Besides humans, no species drinks milk beyond infancy, and never consumes the milk of another species. Cow’s milk is a refined substance especially suited to the nutritional needs of calves (calves have four stomachs and gain hundreds of pounds in a matter of months, sometimes weighing more than 1,000 pounds before they are 2 years old). According to the American Gastroenterological Association, when people ingest it, problems such as food allergies among infants and children can occur. Most people begin to produce less lactase, the enzyme that helps with the digestion of milk, when they are as young as 2 years old. This reduction can lead to lactose intolerance. Millions of Americans are lactose intolerant, and an estimated 90 percent of Asian-Americans and 75 percent of Native- and African-Americans suffer from the condition, which can cause bloating, gas, cramps, vomiting, headaches, rashes, and asthma.
Health issues are not really the issue, people abuse and poison their bodies in any number of ways, many much worse than consuming dairy products. And who cares about that, really? The real problem with dairy is the that is based on a platform of abuse and cruelty….blood simple.
Here’s how it goes…
Female cows are artificially inseminated shortly after their first birthdays, and after giving birth, they lactate for 10 months and are then inseminated once again. This goes on for the duration. Many live their entire lives standing on concrete floors; others are confined to massive, crowded lots. The average lifespan for a normal, healthy cow is close to 20 years; in the dairy industry, they are useD up after 5 years, at which time, due to lameness or reproductive problems, they are slaughtered.
On any given day, there are more than 9 million cows on U.S. dairy farms—about 12 million fewer than there were in 1950. Yet milk production has continued to increase, from 116 billion pounds of milk per year in 1950 to 206 billion pounds in 2014.8,9 Normally, these animals would produce only enough milk to meet the needs of their calves, but genetic manipulation—and, in some cases, antibiotics and hormones—is used to cause each cow to produce more than 20,000 pounds of milk each year. Cows are also fed unnatural, high-protein diets—which include dead chickens, pigs, and other animals—because their natural diet of grass would not provide the nutrients that they need to produce such massive amounts of milk.
Crate confinement prevents the performance of most of a cow’s natural behaviors including locomotion, resting, sleeping, grooming, circadian rhythms, as well as digestive, reproductive, explorative, and social behavior. No straw or bedding is placed in veal crates due to a concern that they will eat the straw and gain iron or fiber content which would color their meat.
Calves are forced to lie on the wooden slats of their crate which are covered in their excrement. The result of the calves’ inability to perform any of their natural behaviors is exhibited by stereotypic movements such as head tossing, head shaking, air chewing, scratching, and kicking. These movements indicate chronic stress.
The confinement and insufficient diet of veal calves results in poor health and the prevention of healthy growth and development. Calves raised for white veal suffer from serious digestive problems including abnormal gut development and stomach ulcerations. Research has shown that calves raised in crates for veal are more susceptible to disease than calves housed in other systems and as such, require three times more medication and medical treatments.
Painful inflammation of the mammary glands, or mastitis, is common among cows raised for their milk, and it is one of dairy farms’ most frequently cited reasons for sending cows to slaughter. There are about 150 bacteria that can cause the disease, one of which is E. coli.12 Symptoms are not always visible, so milk’s somatic cell count (SCC) is checked to determine whether the milk is infected. Somatic cells include white blood cells and skin cells that are normally shed from the lining of the udder. As in humans, white blood cells—also known as “pus”—are produced as a means of combating infection. The SCC of healthy milk is below 100,000 cells per milliliter; however, the dairy industry is allowed to combine milk from all the cows in a herd in order to arrive at a “bulk tank” somatic cell count (BTSCC).13 Milk with a maximum BTSCC of 750,000 cells per milliliter can be sold.14 A BTSCC of 700,000 or more generally indicates that two-thirds of the cows in the herd are suffering from udder infections.15
The Veal Industry
If you drink milk, you’re subsidizing the veal industry. While female calves are slaughtered or kept alive to produce milk, male calves are often taken away from their mothers when they are as young as 1 day old to be chained in tiny stalls for three to 18 weeks and raised for veal.19,20 Calves raised for veal are fed a milk substitute that is designed to make them gain at least 2 pounds per day, and their diet is purposely low in iron so that their flesh stays pale as a result of anemia.21 In addition to suffering from diarrhea, pneumonia, and lameness, calves raised for veal are terrified and desperate for their mothers.
Why do we think Cows need a job?
What matters to a cow is their life, their friends, and their offspring. What doesn’t matter to her is whether or not she can provide you with money, cheese or ice cream. We don’t have to do this, and in fact, we can do better: animal rescue organizations like Farm Sanctuary exist to give cows and other farm animals a life free of pain and exploitation. Supporting organizations like these, as well as relinquishing your support of the dairy industry, is the best and easiest way you can help abused dairy cows. Save a cow, ditch the dairy.