The ‘In a nutshell’ series will attempt to summarise key issues and concepts about which I have previously written at length.
Dairy is the word describing the substances derived from the milk of nonhuman animals. It covers cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, milk and of course constituent parts like whey that are used widely as ingredients. Milk is the substance created by a mother mammal to nourish her infant from birth to weaning. It is species-specific and the process is the same for human as for nonhuman mammals.
The fundamental principle behind the dairy industry is that female mammals (mostly cows, but also goats, sheep and others) are impregnated at regular intervals to trigger and maintain lactation, and their babies *removed and disposed of so that their milk can be used as a human resource. In the case of cows, except for a 40-45 day ‘drying off period’ imposed immediately before giving birth, milking takes place before, during and after their 9-month pregnancy. This repeated use takes a heavy toll on the bodies of these mothers, and after a fraction of their natural lifespan they are slaughtered for cheap ‘meat’.
Focusing on how these individuals are treated while they are being used is a ploy that is often used to distract consumers from the underlying truth that it is impossible to take their milk without violating the most basic rights of these mothers and their doomed babies. We see this distraction in the form of labels such as ‘grass fed’, ‘organic’, ‘ free range’, ‘welfare approved’. The purpose of these is to make the consumer feel better about their participation in the dairy process so that they will continue to buy into it and support it. The labels mean nothing from the perspective of our victims. They are still repeatedly violated, their babies are still removed, they are hooked up to our machinery every day until premature death is inflicted in a slaughterhouse. That’s the fundamental principle and there’s no way round it.
Most people find it hard to accept that this process even exists and certainly don’t want to be part of it, so many of us tell ourselves that ‘it doesn’t happen here’, or that it happens only in ‘factory’ farms, or ‘the stuff I buy isn’t made that way’ and I’ve even seen outraged protests from those who insist that pregnancy is not the means employed commercially for lactation to occur. But we couldn’t be more wrong. The underlying principle is the same EVERYWHERE, no matter where we live, no matter the size of the farm, regardless of what we pay or what we tell ourselves.
Dairy truly is the stuff of our darkest nightmares and yet the dairy industry is unnecessary. It is not necessary for us to use the lives and the bodies of others for any reason as we can thrive without causing deliberate harm. Only veganism recognises the right of other individuals to own their own bodies, their own families, their own lives.
Links to check out: –
The myth of ‘slaughter-free dairy’ :
About plant based eating and health:
In a nutshell – a plant based diet and health
Article listing various citations and reports regarding health concerns of dairy consumption http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/health-concerns-about-dairy-products
*In parts of the UK dairy mothers and their infants are separated after 12 to 24 hours. In other places including the Republic of Ireland, this is done at birth.