“The recent killings in Norway were horrific. As usual in such cases, the media give the killer exactly what he wants: worldwide fame. We aren’t told the names of the people who were killed - almost as if they are not considered to be important enough, yet the media frenzy to turn the killer into a Jack The Ripper star is …. repulsive. He should be un-named, not photographed, and quietly led away. The comment I made onstage at Warsaw could be further explained this way: Millions of beings are routinely murdered every single day in order to fund profits for McDonalds and KFCruelty, but because these murders are protected by laws, we are asked to feel indifferent about the killings, and to not even dare question them. If you quite rightly feel horrified at the Norway killings, then it surely naturally follows that you feel horror at the murder of ANY innocent being. You cannot ignore animal suffering simply because animals “are not us.”—Morrissey (via veganlove)
“If others wouldn’t mistake animals & their ‘by-products’ for ‘food’, I wouldn’t need to refer to my food as vegan. Sad, isn’t it, that I have to constantly mention that I don’t abuse animals. Imagine if every adult in the presence of children would need to mention that he/she is not a child abuser. Being non-violent & non-abusive to ALL other beings should be the norm & not the exception.”—Anita Vegan-Mahdessian
Every time I hear of a hate crime, there is always someone who says something to the effect of “Crimes should be punished because they are crimes. Why should they be punished extra because they happened to a minority?”*
What makes hate crimes especially awful is that they target an entire group…
There are a lot of myths surrounding the healthfulness and ethics of human consumption of dairy products. I have been doing some reading and research, and my goal with this post is to dispel some of those myths. To the best of my ability, I will document all the sources for my information; however, as I have done a lot of reading about these issues in recent months, the list is likely not comprehensive. Research on the subject abounds—do some reading yourself!
Myth 1: Milk does a body good.
Cows are herbivores, and thrive on a diet of grasses. The pastoral dairies we often picture in our minds include black-and-white spotted cows, dotting the rolling green hillsides, lazily grazing on the pastureland and ruminating. The farmer comes out with a tin bucket and a little wooden stool and lovingly milks his cows each day, stroking them and talking to them all the while.
This is not a true reflection of the life and diet of a modern-day, factory-farmed cow. Cows in factory farming operations are confined to stalls and hard cement floors, never given the freedom to graze. They are deprived of a natural diet and instead fed a feed mix consisting heavily of corn (most of it genetically modified), heavy doses of antibiotics, and occasionally the ground-up remains of their fallen comrades (the practice of turning dead cattle back into cattle feed is illegal, but the industry is poorly monitored and this practice still occurs). We all know that animal milk nutrition is based of the nutrients in the diet of the animal that produces it. So what is going into your milk? Genetically modified corn that was farmed with heavy doses of chemical fertilizers; antibiotics; any contaminants that may have remained in the bodies of the dead cows that were ground up for feed.
It gets worse, though. Dairy cows are pumped full of rBGH, a bovine growth hormone designed to increase their milk yield. The increased milk yield resulting from the rBGH causes increased rates of mastitis—the udders of these unfortunate cows swell and become infected with the unnatural volume of milk that they produce. Yet, in the interest of precious time and profit, cows with infected udders are not treated properly for their infection—they are still milked continually. The antibiotics pumped into the cattle feed are intended to deal with such diseases and infection, the intent being that these maladies will get cleared up through the feed and the cow loses no milking time. As a result of not treating mastitis immediately and properly, pus which develops inside the udder ends up in the milk. This pus-infused milk is not discarded; rather, it is mixed with “healthy” milk, packaged, and sold.
Myth 2: Cows need to be milked.
It is true that when cows produce milk, it is healthy for them to be milked and relieved of the pressure that builds up in their udders under the weight of the milk. However, what is not good for cows in these factory farm operations is the extent of their milk production and their milking. These cows are constantly being impregnated, giving birth and then immediately having their calves taken from them, and milked extensively. This ensures that not a moment of precious time escapes when the cow could have been giving profitable milk.
A dairy cow which is allowed to live its natural life, grazing in the outdoors and lactating in natural cycles, should live for 20 years or more. Cows using modern farming methods, however, are often slaughtered once their milk production slows, in as few as three lactation cycles. Modern milking practices, then, scarcely bode well for these animals.
Myth 3: Milk is a good source of calcium and protein.
Our bodies need calcium. Calcium is extremely important in our bone development; without proper levels of calcium intake, we are at risk for the ever more widespread bone disease known as osteoporosis, which makes bones brittle and fragile. America is well aware of these risks, and in fact recommended daily intakes of calcium in the U.S. are some of the highest in the world, at 1,000-1,400 milligrams each day. Yet Americans still are at high risk for osteoporosis. Why?
Calcium is a mineral that neutralizes acid. Our blood has a certain pH level that it must maintain, which is a fairly neutral level that slightly leans to the alkaline end of the spectrum. But certain foods are known to raise the acidity level of the blood—namely, animal proteins and highly processed “junk” foods. Our bodies must produce increased amounts of acid to digest such foods, and once the digestion has occurred, the acid enters our blood supply and makes it more acidic. Thus, our bodies actually leach calcium from our bones to neutralize the acid content in our blood.
So, yes. Milk is a substantive source of both calcium and protein. But when we rely on the protein in milk and other animal products, we actually lose much of the calcium that we take in.
Consider that many peoples have survived for hundreds of years without dairy products, such as the Chinese, and have had little instance of osteoporosis. People in these places take in far less calcium than most Americans do today, but they get their calcium and their protein vastly from plant-based sources. Consider also that vegetarian women, at age 65, average 18% bone loss, while their omnivorous peers average 35% bone loss.
Myth 4: Beef production is cruel, but dairy production is not.
I have already addressed this to some extent above, but there is room for elaboration.
Dairy cows, as I mentioned, are not allowed to graze in conventional farming operations; they are confined, fed meal that is far from their natural diet, and often never see the outdoors. They live but a fraction of their natural lives before being sent to slaughter, once their productivity has declined due to the exhausting methods of milk production that factory farmers implement. During the time when they are alive, disease is rampant among milk-producing cattle because they are confined in such closed, tight living areas where disease can spread easily from one animal to the next, and are fed such enormous levels of antibiotics that antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacteria are constantly evolving—thus increasing the need for more antibiotics, thus perpetuating the cycle.
When a dairy cow gives birth, the calf is immediately separated from the mother, often never even allowed to nurse. Female calves are raised to produce milk, but male calves are considered useless by-products of the dairy industry. They are often sold cheaply into veal production—one of the most horrifying aspects of animal agriculture. Veal calves are confined to crates where they have no room to move, and they are often chained by the neck to further restrict their movement. This is what gives veal meat its characteristic tenderness. The calves are fed an iron-deficient diet so that their meat is pale and desirable; often they become so weak that their legs break beneath their own weight. Then, after 16 weeks of this kind of life, the calves are slaughtered.
“Certified organic” milk, to an extent, helps to alleviate some of these problems, but by no means solves them. Cows whose milk is certified organic must not be fed antibiotics or injected with hormones, and they must be given access to pasture for a part of the year. For large-scale organic dairy producers, this means giving the animals a minimal amount of time in the pasture, and using more conventional methods as much as they can to keep costs low. And even in the organic industry, cows may be sent to slaughter prematurely when they slow down their production. Even in the organic industry, male calves may be sold into the horrible veal industry. For most corporate producers, the animal is still a commodity rather than a living being, and they will do as little as they can to get the lucrative “organic” label slapped onto their products. So unless you personally know your dairy farmer and his commitment to earth- and animal-friendly, sustainable production, unless you know he is concerned for the well-being of his animals, then you cannot be certain that the industry you are supporting is not guilty of the mistreatment of millions of animals each year.
Especially when they’re family members that you expect to be somewhat intelligent.
This. I mean, it can be really kinda provocative and scary sometimes, it can change your relationships in a profound way. Especially when you ask them the all encompassing questions about personal freedom and violence. I’ve had some particularly volatile discussions with family members over these kinds of subjects.
I’ve been insulted over my views on animal rights, so I just gave up on them and can’t wait to end my studies and go away.
“Slowly but surely the horror dawns on them. You start to see them struggling internally. How can they pet their dog with one hand and stab a piece of pig with the other? They love animals, but they eat animals. Then, just when their conscience seems to be winning out, they learn that we don’t eat honey. And you can see the conflict drain away with an almost visible sigh. They finally think they understand what this whole “vegan” thing is all about. You’re not vegan because you’re trying to be kind or compassionate—you’re just crazy! They smile. They point. You almost had me going for a second, they chuckle. Whew, that was a close one. They almost had to seriously think about the issues. They may have just been considering boycotting eggs, arguably the most concentrated form of animal cruelty, and then the thought hits them that you’re standing up for insect rights. Maybe they imagine us putting out little thimble-sized bowls of food for the cockroaches every night.”—Michael Greger on the “is honey vegan?” debate (via dontletthemin)