As a recent mother, I know what it’s like to carry, deliver, and care for a baby. I carried my baby for nine long months-the same amount of time that a female cow would carry her baby. When I delivered my baby, I got to keep her. Cows don’t get to keep their babies.
Having just delivered a baby girl a few months ago and still nursing her, I can empathize with these cows now more than ever.
Cows in the dairy industry live a miserable life—they are often treated as if they were nothing more than milk machines. Just like humans, cows produce milk to feed their babies. But on factory farms, the milk that cows produce goes directly to humans-not by choice, of course. The dairy industry forcefully impregnates millions of individual cows year after year to keep their milk supply flowing. They’re frequently pumped full of hormones and antibiotics to increase their milk supply, as more milk equals more money. This physically demanding cycle takes a toll on the cows’ health, and more than half the cows suffer from excruciatingly painful mastitis and lameness.
By the end of their lives, many of these cows are in so much pain and so weak that they can’t even walk or stand, so workers callously drag them or push them with a bulldozer to a truck that is bound for the slaughterhouse. That’s the thanks they get for providing humans with years of milk-a trip to the slaughterhouse to be made into ground beef! For their entire lives, cows on dairy factory farms are forced to stand indoors on concrete floors or are crammed into filthy, severely crowded feedlots. The scenic, green pastures of yesteryear are a thing of the past-they are now just a myth that the dairy industry keeps alive to sell its products. As you can see from this recent PETA undercover investigation, life down on the factory farm is hell for cows.
After being nestled in comfort and safety for nine months, newborn calves are torn away from their mothers just hours-sometimes only minutes-after entering the world. Female calves face the same fate as their mothers: They’ll replace her when her body gives out and her usefulness as a milk machine runs out. Male calves are shackled by the neck 24/7 in a tiny crate, unable to even turn around. They are fed iron-deficient diets in order to produce the pale-colored flesh that humans prefer. The stress, isolation, and frustration that these babies feel is heartbreaking, yet these are the conditions that they’ll remain in for nearly half a year. Then they’ll be slaughtered, and their flesh, labeled as veal, will end up on a dinner plate.
Imagine having the baby you carried for nine months taken away from you moments after you gave birth. Mother cows often bellow and cry out for their babies for days-and some go through a painful mourning period. There’s no doubt in my mind that cows feel as connected to their babies as humans do. Just like us, they grieve, suffer, and feel pain. So for us to exploit them in this way for a product that isn’t even natural for human consumption (we’re the only species that drinks other species’ milk and the only species that drinks milk as an adult) is an abomination.
As women, we especially shouldn’t be supporting the exploitation of other females-no matter their species. The best way to show our disapproval of the dairy industry’s treatment of females is to refuse to buy milk and other dairy products. When you consciously boycott these products, you’re also boycotting the abuse that goes along with it.
For all the mothers out there: How do you feel about this?
This guest post was written by Robyn Moore who is the PETA Foundation’s creative copy manager. She has her master’s degree in education and is an avid traveler who has taught English in Nepal, volunteered with wildlife in South Africa, and lived abroad in Switzerland.
Make your time with your friends and family—including your animal companions—even more meaningful.