no sense when compared to human birth. Imagine this: a nurse coming into your room after you have just gone through an intense labor. The nurse takes your baby away from you, not telling you where they are going. You never see your baby again.
This would create anxiety, depression, and confusion. This same anxiety is carried on by mother cows who will never know the whereabouts of their calves. This mother’s desperation to find her offspring is not heard or sympathized by the dairy industries who gain profit off of her body fluids. The byproduct of this insemination, the calf, ends up in two places. The male calves end up going into veal or beef production and the females will go through the harsh impregnating cycle that their mothers were subject to. Because they have to be separated from their mothers, the female calves will end up drinking a milk substitute powder while humans drink their mom’s cow milk. The mothers are then forced to live in this cycle of birth & loss and the only thing constant is the milking machines that they are hooked up to twice a day.
Pictured above- Vegan Stokes Cheese
Today, the average cow produces 4 times more milk than cows in 1950. The dairy farm will genetically select cows who produce more milk. If a cow does not produce enough milk they will be put on drugs that amp up their output. As mentioned before, dairy cows are artificially inseminated which keeps them on a constant lactation curve. This constant impregnation creates a surplus of calves being put to slaughter or milk production. A cow’s normal lifespan is 20 years but most cows in production are killed after 5 years because their bodies are worn out from the constant pregnancy, milking, and confinement. 21 million cows are slaughtered per year… at a fraction of their normal life expectancy. One of the most common drugs used to create this surplus of milk is rBGH, recombinant bovine growth hormone, which attributes to mastitis, an infection of the mammary gland. This infection is fatal for dairy cows. This drug has been banned in Canada and the European Union because it raised concerns for animal welfare and human health, but most of the USA uses the hormone and keeps quiet about it. We are told to eat uncontaminated and safe food by the USDA, but how can our food be safe when it is loaded with harmful growth hormones, pesticides, drugs and so much more than the USDA refuses to admit?
Are you still thinking, got milk? We would hope not. Most of the health recommendations made by the USDA regarding dairy were created by people who work in the industry. Most dairy consumption-based research is skewed to benefit the companies… not you. According to Dr. Willet, a Harvard scientist, most of the information we know about the benefits of consuming dairy is completely false and made up by marketing teams. He mentions that despite the common claim that milk will make your bones strong, it is a complete myth and there is no evidence. In fact, countries like Africa and Asia who consume the lowest amounts of milk have stronger bones and lower risks of osteoporosis. He states that about 75% of the world’s population is actually not able to digest milk and other dairy products, especially since humans stop producing lactase (the enzyme needed to digest milk) between the ages of 2-5. Our bodies weren’t made to break down our mother’s milk for a prolonged period. Again, milk is perfect for young calves… but not for people. We still need calcium, potassium, and vitamin D that milk provides in our diets, but we can get those from greens and other vegetables as perfectly suited substitutes. Seeds, beans, and almonds all have more calcium than milk. Oats, almonds, and broccoli all have more protein than milk.
Do not let the happy cow facade of “organic” or “humane” dairy labels fool you. Past campaigns by dairy industries like, “Got Milk?” have created a false reality of happiness that simply distracts the consumer from the pain and suffering that these cows endure. (Did they fool ya? They sure fooled us for years!) It doesn’t have to be difficult to go dairy free because now there are vegan cheeses sold globally! A vegan cheese company that will be putting the dairy industry out of business is Vegan Stokes Cheese. Their cheese is made of cashews and spices and… WOW! If everyone had this cheese, no one would be consuming dairy cheese. Keep an eye out for their future global distribution, but for now, you can make your own nut-based cheese at home. Check out our recipe is our Vegan Hacks E-book pictured below! If you choose not to make your own, we recommend that you buy from a company that is holistic and whole-foods based over processed vegan cheese, but do whatever resonates with you (as long as it’s cruelty-free).
You can check out our Zero-Waste Hacks E-book for amazing nut milk recipes as well (turmeric nut-mylk pictured below)! We hope to educate our readers and help them not fall into the false, illusive facts that this dairy industry creates.
Post by Carly Bergman and Julia Reggio, Sustainable Duo intern.