To be a Feminist is to be a Vegan

Written with M. Butterflies Katz


“After repeated cycles of forced impregnations, painful births, relentless milkings, and crushing bereavements, their spirit gives, their bodies wither, their milk dries up. At the age when, in nature, a female cow would barely enter adulthood, the life of a dairy cow is over. When her milk ‘production’ declines, she and her other ‘spent’ herd mates are trucked off to slaughter. Some are pregnant. All are still lactating. As they are shoved towards death, they drip milk onto the killing floor… All dairy operations, including Organic, exist solely by doing to millions of defenseless females the worst thing anyone can do to a mother. Dairy consumers support this practice with their purchases.”

“Milk Comes from a Grieving Mother” ~ leaflet by Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary


When visiting the non-vegan home of a self-proclaimed feminist, she offered me cow’s milk with my tea. That’s when I made the profound connection that it’s impossible to truly be a feminist while consuming dairy (or any animal products), as the entire animal industry is built on the exploitation of the female reproductive system. This must be recognized as a feminist issue because it is analogous to the feminist movement’s struggle for women to have control of their own bodies.

Animals of both sexes suffer under institutionalized exploitation. However, the female of the species often experiences more prolonged abuse, including an ongoing cycle of forceful artificial insemination (mechanical or manual rape), physical abuse of her mammary glands, and invariably being separated from her young; all of these are emotionally brutal experiences for the female members of any species.

(Male animals are also sexually abused; not only through the industry practice of castration, but also by being used as semen ‘donors’. There are photos online showing bulls in contraptions being forced to supply the ‘artificial insemination’ industry. All of this is a part of dairy consumption. It’s pretty perverted; as is all animal use – when you think about it candidly.)


The animal farming industry has done quite a job of advertising images of ‘happy cows‘ gladly giving us their milk, as well as covering up their offensive procedures. However, even if all the heartless practices associated with factory farming were not customary, it is deeply troubling that the female reproductive system of any species is widely perceived as nothing more than an economic resource.

Many in the feminist movement might be interested to learn that some in the animal industry actually use the term ‘rape-rack’ to describe the piece of equipment used to restrain and artificially inseminate cows and pigs. Even on many small-scale farms though, inseminators invade the animal’s body by putting their arm up her rectum, to push on the cervix, while inseminating her with the other hand. Inconceivably to me, even women perform this job.

I often ponder in disbelief our culture’s uncivilized ways and what people choose to fund with their purchases. It’s hard to imagine a human being taking a crying baby from his mother shortly after birth to have his throat slit. However, this is the fate of calves born to cows used for dairy production. ‘Bobby calves,’ the unwanted male calves who are an unavoidable by-product of the dairy industry, are generally taken away soon after birth (both on organic and non-organic farms), and are frequently sold to be turned into ‘veal.’ In some countries, male calves are shot at birth.

Both mother and calf are traumatized and bellow loudly after their forced separation. If nature was allowed to take its course, calves would suckle from their mothers from several months to a year. If given the option, mother cows and their offspring would stay together for life.


Since she is re-impregnated every year, while still lactating from the previous pregnancy, a ‘dairy cow’ will spend six to seven months a year producing milk while she is also pregnant. This is true on organic and free-range farms as well. A calf would naturally feed five to six times a day, so that the maximum amount of milk in his mother’s udder would be around two liters at any one time. But on modern dairy farms, a cow is only milked twice a day, allowing milk to accumulate in the udder; thus forcing her to carry around 20 liters of milk or more. This greatly enlarged udder leads to lameness in her hind legs and predisposes her to mastitis (a painful udder infection). Her only rest from this appalling existence is during the last two months of her pregnancy when she is not milked in preparation for giving birth. Then the awful cycle starts again.

Hobbles and shackles are commonly attached to the hind legs of cows who have suffered damage during ‘calving’, and would not be able to stand of their own accord. Injured cows are often forced to continue in pain, for seven to eight months, until their milk yield drops (so the farmer won’t lose a large quantity of milk) and then they are killed. Seeing photos of these shackles online conjures up images of slavery and shines a light on the very real fact that bred and farmed animals ARE slaves; owned by human ‘masters’ and treated as if they were lifeless objects.

The ‘dairy cow’, riddled with painful ailments as a result of her exploitation, and physically ravaged from the sexual abuse she has experienced, is eventually killed to be eaten when she is no longer producing; typically at around five years of her otherwise 20-25 year lifespan.

It’s unjust for humans to steal milk that was designed by nature to nourish growing babies of another species. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why anybody would want to drink cow’s milk, perfectly designed for baby calves. Cow’s milk provides the calf with the nutrients to grow to 450 pounds in just a year. A cow’s breast milk is much higher in protein than the requirements for humans and provides everything calves need for rapid growth. How could anything that was not meant for us by nature, and is so disrespectful to other animals, possibly be healthful for humans?

Humans have no physical need to consume products that are the result of horrific practices such as tail docking, dehorning, branding, castration, rape racks, induced calving, artificial insemination, painful procedures performed without pain relief, embryo transfers and hormone treatments resulting in 3-6 calves instead of the usual single birth, separation of mother from newborn, and killing infants.

It is becoming increasingly clear that there is perhaps even more suffering involved in milkcheese and egg consumption than flesh consumption, therefore choosing to be vegetarian (for ethical reasons) is not logicalAbstaining from ALL animal products is the ethical stance that gives basic minimal respect due to sentient beings.

Oppression is oppression. Violence is violence. The species of the victim is irrelevant. The way I see it, to be an animal rights activist is to be a vegan. To be an abolitionist is to be a vegan. To be a nonspeciesist is to be a vegan. To be an environmentalist is to be a vegan. To be a peace-loving-pacifist is to be a vegan. To be an ethicist is to be a vegan. AND YES - to be a feminist is to be a vegan.


Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Siddharth I.
Siddharth I.2 years ago

I will just leave this here.

Dale O.

One can be both a vegan and a feminist, or one can be a vegetarian and a feminist, one can be an omnivore and a feminist, also one could be vegan and not a feminist, one could be vegetarian yet not feminist and others can be omnivore and not a feminist either.

There are others who are doctrinaire ideologues who believe that their worldview and only their worldview speaks the Truth. They negate all others as in their minds there is nothing else but their 'truth.' They stand atop a self-erected pedestal where there is no room for anything else but their viewpoint as the true one. They proclaim that all others are mere hypocrites. Their eyes, ears and all other sense are closed, clamped firmly shut like a Venus Flytrap. Nothing outside their world exists for them.

Dale O.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world moves on, confident, open and sharing in the acceptance of a diversity of ideas and ideals. Those who proclaim that they are the one and only are swept aside by the tides of history and free thought that includes and embraces all ideas.

Feminism is an ideal. No one owns it, it is not exclusive and all of us embrace it be we omnivore, vegetarian or vegan. Feminism excludes no one who is open to the world in all of its diversity.

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H.2 years ago

Indeed, Marilyn!

The mare has AI, then eight days later her uterus is flushed out and the fluid examined for an embryo, which is then placed in another mare whose cycle is at the right stage. It's a very expensive method to breed a foal from a top competition mare while she is still competing. Super fitness and pregnancy don't go well together in horses. I've had to explained to me while on a tour of the place where it is carried out, and the mares look very happy to me!

Years ago a much-loved mare was the light of my life, which means I can identify equine emotions far more easily that I can with some other species.

I was intrigued by the stallion's 'sex toys' which they apparently soon get used to. Then I heard of AI being used with giant pandas and ever since have been trying to imagine a panda in the place of a stallion.... Somehow I just can't imagine it!

2 years ago

Sad it is that there are people who are willing to call it IN VITRO fertilization and they're fine with that for humans, but they have such a severe case of anthropomorphism that it is seen as rape in the animal world.
That really does trivialize actual rape and makes light of the consequences.

There is no comparison.

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H.2 years ago

I'vegot another thought for these folk who think AI for cattle is wrong.

Do you know about embryo transfer for horses?

Deborah S.
D. S.2 years ago

** I'm glad Angel Flinn has the frankness to say: "To be a Feminist is to be a Vegan" **

Ah yes - frankness. It can be such an endearing quality. As long as you remember that frankness is only an expression of one's opinion and NOT a statement of facts. You can quote Singer as much as you want. He still only wrote about HIS opinion, not facts. Keeping that in mind, I don't understand why you'd quote someone else's OPINION so extensively.

Feminism and veganism are two separate and different entities.

Does it not strike you as rather fascist for someone to INSIST that you must be one thing to be the other?

In another post you said ** Let us see who the hypocrite is.**

How do you propose that be determined? What are the qualifications of a hypocrite? What will be the subject or object of this hypocrisy? Inquiring minds want to know.

Or don't.

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H.2 years ago

Some folk, like Marilyn and myself, cannot live a healthy life on a vegan diet so we are obliged to be omnivores.

It seems to me that if you want to be a vegan, you focus on animals not ending up in slaughterhouses to feed you, but you don't dwell on the deaths of wildlife made homeless for your food to be grown, nor bother too much about your food miles.

If you have to be an omnivore, you focus on the wildlife that can thrive if you choose your sources of meat with care, plus the reduced food miles, but once you are satisfied that the farmer cared enough about his animals to be careful about his choice of slaughterhouse, you don't dwell a lot on slaughterhouses and the like.

You can't have it both ways. Each to his own! All that remains is for the two sides to get on with each other, and to band together against factory farms.

2 years ago

You seem incapable of comprehending that your own hands are guiding the knife...or you just refuse to look at yourself and accept it because you're in denial and think that what's not on your dinner plate matters more than what SHOULD be in your heart.

Yogesh Khandke
Yogesh Khandke2 years ago

You want me to be sensitive to the suffering of someone who cut his fingers while slitting throats?