If I were a dairy cow, I would be pissed off Mother’s Day and every day. As a new mother, I have never been able to relate to their plight more than I do now. Creating new humans is an experience coveted in our society; one that is of profound importance. People go to great lengths for the ability to bring children into this world.
And yet humans turn around and bastardize that very same experience for dairy cows. The cows are artificially inseminated and pregnant for an average of nine months. They undergo the difficult labor and delivery process … only to have their baby taken away from them almost immediately. Typically calves are removed from their mother within a day of birth even though research has shown that calves allowed to remain with their mothers for longer periods showed weight gains at three times the rate of early removals as well as more searching behavior and better social relationships with other calves.
You see, humans (on the whole) don’t care about calves in the milk production process. Humans only care about stealing the baby cow’s food. In the human experience the baby is the revered result of childbearing. Sadly that is not so on large-scale dairy farms.
Breastfeeding has been one of the most challenging task I’ve undertaken in my life and I am an accomplished professional who has run a business, earned advanced degrees, jumped out of planes and traveled through foreign countries alone. So that’s saying something! I have to be available every 2-3 hours to express milk for my baby to survive. It takes tremendous discipline and sacrifice in my busy life. I’m willing and happy to do it because I see the direct benefit to my growing, healthy baby.
I am exhausted all the time because feeding every 2-3 hours means I never sleep for more than 2-3 hours at a time! I am incessantly hungry despite the extra 12 post-pregnancy pounds I can’t seem to lose. I’ve battled engorgement, pain and infection. Still … I am willing to continue because I see my beautiful baby thriving. I even feel a sense of accomplishment and pride at being able to sustain her life exclusively on my milk.
Dairy cows endure all this and more only they never see the benefit of their work. Their babies are whisked away shortly after birth. The females are fed formula and destined for a life like their mothers. The males are killed within a few days or weeks – often times after spending their short life chained in a crate – to become veal on some body’s plate. All of this because they are amazing milk producers. The average dairy cow in the United States produces 20,204 lbs of milk per year!
Why does it seem so obvious to me that we STEAL this precious life-sustaining source from cows? And yet most people believe that cows milk is meant for humans to drink. How did this global paradigm get turned on its head in this way?
Humans have it SO backwards. We should let the cows have their milk. Would it make more sense to create human milk farms instead? Why don’t we take little girls away from their mothers, raise them until they are milk producing, artificially inseminate them, require them to endure pregnancy, labor and delivery, kill their babies and steal their milk?
Most people would agree that paradigm makes no sense. In fact it seems quite cruel and inhumane. An easier answer is to stop allowing this to happen to cows. With so many great alternatives like soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk etc., it has never been easier to end this cruel theft of cow’s milk.
So next time you or someone you know reaches for that glass of milk, ask them if they think it would make more sense to have human milk farms!