Most people I come across understand why people chose to be vegetarian, but don’t know why anyone would want to give up dairy (milk, cheese, cream, yoghurts etc). One of the reasons that I don’t eat dairy is because the vast majority of dairy is produced in farms that are not slaughter-free. In other words, once the cow stops producing enough milk to be economically viable, she is sent to the slaughterhouse. In addition, in order for cows to produce milk, they must give birth to calves. Male calves are not considered economically viable, and thus are slaughtered days after birth. This is the reality of dairy farms, whether they are organic and/or free-range, and I personally do not agree with it.
I came across a website that produces slaughter-free milk in the UK. I have a tremendous amount of respect for this company/charity, because they guarantee that ‘no cow, calf or bull is ever slaughtered as part of production’ and that cows ‘graze freely on open pasture’. However, the milk is expensive (at £2.25 per litre + 50p delivery), compared to conventional milk (which is heavily subsidised by the taxpayer), and even compared to plant milks (such as oat milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, hemp milk, soy milk etc which range in price from £1-1.69 in UK supermarkets). As such, I do not think slaughter-free milk is economically viable. Additionally, I consider that particular slaughter-free milk to have ethical limitations (as recognised by the company), such as the fact that new born calves spend just their first 4-5 days with their mother (separation causes distress for both calf and mother) and are milked by machines instead of by hand.
Supposing… that you gave me some milk that was truly ethical i.e. the cow and its offspring was never slaughtered, the cow and calf spent enough time together, the cow was milked by hand and spent its retirement in a field with all of its friends etc, I would still not drink it, due to the health concerns associated with dairy and its impact on the environment (which is something I hope to elaborate on in a future post).
Giving up or even reducing dairy may seem daunting. My advice is to give up/reduce something that is easy for you personally. For example, I found it easy to give up cow’s milk by swapping it for non-dairy milk. However, I found it much harder to give up milk chocolate – it took me over a year to switch to dark chocolate.
Do you think the dairy industry could ever be ethical & economically viable? Could you envision a future where people drink non-dairy milk instead of cow’s milk? Have you ever tried non-dairy milks? If so, which is your favourite?