By: Michael Finn
Dairy products are oftentimes considered harmless, especially when compared to the overt violence present within the meat industry. In reality there is little difference between the two. Both possess an overwhelming amount of suffering and death. Just as meat requires the bloodshed of countless animals, giant dairy plants routinely involve the confinement, neglect, abuse, mutilation, and death of millions of animals – including babies.
Dehorning is a common procedures dairy cows suffer every day in the United States. During this vicious process cows are held securely into place by a device known as a “head bail.” Often done without anesthetic or pain killers, their horns are sawed, seared with red hot irons, and chemically burned with “caustic paste,” or clipped off with a tool known as a “guillotine dehorner.” Cows wail in pain as nerves and blood vessels at the base of their horns are severed. Many endure fractures, profuse blood loss, infection, psychological distress, tissue necrosis, sinusitis, and in some cases, even death.
Calves often have caustic paste and red hot irons applied to the soft skin covering their horn buds – a process known as”disbudding.” Because the blood vessels in their horns are not quite developed before 2 months of age, the industry will often conduct the procedure on them at or before this time. Sometimes this is completely done without the usage of pain control.
While banned in California back in 2009, tail docking is still practiced throughout many dairy facilities across our country. It’s reported that 1.3 million dairy cows endure this procedure every year. Just as with dehorning, animals suffer this procedure often without any anesthetic or pain control. The process begins when thick, elastrator bands are slipped on the animals’ tails. This is done in an effort to stop blood flow. As circulation to the tissue ceases, the remaining portion of the appendage begins to die. Eventually, it grows necrotic and shrivels. At this point, it’s either manually removed or severed with a tool.
Because cows use their tails as a means of communication, as well as relief from insects, having them removed seriously lowers their quality of living. When bands are placed on their tails in an effort to impede circulation, the cows experience cruel and unnecessary discomfort and pain.
To increase milk production, some dairy cows are given a synthetic growth hormone called, “Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH),” also known as, “Bovine Somatotropin (bGH)”. In addition to increased milk flow, this hormone causes rapid growth. While it’s been approved by the FDA in the United States, it’s not permitted in Canada, The European Union, Australia, Japan, Israel, and New Zealand.
This synthetic hormone was manufactured specifically for the dairy industry by Monsanto (an agricultural/biotechnology manufacturer). While many claim rBGH poses no threat for humans to consume, there have been reports that argue it’s connection to the rise of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and precocious puberty. Because of its usage, the dairy industry produces four times the amount of milk that they did in the 1950s. Every time you consume dairy products, you consume rBGH.
Mastitis & pus
As a result of being milked continuously, many cows develop inflammation of their mammary glands – a condition known as “mastitis.” When this occurs, somatic cells, including white blood cells (pus) and skin cells, will enter the cow’s milk supply. This occurs in response to inflammation.
Although the industry tests for somatic cells in the milk, the FDA permits their minute presence in products intended for human consumption. As nasty as it sounds, every time you drink milk, you’re ingesting pus and skin cells.
In a natural setting, cows can live up to 20 years or more. Dairy cows, however, have a lifespan of 4-5 years, as they’re sent to slaughter. This can happen for many reasons. If a cow develops mastitis, or other illness, they could be killed instead of treated. If they become lame (unable to stand/walk) they may also be sent to the slaughterhouse as well. Because some dairy cows spend their entire lives on concrete floors spattered with urine and feces, they often become lame by the age of 5. This is so common, in fact, that the industry has a name for these animals: “Downers.”
The market for veal is kept strong through the vicious cycle of artificial insemination, which is prevalent within the dairy industry. Because dairy cows are continuously impregnated (against their will), they produce numerous offspring. When these babies are born, they’re generally taken from their mother the very first day of life. They scream for the loving touch of their parent. Some cows bellow for days, and sometimes weeks, after their babies are taken from them.
If the calf is male, it either goes to a veal or beef farm. If it’s female, the baby will be prepped for a lifetime of servitude within the dairy plant. At some veal farms, the babies are tied/chained down so they cannot move. This is done so their meat will be soft and tender. They’re fed diets low in nutrients and iron to keep their flesh light in color. This often results in them developing anemia and other health related illnesses. They’re often lame, as their muscles were never allowed to develop.
If you’ve ever seen a multitude of tiny huts stretching in rows along the highway, chances are that veal calves are suffering inside.
The production of cheese often utilizes an enzyme known as “Rennin” or “Rennet.” This enzyme is found within the GI tracts of cud chewing animals, such as calves. The enzyme acts as a curdling agent, which is why it’s used in the cheese making process. Although the enzyme can be synthetically derived, or even plant based, it often comes from the stomach linings of baby calves.
Every day the dairy industry is responsible for producing thousands of tons of urine and feces. Obviously, this is not good for the environment, as it seeps into streams, lakes, ponds, and drinking water. It’s estimated that the dairy industry is responsible for creating 1.65 billion tons of manure each year. Similarly, the amount of methane gas that cows produce surmounts that of every automotive in the world combined. In regards to water usage, it takes 2,000 gallons of water to produce a single gallon of milk.
What can you do?
One of the best ways to combat the horrors of the dairy industry is to simply abstain from consuming milk, cheese, and other dairy products. By choosing compassion over consumption, you will dramatically decrease the suffering these animals experience. Moreover, you will ensure that our planet prospers for years to come.
Living without dairy has never been easier. There are a multitude of completely dairy free products that you can choose from that are tastier, healthier, better for the environment, and more compassionate. Some of these products include Tofutti, Follow your Heart, Daiya, Earth Balance, Just Mayo, and others.
Remember, every time we sit down to eat we make a choice. When we choose not to consume animal products, it’s a victory for animals all across the world. Don’t let the dairy industry contaminate your conscience… Consider going vegan today!
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