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Sunday, 9 October 2011

But Drinking Their Milk Doesn't Harm Them or Anything, Does It?

After being offered a cup of tea at a colleague's house, it was my time to tell her that I'd gone vegan.

Her: ''But it's not like drinking their milk harms them or anything is it?''

Me: ''Well I always thought the same as you, but recently I found out the truth. I was surprised too. Cows are constantly kept pregnant, their calves are taken from them at birth and killed for veal. The cows are also sent to slaughter anyway when at around age 4 (normal lifespan is 25) they are so badly damaged and in permanent pain from constant milk production that they can no longer be used.''

Which is honestly, just the tip of the iceberg; I wanted her to know the facts, but was concious of saying too much too soon and coming across as a militant vegan. Which of course I totally am.

A baby calf - just 4 weeks old. Seen here at a 'Livestock' sale, after being taken from his mother so she could produce milk and he can be sold for meat as an added little bonus for the greedy farmer. Score! Two for the price of one! (Source)

Anyway, she didn't believe me. Probably thinking the same thing that I used to think; that vegans are extremists and refuse to use animal products based on some hippy notions that I don't understand, and so make up lies about animal cruelty to get us to join their cult.

''But I thought they were dairy cows?''

''I don't know what you mean by that, they are dairy cows...''

''So then they don't have to keep them pregnant.''

Be aware that this lady is an extremely intelligent, successful, well respected businesswoman, so her thoughts are likely to resemble those of many others. And that what she was saying is that she believes there to be a breed of cow that just gives milk, constantly and painlessly. Forever. Like a milky bottomless well given to the human race as a gift from God.

''There is no such thing as a cow who just gives milk constantly...why would that be a thing?''

*Blank stare*

''Think about it. They produce milk to feed their newborn calves. If there were no calves, there would be no milk produced.''

''Euurggghhh. Wow.''

I'd said enough, something had resonated at least. She was stirring the milk into her tea and I noticed her face scrunch up a bit. I was dying to quickly tell her about the legally allowed quanitites of pus and blood that goes into milk, but I thought better of it - save that for next time!


  1. Isn't that amazing? What blows my mind is that here, in Wisconsin (aka DAIRYLAND), I've come across people who tell me that cows don't need to have a baby to give milk. That's just basic biology! Even worse are the few people I know who talk about how gross it is that there's blood & pus in dairy, but they still consume it every day. Although, they are replacing some things slowly. Small victories, I suppose.

  2. I once wrote an essay for school about a dairy cow had her calf taken away shortly after it was born. My mom was my teacher because I was homeschooled and my stepdad said it was unrealistic and that it was all fantasy and that it didn't happen in real life. He told her to make me write another essay that was actually real. I guess some people just like to live in a pretend world where animals don't suffer so they can have their animal by-products. =(

  3. It is indeed astonishing the ignorance surrounding "milk". Of course, the exploiters relish and promote deception and ignorance. I admit to living in the same fog of ignorance for many years and am appalled at my own foolishness, what I am more appalled by is those that aren't ignorant and continue to support and promote this obscene behavior.

    Great post, thank you.

  4. When I get the question about "well, why do they have to be pregnant all the time?" I just say "When do human females produce milk?" and for all but the most dense people, that's about all they need. I like to give people just enough info for them to come to the conclusion. I think it actually helps if they work out at least part of it for themselves.

    They get that lactation in humans comes after pregnancy and childbirth, but they've just never had any reason to think about when it happens to a "milk machine" i.e. a cow. Why would they?

    It's also kinda hard to fault them for their ignorance. I consider myself a pretty smart feller and I didn't know about it until I was 29!

  5. It is down to ignorance, and I can't blame them either, only in recent months have I realised the truth. As well as it being quite frustrating, it does give me hope. I'd much rather it this way than if everyone knew the facts but still chose to buy these things. All we can do is educate people, but at least there IS something we can do.


  6. I don't want to dash your hope, but don't be surprised if people don't have a "vegan awakening" when they're presented with the truth.

    After all, any omnivore over the age of 5 knows that eating meat requires animal death and they are fully capable of rationalizing why eating meat is okay. The knowledge that eating cheese or drinking milk requires/entails animal suffering (and death, though indirectly) is not a hard hurdle to get over.

    Vegetarians, on the other hand, do need to know these things and it might actually change how they think and behave.

  7. Love the photo! <3

    You're friend's initial thought and comment is classic! Who could ever think of all the hidden harms in cow's milk or eggs? Wonderful to know these dark, depraved secrets are finally being exposed!

    I was once an "ethical" egg and dairy eating vegetarian... Not in my wildest thought did I imagine the wrongs done to these cows and chickens... And really, if it weren't for the internet and lots of advocates telling the truth - I probably would never have made the connections either.

    So it always leaves me grateful to those that speak up... Keeping reality and kindness in the mix - Thank you!

  8. Speciesistvegan: Yeah that's so true actually about vegetarians, certainly if I would have know the realities sooner, I would have done something then. It's so difficult when people don't have that awakening, even when they watch something like Earthlings. it is rather disheartening because I think if people don't care after that then what hope is there?! But I suppose we just have to count on the people who do change, and that soon enough there will be enough of us to make real changes.

    Bea: Aw thank you! I think like speciesistvegan says, most people continue doing what they're doing even when presented with the truth, but there are those who will change, like we did, so I guess we've just got to keep spreading the word knowing that occasionally what we're saying won't just fall on deaf ears.


  9. I want to clarify what I said earlier. I think what I said was too pessimistic, too depressing.

    I didn't mean that people who seem to ignore things won't ever change. Sometimes people just need time to process new info. The people that just shrug off new info with an "oh well, that's just the way it is" kind of attitude might end up veg*an some day. People have a need to protect their egos. Most people also want to feel like any change they make is their idea, not something that someone pressured them into, and they can't do that so soon after someone else tells them something.

    It's all about planting seeds. A bunch of people that I know personally have become vegetarian or vegan when they were first somewhat resistant to the idea. I think the best example we can set is to come off as caring, yet non-judgmental.

    Okay, I hope that's a little more encouraging ;)

  10. Yeah, I have to keep reminding myself of the idea of planting seeds. It really is so frustrating when people just don't seem to care after explaining something horrifying to them. But then, I was exactly the same, very defensive. Now I know that each of those encounters played a part in me opening up eventually.

    It's difficult when I want to make optimal use of my time and not waste it with people who don't seem to care, but you just never know who your words are striking a chord with. I flit between talking to everyone about these issues, to carefully selecting people who I think are open. Still not sure where I fit!

  11. I'm not sure what the best use of time is either.

    The only pattern that I have seen in my own experience is that people that spend more time around veg*ans are more likely to actually make a change. It seems it's quite common for girlfriends/boyfriends of veg*ans to make a change, as well as people that just happen to have more friends that are veg*an. I don't think it's a peer pressure thing so much as it that they just get exposed to it more often and see that you actually can live a pretty normal lifestyle while also doing something that feels more in line with your ideals.


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, I look forward to reading them :-)

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