I’ve recently made the change from vegetarian to vegan. That’s rights I said it, the other V word that strikes fear on to most meat lovers faces. ‘How can you do that?!’ ‘But bacon’ ‘Don’t you miss the taste of a steak?’’where will you get protein and calcium from?!’ ‘gosh your diet must be so unhealthy.’ Are just some of the comments I get when I tell people about my new way of living. The truth is, is that I have never felt healthier, in body and in mind. I’ll be honest though the first few times shopping I did struggle and did not know what I was and was not allowed but that was mainly due to packaging (that’s another issue I won’t even start talking about, because I’ll never stop!) But the main thing is to check absolutely everything that you buy, and think creatively about alternatives. Not creative with food like me, Google it. There’s so much you can do with vegan foods!
Anyway, I hoped to spend more time writing about why in particular I saw it was more appropriate for me to take up a vegan diet as opposed to vegetarian. I like to know exactly where my food has come from so I know that there have been no beings suffering at the receiving end of it, I was starting to realize more and more that when it comes to sentient beings in the food industry we can never be too careful, after all as the consumer we have great power in the choices that we make. As someone who always bought organic and free range everything I though that this was enough, but after reading about the abuse that was documented from a bob veal plant based in Vermont that had labeled itself as organic I was intrigued. The‘’skinning of animals alive, live animals on piles of dead animals outside, calves being beaten, being shocked with electric prods over and over, being dragged, kicked’’ and so on. How many other places that call themselves organic are doing things like this? Although this was a veal company, it still raised questions (or at least to me) about the widespread treatment of animals that were not being used for the sole purpose of their flesh.
I then began to read into factory farming in the dairy industry, I am aware that this may not be the same in the organic trade, but after reading the above I began to distrust everything to do with the organic label. So it turns out that “Bovines in the wild spend most of their waking hours in a state of ambulant grazing, walking an average of 2.5 miles a day, all the while taking 50 to 80 bites of forage per minute.” Being used for milk and meat whether it is organic or not cows are denied their natural need (and I would argue right) to graze, as 75% of cows will never graze from natural pastures. In addition to this female cows are forced to have artificial insemination, and in more ‘natural’farms selective breeding will occur and the male and female cows will be forced to breed. The female cow will then endure a pregnancy and birth, for the calves to be taken off them. The female calves are usually used to milk production and will endure the same fate as their mothers, whereas the male calves are viewed as practically worthless and if they are not left to die, they are sent to either slaughter houses or veal factories. Veal factories were created after the dairy farms were as a way to reduce waste. So as a vegetarian who’s views were staunchly against the production of meat, it seemed as though in buying into milk, I was buying into an industry that indirectly was supporting the slaughter of animals. In addition to this I felt that the suffering of the female cows that had to part with their calves on more than one occasion was too much to bear. In some cases its been known that these female cows escape the farms that they live on in order to find their missing calves. I also found it frustrating that cows in the wild would usually live up to 25 years, whereas in dairy farms their life expectancy is 2-6 because once the female cow has produced milk enough times they are then sent off for their meat, just as the male would be. Just because they are viewed as of no use. Just a couple of quotes that I feel I don’t need to add anything else to,
‘”In one recent year, about 4.5 million male calves were born in U.S. dairies,” wrote Niman. “Of those, 42 percent were immediately sent to slaughter; over half went to confinement veal operations; the remainder to feedlots.”
‘The average dairy cow on industrial farms produces roughly 20,000 pounds of milk a year — 10 times more than she’d normally produce to feed a calf.’
Mastitis is a disease affecting cattle worldwide, it is a bacterial inflammation of the udder and usually occurs as a result of an immune response to bacteria on the farms, or because of machinery used to milk animals. Factory farms use these machines to milk the cows and as a result this mastitis is spread. The cows become ill as a result of being treated as a means to an end. The fact that cows carry up to ten times more milk than they should and need to also leads to mastitis and is worrying that there is a lack of concern from the farms point of view. Cows do not need to be milked, as the production of their milk is for their young. People using the milk for human benefit both denies the young calves of their mothers milk, and means that the mother suffers physically and psychologically at the expense of us. Most importantly for vegetarians who have chosen their diet on ethical grounds, should consider a vegan diet because of the milk industry’s links with the veal industry.
There are many great alternatives to milk, for example coconut, soy, almond, and rice milk. All have varying health benefits and also things to watch out for. Soy milk for example (my personal favorite) is packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. ‘’Perhaps the most notable health benefit of soy milk is its ability to reduce cholesterol and promote cardiovascular health. Unlike cow’s milk, which can be high in cholesterol and saturated fat, soy milk is naturally cholesterol free with a significant load of essential monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids are commonly known as “good fats,” because they help reduce plaque forming triglyceride and low density lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood. There are also evidences to show that regular intake of soy can increase high density lipoproteins (HDL), which can further improve your blood profile and keep you safe from strokes and heart attacks.’’It is also beneficial for menopausal women, may help to prevent male prostate cancer, and may be beneficial towards male fertility. To be careful of however, is that there are correlative studies suggesting links between breast cancer and a high intake of soy milk, at this point its worth mentioning that there are studies suggesting the opposite. It is thought that people who suffer breast cancer should consult their doctor before consuming soy milk. There are many health benefits to using these alternatives to milk, soy is my favorite and so that was the one I personally chose to write about, however it is worth looking into all of them to make an informed choice on which one you would like best!
- 5 of the Most Cruel Food Ingredients (onegreenplanet.org)
- Is veal an ethical meal or an inhumane practice? (thegrillandbarrel.wordpress.com)
- 5 Cruel Food Ingredients You Should Try to Avoid (onegreenplanet.org)
- The Truth About Dairy (vibrantlyvegan.com)
- What’s in your glass of milk? (ps628.wordpress.com)
- The Older Brother Gets a Side of Veal (fathead-movie.com)
- Sometimes we are mean to our cows. (dairycarrie.com)