Calling all vegetarians who consume dairy products: it’s time to cut out the cheese and other dairy!
Here’s why and how:
Milk production causes animals to suffer immensely. Here’s how: Like all mammals, in order to produce milk, cows need to give birth to calves. Out of all the calves that are born, about 65% of them are considered by the dairy industry to be an unwanted “by-product.” It’s estimated that 3-4 million male dairy calves are born annually in the U.S. The process that these calves go through after being born causes horrendous suffering, increased vulnerability to illness, and high mortality rates. Instead of nursing and being weaned from their mother to ensure proper nutrition and immunity support, newborn calves are usually transported off the dairy farm as early as four days old. Otherwise, they’re killed shortly after birth.
Transportation of live calves can take over 24 hours in the U.S. When transported, the calves typically go to auction to be sold and brought to a feedlot to be fattened and slaughtered or processed as veal. During the transport process, calves are exposed to stressors such as poor handling, fluctuating temperatures, overcrowding, food and water deprivation, and exposure to unfamiliar animals and environments. It’s not uncommon for them to be deprived of food and water while they’re being auctioned off as well. In fact, a number of calves don’t even make it through transport and are found to be dead on arrival.
By the time the calves end up at a feedlot, they usually are suffering from low body weight, dehydration, and exhaustion. This triggers a compromised immune response and a higher susceptibility to diarrhea, “leaky gut”, oxidative stress, anemia, and diseases such as Bovine Respiratory Disease. Instead of stopping this terribly neglectful process, the dairy industry overuses antibiotics on the calves, which then causes antimicrobial resistance. Nevertheless, a number of the calves end up dying prematurely. If they survive, they’re sometimes dehorned with the use of a hot iron and castrated with insufficient pain management. Staff typically need to euthanize calves that become severely ill, which is usually administered by gunshot. The calves that are processed as veal are still housed in individual crates and fed only milk replacement. This isolation from other calves and deprivation of food and environmental enrichment can last up to four months before being killed.
In summary, to consume dairy products, millions of baby calves are treated as a waste product. It’s time to cut it out!
Wondering where to begin? If you’re ready to cut dairy out of your diet, start by taking a look at all the plant-based cheese products on the market today. They’ve improved tremendously in the last few years. Also, swap out your cow’s milk with an alternative. If you dread waking up to a cup of coffee without a creamer, my own personal favorite is Ripple’s plant-based half & half. Also, remember to replace your butter with the delicious Miyoko’s organic vegan butter. If you have time in the kitchen, consider making your own cheese, such as the vegan queso recipe found in the cookbook La Vida Verde: Plant-Based Mexican Cooking with Authentic Flavor. And of course, check out TryVeg and our Facebook support group for VegWeek for more suggestions.