Over the last four years, I have shown hundreds of people how to cook without milk or eggs and written many articles explaining why the dairy cow is the hardest working mother of all. However, there is something about raising my own baby that has put a new perspective on it.
Surprisingly, not everyone knows that a cow has to be pregnant to produce milk and this is where the uncomfortable parallels begin. Woman, cow, mother, baby.
Imagine if women were treated the same as dairy cows in order to harvest their breast milk for other mammals to drink?
You are repeatedly impregnated by artificial insemination. Once you give birth, your baby is taken away from you after around 24 hours. You cry for it, but it is never returned. As a then grieving mother, you are milked; forced to produce up to 120 pints of milk a day. Soon you will be made pregnant again, so the traumatic cycle can begin, again and again. After a few years, your body is worn out and you are killed as you are no longer considered profitable.
Embrace the feeling of carrying a baby, remember the moment you gave birth and the love you felt when you first held him in your arms. Why should it be any less signficant to a female cow? do you think she does not feel love and an overpowering maternal attachment to her baby? do you think because she cannot communicate with us that she does not experience terrible emotional pain when her young repeatedly vanish?
Professor John Webster, of Bristol University, describes the removal of the calf as the ‘most potentially distressing incident in the life of the dairy cow’.*
As I feed my baby, I know my body is producing milk specifically designed to help him thrive and grow – and this is what cows’ milk is for these baby animals. This is why many humans find it hard to digest; a large proportion of the world’s population are intolerant to dairy products.
A growing body of evidence also shows that the growth hormones in milk are linked to ovarian, breast and prostate cancer, as well as juvenile-onset diabetes. The saturated fat, cholesterol and animal protein it contains are linked to many other diseases.
So this is why being vegan is so important. Taking milk from cows is cruel. They mourn, they become sick. Their milk is meant for their babies, not for us. I just wish more people would think about this the next time they put a glass of milk to their mouth or eat that piece of cheese.
For more information on the welfare issues of consuming cows’ milk, visit www.milkmyths.org.uk. For referenced information about the health consequences of consuming dairy products, read White Lies, a scientific report by The Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation (VVF).