Human beings are the only mammal that drinks other mammals' milk. The primary purpose of milk production is to feed our offspring. Milk contains proteins that are specific to the species producing it. Why would we want to ingest something by another mammal that our bodies might treat as a foreign protein? The health risks of ingesting dairy are many, but this post is about the cows.
So, if the health risks of drinking milk are not enough to deter you from ingesting dairy, have you ever considered the treatment of dairy cows? It can be absolutely inhumane. Here are a few brief statements about their treatment on industrial dairy farms:
1. Dairy cows are often kept pregnant so they can be in a continuous state of lactation.
2. Their offspring are taken away from them, often immediately after birth.
3. Male cows are considered useless as they are not milk producers so are often sold to veal farms and kept confined until they are slaughtered after a few months of life.
4. Tail docking is a common practice where up to 2/3 of the cow's tail is amputated, often without anesthesia. This practice is not supported by the Veterinary Society, adds no value to the health of the cow, and actually eliminates the use of their tail in protecting themselves against flies which are present in large amounts on cattle farms.
5. Dairy cows are often given hormone injections to increase their milk production. The injections can cause mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder which is the cause of death in some cows. Mastitis occurs in up to approximately 16% of dairy cows.
6. The natural life expectancy cows is around 20 years. Cows raised in the dairy industry are often slaughtered at about five years as they are rendered useless and worn out due to being kept continuously pregnant and lactating.
7. During those few years of life, up to half the cows are found to be lame due to standing on concrete floors in confining and filthy conditions.
As people often think (and medical providers will often promote) that dairy products are essential for nutrients like calcium, this is just not the case. There are so many plant sources of calcium that are healthy and contain a variety of other health-promoting nutrients. Here's a short list: almonds, sesame seeds, quinoa, kale, oranges, spinach, black strap molasses, oats, white beans, soybeans, turnip greens, figs, broccoli, brazil nuts, fortified tofu/soy milk, arugula, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds. So next time you think of drinking that glass of milk or eating that slice of cheese, please, at least just for a moment, think of the cows. Is supporting the raising and treatment of cows in this way really a part of the thoughtful and peaceful world in which we would all like to live in?
I invite questions, comments, and thoughts anytime!