A recurring theme on social media is the subject of ‘veal’. It’s a topic guaranteed to cause feelings to run high amongst ‘animal lovers’. As an animal rights advocate, I can only marvel at the sleight of hand by which the industries that commodify the vulnerable, manage so easily to distract and divert consumers from the real issues. By focusing attention on the way that our needless victims are treated, attention is skillfully diverted away from the questions that should be being asked; first and foremost amongst these being, ‘Why do we have victims at all?’
The animal exploitation industry and their high-budget advertising firms have done such an unbelievably thorough number on the consumer public that almost any proposal, however vile, however outrageous, can frequently slide in, unchallenged by the silent majority. Meanwhile, on the subject of ‘veal’, we see scrapping and vitriol in the social media by vegans and nonvegans alike about the ethics of consuming the flesh of infant bovines, with rarely even a nod in the direction of the real issue.
The real issue
So what is this ‘real issue’ that I refer to? The issue is that ‘veal’ in and of itself is not a stand-alone industry. ‘Veal’ is an opportunist waste product of the DAIRY industry; ‘dairy’ as in milk, cheese, ice cream, yoghurt, cream etc. The dairy industry, like any other industry, seeks to find lucrative ways to bolster its revenue. Like any industry one of the ways it does this is by revisiting its waste products, as evidenced by recent articles in the press, seeking to restructure and re-align consumer opinion to once again view veal as a desirable commodity after years of declining popularity.
In response to press articles focusing on ‘veal’, by arguing about who consumes it and who doesn’t, many who are not vegan but consider themselves to be ethical – exactly like I myself once did – continue to cling to a perceived moral high ground and bask in the feel-good glow that whatever else they may be doing, they are definitely not contributing to the consumer demand for this commodity. Fuelled by images of calves in veal crates, a device reminiscent of a medieval implement of torture, this debate repeatedly splits the online community of vegans and nonvegans alike and almost every article, every post, will at some point contain comments vilifying those who promote veal. However, when we see this criticism of those who consume the flesh of infant bovines, aka ‘veal’, we are witnessing an exercise in completely missing the point.
Who drives supply?
In the case of ‘veal’, it is not those who consume flesh who are driving the supply. The truth is that it is the consumers of dairy products that are directly driving the continued economic viability of the industry that has cow milk as its primary ‘product’. This production process uses the reproductive systems of sentient females by forcibly impregnating them at regular intervals to induce lactation, and ejects their calves as waste, having served their purpose by triggering several more months of milk production in their mothers. The calves who are removed are either killed immediately, raised to become replacements for their mothers, sold as ‘veal’ to be killed at a maximum age of 24 weeks, or occasionally fattened up for a few more months and sold for their body parts.
The only way out
There is no escape for these unfortunates. These calves will still exist and will subsequently die alone, afraid and longing desperately for the devoted care of their dairy slave mothers, whether or not their pitiful remains can be sold for consumption as ‘veal’. However as happens in any industry, every effort is made to minimise the cost of wastage and this is frequently done by creating a positive spin.
To end the ‘veal industry’ we must first reject dairy and all products derived from the lactation of bovine mothers. Only by rejecting the use and consumption of ALL substances and services derived from the bodies and lives of others can we opt out of the myths, lies and evasions that attempt to convince us that we can use the vulnerable and powerless for our indulgence. Only veganism recognises the right of every sentient individual to own their life and their body.
Be vegan. It’s the right thing to do.
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