Peter Hamilton: Every drop of milk is not so delicious
By Peter Hamilton
The multibillion-dollar dairy industry tells everyone that milk and dairy products are good for you. It does not tell you about the plight of animals used for dairy products and the associated human health risks.
One major target is schoolchildren, through organizations such as the B.C. Dairy Foundation. It is “dedicated to increasing consumption of milk in BC”. Slick contests, games, and “health” programs are the lure. Kid-oriented products and packaging ploys are similar to the tobacco industry’s flavoured kid-pack cigarettes.
Island Farms’ “Every drop delicious” promotion has a costumed person as a mascot cow named “Daisy”. They promote dairy products as coming from happy animals that live idyllic lives. The public is not shown the inhumane living conditions provided by the dairy industry: animals crammed into transport trucks, auction abuses, and the cruel slaughter.
Calves are taken from their moms within two days after birth. They are often kept in single pens and tied with three-foot chains around their necks for months. Once fattened, most of the males are slaughtered and the females are turned into milking machines. The females must have calf after calf to produce the milk. Most will be confined in free or tie stalls with little or no access to pasture.
Male “bob veal” calves are sent to auctions right after birth for slaughter. Other “veal” calves are often isolated and chained for 16 weeks. Rennet used in cheese production is often rennet from the stomachs of calves from the veal industry.
There are cruelty laws against confining and chaining dogs, so why does the dairy industry get away with this cruelty? There are 72,000 dairy cows in B.C. alone. Approximately one million calves are born annually in Canada. There is an approximate 10-percent mortality rate within 24 hours; these are generalized as “stillbirths”. That leaves a lot of animals who are living a life of hell.
No other species drinks milk beyond infancy, and no other species naturally drinks the milk of another species.
Health officials warn that dairy products have four major drawbacks. Milk and cheese (1) are loaded with fat and cholesterol; (2) are frequently contaminated with pesticides, dioxins, and drugs; (3) are linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, including prostate cancer and breast cancer; and (4) may even cause osteoporosis—the very disease that the dairy industry loves to use as a selling point in its ads—because the excess protein in dairy products leaches calcium from the bones.
The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, America’s leading authority on childcare, spoke out against feeding cow’s milk to children. He stated that it can cause anemia, allergies, and insulin-dependent diabetes, and in the long term will set kids up for obesity and heart disease.
A dairy cow filters blood through her udder each day and uses dead white blood cells (somatic cells) to manufacture her milk. These dead cells are also called pus cells. When cows are infected with mastitis the udders bleed then discharge pus, including bacteria and blood, into the milk. An allowable level of blood and pus is permitted in milk products. That level is 500,000 somatic cells per millilitre in Canada.
Every milk drop is not so delicious. The way that animals are inhumanely raised makes dairy products a source of shame, not pride. We at Lifeforce urge all to protect themselves, animals, and the environment by using healthy non-dairy products. This includes soy milk, vegan ice cream, soy cheese, and a variety of non-meat veggie products.
These products are getting more and more convenient to find in grocery stories. Adopting vegan lifestyles can provide healthier lives and reduce the number of animals abused by the dairy and meat industries. So, please make it your choice to live healthy and cruelty-free.
Peter Hamilton is the founding director of Lifeforce.