Q – Cows produce far more milk that a calf could drink. Surely we have to milk them or they will be in pain?
A – Once triggered by pregnancy and birth, the hormonal fluid known as ‘milk’ is produced for a time by lactation in a demand-led process. I learned this first hand as a lactating mother, and it was indeed painful on those occasions when nursing was delayed. As my children were weaned and their demands grew less, the supply diminished. So from personal experience I am well aware of the mechanisms behind milk production as it applies to cows and other mammals for I am nothing other than a mammal myself.
No one, however, would argue in favour of the forced reproduction of a human female followed by removal (killing or sale into slavery) of her infant in order to sell her breast milk* to another species. In the case of our nonhuman dairy mothers, who are sentient like ourselves, who value their lives and bond with their children, that is exactly what we do.
We compound this atrocity by selectively breeding those species and breeds used for their milk to ensure the maximum levels of production. This is done to maximise the financial gain we derive from the process. This is not done out of kindness or care for the comfort of those who are regarded as nothing more than commercial resources. Benevolence is absent from the industry, whatever their advertisers would have us believe to the contrary.
To then turn round and claim that we are doing these abject lactating mothers a favour and a kindness by relieving them of the unnaturally large quantities of milk that we have contrived for them to produce, and seek to justify our violence, our unjust and brutal actions in this way is not untypical of our self-serving species. It is, however, deeply wrong in every sense of the word.
Only veganism respects the rights of other mothers to own their bodies and their lives. When we stop demanding harm, harm will no longer be profitable.
*It should be noted that the sale of human breast milk actually does take place. It is, however, a voluntary activity, conducted by consenting human mothers.
Links about selective breeding: