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The Dairy Industry: Save Yourself, The Cows, and The Planet

Updated on June 30, 2015
The aftermath of a dairy cow being de-horned. More than 50% of dairy cows undergo this.
The aftermath of a dairy cow being de-horned. More than 50% of dairy cows undergo this.
Veal calves as they wait to become meat
Veal calves as they wait to become meat

Think for Yourself

As infants, the typical human will survive off of it's mothers milk for about twelve months on average. After this period of time, the mother will begin to ween her infant off of breast milk and start to incorporate a small variety of foods. If you look to virtually any other mammal species, this case is seen again and again. Why then, are we the ONLY species on earth who starts to reincorporate milk into our daily diet? Even worse, why is it the milk of an entirely different species? This is a question many of us have not even thought about, as it just seems normal in our daily routine to drink milk. We grow up with it drilled into our heads that is absolutely fundamental to consume dairy, so this MUST be the case, right?

The American government spends a grand total of $38 billion in order to subsidize the dairy and meat industry, and to keep you thinking just that- that you should consume the milk of a cow. To put this in perspective for you, a small fraction of that cost (.04%) is spent each year on the fruit and vegetable industry. Wake up and smell the sour milk. This is your tax money. Included in this budget is the insane amount of advertising that the government pumps into our schools every single year. We all grew up looking at those "Got Milk?" posters on our schools cafeteria walls, depicting Beyoncé or the Wolverine painted with a perfectly white mustache upon their lips. If you want to be like Beyoncé drink your milk! They imprint on us starting at such an early age- when we don't know any better- it is engraved into our brains that milk is good for us. We need it. It will make our bones strong and without it we will suffer weak bones. This is so far from the truth- in fact, the reality is just the opposite.





The 'Milk Myth'

Again and again scientific studies have shown that the consumption of milk is actually more detrimental to our bones than it is beneficial for our bodies in any way. The same link is found in every study- that humans not only can barely absorb the calcium in the cows milk, but it actually encourages calcium loss in our bones. The process of how this occurs is relatively simple. Milk acidifies the bodies pH levels as it is an acidic animal protein, which the body in turn is biologically triggered to correct. Calcium is one of the best neutralizers in our body, and the largest reserve of calcium our body has is our bones. Therefore our body actually leaches the calcium out of our bones in order to neutralize the effects that milk has on our body. Still need more proof? Look at the countries with the lowest bone fracture rates. You will find that they also consume the lowest amounts of milk and dairy. This is not a mere coincidence.

The Life of a Dairy Cow

Did you know... Cows only begin to produce milk after they have been pregnant for nine months? Yes, it's true! They don't just pump out milk their entire lives because we want them to! That is not what they were made for. Although some may have just read that and said, "Well, duh", you would be surprised. I posed the question of how cows produce milk on a friend the other day and they had thought they were lifelong milk-pumps. This leads me to ask another question, how do cows become pregnant? Yes, they have to have intercourse just like human beings. You could only hope that the cows on dairy farms get that tiny pleasure. But indeed, they are denied even that. This means only one thing for the already miserable and incredibly mistreated animals- artificial insemination. In our human world we would call this rape. After being "raped" and then giving birth to their offspring 9 months later, the young calves will be torn apart from their mother hours after their birth. If the calf is a male, he will endure 12-23 miserable weeks in a 30 inch crate designed to prohibit movement and muscle growth in order to slaughter the male for "tender" veal. They will then be shoved into metal trucks and shipped to a slaughterhouse. That is where his story will end. If the calf is female, she will either join the milking herd and continue the horrifying cycle or be fattened up and live a terrifying life becoming the meat on your plate. They will never know the taste of their mothers milk. They will be given milk replacer for the duration of their short lives, sometimes being cattle blood, while humans will be drinking the milk that is made for THEM. The fate of a dairy cow after she stops producing milk, typically at 4 years, is already set in stone. She will be shipped off to the feeding facilities and be fattened up to turn her into meat.


The "Organic" Mistreatment of Cows

Some supporters of the dairy industry justify their participation in the suffering of dairy cows and calves by the reasoning of "It's okay, it says organic on it." This is just more false advertising that the industry feeds consumers like us who don't know any better. If it has a happy looking cow on the packaging of the product and a USDA stamp of approval on it, it must be morally sound, right? Sadly, not even this is the case. When consumers purchase a product that claims to be "Organic", this is far better for our health as it is not pumped with as many hormones and chemicals that the other guys use, but these large companies still utilize the same methods and the same levels of mistreatment occurs to the animals. When we purchase these varieties of "organic" products, we envision an "Ole Mcdonald" farmer type in a pair of overalls squeezing out fresh milk from happy cows who are free to frolic in fields of grass when they are done being milked. This is not the case. Every single dairy product you will buy off of the shelves is from a cow that lives the entirety of her life with her udders hooked up to a machine, sucking milk out of her. As long as there is less hormones in it though by all means go ahead!


The Environmental Footprint

If you aren't swayed yet, I urge you to think about the environmental footprint that the dairy industry leaves on our planet. The sheer amount of water used for the industry is one-fourth of the total global water footprint. Not only is the impact of water use tremendous, but the greenhouse gas emissions tallies up to 52 percent of the worlds greenhouse gases. If you look at a dairy factory farm with 700 cows, they alone would be pumping 350,000 liters of methane into the atmosphere every single day. To put that into perspective, a single fracking well is responsible for the release of 30,684 pounds of methane a day. Where methane has a heat trapping potential nearly 100 times larger than carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide has a global warming potential almost 300 times greater than carbon dioxide. This should scare us- yet many aren't even aware of it.


What can an average joe do?

Cows do not have to live like this. We do not have to live like this. We are in a day and age where it is easier than ever to not consume the dairy from a cow. Switch out your milk- with so many options: almond, soy, rice, hemp, coconut, even cashew milk- there's a way for everybody to do it with ease. Don't buy into the feel-good labels, as they are just like any other label with mere window dressing. Remember, you are not a cow, so why would you biologically need or want the milk from them? SAVE THE BOS TAURUS!

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    • profile image

      Chris 

      3 years ago

      Ok Ok OK, I'm done with milk. Thanks for that informative article. I was so surprised to learn a cows' gestational period is as long as a human's! Nice writing. Can't wait to read your next piece.

    • profile image

      Casey 

      3 years ago

      Way to go Edy! I think what you're writing here is well thought out, I am also so impressed by how you wrote this. I will definitely share this with my friends and save the Bos auras!

    • Melissa Orourke profile image

      Melissa Orourke 

      3 years ago from Roatán, Islas De La Bahia, Honduras

      Thank you for sharing! I prefer a Vegan lifestyle, so I can relate. My youngest son enjoys "real milk." We purchase it from a local farmer, where his animals are treated well, and the milk is fresh. (no it's not pasteurized). In the U.S. that's hard to find, and in many states illegal if I'm not mistaken. We are living in Honduras right now so no worries about breaking the law! Thank you for an interesting article, welcome to Hub pages!

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