Prior to going vegan, I was vegetarian for a few years. I thought that if I wasn’t eating animals, then I was saving them. Alas, I was greatly mistaken! Although I no longer supported killing animals for my own consumption, I still supported their suffering through industries such as that of dairy and eggs. Both dairy cows and laying hens suffer endlessly until they ultimately face the same gruesome death as those raised for their meat!
Please be warned that the following photos and videos are heartbreaking!
Trying to conceal their dark secrets, the dairy industry places images of cows in a grass field, happily grazing along on a sunny day. In reality, they are seldom put in such a scenario and only an extremely small percentage of dairy cows will ever get to graze on grass fields. Maximizing their profits is the main goal of almost every company involved in this cruel industry. To do so, animal welfare is completely disregarded!
After their first few months of life, dairy cows are forcefully impregnated without pain-killers at only 15 months of age. Only 9.9% of all dairy operations in the United States allow their milk-producing cows to be raised on grass fields. The others are kept in crowded factory-like buildings where they sleep on either dirt or concrete!
Cows have one of the strongest parental bond of any animal in the animal kingdom. Their bonds are formed almost instantly and will last them a life-time. In the dairy industry, however, 97% of calves are forcibly separated from their mothers within 24 hours of birth. The others are taken away in the next few days but usually no longer than a week.
This separation is extremely stressful for both mother and offspring. After having their babies stolen from them, many dairy cows have been reported wandering around the field in search of their calves, letting out distressed calls for them. This is all in vain as the calves are nowhere to be found. In their short lives, dairy cows will have to endure this extreme pain of losing a child at least 4 times and up to 7 times! As for the calves, they will have different fates depending on their gender, neither of which will avoid the tremendous pain and suffering that will inevitably come to them.
Most females will become dairy cows much like their mothers, enduring the same pain that they have, as will their calves.
Males in the dairy industry are considered "useless" and will be slaughtered for veal or as cheap beef. Some females will also end up being murdered for these reasons if there is a "female surplus".
The dairy industry has resulted in the production of veal which is the flesh of a calf no more than 20 weeks old. It is considered a "tender meat", but in order to develop this tenderness, newborn calves are confined in extremely small crates where they can't even turn around, preventing them from developing muscles. Furthermore, they are often tethered at the neck even though can can barely move, leaving them virtually immobilized for their entire lives (usually 16 weeks)! This is not only harmful to their physical well-being, but also mentally as cows are social animals that enjoy interaction.
Cheese-makers use rennet and lipase, two ingredients from the tongues and stomachs of slaughtered calves! Rennet comes from the 4th stomach chamber of a calf who has consumed nothing more than milk (whether from its mother or artificial milk) and lipase is a secretion from the tongue glands of recently slaughtered calves or goat kids. Rennet is needed to help set cheeses, and although man-made alternatives are cheaper, it is still commonly used, especially in European cheeses. Lipase is used to give cheese a "nutty flavor" and is found in cheeses such as Parmesan, Provolone, and Asiago.
Given a chance to live their lives naturally, without impregnating them every year, cows can live to be 25 to 30 years old! The horrible methods of the dairy industry, however, stress the cows' bodies too much that their milk production decreases when they are 2 to 7 years old. At that point, they are considered "useless". Instead of retiring them to a sanctuary to live out the rest of their lives, they are sent to be slaughtered and processed into ground beef and hamburgers!
The unsanitary conditions that dairy cows are forced to live in produces disease which can infect the cows. Dairy cows with illness, like those that show a decline in milk production or are too weak, are sent to slaughter. "Downer" cows, which are cows that are sick and too weak to stand, are dragged on chains and electrically prodded into trucks which are then sent to slaughterhouses! This inhumane practice is startlingly common on not only factory farms, but also small farms! Furthermore, it is still legal in all 50 states in the US!
So what about so-called "humane dairy"? It does matter whether they're from a factory farm or a "humane" farm, all dairy cows will eventually be slaughtered when they are "spent". They will also produce more milk than they naturally should with little or none of that going to the calf for which nature intended. Also, a practice that so-called "humane dairy farms" use is separating calves from their mothers within an hour so that they don't have time to bond, but that is still extremely stressful for both of them!
Unfortunately, going vegetarian isn't enough to save animals. Dairy cows still suffer immensely, as do their calves, and this horrible industry still leads to a painful death at the slaughterhouse! If you care about them, show cows that you do by going vegan!
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