This is what happens to cows in the dairy industry every time you buy cheese or a carton of milk.

1. She won’t have a name or an identity.

adult dairy cow

She’ll be treated as nothing more than a baby- and milk-making machine.

2. She’ll probably spend most of her life standing on a concrete floor or in a crowded feedlot.

crowded dairy farm cows in feed lot

cattle feedlot

She’ll even be forced to stand or sit amid her own feces.

cow standing in feces on dairy farm

calves standing infeces

3. She may be given antibiotics and hormones.

Dairy Milking Machines

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals 

The drugs will make her produce about four and a half times more milk than she ever would naturally—and she’ll likely develop mastitis, meaning that her mammary glands will become sore and inflamed.

cow with mastitis

4. Her reproductive system will be exploited.

Cow insemination We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals 

To keep the milk flowing, she will be artificially inseminated over … and over … and over again.

dairy cow inseminated

5. After she gives birth, her baby will be taken away from her.

dairy veal calf after birth

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals 

This happens just a day after calves are born so that humans can steal the milk that’s meant for them.


6. She will cry out for her calf, but it’s too late.

Veal Farm Cow

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals 

She’ll never see her baby again. Soon, she’ll be re-inseminated, and the cycle will continue.

7. If her calf is female, she will be sentenced to the same fate as her mother.

dairy cow calf behind gate

Her horns will be burned or cut off, and she likely won’t be provided with any relief for the pain and will feel everything that’s happening to her.

dairy cow dehorned

Her natural life expectancy is 20 years, but there’s nothing natural about the hell she has to endure. When her body wears out from constantly being pregnant, her life will come to a painful, terrifying end at only 4 or 5 years old.

dairy cow sitting on dirty floor

8. If her calf is male, he’ll spend the rest of his short life confined.

veal calf

He’ll spend most days frightened, alone, and desperate for his mother.


He’ll be forced to live in a small crate designed to stop normal muscle growth. After a few miserable months of solitary confinement, he will be loaded onto a truck bound for the slaughterhouse—even though he can barely walk because of sickness and muscle atrophy—and killed for veal.

veal calf dairy

We Animals | Jo-Anne McArthur 

What You Can Do

More than 9 million cows suffer in the U.S. dairy industry on any given day. The good news? Ditching dairy foods is easier than ever. Most major grocery store chains, including Target and Walmart, carry dairy-free milks, cheeses, and yogurts—and even ice cream! There are also tons of vegan options at places like Starbucks, Chipotle, and Taco Bell.

Need dairy-free recipe ideas? Text VEGAN to 73822* (U.S.) or 99099* (Canada) to get simple recipes sent right to your phone weekly!


*Message and data rates may apply. Periodic messaging. Text STOP to end or HELP for info. Full terms are available at