Veganism/feminism and the most Bizarre Dairy Related Myth Out There

In addition to all the arguments made in Carol Adams’ fantastic book, “The Sexual Politics of Meat”, I would like to point out one of the most ridiculous myths popularized by the dairy industry. I don’t really understand why this one has stuck or why not many people have made a point of calling it out as a serious fallacy. Often you hear someone saying something along the lines of, “even if it is unjust to keep cows in the conditions that we do now, we still need to milk cows because if we didn’t, their udders would hurt.” There’s two seriously glaring problems with this argument.

First, and less importantly, because there’s a perfectly good retort to it, is that the mechanical milkers that are placed on a cow’s udders end up chapping them and causing some really gnarly infections. So, yes, if you buy milk from places that milk their cows by hand, then this is easy to get around. The problem with this argument, however, is that 99% of the milk on the market is not obtained this way, it’s just economically unfeasible. Just because it can be done this way doesn’t mean you ought to discount the fact that it doesn’t happen this way and go about consuming dairy as if it did.

Second, and most damning, is that mammals don’t produce milk unless they have recently given birth. This means that in order to continually produce milk, a dairy cow has to give birth to a new calf every year, and in order to harvest a profitable amount of milk from the cow, the calf is separated from the cow at birth. Strike one: theft of children in order to utilize the resources naturally reserved for the calf. Furthermore, a Bull will not mate with the same cow twice, so in order to impregnate the massive amounts of cows needed to turn a profit on a dairy project, the industry often turns to artificial insemination to keep cows pregnant. What does that mean in practical terms? A big metal cock, or syringe, filled with semen is inserted into the cow to force conception. Strike two: Mechanical rape to create the conditions for the extraction of resources. Finally, going back to the first argument, the cow’s udders wouldn’t need milking if the cow’s young had the opportunity to suckle like they would in natural circumstances. And very finally, the cow wouldn’t be producing more than enough milk for their young if they weren’t pumped full of steroids to stimulate milk production in the first place. Strike three: a straight up case of, as Jack White says, “taking the effect and making it the cause.”

Even just the case of rape, IMHO, makes it impossible to be a feminist and continue to consume dairy products, at least as they are produced en masse. The abduction of children is the creme and the overstimulation of the body in order to justify massive resource extraction is the cherry on top. I’m sure there’s a much more elaborate way of making this argument, but this one seems like one of those that you just put out on the table and that’s all that’s needed.

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