I’ve written a couple of blogs now about dairy cows regarding how they’re treated and how they’ve been forced to become cannibals. This article summarises their ordeal in bullet points.
Investigation of Dairy Industry Finds Abused Calves, Filth and Flies
PETA News Conference Set to Reveal That the ‘White Stuff’ (Milk, Curd, Paneer) has a Dark Side
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has just completed a 20-page report detailing the filthy conditions and daily abuse of cows and their calves documented during a recent undercover investigation of India’s dairy industry. PETA’s investigators witnessed cows and buffaloes who were routinely struck and kicked, buffaloes who bled but received no attention, unsanitary conditions in the tabelas and other examples of abuse and filth. PETA will present video footage and other documented findings from the investigation at a news conference in Mumbai on Thursday. The report will be released by prominent Jain guru Gurudev Sri Chitrabhanuji, who is vegan and a strict adherent to his religion’s prime tenet of ahimsa â€“
Date: Thursday, 21 February
Time: 1.00 P.M Sharp
Place: Cricket Club of India, Dinshaw Vaccha Road Churchgate,Mumbai
The following are just some of the horrors that PETA investigators observed:
Â· A newborn calf was found tied tightly â€“ nearly immobilised â€“ to a stump
Â· A worker struck a cow’s face as the animal tried to eat
Â· Workers kicked buffaloes in order to make them stand up
Â· Cows who had difficulty walking were hit with sticks or had their tails pulled
Â· Animals were covered in their own faeces
Â· Children defecated near milking sheds
Â· Cats and dogs roamed freely in the tabelas, posing a possible health hazard
Â· Buffaloes who were bleeding from their vaginas received no care
Â· Milk containers were kept near open drains and garbage was strewn about near the tabelas, posing possible health hazards
Â· Flies swarmed the tabelas and on milk containers and buckets
Most cows raised for the dairy industry are confined in filthy, crowded sheds, denying them everything that is natural and important to them. They are often chained by their necks in narrow stalls and given hormones that cause them to produce more milk.
One such drug, Oxytocin â€“ which causes the animals severe stomach cramps and quickly wears out their bodies â€“ is rampant even though its use in the dairy industry is illegal.
Male calves, who are of no commercial value to the dairy industry, are tied up with ropes so short that the animals cannot even lift their heads. They often strangle themselves in a frantic attempt to reach their mother. Many are killed for their skin, while others are simply abandoned in the streets. Female calves replace their mothers on dairy farms and the vicious cycle of pain and suffering is repeated.
Under natural conditions, a cow can live up to 18 years, but cows raised for milk are only about 6 or 7 years old when they are sent to the slaughterhouse to be killed for their meat and skin. The animals are often killed in full view of each other, and instead of the required “quick slice” across the throat with a sharp knife, they are generally killed through hacking and sawing with a dull blade.
PETA’s investigator observed “barefoot healers” who inserted artificial-insemination guns into one cow after another without sterilising the device and shoved their soapy hands into the animals’ uteruses, causing the cows immense pain and exposing them to potential infections. In order to keep the cows from moving, the barefoot healers roughly held the cows and even struck them.
Cows are transported to states where they can legally be killed. Forced to walk through the heat and dust for days without food or water, many of the animals collapse. Handlers pull the cattle by ropes through their noses and twist their necks, horns and tails or rub chilli peppers in their eyes to keep them moving. They force the cattle in and out of trucks without ramps, causing injuries such as broken pelvises, legs, ribs and horns. As many as half of the animals will already be dead by the time they arrive at the abattoir.
The dairy industry also causes human suffering. Besides causing constipation, phlegm and the painful consequences of lactose intolerance, dairy products have also been conclusively linked to allergies, obesity, heart disease, some cancers and even osteoporosis â€“ the very condition that the dairy industry likes to claim that dairy products prevent.
“Dairy-industry sales pitches are a whitewash, because milk and other dairy products are linked to serious health problems for humans and a sad life for today’s factory-farmed cows and their calves”, says PETA’s Vegan Campaign Coordinator Nikunj Sharma. “We urge everyone to do these animals and themselves a big favour and leave cow’s milk to be consumed by those for whom it was intended â€“ baby cows.”
For more information [and to view the video], please visit www.PETAIndia.com.
Information about PETA: –
PETA India, based in Mumbai, was launched in January 2000. PETA India operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on or use for entertainment, while educating policymakers and the public about animal abuse and promoting an understanding of the right of all animals to be treated with respect.
PETA India focuses primarily on the areas in which the greatest numbers of animals suffer the most: in the food and leather industries, laboratories and the entertainment industry. PETA India’s investigative work, public education efforts, research, animal rescues, legislative work, special events, celebrity involvement and national media coverage have resulted in countless improvements to the quality of life for animals and have saved countless animals’ lives.
For more information, Please contact:
campaign coordinator – PETA INDIA
You can also visit www.petaindia.com for more information.
Click here to read another blog post that I’ve written about what happens for us to get out dairy milk, cheese and so on.
View a video about the horrific treatment of cows in India. It’s this video that made me re-think what I consume. I couldn’t have dairy products after seeing it! 🙁
Shabari · July 17, 2008 at 12:52 am
I gave a number of school talks on animal welfare on behalf
of Animal Aid at a primary school. One of the questions I asked the students was if they thought that animals used for human purpose will no longer be used in the future. One of the students replied he thought that we will go back in civilisation and use animals for ploughing fields, transport, etc because of global warming. He mentioned that petroleum and other resources won’t be able to be used or will run out and therefore we will not be able to drive cars, fly planes, etc. Another comment made by another student was why do we try to keep animals out of fields as they have a right to eat the vegetables as much as we do. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what would be a good response to those questions?
Heena Modi · July 17, 2008 at 10:36 am
Wow! So deep 🙂
You know, often, the best answer is I don’t know. ‘I personally think that…’ but others think ‘ …’ and other people feel ‘….’
That way we’re saying what we think but sharing alternative points of view as well. Hopefully, this way their thinking will be less ‘closed’ and perhaps they’ll be more respectful, tolerant and understanding of the different views and feelings that we all have. 🙂
Heena Modi · August 3, 2008 at 8:41 am
I went to an event recently and was told about how Bhupendra Pandia replied to why he doesn’t eat meat and his reply was ‘because my stomach is not a graveyard.’
I found this really powerful in explaining the possible reasons for vegetarianism in another way! 🙂
Heena Modi · August 4, 2008 at 10:11 am
Wenda sent me this link which discusses whether we must kill in order to live
I. Must We Kill in order to Live?
Vegetarianism, known in Sanskrit as Shakahara, was for thousands of years a principle of health and environmental ethics throughout India. Though Muslim and Christian colonization radically undermined and eroded this ideal, it remains to this day a cardinal ethic of Hindu thought and practice. A subtle sense of guilt persists among Hindus who eat meat, and there exists an ongoing controversy on this issue on which we hope this humble booklet will shed some light.
For India’s ancient thinkers, life is seen as the very stuff of the Divine, an emanation of the Source and part of a cosmic continuum. They further hold that each life form, even water and trees, possesses consciousness and energy. Nonviolence, ahimsa, the primary basis of vegetarianism, has long been central to the religious traditions of India-especially Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Religion in India has consistently upheld the sanctity of life, whether human, animal or, in the case of the Jains, elemental.
The Sanskrit for vegetarianism is Shakahara, and one following a vegetarian diet is a shakahari. The term for meat-eating is mansahara, and the meat-eater is called mansahari. Ahara means “to consume, or eat,” shaka means “vegetable,” and mansa means “meat or flesh.” The very word mansa, “meat,” conveys a deep appreciation of life’s sacredness and an understanding of the law of karma by which the consequence of each action returns to the doer. As explained in the 2,000-year-old Manu Dharma Shastra, 5.55, “The learned declare that the meaning of mansa (flesh) is, ‘he (sa) will eat me (mam) in the other world whose flesh I eat here.’ ”
There developed early in India an unparalleled concern for harmony among life forms, and this led to a common ethos based on noninjuriousness and a minimal consumption of natural resources-in other words, to compassion and simplicity. If homo sapiens is to survive his present predicament, he will have to rediscover these two primary ethical virtues.
“Is vegetarianism integral to non injury?” In my book, Dancing with Siva, this question is addressed as follows: “Hindus teach vegetarianism as a way to live with a minimum of hurt to other beings, for to consume meat, fish, fowl or eggs is to participate indirectly in acts of cruelty and violence against the animal kingdom. The abhorrence of injury and killing of any kind leads quite naturally to a vegetarian diet, shakahara. The meat-eater’s desire for meat drives another to kill and provide that meat. The act of the butcher begins with the desire of the consumer. Meat-eating contributes to a mentality of violence, for with the chemically complex meat ingested, one absorbs the slaughtered creature’s fear, pain and terror. These qualities are nourished within the meat-eater, perpetuating the cycle of cruelty and confusion. When the individual’s consciousness lifts and expands, he will abhor violence and not be able to even digest the meat, fish, fowl and eggs he was formerly consuming. India’s greatest saints have confirmed that one cannot eat meat and live a peaceful, harmonious life. Man’s appetite for meat inflicts devastating harm on the earth itself, stripping its precious forests to make way for pastures. The Tirukural candidly states, ‘How can he practice true compassion who eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his own flesh? Greater than a thousand ghee offerings consumed in sacrificial fires is not to sacrifice and consume any living creature.’ ”
Amazingly, I have heard people define vegetarian as a diet which excludes the meat of animals but does permit fish and eggs. But what really is vegetarianism? Vegetarian foods include grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and dairy products. Natural, fresh foods, locally grown without insecticides or chemical fertilizers are preferred. A vegetarian diet does not include meat, fish, fowl or eggs. For good health, even certain vegetarian foods are minimized: frozen and canned foods, highly processed foods, such as white rice, white sugar and white flour; and “junk” foods and beverages-those with abundant chemical additives, such as artificial sweeteners, colorings, flavorings and preservatives.
In my forty years of ministry it has become quite evident that vegetarian families have far fewer problems than those who are not vegetarian. If children are raised as vegetarians, every day they are exposed to nonviolence as a principle of peace and compassion. Every day they are growing up they are remembering and being reminded to not kill. They won’t even kill another creature to eat, to feed themselves. And if they won’t kill another creature to feed themselves, they will be much less likely to do acts of violence against people.
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
Thanks Wenda 🙂
Heena Modi · August 4, 2008 at 10:14 am
Wenda sent me this link which states five reasons to be a vegetarian
In the past fifty years millions of meat-eaters have made the personal decision to stop eating the flesh of other creatures. There are five major motivations for such a decision.
1) The DHARMIC/SCRIPTURAL LAW reason
Ahimsa, the law of non injury, is the Hindu’s first duty in fulfillment of his religious obligations to God and God’s creation as defined by Vedic scripture.
2) The KARMIC CONSEQUENCES reason
All of our actions including our choice of food have karmic consequences. By involving oneself in the cycle of inflicting injury, pain and death, even indirectly by eating other creatures, one must in the future experience in equal measure the suffering caused.
3) The SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS reason
Food is the source of the body’s chemistry, and what we ingest affects our consciousness, emotions and experiential patterns. If one wants to live in higher consciousness, in peace and happiness and love for all creatures, then he cannot eat meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs. By ingesting the grosser chemistries of animal foods, one introduces into the body and mind anger, jealousy, fear, anxiety, suspicion and a terrible fear of death, all of which are locked into the flesh of butchered creatures. For these reasons, shakaharis live in higher consciousness and mansaharis abide in lower consciousness.
4) The HEALTH reason
Medical studies prove that a vegetarian diet is easier to digest, provides a wider range of nutrients and imposes fewer burdens and impurities on the body. Vegetarians are less susceptible to all the major diseases that afflict contemporary humanity, and thus live longer, healthier, more productive lives. They have fewer physical complaints, less frequent visits to the doctor, fewer dental problems and smaller medical bills. Their immune system is stronger, their bodies are purer, more refined and skin more beautiful.
5) The ECOLOGICAL reason
Planet earth is suffering. In large measure, the escalating loss of species, destruction of ancient rain forests to create pasture lands for livestock, loss of topsoils and the consequent increase of water impurities and air pollution have all been traced to the single fact of meat in the human diet. No single decision that we can make as individuals or as a race can have such a dramatic effect on the improvement of our planetary ecology as the decision to not eat meat. Many seeking to save the planet for future generations have made this decision for this reason and this reason alone.
Thanks again Wendy
Heena Modi · August 14, 2008 at 12:45 am
This website has a great article explaining the history of when humans started drinking milk from a species other than human. It also discusses the effects of this change.
Heena Modi · September 18, 2008 at 5:29 pm
The Ethical Consumer (http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/FreeBuyersGuides/fooddrink/yoghurtdairysoya.aspx) reports the following: –
The animal rights group Viva! released a report this year on the dairy industry, which exposes what it describes as “the cruel, dark side to the dairy industry.”(1). To keep them constantly producing milk, cows are forcibly impregnated whilst still lactating, meaning they endure both pregnancy and lactation at the same time, usually for seven months of the year. Once a cow gives birth her calf is removed after only a day or two. This separation causes severe stress to both animals and has been described as the most potentially distressing incident in the life of the dairy cow.
Male calves are considered a waste by-product as they can’t produce milk. Dairy/beef crosses are sold to beef farms with calves as young as seven days old enduring long journeys to and from livestock markets. Pure dairy males are usually killed within a week or two for baby food, pie ingredients or rennet for cheesemaking (1). Most female calves replace the dairy cows that are killed each year when their productivity drops. They usually spend the first six to eight weeks of life in tiny calf stalls, unable to exercise or socialise with other calves (1). They are fed commercial milk replacer and artificially inseminated at 15 months old to begin the cycle of pregnancy and lactation.
Cows would naturally live for up to 20 years, but the hard existence of the average commercial dairy cow takes it toll. Milk productivity begins to drop at 5-7 years of age at which point the animals are commonly killed for meat (1).
The dairy industry is also highly polluting. Approximately a quarter of all agricultural water pollution incidents recorded by the UK National Rivers Authority are related to dairy farming (2). The UK’s 2.2 million dairy cows also produce 230 000 tonnes of the greenhouse gas methane (2).
Also the BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7594625.stm) reports: –
Around 482,000 male dairy calves are born in the UK each year, but because they are unsuitable for beef production, they are either killed or exported to continental veal farms.
References from the info provided by The Ethical Consumer
1 The Dark Side of Dairy, a Viva! Report by Toni Vernelli BSc Animal Biology and Conservation, 2005
2 Wrecking The Planet, Joni Seager, The State of The Environment Atlas, Penguin Books, 1995
3 Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine http://www.pcrm.org, viewed on 21/10/05
4 http://www.food.gov.uk, viewed on 4/11/05
5 http://www.viva.org.uk, viewed on 4/11/05
6 http://www.purifymind.com/Hippo, viewed on 4/11/05
7 Corporate Watch newsletter: issue 24, June/July 05
8 Breaking the Rules, International Baby Food Action Network, 2004
9 http://www.itfglobal.org, viewed on 8/11/05 10 Earth Island Journal: Winter 2002/Vol17
11 Responsible Shopper website: Dean Foods viewed on 02/02/05
12 Ethical Consumer: 85 October/November 2003
13 Who Owns Whom: 2003/2004
14 The Ecologist: May 2003
15 The Ecologist: December 2004
16 Companies that test on animals, PETA, July 2004
17Breaking the Rules: 2004
18 Corporate Watch newsletter: issue 22, Feb/March 2005
19 BUAV Factsheet E3 Cosmetics Companies Guide, November 2004
20 Power Hungry – six reasons to regulate global food corporations: ActionAid report 2005
21 Ecolinks Boycott list – http://www.ecolinks.net, viewed on 25/02/03
22 http://www.oilpackers.com, viewed on 8/11/05
23 http://www.scconline.org, viewed on 11/10/05
24 Yeo Valley Group Corporate Communications: ï¿½Minimising Our Impact on the Environment’ 2005 < br>25 http://www.notmilk.com, viewed on 9/11/05
26 http://milk.elehost.com, viewed on 9/11/05
Heena Modi · September 18, 2008 at 5:56 pm
So if dairy produce isn’t ethical, acceptable or good for us should but you don’t want to go vegan should we use organic milk? Is it a better option?
Here’s what the Ethical Consumer says about organic alternatives: –
Soil Association certified products are better for the environment and for the consumer in terms of avoiding much of the antibiotics, hormones and GM feed used in conventional milk production. But do they offer a better deal for the cows?
There are no guidelines for the length of time organic dairy cows may be housed indoors, but completely indoor systems are prohibited. Highly invasive practices such as embryo transfer are forbidden but artificial insemination is allowed. Fertility hormones are prohibited for synchronising calving but not for bringing an infertile cow into heat. Calves must be group housed after seven days old. Castration with a rubber ring is allowed within the first week of life. Disbudding (permanently preventing horn growth by applying a hot iron to the horn-forming tissue) is allowed up to 3 months. Calves can’t be taken to market under one month old, but after this, eight hour journeys are allowed. Organic cows are still impregnated each year to provide a continuous supply of milk and separated from their calves within 24-72 hours of birth. The scheme also allows unwanted calves to be killed soon after birth (1).
Is it really better ?
See the comment above 🙂
Robert Evans MEP · September 20, 2008 at 3:00 pm
Dear Heena Modi,
Thank you for your letter regarding the treatment of dairy cows in India. As Secretary of the European Parliament’s all party Animal Welfare Intergroup and Vice-President of the League Against Cruel Sports, animal welfare is an issue which I take very seriously.
There is unfortunately very little the European Parliament can do about the treatment of dairy cows in India and the United States as the European Union has no jurisdiction in these areas. I have however brought this situation to the attention of my colleagues Neena Gill MEP, Chairwoman of the India Delegation and Peter Skinner MEP, a member of the Delegations for Relations with the United States.
In the meantime, I would advise you to continue to raise awareness within the diary farming communities in India and the United States, encouraging farmers that well treated dairy cows will have better yield over a longer period of time.
Please know that I will continue to work for improvements in animal welfare across the European Union.
Robert Evans MEP
Labour Party Member of the European Parliament
Heena Modi · September 20, 2008 at 3:06 pm
Thank you for replying Robert.
Also thanks for passing my on my concerns to Neena and Peter. I really appreciate that.
I hope to hear from them soon 🙂
Pravin Shah · September 20, 2008 at 9:16 pm
Life Cycle of a Dairy Cow in America
In her lifetime, an American dairy cow experiences many lifestyle changes.
1st Phase – Birth
From the moment of her artificially induced conception to her birth nine months later, she exists in the nurturing environment of her mother’s womb.
2nd Phase â€“ Productive life
After birth, bonding with her mother lasts for no more than a few minutes to couple of days. Does a calf experience separation anxiety? We should know the answer to that question after hearing her tortured cry (I have seen this in my visit to a dairy farm).
After separation, she is force-fed between one and two gallons of colostrums by the human farmer. Without this first nutrient-rich bovine milk, she would succumb to illness and die in her first two months of life.
Does the mother accept that separation? Each year, tens of thousands of incidents are reported in which angry cows seek revenge upon dairy farmers. Each year, hundreds of dairy farmers are trampled, gored, attacked, and killed. Newspaper accounts blame such incidents on irrational unthinking beasts.
Cows live a lifetime of stress so long as they produce enough milk to be profitable to the dairy farmer. Once she becomes unproductive (around 5 years of age), or once she becomes too diseased to be cured, she is culled (removed) from the herd.
3rd Phase â€“ Unproductive Life Journey
About thirty percent of America’s dairy cows are culled from herds each year. To be culled is to be taken from the familiar surroundings of a farm and packed onto a truck with other non-productive or diseased creatures. The fear factor culled cows experience is extreme.
Most Americans would guess that at this point the cow is sent to slaughter house. That is not so. Additional indignities await her. The true torture begins once the cow leaves the dairy farm. Her first stop is not the slaughterhouse but the auction ring.
Also once a cow leaves a farm for her ultimate death, compassion is no longer a concern to human handlers called middleman. Cows are loaded onto trucks at the dairy farm. The ride to auction can be traumatic. Terrified creatures are unloaded from the truck after bumpy rides in which they receive no food or water and are guided into holding pens.
Employees of auction houses are often low paid workers who have no interest in animal rights issues. Their job is to move the animals in the proper direction. The cows are led into rings while spectators sit in tiered bleachers and offer bids to an auctioneer’s call. (I have seen the auctioning of cows).
Many bidders sit in the audience, content to purchase number of animals depending upon the size of their slaughter operation. Each cow or calf awaits its turnâ€¦ Twenty three cents per pound? Sold. Next.
4th Phase â€“ Final Extinction
The cow is now owned by the successful bidder. It is his job to get the animal loaded onto his truck and shipped safely to his slaughterhouse facility. After experiencing a first truck ride, no cow wants to ever again climb the ramp onto man’s vehicles. These are the most painful and undignified moments of a cow’s life. Tails are grabbed and twisted. Nose rings are pulled and sometimes ripped from faces. Gentle creatures are stunned with high voltage electrical prods. Even the most stubborn of creatures eventually goes for her second and final ride.
All cows are slaughtered in America when they are around 5 years of age while their life expectancy is around 15 years. Some are to be slaughtered in factories, while others are to be slaughtered in sheds. Some receive a bullet to the head while others are stunned. (I have visited the American slaughter house).
5th Phase â€“ Recycled Phase
The first step in the slaughter house is o cut their throats so that they are bled. One can see that some cows are awake and conscious during the bleeding process. Spurting blood is collected in 55-gallon drums during slaughtering process. Blood is then dried and processed into powder, then packed into 50 pound bags. Dairy farmers buy this commodity as a protein supplement to be fed to future cows and their offspring. American cows are no longer vegetarian cows. Their own blood protein is mixed with grains to feed the next generation of cows.
Twenty-seven million cows and other animals die each day in America.
If and when we drink a glass of milk, eat ice-cream, cheese, sweet, or for meat eaters, the meal of burger, or the nuggets, or the Colonel’s crispy wings, we are eating the suffering and death of once living creatures.
During the 3rd phase of their journey, the middlemen who are responsible for transportation of the cows are the most abusive of human handlers (worst in India because of long journey), but they exist to serve the whims of the consumer. We eat the fruit of his abusive labor and we are complicit in their crime.
For Jains, Ahimsa is our supreme principle, and yet we use dairy products such as milk, Ghee and sweet not only in our home but also in our temple rituals and SwÃ¤mivÃ¤tslya dinner.
A cow is a five-sensed (Panchendriya) animal that also possesses mind. Cruelty to five-sensed animals is considered the highest sin and a person is destined to suffer in the hell as per our scriptures. In this situation a person will acquire following sinful karma
Narak Ã„yushya Karma â€“ â€œPanchendriya Vadha, MahÃ¤-Ã¤rambha, MahÃ¤-parigraha, and Raudra parinÃ¤mathi Narak Ã„yushya BandhÃ¤ya chheâ€. – Jain Darshan by Muni Shri NyÃ¤ya Vijayji
AdattÃ¤dÃ¤na Karma – We are responsible for stealing the cowsâ€™ milk without her permission
AntarÃ¤ya karma – We are responsible for forcefully separating the mother and child.
There are more than 6 million Americans are Vegan (New York Times Report), who do not use any animal products including dairy products such as milk, cheese, ice-cream, butter etc. About 10 to 15% Jain Youth are Vegan who attend YJA and YJP conventions. No Jain youth in America has denied the cruelty that exist in the American dairy industry or in fact in the dairy industries of the rest of the world. However there is a significant resistance among Jain adult populations in America, India and rest of the countries.
We earnestly request to the Jain community at large to study the subject from Cruelty point of view. Significant literature is available on Internet and in book stores worldwide.
My great reverence to Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanuji and Pramodaben for their total dedication to practice vegan life style and spread the message of true Jain non-violence not only in America but throughout the world. I hope that the other Jain scholars study this subject rationally from the cruelty of Panchendriya animal point of view.
Hats off to Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanuji and Pramodaben.
The treatment to the majority of cows in India is worse in many areas of their life cycle. Only less than 1.0% of cows get sheltered in animal shelter places called PÃ¤njarÃ¤-poles. Hence more animal shelters will not solve the problem. The only rational solution to the problem is to eliminate the root cause of the problem. Eliminate the dairy products from our diet and rituals. Once the demand is reduced, the supply will be reduced and in-turn less cows will be produced and hence less cruelty in the world. That will greatly help our environment also.
Please introspect seriously our religious practices under the current environment. Do not follow the scriptures blindly otherwise our supreme ideal of nonviolence will not have any meaningful value attach to it. America is a land where we can practice our religion rationally. Our children will practice our religion rationally but we will miss the opportunity if we do not wake-up.
Please let me know if you find any error in the information described in this article.
If I have hurt any oneâ€™s feeling with this article, I sincerely request forgiveness.
Pravin K. Shah,
Chairperson of Jaina Education Committee
Federation of Jaina Associations in North America
The majority information in this article is an abstract from the original article of Mr. Robert Cohen (http://www.notmilk.com). However I have visited all such places in America and some places in India.
Mahersh · September 20, 2008 at 10:28 pm
Although it is not the focus of the piece, this is the one of those rare mainstream-press articles that confirms that calves are routinely killed / sold for meat as part of the milk production process).
Wenda · October 5, 2008 at 6:59 pm
The â€œmilkâ€ discussion is, in my humble opinion, extremely complicated to rationalise unless it is based on a spiritual perspective or vegan perspective. It is so easy to play â€œGodâ€ rather than accept that we, as humans, are just a tiny cog in the machinations of this physical incarnation and the bigger picture is, if we are completely honest, beyond our comprehension. I believe it is our duty to look to ourselves and see what needs changing in our lives to live a non-violent existence and only then are we able to demonstrate that Ahimsa is the only way forward.
There is talk of an experiment in the production of Ahimsa milk in the UK. A summary of this new idea is that calves are sent to sanctuaries and the mother cow retired at the end of her productive life to another sanctuary.
It seems that the relationship between cow and calf has been overlooked as well as the need for the retired cow to have the company of her peers with whom she has toiled for on average 4.5 years in this country.
I know without a doubt that ahimsa milk CAN be produced for those who feel the need for cows milk in their diets, but itâ€™s costly. As most vegetarians do not respect this fact and see milk as a food basic â€“ I wonder how many would accept that it costs in excess of Â£3.00 a litre to produce.
Jonathan · October 5, 2008 at 7:05 pm
Please note that all references to cows’ milk refers to their excess milk.
Certainly, common sense tells us that the purpose of cows’ milk is to feed calves, but the fact remains that when the cows are treated with love they seem to go on producing milk for many years after the calves have stopped weaning, and in some cases they produce milk even though they have never been pregnant. So there seems to be forces at work here that are contrary to our intuition.
I think it’s very important for humans not to exploit cows, or any animal, but I’m not sure if the word “exploitation” applies in this instance. If the cows are being actively looked after and protected and the calves get all the milk they want then it would be more like a fair trade, to my mind anyway. I must say that, in this type of situation, I can’t see any moral difference between using the cows’
manure and using their milk. In fact the extraction of the cow’s milk could be seen as a service, because the milk could cause pain to the cow if left inside their stomach.
If a vegan world ever came about and cow sanctuaries became
widespread, it would be fantastic but surely we would be faced with a dilemma, because in such a setting, the cows would produce a lot of excess milk, and we would either need to leave the milk inside their stomachs or treat them less lovingly. I guess on an agricultural level, an ISKON world would be very similar to a vegan world with cow
sanctuaries. The only difference being that the Hare Krishnas would extract and consume the milk. Of course there would be more “sanctuaries” in an ISKON world but would this be an issue, given that they would be more financially viable (ie. sustainable) than vegan sanctuaries.
As regards the environmental impacts of cows I think there is something to be said for an orchard or vineyard type setting (i.e. land where the cows could graze that would at the same time produce a substantial amount of food and drink for humans, besides the cows’ milk). The amount of land used to sustain cows would be substantially less than at present, and any land used to grow additional food for
the cows would be offset to some extent by the reduction in land needed to grow green manures. The cows would also do away with the need for petrol driven lawn mowers. There would also perhaps be a hidden saving of the world’s resources in that we wouldn’t need to manufacture vitamin B12 supplements (or as many as we do now).
Admittedly I don’t know enough about the B12 manufacturing process to say how much of the world’s resources it consumes, or how much CO2 it emits.
Anyway, best wishes
Mahersh · October 5, 2008 at 7:07 pm
I agree with what you say. In fact, in the scenario you portray, I wouldn’t call that “exploitation” (in the way the word seems to be used today).
But my problems are these:
– is that scenario (much loved and unexploited cows) truly possible on a large enough scale? I have yet to be convinced. (Maybe we should organise a talk by a “Krishnadairyist” one day to learn more about what
they have to say).
-it has been suggested in various postings that such an approach on a large scale would not be sustainable. I don’t know enough to form an informed judgement on such matters though. Maybe it could be sustainable if we view such cow’s milk as an expensive item to be consumed in small quantities, rather than the way it is consumed
today… In that case, we’d still be mostly vegan and the vegan message and vegan foods would still be very relevant.
So as I see it now (without having looked into Krishnadairyism deeply), veganism and Krishnadairyism complement one another very well (and have to do so if Krishnadairyism were to work properly).
Finally, even if a “Krishnadairy” world is feasible, until that happens, being completely vegan (and encouraging sustainable, ethical farming practices which minimise our himsa footprints) is a possibility right now. (I don’t think there is a Krishnadairy yet in the UK, is there?)
Sagar · October 5, 2008 at 7:10 pm
Thinking about it, it does seem to raise one question about how domesticated animals would exist in a vegan world:
If everyone in the world were to become a vegan, then domesticated animals (such as cows) would not provide a source of income for humans, and thus the net cost of looking after such animals would increase massively. Rather than keeping such animals for commercial gain, people would keep them for their own pleasure – and its quite possible that the population of such animals will decrease so much that there may even be loss of species etc. While one my argue that a vegan world would also have institutions in place to ensure the survival of such animals – without commercial interest, I’m not so confident that they will be able to exist. Wild animals perhaps so, but not domesticated ones.
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see any moral obligation to try to maintain a particular animal species unless we (humans) have brought about its decline in the first place. In my opinion, our duty is to not harm, but that’s about as far as it goes. That said, I imagine that domesticated animals such as cows would continue to be looked after as pets or in sanctuaries by animal-lovers.
M · July 14, 2009 at 7:19 pm
I have never been able to digest dairy products properly so I have always avoided them. After reading this post I’m glad I have not supported the dairy industry as much as I could have. I don’t know why some people treat animals only as a resource for their personal satisfaction rather than sentient feeling beings.
Michael · January 18, 2010 at 2:08 am
You have to wonder how people can really believe that we are suppose to be drinking the breast milk of another species of animal?
Heena Modi · January 24, 2010 at 3:16 pm
Jessica · October 5, 2011 at 5:18 pm
I find this whole ‘milk debate’ extremely frustrating.
Having been born onto and lived on a dairy farm my entire life I know the in’s and out’s of a dairy farm. And it is NOT cruel. Many young mothers abandon their calves, many older cows will too, and it’s then my job to make sure that calf receives its colostrum milk to give it a healthy start to life. Colostrum is not however needed by the calf to survive, they can survive without it, it just contains a lot of nutrients and aids in the building up of the calf’s immune system, and these things will stay in the milk for only around 12 hours, which is why farmers will generally separate calves from mothers after 1-2days, this allows the calf to be strong enough to walk and obtain their milk, given the mother will actually allow them too, some mothers will kick their calves if they try to suckle.
Separation may be stressful for some mothers, but most generally don’t worry. And they do see their calves again. Often calves are kept right next to the dairy so feeding is easier.
Most calves are raised on farms for up to 1 year maybe 2, this includes male calves. They get the same treatment as the heifer calves. And they then will be sold at sales and may go straight to slaughter or to another farm. There are calf sales, but the calves are treated very well. To sell a skinny, sickly looking calf would not be cost efficient, so what’s the benefit to the farmer? Healthy calves sell better.
As for the milkers, same goes, a healthy cow produces better quality and quantity of milk. Most heifers don’t reach milking stage till they are about 3 years old, nearing full maturity. And they may be milked for up to 10+ years! The oldest cow in our dairy herd was born in 1996.. Cows are ‘culled’ if they have problems, have a dangerous temperament, or have a history of infections in their udders.
The udder of a cow is where milk is produced, not the stomach.. but it is true that if cows retain milk in there udders and are not milked this causes pain and suffering and leads to infections in the udder which may eventually kill the animal. Dairy cattle are treated the best that the farmers can. And when it comes till to take them to the abattoirs it’s a solemn act of walking them into the truck and transporting them there. Not every cow is auctioned off also. That is something I have not even heard of. In Australia the farmer, and carer of the animal, loads the cow onto their truck and transport them themselves. No middleman.
The ignorance of some people drives me to the edge. I know for a fact that my family loves its animal, I personally spend hours with new born calves as I would with a new born puppy, I teach our bulls ( because not everyone uses AI) to walk on halters, spend hours grooming and showing cattle. The dairy industry isn’t evil or cruel, it involves hard work by decent farmers looking to make a living. And anyone who doesn’t believe me can come to Australia and visit a dairy farm over here and see for themselves!
Ashvin Shah · October 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm
The issue is what are the cattle fed with and are they treated humanely. If they live on grass only and live freely without suffering pain (physical and mental), I personally do not see any issue – but if the feed is made through killing of other animals, then I would question your arguments. Trying to get rid of cows that are sick is one thing I would question. All animals have a right to live. The saying is “Live simply, so others can simply live”.
Sanjay Jain · October 7, 2011 at 5:57 pm
Let me start by saying, no matter how diplomatic I try to be, I am likely to offend you, because I am challenging your views/lifestyle. But just because I challenge your views, I don’t consider you to evil or intentionally cruel.
I agree it’s frustrating. It always is (for both sides) when a new set of ethics collide with the status quo. Cruelty and ethics in general, are very subjective. I grew up in a place and time when child labor was common. My own family had children working for them. At the time I thought there was nothing wrong with it, after all we provided them with jobs. And we were respected by the people (kids and their parents) we employed. It was not until I thought about it from a different perspective that I realized how wrong I was!
Not so long ago monarchy and slavery were also common, in fact they were said to be the will of god. I doubt any one wants to bring those back. I say this not to compare the issues but to show how values change. One moment something is acceptable and another it is not.
Keep in mind, not every dairy farmer (or farm worker) treat cows the same way. You may be better than most, and I expect there are some who are better than you. I believe most vegans became vegan due to modern, so called factory farming. It sounds like your operation is not one, but I assure you they exist and the facts are not being exaggerated.
After discovering the horrors of factory farming, many people asked do we actually need to consume dairy? I for one decided it was not necessary, even if the cows were treated “humanely”. One can be solemn about walking the cows to the trucks, but I suspect the cows do not enjoy the ride to the abattoir.
I realize that dairy farmers are just trying to make a living. Humanity needs to figure out collectively how we can all “make a living” and continuously improve how we do things, rather than make them worse. This applies to all aspects to life, be it farming, energy production etc etc… the process of improvement need not be so adversarial in my opinion.
Keval · October 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm
I appreciate your sentiments. I have never lived on a dairy farm, but i have visited an animal sanctuary a few times. It’s a place where rescued cows and bulls are allowed to live freely till the time they pass away naturally. This was the first time I was able to spend time with them, and realise how intelligent and perceptive and powerful they really are. Despite having the strength to kick or gorge me to death, they allowed me to stroke them and talk to them, and they acknowledged my presence with their gentle eyes and soft nudges. Additionally, i saw how effectively they could communicate, interact and live with each other, in their own ways, without words.
Are we really that different from them? They eat to stay alive, so do we. They sleep, and so do we. They defend what they love, so do we. They mate with their fellow companions, and so do we. They have children, and so do we.
And if they are stabbed, they cry in pain, and bleed. If we are stabbed, we react in the same way.
We are already aware that non-human animals such as cats and dogs have unique personalities and are able to feel a wide range of emotions including joy, sadness, emotional pain etc. There are quite a few mother-cows and their children living at the sanctuary, and even though the children have grown up, their bond with their mothers is undeniable. This sacred bond is a universal trait amongst all mammals, yet it is also well known that 1 in 10 human mothers are unable to connect with their newborn babies. It is heartbreaking to learn from you that some young cow mothers abandon their babies, or kick them if they try to suckle.
And yet it is only a mother who can truly understand what it is like to lose her child. Even words cannot describe the pain. Knowing that they are not that different from us, how can we disregard the emotional stress experienced by a mother cow upon losing her child, just because she cannot speak in English? Even if she wanted to, she cannot fight the hands that steal her babies away.
It was claimed in your message, “Separation may be stressful for some mothers, but most generally don’t worry”. Jessica, did they actually tell you that it doesn’t bother them that their baby is stolen from them? How can they possibly defend their basic rights of survival when they are born into slavery and total submission? Are you aware of the frustrations that African slaves experienced when they had everything taken away from them? When life had no meaning at all, but to get exploited and used?
You claim that the babies are treated very well on your farm, and I am sure they are. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are going to be stabbed, disembowelled, and cut up into as many pieces as possible. Obviously, a healthy baby will sell better… just as a healthy human slave got a better price.
You mentioned that `Cows are ‘culled’ if they have problems, have a dangerous temperament, or have a history of infections in their udders.’ Would we ever kill another human if they had `problems’ or a dangerous temperament or a history of infections? If we are responsible for bringing a sentient life into this world, we are responsible for the survival of that sentient being, not for ending his/her life when he/she becomes a `problem’.
I can’t argue with what you stated – `that if cows retain milk in their udders and are not milked this causes pain and suffering and leads to infections in the udder’. But they are only producing milk because WE forced them to do so, through their pregnancies and the subsequent birth of their babies. The milk is meant for her baby, just as our mothers breastfed us to ensure our health and survival when we could not ingest solid foods.
But please explain to me how the mother cow is meant to suffer less when the blade enters her neck, just because she was walked her into the truck and transported her to the place of her imminent death? Please make me understand what is so noble about escorting an innocent mother or child to her painful death.
What gives us the right to dominate and exploit another sentient being? Would we ever treat a human mother the way we treat a cow mother? Would we ever enslave a woman, artificially inseminate (rape) her, and steal her baby away when he/she is born? Would we ever tie her to a machine and drain out her milk, and sell it to others? And would we keep doing this to her, again and again, for more than 10 years? And finally when her mind and body starts to give up, would we proudly escort her to the slaughterhouse with all her other enslaved sisters, where she would be killed and her body parts sold? Can you possibly imagine anything worse that could happen to a sentient being who is capable of feeling emotional and physical pain?
I am a dentist by profession, and I have researched enough to know that neither dairy nor eggs nor flesh is needed by humans to be happy and healthy. In fact, we are better off if we don’t have them at all. I make sure I tell all my patients about this, because that is my duty to my patients… to advise them on what’s best for them. No other species on Earth dominates and enslaves another species for milk or eggs, and no other species continues drinking milk into adulthood. By continuing to drink milk, are we refusing to grow up? As more and more people realise this, with the incredible power of the internet and social networking, the exploitation of non-human animals will gradually decrease significantly.
Jessica, I appreciate the fact that your family loves its non-human residents on your farm, and how you spend hours taking care of them as they grow up. You are incredibly lucky that you get the opportunity to look after such affectionate and loving companions, who effortlessly bring so much joy to our lives. I therefore urge you to try and understand why it goes against our very nature to control and use them and their bodies, to fulfil our wants (not our needs).
These poor mothers and their babies have suffered enough. Defenceless and unable to retaliate, they have experienced pain, most humans cannot even imagine. But you have the power to end their suffering, right now.
Just in case you’re not aware of what happens to your friends when they leave your farm, go to http://www.earthlings.com/ – click on `Feature film’ and watch it when you get a moment. Because they would want you to.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
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