“Earth-ling: One who inhabits Earth”
(page under development)
I was listening to a podcast from Colleen-Patrick Goudreau back in 2014 about cows milk and had a MASSIVE revelation. One of the things that never crossed my mind my entire life was: cows have to be pregnant in order to lactate. I repeat: In order for cows to produce breastmilk, they need to be pregnant… I felt so stupid when I found that out because I knew that all other species in the world had to be pregnant in order to lactate, but for some reason it never crossed my mind that this also applies to cows. This was how I found out about how the dairy industry operates and how euphemistic they are when promoting dairy. Shortly after, I went vegan.
(Disclaimer: Many of the following hyper-links used in this article are from Norwegian sources)
Did you know that most of the human population is lactose intolerant? (Norwegian link here) Lactose intolerance is not a disease, it’s normal and pretty much occurs in all breastfeeding species on the planet. After weaning (not consuming breastmilk anymore) animals start consuming the diet they are designed to eat which is either vegetarian, omnivore or a carnivore diet. Humans are the only species that consume breastmilk after weaning.
After a cow has given birth, a standard practice around the world is to take their calfs away from them right afterwards. This is to prevent loss of profit since calfs drinking milk from their moms will mean less dairy to sell to humans. If the calf is a female they are kept and raised as dairy cows. If it’s a male it costs a lot of money and resources to keep them alive so it is better for the dairy industry to get rid of them. These male calfs are sent to slaughter and sold as veil. This means that veil is a product of the dairy industry and is not a by-product. Veil helps to lower the cost of dairy and without the veil industry we wouldn’t have the dairy industry. In countries where they wait with the slaughtering of calfs, like Norway, they often put them in confinement, isolated from their moms. You can hear the moms screaming for their babies weeks after giving birth and the calfs often develop compulsive behaviors like cross sucking. As soon as the cow is ready to get pregnant again they artificially inseminate her and the story repeats itself. When the cow can’t produce breastmilk anymore, they are “spent” and sent to slaughter.
To insure profit when producing meat, it’s important for the farmer to make a lot of it in a short amount of time with the least amount of resources. However, this causes the animals great amounts of suffering. As a general rule in the animal-agriculture industry, the worse the animal has had it, the cheaper the meat is.
In the wild, hens communicate with their chicks when they’re still in the egg. Once the chicks hatch the mother teaches them how to look for food, the social rules and where their territory is. They spend most of their time outside spreading their wings, digging in the soil and socializing. Chickens in the meat-industry, however, are hatched in factories and confined in extremely small areas. Having up to 20 birds within one square meter is normal. Being cramped up in such a small area with thousands of other birds, breaks their minds. Not being able to flap their wings, see nature or the sky causes stress and aggression among the birds. Feather plucking and cannibalism happens way to frequently as a result. Instead of giving the birds more room and access to nature, the farmers sear off their beaks, without anesthesia…
Through selective breeding, the biggest chickens have been chosen for the most amount of meat. They grow so big and so fast that their organs can’t keep up. Their bones can break as a result and the organs can stop working. Because of their weight, they lie most of the time and this causes burns on their bodies, due to all the feces they come in contact with from the floor.
After about 30 days from birth, the birds are sent to slaughter. Since the slaughterhouse can be far away from the farm, the transportation-time can be unbearable for them. They can go up to 24 hours without water and food, and the transportation itself is very frightening. Once at the slaughterhouse, they are hung upside-down and their throats gets cut. Norway has strict rules to slaughter so the animal has be unconscious before being killed. However, the ways they “knock them out”, so to speak, are through gassing (CO2) and electrocution. Of the merely 30 days they have lived, they have only known suffering, confinement and never seen the sun. In the wild, chickens live between 5 to 10 years.
As mentioned, the dairy industry needs to produce male calfs in order for their moms to lactate. They are then sold as veil. Veil meat is very tender, and the reason for it’s tenderness is because the calf is still young and haven’t fully developed all the muscles yet. Not only that, the confinement of these calfs are done in a certain way, hindering the development of muscle tissue. For example tying them down so they can’t lift their heads properly or putting them in small cages that restrict movement. The amount of time the calfs get to be alive is everything from one day to six months, and the amount of time they get to spend with their moms is even less. Dairy cows and meat cows have different physical attributes, therefore it’s best to get rid of the calfs as early as possible in the dairy-industry because they don’t produce as much meat as meat cows and also because they “steal” the breastmilk that is being sold to us humans. Once the dairy cows have been “spent” after 4-5 years, meaning they can’t produce milk anymore, they are also sent to slaughter.
Cows and bulls are social beings and need to feel safe, socialize and eat together in order to thrive. When these basic needs are taken away from them they get stressed out, develop abnormal compulsive behaviors and get aggressive. In the animal agriculture industry, cattle get confined in small areas where they spend at least 8 months a year. In some areas farmers let the cows graze outside during summer. In Norway for instance we have all 4 seasons and the summer can be really short. When winter comes and the grass disappears, farmers use concentrated food to feed livestock. Because it’s so concentrated, it can cause burns on the cows’ legs when the food comes out the other way.
In the wild, cows’ natural lifespan is 18-25 years.
Because of all the stress the animals go through, their immune system suffer. As a result they need antibiotics. In fact, most of our antibiotics go to non-human animals and not humans. Most of the infectious diseases that occurs come from wild animals and through zoonosis it infects the agriculture animals which is again forwarded to humans (1).
(1) World watch institute (time: 1.39.24)
Pictures from Pixabay