Two giant PETA “babies” holding signs proclaiming, “Cows’ Milk Is for Baby Cows” and “Not Your Mum? Not Your Milk!” descended on the Beehive in Wellington to highlight the absurdity of drinking cows’ milk.
The demonstration, which came during World Vegan Month, urged Kiwis to consider just how unnatural and cruel it is to drink another animal’s bodily fluid – especially when there are so many versatile non-dairy milks, yoghurts, cheeses, and ice creams available.
Cows’ Milk Is for Calves, Not Humans
Guzzling the milk of any species past weaning age – let alone that of a cow who was forcibly impregnated and whose baby was taken from her – is beyond bizarre.
Like all other mammals, including humans, cows produce milk for their babies. They’re excellent mothers when given the chance, but on dairy farms, they endure the repeated cycle of artificial insemination and birth, only for their babies to be torn away from them so that the milk that nature intended for them can be consumed by humans who don’t need it.
Humans are the only species on the planet to drink milk as adults – and the only one to drink the mammary secretions of other animals.
View this post on Instagram
An Environmental Disaster
Cows are not the only casualty of New Zealand’s dairy industry. The 2019 State of Environment report released by Greenpeace showed that dairy is New Zealand’s dirtiest industry.
Methane accounts for approximately 43% of New Zealand’s greenhouse-gas emissions and nitrous oxide for 11%. Both are mainly released by cows.
This waste also has a detrimental impact on water quality. Cows used by the dairy industry produce about 70 litres of effluent per day. Large herd numbers mean there is far more effluent being produced than the soil can absorb, with excess running off into New Zealand’s rivers and streams. Two-thirds of the country’s rivers are now too polluted to swim in.
A Health Hazard
Cows’ milk is perfect for calves – it is high in fat and enables them to gain hundreds of kilos in a matter of months. But for humans, it’s a common trigger for allergies and associated with an increased risk of developing many illnesses.
The consumption of dairy has been conclusively linked to acne, osteoporosis, increased risk of fractures (so much for strong bones!), and even prostate and ovarian cancer. Cholesterol – found only in animal “products” such as cows’ milk – and animal fat clog arteries, leading to heart attacks and strokes.
View this post on Instagram
Cruel to Mums and Babies
Calves discarded by the dairy industry are so eager to nurse from their mothers that they will suckle the fingers of slaughterhouse workers in their last moments of life. The New Zealand dairy industry kills 1.8 million calves every year, simply so that humans can use the milk meant for them.
Meanwhile, their distraught mothers will cry out and search for their babies for days. Once her tired body starts to break down from back-to-back pregnancies and her milk volumes start to decline, a cow is sent to the slaughterhouse at just a fraction of her natural life expectancy.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Dropping dairy has never been easier. So many great plant-based milks, yoghurts, cheeses, and ice creams made from oats, coconut, soy, and other sources are readily available. They’re delicious and better for the environment, and, most importantly, animals aren’t hurt for them. Sign up for our vegan pledge series and we’ll send you loads of resources, including recipes, that will help get you weaned in no time.