A Side of Veal With My Sundae?

“…boycotting veal…is a pointless gesture if dairy products aren’t boycotted as well.”

– James McWilliams, Forbes, 10/25/13

I had a revelation in 2009 that spurred me to transition from a vegetarian to a vegan diet. The revelation was basically that cows don’t make milk unless they have a calf. It seems like something that makes a lot of sense. How had I somehow  forgotten that fact? I guess I had never thought much about it at all and walked along in a blissful milky haze thinking of cows as perpetual milk machines, even though a moment’s pause to look at all of mammalian behavior would tell me otherwise. There’s one purpose for milk.



Once I had that realization, there was an emergence of oh so many of questions that needed to be answered:  “What happens to all those calves?” “How do the cows keep getting pregnant?” “What are male cows used for?” “Does my vegetarianism matter?” Etc., etc. After time spent considering all these aspects I finally came to this conclusion:

I can’t eat dairy without also supporting the meat industry.

Calf being transported from his mother to his veal crate.  Photo credit: I wish I knew.

Calf being transported from his mother to his veal crate.
Photo credit: Jo-Anne McArthur

This conclusion has gone through not a few philosophical obstacle courses over the years, which are always valuable processes for evolving your viewpoint. I still believe that the vast majority of dairy that we consume comes from inhumane methods of acquisition and is inherently complicit in the industrial meat complex as well. I also believe that as a general rule, cow milk is for baby cows, goat milk is for baby goats, and human milk is for baby humans. I believe the calcium argument is something we’ve been force-fed by the meat and dairy industries and that we are actually healthier if we stay away from dairy. I know that we are the ONLY species that drinks milk past weening and find that weird and kind of gross. For now, that’s where I stand.

Here is one of the most brief yet thorough descriptions I have seen in a long time that illustrates the relationship between large-scale dairy and meat industries. I thought I would share it with you in case you are also a vegetarian having a revelation about milk as an accessory to animal slaughter. Or, maybe this article will serve simply as a another reminder to be humane this holiday season by swapping out some of those dairy products you’re used to for easy-to-find vegan alternatives. It will take 2 minutes to read and is not graphic. It was written by James McWilliams and appeared in Forbes magazine last month. Here is the link:

Milk of Human Kindness Denied to Dairy Cows

4 thoughts on “A Side of Veal With My Sundae?

    • Hi Barb!
      Thanks for replying. There are certainly many models for farming these days and I think there is a growing movement for more humane animal husbandry…thank goodness! I’ve done a lot of inquiry into this area (one of those “philosophical obstacle courses” I mentioned) since I come from a family of farmers with roots in farmland, USA. I have found the term “humane” to actually be a rather subjective and complex term! 🙂 Still, there are many many good people trying to provide farmed animals with a life more conducive to their natural habits, behaviors and needs. I think that is important work for the animals and for the earth. But, no matter how an animal is raised, the extent of our exploitation of their milk (or fur, or down, or meat) for our consumption is still worthy of being examined as an ethical dilemma. Those are the kind of hard questions that I have a love/hate relationship with! 🙂 I haven’t heard of The Moo Man. I’ll check it out! Maybe it will be the next Life As a Wave review!
      Be well, Barb.
      ~~~S Wave~~~

  1. heyata ina says:

    Life As A Wave always makes me think about more intentional choices. A lifetime of habits and traditions …. do I want to just keep mindlessly performing them and remaining embedded in them?

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