Vancouver animal-rights group protests dairy industry

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      A group of animal-rights activists staged a demonstration in downtown Vancouver to highlight complaints about how cows are treated by the dairy industry.

      Several demonstrators gathered at the bustling corner of West Georgia and Granville streets for the noon-hour protest today (May 9).

      They handed out leaflets to passersby, and one protester who was dressed in a cow costume held a sign.

      With Mother’s Day coming up, protest organizer Sophie Middleton said the goal was to raise awareness about cruelty toward dairy cows and their offspring.

      “People don’t always realize, they think milk naturally comes from cows at all times,” said Middleton, who is with the Vancouver-based group Liberation B.C.

      “They’re kept in a constant state of pregnancy, and their babies are taken at birth and they grieve them. They cry and moan,” she told the Straight at the protest.

      “They are milked constantly during their adult lives, and then after a few years when their milk production goes down they’re sent to slaughter.”

      A spokesperson for the Dairy Farmers of Canada, a national organization that represents producers, defended industry practices.

      Thérèse Beaulieu said there is a national code of practice in place for the handling and care of dairy cows with guidelines for milk producers.

      “Farmers are the primary caregivers of cows. They care for their cows very deeply,” Beaulieu told the Straight by phone from Ottawa today.

      “They work with the animals every day. They certainly do everything to make the cows comfortable and healthy and happy,” she said.

      Beaulieu said dairy farmers are open with the public about their practices and in some cases have set up webcams in barns.

      In Canada, the dairy industry is worth billions of dollars annually, according to the federal government’s Canadian Dairy Information Centre website.

      There are around 1.4 million dairy cows in Canada, and around 80 percent of the farms are located in Ontario and Quebec.

      Middleton argued that the dairy industry has no place in a green economy.

      “To raise cows costs a huge amount of energy in terms of grains and water, and so it doesn’t make sense. Despite the fact that it’s a huge industry, times change, you know?” she said.

      “It’s clearly bad for our health, and it’s bad for the environment. I think it’s time to look at greener alternatives.”

      Middleton encouraged people to buy alternative products like soymilk or almond milk instead of dairy.

      “Choose compassion over cruelty and look at alternatives,” she said. “You can substitute something so that cow mothers aren’t losing their babies at birth and aren’t suffering and grieving for those babies so that we can enjoy somebody else’s milk.”

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      May 9, 2012 at 2:02pm

      Set the cows free! Let them run wild in their natural habitat! Why not go vegan so the cows can be free? Oh, then a poor plant would have to die just so you could eat.

      5 10Rating: -5


      May 9, 2012 at 3:12pm

      Interesting demo--saw it on my lunch break. Didn't know until now that veal only exists because of the dairy industry and I've refused to eat veal for years without thinking of the connection. Something to think about I guess.


      May 9, 2012 at 3:13pm

      If you think that plants have the same capacity to feel pain and grief as a mammalian animal does, you've got some reading to do.
      Dairy is not necessary to human health. And it causes physical and emotional suffering. If something causes suffering, and it is not necessary, then how is it ethical to do it? I don't believe it is. Whether it's the suffering of a cow, a dog, a human, a monkey, a bird...if something causes someone to suffer, and it's not necessary to do it, then we shouldn't do it. CAUSES SUFFERING + ISN'T NECESSARY = ISN'T ETHICAL


      May 9, 2012 at 3:29pm

      A piece of cheesecake might taste good, but not so good that I would kill for it. Cheese, milk, dairy in's not necessary, and it's not good for us. So why should we kill other individuals just so we can have it? Would you take a life for something you don't need?

      Oh Brother

      May 9, 2012 at 3:39pm

      You're kidding right? Being sarcastic? No, that's you're serious response? It's such an incredibly stupid response it's almost not worth commenting on, however, for all those who would venture to share a similiar sentiment. Cows are mammals, they are intelligent sentient beings who have complex social structures among their herds, experience a vast arrary of emotions, feel pain and suffering, love their young and grieve loss. Plants are not in this category, they are not sentient, do not have a brain or a central nervous system etc nauseum. Please have something intelligent to say.

      Sandra Grose

      May 9, 2012 at 3:47pm

      Good on them!! I hope to see more of this to come.

      14 7Rating: +7

      Gentleman Jack

      May 9, 2012 at 4:04pm

      The inherent value of man is due to his relation to God---our first father is Adam, whose father was God. It has nothing to do with our ability to feel pain, nor our "sentience." It is a non-sequitur to suggest that cows suffer, therefore they should not be eaten. It is not the human capacity to suffer from being eaten that precludes us eating one another: it is that God commanded we not kill one another.

      This is another example of the intellectual degeneration of the species---eating cows is a serious issue? Really?

      12 9Rating: +3


      May 9, 2012 at 4:05pm

      That's wonderful! I love almond milk and I can't imagine ever going back to dairy, cows milk is for baby cows.


      May 9, 2012 at 4:21pm

      Yummy, I love ice cream and yogurt and milkshakes and cheese cake and creamy pudding and...


      May 9, 2012 at 4:26pm

      ^ Gentleman Jack, I am a little weirded out that your only reason for not eating other people is that the Bible apparently forbids it. I wouldn't go around announcing that if I were you.

      10 9Rating: +1