Monday, August 13, 2012

Dairy cows

I sure do not want to be a hypocrite.  Let me start this post by stating I AM NOT VEGAN.  I deeply admire those who are, and aspire to be.  What then, you ask, is holding you back?  This is going to sound extremely shallow and selfish, but honestly?  Time.  I have not had the time to build a cache of vegan recipes.  I feel like it will take a lot of preparation, which I also worry I do not have time for.  However - I am slowly working on using less dairy in my cooking (substituting almond milk for cow's milk, for example), in the hopes that I can always work towards a more vegan lifestyle.  I was under the false impression until recently that milk from organic cows was milk from humanely-treated cows.  Not so.  So after spending, I'm sure, thousands of dollars on organic milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and other dairy, I am now at a crossroads.  Now that I can't feel good about eating my organic dairy, I feel much more pressure to make the transition.  Why, you ask?  Here is the long explanation - read as much as you are willing.

From a PETA email:

Did you realize that nearly all cows used for milk are born with tissue that should develop into horns? That's really bad news for cows born into the dairy industry, which tends to pack animals into cramped spaces where horns aren't easily accommodated. So can you guess what happens to the cows?

In order to keep the horns from developing, many farmers press red-hot irons into their heads and burn this sensitive tissue out. While this happens, the calves bellow and thrash in pain. For grown cows whose horns have already fused with their skulls, farmers may use blades or hand saws, cutting or sawing away until the horns come off, often leaving gaping, blood-squirting holes.

Calves rarely receive anesthesia for the hideously painful dehorning procedures and may suffer in agony for hours after the mutilation occurs. Full-grown cows can take up to three months to heal. The calves don't understand why they're being tortured, and they can't do anything to lessen the intense pain.

There is a solution, and it's simple: The dairy industry can breed for naturally hornless cows, as most of the beef industry already does. But the most effective way for consumers to save cows from the barbarity of factory-farming is by choosing from the many readily available vegan milks, ice creams, and cheeses instead of those that come from suffering calves and cows.

Be an informed consumer. Watch PETA's new video about dehorning now, share it with others, and pledge to go vegan today.

Many people are surprised to learn that nearly all cows used for milk are born with tissue that will develop into horns. That's because most farmers remove the sensitive horn tissue or the horns themselves from the cows' skulls using searing-hot irons, caustic chemicals, blades, or hand saws.

Animals often struggle violently and have to be restrained manually or in a head bail (a metal apparatus for restraining a cow by the neck) during the painful dehorning process, which is frequently performed without anesthetics or painkillers and results in severe pain that lasts for hours and can become chronic.

Click here to watch some video (warning - disturbing to watch).

This procedure is extremely traumatic to young calves, who are often just a few weeks old when their horn buds are burned or cut out of their heads. Older cows fare even worse. Dehorning in mature cattle usually requires amputation of the horn, which has already attached itself to the skull. Tools used for this procedure include saws, sharp wires, or gruesome guillotine dehorners, which also slice off the surrounding skin. Horn removal in older animals can lead to post-operative problems of hemorrhage, tissue necrosis, bone fracture, sinusitis, and even death. The wound caused by this amputation can take three months or more to heal.

Farmers are fully aware that dehorning is painful, and it is up to the industry to phase out this excruciating mutilation. One simple solution is to breed for naturally hornless cows. A single gene determines whether or not a cow will have horns, and this approach has proved effective in the beef industry.

However, the easiest and most effective way for consumers to save cows from the misery of factory farms is to stop buying cow's milk and other dairy products and choose instead from the dozens of vegan milks, cheeses, yogurts, coffee creamers, and ice creams available in grocery stores. Browse PETA's website for hundreds of free vegan recipes, and pledge to be vegan today!


Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do: to nourish their young. In order to force the animals to continue giving milk, factory farm operators typically impregnate them using artificial insemination every year. Calves are generally taken from their mothers within a day of being born—males are destined for veal crates or barren lots where they will be fattened for beef, and females are sentenced to the same fate as their mothers.

After their calves are taken away from them, mother cows are hooked up, several times a day, to milking machines. These cows are genetically manipulated, artificially inseminated, and often drugged to force them to produce about four and a half times as much milk as they naturally would to feed their calves.

Animals are often dosed with bovine growth hormone (BGH), which contributes to a painful inflammation of the udder known as "mastitis." (BGH is used widely in the U.S. but has been banned in Europe and Canada because of concerns over human health and animal welfare.) According to the industry's own figures, between 30 and 50 percent of dairy cows suffer from mastitis, an extremely painful condition.

A cow's natural lifespan is about 25 years, but cows used by the dairy industry are killed after only four or five years. An industry study reports that by the time they are killed, nearly 40 percent of dairy cows are lame because of the intensive confinement, the filth, and the strain of being almost constantly pregnant and giving milk. Dairy cows' bodies are turned into soup, companion animal food, or low-grade hamburger meat because their bodies are too "spent" to be used for anything else.


Male calves—"byproducts" of the dairy industry—are generally taken from their mothers when they are less than 1 day old. Many are shipped off to barren, filthy feedlots to await slaughter. Others are kept in dark, tiny crates where they are kept almost completely immobilized so that their flesh stays tender. In order to make their flesh white, the calves are fed a liquid diet that is low in iron and has little nutritive value. This heinous treatment makes the calves ill, and they frequently suffer from anemia, diarrhea, and pneumonia.

Frightened, sick, and alone, these calves are killed after only a few months of life so that their flesh can be sold as veal. All adult and baby cows, whether raised for their flesh or their milk, are eventually shipped to a slaughterhouse and killed.

The good news is that removing dairy products from your diet is easier than ever. Today there is a multitude of nondairy "dairy" products on the market, such as soy, rice, and almond milk and soy ice cream. Check out a list of our favorite dairy and meat alternatives.

And, please, visit this link.  As a mother, this really tugged at my heart strings.

So - are any of you vegan?  Or do you have some tried-and-true vegan recipes at least?  If so, please comment and share!  Help me move towards a more vegan lifestyle!

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