Got Milk? At What Cost?

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is a very graphic description of life for dairy cows.  It was written “Keegan the Vegan” a new blogger for us, and we are sharing it because of its passion.  Please let us know how it strikes you.

I became Vegan in 1997 because I was horrified by the treatment of animals on farms and in laboratories around the world. I had grown up vegetarian and had felt content that I was doing what was necessary to help eliminate needless suffering, but when I learned, in particular, that mother dairy cows have their newborn babies stolen from them just days after giving birth so that the farmers can take her milk, I was sickened and outraged. The thought of stealing someone’s baby so that I could have milk with my morning cereal was not only disturbing but also completely disgusting.

I would later learn that mother dairy cows routinely will scream for their babies upon being separated, as would any good mother. For the newborn calf, sometimes only one day old, being taken from their mother is a visibly traumatizing experience.  

 This process of taking the calf from the mother is not a new phenomenon of modern factory farming as many people like to believe. In order for farmers to get any sort of quantity of milk from animals, such as cows and goats, the young must be taken away from their mothers. To me, there is no ethical dairy short of human breast milk.

If the newborn calf is male, he will more than likely be sold to a veal farm, where he will be placed into a wooden box not much larger than himself. His neck will be tied to restrict movement and he will be deprived of sunlight and iron, so that when he is slaughtered several months later his flesh is pale and soft.

Many people are aware of the horrors of veal but most do not realize that veal only exist because of the dairy industry. Holsteins (a common dairy cow) have been bred for milk production and therefore do not gain weight in the way that beef cattle do, and from the perspective of profit hungry farmers, this makes the male animals virtually worthless since they, of course, do not produce milk.

For the female dairy cow, her short life is one of artificial insemination, pregnancy, kidnapping, and milking. Dairy cows are kept almost continually pregnant so that their milk production remains high and to rapidly replace the numbers of animals killed when their production begins to drop.

Although a cow may easily live 20 or more years, on modern farms few reach more than 4 years of age. They have their young stolen from them, they are milked continually with, live in cramped conditions and in the end are slaughtered and ground up into hamburger.

Knowing that this continues everyday, and this is just one of the countless horrors committed by animal abusing industries, is unbearable to me.

I struggle immensely with the pain and frustration I feel at the inadequacy of a simply vegan lifestyle. Even with full time activism I still am not relieved of these feelings. But as hopeless as it can look I have not and will not ever give up. If you are about the treatment of animals, one of the most profound things you can do to help them is to adopt a vegan lifestyle today.

by Goosmurf via Flickr/Creative Commons
By Keegan Kuhn

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Robert Taylor
Robbie Taylor4 years ago

I used to be a huge milk drinker.
I don't think I can ever go back, now.
Rice milk works for me.

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y.4 years ago

The cattle industry as a whole is very cruel though.

Our answer to this should be no.

Angela W.
Angela Warren5 years ago

not all farms are as you have described. most farmers are very aware that their cows are their livelihood so care for them very well. On farms I have worked on mother cows follow the trailer that their calf on until they get to their next paddock and then its all about the grass and calves are put in large pens together where they are feed well and play with each other - very cute. I think maybe we tend to put more human emotion on this than is there. I have never been involved in the veal side of things and if this is an accurate description, never would be.

Jacqueline L.

Yes, cow's milk are for their children, not for us. We should stop thinking we are the only ones worth living on this earth. Maybe one day we'll be intelligent, from the heart.

Chloe Moll
Past Member 5 years ago

Ah, this is all so sad. ):

Inez Deborah Altar


Jennifer P.
Jennifer P.5 years ago

While the description provided by the author is probably very true for many dairy farms, it's not the case for every single dairy farm. Not all male calves are kept in boxes and slaughtered for veal, and not all calves are removed from their mothers like the author described. Some dairy farmers love their cows and treat them like part of their family. This probably doesn't happen on every farm, especially large ones, but it certainly does happen. There are some nice farmers out there and not all of them are greedy. Where do you think your soy milk comes from? I'm not trying to advocate eating/drinking dairy products, because I don't eat or drink it myself, but it is very wise to think critically about these issues. There is always much, much more to an issue than one argument presented from one viewpoint. This is true with just about every issue that humanity is facing and has faced in the past.

I am not advocating animal cruelty or any of those terrbible things that disgust and sicken me about the human race, I just want to encourage people to think critically and investigate the issue from all angles and with an open mind.


Bill K.
Bill K.5 years ago

If humans want to drink milk let them drink human milk. Cow's milk is for baby cows.

Monica D.
Monica D.5 years ago

We need better standards for the treatment of animals.

Cindy C.
Cindy C.5 years ago

The poor things how horrible