I’ve been vegan for about 2 years now. All this time I’ve shared a lot about practical veganism. In our society it is unfortunately uncommon to be vegan, so practical veganism is important. But what’s even more important to me, is why I live vegan. As for the ethical aspects, the health aspects and the environmental impacts, I’ve never really discussed them. So today I want to begin with that, each time a different category and product. Today I want to tell you all the ethical reasons why I don’t drink milk.
Misunderstanding of veganism
It is kind of strange that have never discussed this matter on here, since it is a question I get a lot offline. I am starting with milk, since that is one of the products I don’t consume and most people don’t understand why. Meat is something they understand, you kill an animal that wants to live just as bad as I do. People understand that I don’t want animals to die. But they barely ever understand why I’m vegan instead of a vegetarian. Today I’m discussing the ethical reasons as to why I don’t consume milk, but there are other reasons which I’ll share in another post since it’s a big subject.
A system which enables disconnection
And I surely don’t blame the people who at first don’t understand, because I can relate. I used to consume animal products on a daily basis, meat was the best thing about the meal for me. I thought all of that was healthy too, I thought I needed those things. That’s why I can understand. I see myself when I talk to someone about veganism. It’s not their fault, they just don’t know. Most people don’t know much about the suffering of animals for our pleasure. That’s is partly because our system hasn’t enabled people to think for themselves any longer. People don’t see a suffering cow when they buy milk. People don’t even see a dead chicken when they buy chicken. It’s boxed up fancy and they see it as food.
Sharing knowledge about veganism
And that’s why I try to share my knowledge in conversations. Not out of the blue, but when people ask. You don’t want to confront people with nasty facts all of a sudden. I just want to share my point of view whenever someone asks me. I don’t intend to make people go vegan right then and there either. I intend to plant a little seed. A seed that eventually grows because it will be watered more often. And most of all, I want people to think. Think for themselves. Do I really want to contribute to all this hurt and suffering?
So here it is: all the ethical reasons why I don’t consume milk.
- Forced impregnation. Cows are alike humans; the females produce milk when they’re pregnant and a while after. And so, if you want the cow to produce milk you’d have to impregnate her. Don’t think that this is all natural and that cows will breed themselves. The (few) males and females are separated and don’t get in contact. The farmer will collect semen from the male somehow, mostly by buying it frozen from a third party (which is a horrible story as well). Then he or she will forcingly impregnate her, by putting his hand into the cow’s vagina and release the semen there. Now, I don’t know how that sounds to you, but I think that would feel horrible. In this podcast you can listen to a man who used to be a farmer and he tells you that females won’t like this. They’ll do anything to avoid this and panic meanwhile. And what do we call it when human females are enforcedly impregnated? Right, rape.If they cow is then pregnant, she’ll give birth and as soon after she won’t produce milk for her child any longer she’ll be impregnated again. That’s the only way to keep the milk production going. A female is pregnant for a big part of her life, mostly once a year for nine months (Source). This is not voluntary and that’s what is disgusting to me too. Imagine a woman being pregnant most of her life, most woman wouldn’t like that. We get about 2 children in The Netherlands on average. And again, this is voluntary, so we choose to get children. Cows do not. They are forced to be pregnant.
- Male calves are killed a few weeks after they’re born. If a cow has been impregnated and gives birth, the farmer will see what sex it is. Males are useless to the industry since they can’t be forcedly impregnated and produce milk. They’re only valuable for meat and so will be fattened (sometimes on a low iron diet to keep the meat white) for an average of 30 weeks in The Netherlands and then they’ll be slaughtered. That’s because there is so much calf meat. It’s seen as a byproduct of the industry. When people do understand why I don’t eat meat but don’t understand that I don’t drink milk, this is usually the first thing I mention. The dairy industry kills cows too. Male calves don’t produce milk and so will be slaughtered.
- Female calves are taken from their mother after birth. Let’s say the female gives birth to another female. The female won’t be sent to slaughter since she’ll be a dairy cow just like her mother. But this does not mean she will not be removed from the mother. As I mentioned above, cows produce milk for their babies, just like humans do. Yet, we want to drink that milk and so the baby can’t have it. The calf will be removed from its mother. Now think about that. Imagine yourself giving birth and then your baby taken away from you. It’s one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve seen. I suggest you look up footage of calf being removed from its mother. It breaks my heart and I cry every time still. Seeing the mother be in total desperation while her baby is taken away from her, sometimes the mother will be crying out for her babies for days. I can’t even describe the pain she must feel and I don’t understand how farmers can do this. I really can’t imagine how you can take a baby from its mom, just like that. The calf will be put in a little cage all alone and will be given some sort of artificial milk so that it’ll live. This is all done because we don’t want the cow to drink the mother’s milk, since we want to do that.
- Dairy cows are killed as soon as their production goes down. We like to see our cows in the Netherlands as productive as possible. The more milk, the better. A Dutch cow can give up to 22 liters of milk every day. I can only imagine this must be painful, it’s not natural at all. In nature a cow would produce about 6 liters of milk daily (Source). At a certain age dairy cows will become less productive, they will produce less milk. This is obvious, as they get older. If the farmer decides that the cow doesn’t give enough milk any longer, she’ll be sent to slaughter as well. In The Netherlands this is at an age of about 5 years (Source). That’s why, again, it’s wrong to assume that buying milk won’t kill animals. It will and it does. Cows could live up to 20 years if they’re not killed (Source).
- Dairy cows are seen as assets, not animals. The farmers say they care about their cows. But why send the cows to the slaughter house if you care about them? I hope they don’t care about their children that way. They sure as hell don’t about their dog. How many times have I seen farmers with cows that are slaughtered, but at the same time they own a dog who is treated like a family member. They’re both animals. So why kill one and love another? It’s not that dogs are smarted than cows are. It’s not that dogs feel pain and cows do not. They feel pain too, and they want to live. I urge you to go to a sanctuary one day and experiences what a cow is like. They’re playful, friendly and smart. Dairy cows are just seen as money, since they’ll bring the farmer money. They’re not actually seen as living being anymore. And the disgrace that comes with it is just unbelievable to me. This animal gives the farmer her everything, she is enforcedly impregnated numerous times, she’ll see her calves being taken away, she’ll give the farmer all her milk but what does the cow get? A life of rape, being almost continuously pregnant, hopelessness, pain and in the end death. She is sent to the slaughterhouse like she has never even existed. 32% of dairy cows in The Netherlands never even see the outside of the stalls.
- I don’t consider slaughter a humane job. I’ve stated multiple reasons as to why it’s horrible for the cows to be exploited. But there’s also an ethical part about the people working in the slaughterhouses where cows are killed in the end. It’s a job nobody wants to do. Imagine yourself killing animals all day, what would that do to your mental health? It has been proven that slaughter house workers have extreme amounts of mental problems, which is not a surprise to me at all. I would go mental too. Even in my own surrounding I’ve heard people who’ve worked a slaughterhouse or know someone who has and each time it’s the same story: they quit after a while because it’s terrible. So, if you don’t want people to have to kill animals, then don’t drink milk. It’s compassion for the animal, but for the people too. As for the farmers, I do believe some of them actually hate it when they have to send their animals to the slaughterhouse. Not all, but some. I don’t drink milk since I want them to convert to another type of farming, farming of plants. So that they don’t have this mental struggle any longer. If the demand for milk goes down, they’re forced to adapt.
- Drinking milk makes other people starve. It’s extremely inefficient to drink milk. For 1 liter of milk 500 liter of water is needed (Source). Think about it; we feed the cow plants, the cow produced milk over the long run and we drink the milk. It’s inefficient, we could also eat the plants directly or make milk out of the plants. We have a growing world population and people are starving already. This number will increase because the yields are stagnating. We need more efficient ways to produce food if we want to feed everybody. It has been proven that this is possible when most people would follow a vegan diet. It would be ethical to not drink milk for the other human beings living on this planet with us. Compassion.
I’ve stated 7 ethical reasons as to why I’m vegan. And these are only the main ones I really want to highlight and I haven’t gone into the health or environmental aspects. This proves how big of a problem this is. So next time you drink milk I hope you think. Do I want cows and human beings to suffer for my own satisfaction? Or do I choose compassion?
I’d love to know what you think!