For many years now society has looked upon dairy products as being fairly innocuous. It’s been a long held belief by many that dairy is healthy and nutritious and that animals don’t come to much, if any harm during it’s production. In the modern age however, that belief is slowly being challenged as long hidden truths begin to reveal themselves.
Before I continue, i’d like to add that I was once a believer in Dairy. In fact I’m sure most were at some point. We shouldn’t feel bad about this, it’s a common mistake one fuelled big business and in some part the media. I do however urge you to read on and to inform yourself.
So here they are, 4 huge issues with dairy and 4 compelling reasons to consider quitting it.
Dairy is responsible for massive amounts of pollution.
Please note:I don’t have the data for more recent years, or for other countries such as the USA but I’m assuming the same applies.
In the UK during the years of 2010-2015 Farming was responsible for more serious pollution incidents in the UK than any other sector. And Dairy was responsible for more incidents than any other sub-sector. In fact in 2015, Dairy farming was responsible for around 55% of the incidents – more than all of the other farming sectors combined.
According to government reports the majority of these incidents, 93% are known to affect the local water environment. Which is hardly surprising given that the majority of incidents are due to mishandling of slurry and silage – which is essentially a semi-liquid matter made up of manure and contaminated rain water.
What’s worse is that supermarkets and consumers alike, are putting ever more pressure on dairy farmers to produce cheaper & cheaper goods. This pressure inevitably leads to shortcuts being taken. Shortcuts which include overworking animals, undervaluing staff and neglecting responsibilities such as waste handling even further.
Slurry and silage handling or storage was implicated in nearly half the dairy incidents in 2015, and may indicate safe management of these materials is a problem.
Yep, believe it or not dairy farming in it’s current state is cruel and harsh. You could argue that it doesn’t have to be – and perhaps there is some truth to that -but the reality of the situation is that money and profits come first and animal welfare is rarely a consideration at all.
Consider this. Milk comes from female cows. So what happens to all of the male calves? We’ll they are often killed on the spot. It’s simply not profitable to keep the male calves beyond birth.
The number of male calves being killed straight after birth is on the rise again, despite efforts by the dairy industry to end the practice known as ‘the dirty secret’.
In fact it often works out cheaper to have the calves killed than to sell them on for meat. And this horrendous practice is only the start.
The cows are overworked to the point of exhaustion on an ongoing basis. They are expected to produce somewhere between 20-50 litres of milk each day, which is somewhere around 10 times more than her calf would require. To keep the cows producing they are pumped full of antibiotics to help with the resulting mastitis.
Antibiotics are also frequently used to treat mastitis in lactating cows
With the rise of zero-grazing, cows are now routinely kept indoors their entire lives. They are never allowed any space to roam or exhibit their natural behaviours and are basically prisoners in a tiny cell up until the point they can no longer produce, at which point they are butchered. This is a horrendous existence for any creature.
However, the practice of keeping the cows indoors all year round is becoming more popular; this is known as zero-grazing
If all of that doesn’t convince you that dairy is cruel, then nothing will.
It’s easy to live without dairy.
Not only are there so many huge issues with dairy, but it’s also true that it’s now easier than ever to live without. You don’t need it in your diet and there are swathes of viable alternatives.
To get you started here are some great alternatives to dairy for some of it’s most common uses:
Cheese – vegan cheese
Tea – almond milk
Coffee – soya milk
Ice cream – vegan ice cream
Cereal – soya/coconut/almond milk
Chocolate – dairy free chocolate such as Lindt 70%, 85%, 90% range.
If you think anything is missing from that list, leave a comment below and I’ll update it. But seriously, whatever you use dairy for right now, there is an alternative out there which is just as good. And the alternative is probably entirely cruelty free too!
In conclusion I’ll just say that we’re all human. We all have blind-spots and we are all ignorant in one way or another. What’s important is that we educate ourselves and adjust our beliefs and behaviours accordingly. If you’re still attached to dairy after reading this post, I hope you’ll at least take the time to educate yourself further and maybe look into the situation on dairy farms a little closer. You might still change your mind yet.