It’s been reported recently that in some supermarkets, milk is being sold cheaper per litre than bottled water. Yet as prices plummet, compassionate people should remember that, as always, cows are the ones truly feeling the “squeeze” in the dairy industry.
Treated by farmers as machines, cows on dairy farms are pushed beyond their physical limits to produce unnaturally high quantities of milk, often resulting in lameness, exhaustion and a painful udder infection known as mastitis. A cow mother loves her baby just as we humans love ours, yet hers are summarily dragged away shortly after birth so that the milk intended for them can be sold for human consumption.
Those calves, if male, are deemed useless to the dairy industry and most likely either shot in the head or sold for veal, while the female calves are forced to repeat the same sad life as their mothers. This cycle of artificial insemination, birth and then grief over the loss of their calves, year in and year out, ends only when the cows’ bodies are spent. Then off they go to the abattoir to be slaughtered.
With their massive carbon emissions, nitrogen pollution caused by fertilisers and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of slurry produced as waste, dairy farms also take their toll on the British countryside and our environment.
Rather than trying to maximise the profit that they can extract from animals during their short, unhappy lives, dairy farmers would do better to see the writing on the wall and diversify into the dairy-free market, which is booming. In the past two years, non-dairy milk sales have grown by a whopping 155 per cent, as consumers increasingly opt for cruelty-free options made from everything from soya beans and almonds to oats and hemp – all lighter on the gut and the conscience.
Check out our guide to non-dairy milks for more info on how to veganise everything from your morning coffee to your homemade cakes. And for general tips about making sure your diet is cruelty-free, order our free vegan starter kit today.
Cow image: Jo-Anne McArthur / weanimals.org