While we were busy with the semester, winter somehow managed to sneak in. Soon enough we will trade our shirts for sweaters and ordering our coffee hot instead of iced. The seasons are changing and maybe it’s time for us to make a change too. When the breeze brings a new chill in with it, we are fortunate enough to be able to find comfort and warmth with loved ones, but it is always important to remember those who are not able to do so. Surprisingly, on the list amongst those less fortunate, are cows.
Oftentimes we don’t give cow’s milk a second thought because it has become such a norm in our lives. But we should. As we all know, a cow cannot lactate unless she is pregnant. In order for the dairy industry to constantly produce milk, this means the cows are constantly impregnated. They are injected with bovine growth hormones and antibiotics so much that the typical lifespan of a dairy cow is approximately five years. This is truly unfortunate since outside of this industry she would naturally live to be at least twenty years old. As soon as her milk production begins to decrease, she is of no use to the industry and is shipped off to slaughter.
When her calf is born, they oftentimes are not even allowed the opportunity to taste their mother’s milk before they are taken away from her and she is hooked up to a milking machine. Not only is this a heartbreaking experience for both mother and calf, but bovine colostrum, which is the “first milk” produced the first few days after the calf is born, has not even been proven to have any of the health benefits it is said to give humans. If the calf is a male, he will be deprived of even more nutrients in order to be sold for veal. If the calf is a female, she faces the same unfortunate fate as her mother.
Although the harsh reality of the industrialized dairy industry is saddening, it is important to remember that we can put an end to it. The dairy industry has seen a steady decline in sales over the past few years, largely in part to the increased availability of plant-based alternatives. There are so many milk alternatives available now that it has never been easier to avoid milk from other animals. Next time you visit the coffee shop, ask for almond, soy, coconut milk instead. If you enjoy a big bowl of cereal for breakfast, try rice milk! By making these simple transitions in our daily lives, we can combat a whole lot of suffering. Plus, these plant-based milks have the added bonus of not containing lactose, which approximately 65% of the human population are allergic to anyway. Goodbye stomachaches, hello compassion!
Written By: Kirstin Lachance