Study Confirms Cows Used for Milk Have It Worse Than Cows Used for Meat

In a recent study, 70 cow welfare experts from around the globe concurred with what PETA has been saying all along: Cows exploited for their milk suffer even more than cows killed for meat do. This conclusion may seem counterintuitive, as death is inherent in the meat industry, but it’s inseparable from the dairy industry, too. The suffering behind a slice of cheese is far worse than that behind the burger it sits atop.

Like all mammals, cows make milk for one reason only: to feed their babies. After being forcibly inseminated, cows carry their calves for the same amount of time humans’ pregnancies last—around nine months. Cows and their calves experience a particularly strong bond, and mother cows are known to bellow inconsolably when they’re separated.

The last time a mother cow in the dairy industry sees her beloved calf is when the baby is dragged away just days after birth. The males can’t be milked, so they’re sometimes raised for veal, confined to an immobilizing crate until the day they’re slaughtered. The female calves are forced to follow in their mother’s footsteps: an ever-repeating cycle of forced insemination, in which their babies are torn away and their milk is taken, until they, too, are slaughtered.

Cows used for dairy are often dehorned without pain relief, forced to stand in filth on concrete floors, and made to produce huge quantities of milk that far exceed the amount they would naturally produce in the absence of hormones and drugs. They often suffer from lameness due to painful foot lesions and the complications and pain associated with giving birth, and about 50% of cows used for dairy suffer from mastitis—painfully inflamed udders caused by overmilking. Perhaps worst of all, they’re subjected to the unfathomable grief of repeatedly watching their babies being taken shortly after they’re born.

After a lifetime of exploitation, cows in the dairy industry are killed in the same horrendous way cows in the beef industry are. The dairy industry can’t exist without exploiting the female reproductive system, and once the exhausted bodies of these sensitive animals can no longer meet the horrific demands placed on them, there’s no retirement home waiting—only a slaughterhouse.

Fortunately, there are endless ways to enjoy your coffee, cookies, and cereal without supporting cruelty to cows. Vegan milks are healthier for us, are better for the environment, and taste delicious.

Order your free vegan starter kit packed with recipes and tips for going dairy-free. And use our “Take Action for Cows” page to speak up for mother cows and their calves by sending a message to Starbucks and other companies that profit from their misery.

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