A few years ago when I first made the switch to a vegetarian diet, I made little to no effort to cut cow’s milk out of my diet, too. Like most people, I was raised to believe that cows have to be milked, so we may as well drink it so that it doesn’t go to waste, right? And it’s not like cows suffer for the milk, do they? These two myths are ones that many of us, including myself at one point, tell ourselves to avoid having to take responsibility for the truth.
So, what’s the truth? What’s so wrong with drinking cow’s milk? The answer: everything.
Like humans, cows produce milk only when they’re pregnant or nursing. In order to keep the milk constantly flowing, farmers artificially inseminate cows over and over, often on devices called “rape racks.” After their calves are taken from them, mother cows are hooked up, several times a day, to milking machines so that the milk meant for their calves can be sold to humans.
Cows used for dairy products are genetically manipulated, artificially inseminated, and often drugged to force them to produce about four and a half times as much milk as they naturally would to feed their calves. These animals are often dosed with bovine growth hormone, which contributes to an inflammation of the udder known as “mastitis”—an extremely painful condition that up to 50 percent of cows used for their milk suffer from.
Cows on dairy farms are also routinely mutilated without painkillers by having their horn tissue burned or gouged out of their heads, holes punched in their ears, and part of their tails cut off. Once their milk production declines, cows are sent to a terrifying death in a slaughterhouse to be ground up into hamburger.
Bottom line: If you’re against violence—including rape—you shouldn’t drink milk. Period. Not to mention that drinking milk means that you’re also likely supporting the veal industry, which would not exist without the dairy industry.