Hello everyone! I’ve just spent some time perusing This Rawsome Vegan Life, one of my favorite blogs of all time, and I’m feeling super inspired from looking at Emily’s work. I also watched a couple of Emily’s youtube videos, and was blown away by her positivity and life outlook in general. What really inspires me about Emily is her originality and unique voice that she’s presented to the world. In fact, one of her early posts, The Dairy Dilemma, was instrumental in my journey to becoming vegan. It was that post that spurred me to research the dairy industry, even though I knew it would be hard to read about. I remember learning about the conditions that dairy cows are forced to live under, and wondering – How can we treat other living creatures this way? How can we look at ourselves in the mirror knowing that we abuse and exploit living beings for the satiety of our gluttonous appetites?
Many people are able to write off this logic by saying “cows don’t have feelings”. However, many of these people are not aware of a biological concept called Parental Investment. You see, in the natural world, living things have two options – either scatter a ton of offspring out into the world in hopes that some will survive, or have less offspring but keep them close to ensure their survival. Most flora on earth has developed to take the first option – scatter a bunch of seeds in hope that some will grow. However, many animals – such as cows – raise their offspring themselves in order to ensure their wellbeing. Because of this ancient biological mechanism, female animals (mammals in particular) that raise their own young have developed specific hormones and physiological processes that nurture the relationship between the mother and offspring. Ever heard of oxytocin, the chemical released when human mothers give birth? This hormone is also present for all other mammalian mothers.
However, when dairy cows give birth (after they have been artificially impregnated, of course), the calfs are cruelly ripped away from their mothers mere days (and sometimes hours) after birth. This unnatural separation causes a surge of the stress hormone cortisol in the dairy cows (which will end up in your milk, by the way), and causes them such distress that even dairy farmers are trying to mitigate the problem. (So no, this isn’t just a bleeding-heart vegan theory of sad cows.) In addition, this separation of mother and calf can also cause a myriad of health issues for the mother, including viral diarrhea, coccidiosis (a parasitic disease), and respiratory disease. How’s that milk tasting now?
I could go on forever about the scientific reasons why milk and milk-based products are a bad choice without even mentioning the fact that 65% of the human population are lactose-intolerant (myself included), or that milk isn’t the be-all, end-all source of calcium as it was once thought to be. No, I don’t need to say those things, because it was not the science that finally convinced me – it was the concept of motherhood.
Now, I am not a biological mother, so I can’t speak to that. However, I am an adopted mother of rescue pup, who I found starving and unable to walk in September 2013. Even though I was a senior in college taking a full courseload at the time, I singlehandedly nursed Ivy back to health, developing an incredible bond with her in the process. Although we are different species, when she curls up next to me on the couch after a long day and rests her head on my knee, there is no doubt in my mind that the love we experience is unconditional. When she runs to the door every day, unfailingly, with a wagging tail and bouncing step when I come from work, I know that the bond we share transcends science. I am, for all intents and purposes, Ivy’s mother. I am responsible for her wellbeing and survival. And the thought of someone taking her away from me – for any reason – is simply unbearable. And I knew that if I could feel this love for my puppy, how would a mother feel if the child she had borne from her own flesh was ripped away from her? What unimaginable sorrow would she experience? But sadly, that is the reality for dairy cows – and that is something I will not stand for.
I know this post has been pretty #real, but I will defend my choice to abstain from dairy proudly, and with passion. The funny thing is, though, it’s really not hard to live without dairy. And yes, I’ve heard the cheese arguments before. But before you try to convince me how absolutely necessary cheese is to human survival, please take a look at the following recipes:
1// Vegan Buffalo Chickpea Pizza (you can thank me later)
7// Vegan Tzatziki
Oh yeah and then there’s this vanilla coconut chia pudding I made, that’s pretty cool too. I rest my case.
- ½ Cup Chia Seeds
- 2 Cups Coconut Milk (boxed)
- ¼ Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 Tbs Maple Syrup
- 2 Passionfruit
- In a bowl, combine chia seeds, coconut milk, vanilla extract, and maple syrup until evenly combined.
- Pour mixture into two bowls or glasses and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour, until pudding has gelled.
- Once ready to serve, cut open passionfruit and scoop out the fruit on top of the pudding bowls.
PS! (I feel like there was a PS needed.) The sort of practices I spoke about in this post are employed by the dairy industry at large. However, I am aware that some farmers treat their cows humanely, with healthy and safe living conditions, and do not separate the mothers from the calfs. I commend any farmers that treat their animals with dignity, compassion, and respect. This post refers to the majority of mainstream dairy companies, who force their cows to live in appalling conditions.
My intent in writing this post was to (hopefully) shed some light on the science behind dairy farming practices. I firmly stand for this space being a judgment-free zone, and any genuine, considerate opinion will be read and respected. I’d love to hear what you all think! – Sarah