Often I find myself feeling like I’m in Bizarro World. What I deem to be logical is viewed to be illogical by the majority of my friends, family, and colleagues, and vice versa. For instance, I have always found the practice of drinking milk from a cow as absolutely bizarre. Why do we, as human children and adults, consume something that is naturally created to facilitate the healthy development of infant cows? Forbes contributor James McWilliams is in Bizarro World with me, and I found his article “Milk of Human Kindness Denied to Dairy Cows” to be quite refreshing. He discusses the general public’s negative perception of of human breast milk sharing versus the horrors of bovine milk production, horrors which I think will make even the most apathetic among us think twice before indulging in that next scoop of ice cream or slice of cheese:
Perhaps the most unpleasant fact to consider about cows’ milk destined for human consumption is that it almost certainly required a heifer’s forced impregnation. Female cows are strapped to a rack (industry slang refers to the device as a “rape rack”) and inseminated with semen stored in a massive syringe. There are 9 million dairy cows in the United States. Nearly every one of them suffers immensely from this experience.
Left to her own devices after giving birth, a mother cow would feed her calf for nine to twelve months (not to mention play with her calf, teach her calf, protect her calf, and nuzzle her calf). But because the cow’s milk has been reserved for human consumption, the calf is forcibly removed from the mother soon (and sometimes immediately) after birth. Mother cows have highly developed emotions. They will bellow for days, pace the spot where they gave birth, and stop eating. Then they’ll produce a season’s worth of milk and be led straight back to the rape rack.
He goes on from there, detailing what happens to the calfs after they are forcibly removed and what happens to the mothers after they are no longer capable of producing a sufficient amount of milk (peep the full article for everything, it’s not a long read!). There are many other health related reasons to eliminate dairy from your diet that I won’t get into now, but the ethical concerns of the treatment of the animals is reason enough. Our society touts itself to be so cultured and advanced, yet we still put living beings on “rape racks” to impregnate them so that they can produce milk for our consumption, even though there are numerous healthier alternatives available (including soy milk and almond milk). Is this weird, or am I just really from another dimension? Back to my original question: Why do we, as human children and adults, consume something that is naturally created to facilitate the healthy development of infant cows? James McWilliams states that maybe it’s “a testament to the marketing geniuses in the milk industry”, and I must agree, because as he says, “it’s certainly a lot weirder than drinking human milk.”