ABC’s dairy expose

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Have you seen the piece that aired on World News Tonight and Nightline last night? Let’s talk about it a bit.

Just to get it out of the way: yes, the story has the expected issue of focusing on abuse rather than use, but I’m going to focus on the positive effect a piece like this could have. Here’s why I think that, obvious problems aside, the airing of this piece will be positive in the long run:

1. It aired on a mainstream news program (actually, programs)

This piece aired on ABC during prime time on World News Tonight and later in the evening on Nightline. The former is a news broadcast my dad watches (he’s not one for overtly political leaning newscasts in either direction). That’s mainstream. And they’re showing footage from Mercy for Animals. That’s pretty impressive. Sure, it’s happened before, but when this sort of footage gets in front of a mainstream audience, the idea of veganism seems a little more normal to these same people.

2. A dairy farmer dug his own hole

Did you catch the dairy farmer they interviewed? He started off by giving the standard “it’s in our best interest to treat them well” line and shortly thereafter was stumbling all over himself defending tail docking and horn clipping as “standard industry practice” (which it is) and saying, “Of course I wish we didn’t have to do it…” It was enough to make you feel sorry for the guy. Almost. Except for the whole exploiting animals for personal gain thing.

I don’t think too many people can get behind docking cow’s tails or cutting their horns. (Except for those who convince themselves it’s not a standard practice.)

3. The artificial insemination footage

It was only about two or three seconds long and it only aired on the Nightline version of the story, but I think the very brief shot they showed of a farmhand elbow deep, artificially inseminating a dairy cow could be the most important piece of footage. I think the majority of people still kid themselves with visions of happy bovines humping in meadows of green grass. I’m also pretty sure the sentiment that “well, the cows have to be milked” is still prevalent. This very short piece of footage, though, is like a slap in the face: no, these dairy cows are not naturally pregnant and happily giving their milk to us. We’re raping them, confining them, and then stealing the milk meant for their offspring, all so we can have our next hit of cheese.

I’m hoping that short bit of video replays in people’s minds when they sit down with a glass of milk or a bowl of ice cream.

And, yes, there are some problems…

While the majority of the piece focuses on these cruel practices that are going on every second of every day, there’s just enough of the welfare message that I can certainly imagine someone coming away with the idea that, “Hey, that’s awful, but at least they’re starting to phase out those practices. Now I can feel OK about consuming milk.” And that’s the big downside of championing welfare legislation as a victory: a marginal welfare improvement becomes marketing fodder for the dairy industry.

And in case there’s any doubt that this is the message that people are getting, one need look no further than the comment section on the web version of the story (or a blog entry from before the story aired). Skip past all of the “gee, thanks for only showing one side of the story!” comments and you get to ones like this:

“I pledge to drink water and hope everyone that reads this will do the same. We can live without milk, until the humane society can get this straightened out.”

It’s a shame, because if that quote ended after “We can live without milk,” it’d be perfectly fine. But I’m sorry to say: if you wait for the Humane Society to “straighten it out,” there’s a problem. Everyone has to stop waiting for someone else to fix the problem. You can help fix the problem right now, this instant. Stop drinking milk, stop eating cheese, stop eating ice cream, stop consuming dairy. There’s no magic welfare wand that can be waved that will make it all OK. I hope that soon people will start coming away from stories like this thinking, “That’s terrible and I’m not going to be a part of it” rather than “That’s terrible and, boy oh boy, someone should do something about it!”

(If you haven’t seen the story, here’s the shorter version that aired on World News Tonight. A longer version appeared on Nightline, but doesn’t appear to be archived online.)

30 Responses to “ABC’s dairy expose”

  1. Lauren

    I must say that I am truly offended with some of the statements in this article. I live and work on a 7th generation family dairy and I wish you would bother to mention the fact that the story ABC showed was in no way a fair representation of all dairy farms across the country. I cannot be responsible or speak for any other dairy besides my own, but I can say that on my family’s dairy farm those practices are not used. I am ashamed that there are dairies out there who would do such things to their animals. Never have I seen an animal treated with such disrespect and negligence. I have exhibited dairy cows at local fairs and state/national events for 11 years and my cows are like my family – the loss of one is incredibly devastating.

    I strongly disagree with your statement to “stop consuming dairy”. Do you have any idea how many other industries rely on the business created by the dairy industry? How many jobs? The average economic impact of just one dairy cow is over $13,000 – and that money is earned in an ethical and compassionate way on my family’s farm. Dairy farming is no walk in the park and with milk prices the way they are, many dairies in our region are struggling to stay solvent. My entire family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins included) is supported by our 100+ cow dairy, and most of us are also employees.

    We do not “rape” cows, or “steal” their milk. Such accusations are horrifying. You are most certainly entitled to your own opinion but to be fair I wish you would have considered the dairy farms (of which there are MANY) who do not participate such careless and unfeeling treatments of their animals. Artificial insemination is a much safer practice for both the dairy cows and the herdsman as opposed to keeping a live bull on the farm.

    I believe in the dairy industry. I believe in the excellent care given to cows to produce safe, valuable and affordable milk and meat for you, the consumer. Please visit a dairy or talk with a dairy producer to get the story that the media does NOT portray.

  2. ryan

    Lauren — If I may ask you (and the organic dairy marketing guy whose comment I didn’t approve) a few quick questions?

    What happens to the calves?

    What happens to the dairy cows when they can no longer produce?

    Do the dairy cows ask you to artificially inseminate them? If not, is that just your right to do so?

    If you’re not stealing their milk, what would you call it, given that the milk should be going to, you know, a baby calf?

    Listen, I never said it was an easy job. And I can understand how, being 7th generation, you’ll want to defend the industry. But the facts are simple: animals are not ours to be used. To produce milk, calves must be taken from their mothers and those calves are either killed for veal or kept for “use” later. When a dairy cow can no longer produce, she is killed.

    To me, it’s an open and shut case.

    I believe in the dairy industry. I believe in the excellent care given to cows to produce safe, valuable and affordable milk and meat for you, the consumer.

    Not me, the consumer.

    Please visit a dairy or talk with a dairy producer to get the story that the media does NOT portray.

    As I’ve said before on this blog, I don’t need to be hit in the face with a pipe to know that it hurts. And I don’t need to visit a dairy farm because a dairy farmer and I will disagree on the most basic of assumptions: I do not believe animals exist for our use, but dairy farmers do.

  3. Elizabeth

    Ryan, I can simpily answere your questions.
    at 14 years old. and working on a dairy farm my whole life, and till the day I die. I agree with lauren 110%.Our dairy farm we do not dock our cows, but we do de-horn them. It is a practice that does not hurt them. If they had horns, and charged you, you would most likely would not be here. My mother in fact was charged by our herds bull. She was picked up and thrown 25-feet in the air. and landed on her hip. She is still here today, and if we did not de-horn him she would not be here today. Think about that one. and if you were her.

    What happens to the calves?
    The calves are NOT dragged by there mothers, then are walked or carried to the calf barn or a hutch to be raised into well treated heifers, soon to be a full grown cow. If they were left with there mothers they could be 1. trampled by there mothers, 2, The Mother could lay on them. 3. if the calf drank off of the cow for a long period of time she could devolp masstiss. a diesei in the udder that could kill her. and those are just some.

    What happens to the dairy cows when they can no longer produce?
    If the cow can no longer produce she is then shipped to the sale barn. or what the farmer decieds.It life, the farmer can’t afford pay to feed a cow that wont give him what he need to survive. sorry, but thats life.

    Do the dairy cows ask you to artificially inseminate them? If not, is that just your right to do so?
    Artificially Inseminate does not hurt them. It is to produce better calf that will soon be high producing cows. and no cows can’t talk to you to ask you.

    If you’re not stealing their milk, what would you call it, given that the milk should be going to, you know, a baby calf?
    The calf does get the milk. for about a month or so. and its not stealing there milk. God put them on this planet to give us the calcium for our barns, with out it then you wont have strong bones.

    Just visit it one. ( dairy farm ) the farm will give his time for your questions. she or he will answere any and all of your questions.

    I have on Question for you:

    you wrote:

    I do not believe animals exist for our use, but dairy farmers do.

    what do you mean by that? because thats why they are there. you think they are there to look at and enjoy, there are also there for that to. but as i said with out milk. childern/teens/adluts. will not survive with out the vitamans in milk.

    thanks you!

  4. ryan

    Hi Elizabeth —

    de-horn them. It is a practice that does not hurt them. If they had horns, and charged you, you would most likely would not be here.

    I don’t buy this. Of course it hurts to dehorn a cow — you don’t have to look any further than how they react to it.

    The calves are NOT dragged by there mothers, then are walked or carried to the calf barn or a hutch to be raised into well treated heifers, soon to be a full grown cow. If they were left with there mothers they could be 1. trampled by there mothers, 2, The Mother could lay on them. 3. if the calf drank off of the cow for a long period of time she could devolp masstiss. a diesei in the udder that could kill her. and those are just some.

    Trampled by their mothers? Their mothers could lay on them? Again, I don’t buy this. Mothers and babies have a special bond and except in extreme cases, you’re not going to see behavior like that if they’re in a natural environment.

    And are you telling me all of your calves become full-grown? None are used for veal?

    If the cow can no longer produce she is then shipped to the sale barn. or what the farmer decieds.It life, the farmer can’t afford pay to feed a cow that wont give him what he need to survive. sorry, but thats life.

    Actually, that’s death. And that’s what happens when humans are making decisions about another animal’s “value” based solely on what she can produce for us.

    The calf does get the milk. for about a month or so. and its not stealing there milk. God put them on this planet to give us the calcium for our barns, with out it then you wont have strong bones.

    It’s hard to argue when “God put them here for us” is the defense. That assumes not only the existence of a god but a belief that you know what she’s thinking.

    what do you mean by that? because thats why they are there. you think they are there to look at and enjoy, there are also there for that to.

    Cows are not here for us. They may be here because of us, but they exist to live their own lives and deserve to do so without being used by us.

    but as i said with out milk. childern/teens/adluts. will not survive with out the vitamans in milk.

    As someone that’s lived for the last five years without a single drop of dairy and as someone who’s raising a perfectly healthy child who’s never once tasted cow’s milk, I can say categorically that you’re wrong. There is nothing that we get from animals that we cannot get from plant sources.

    Thanks for your sharing your perspective. Take some time one day, though. Go out and take a look into the eyes of one of the dairy cows on your farm. And then think about how nice it would be if that cow didn’t have to be forced to be pregnant. If she didn’t have to have the milk that was meant for her child to be taken from her. If she didn’t have to die violently after she was no longer making money for your farm.

    She doesn’t. Visit a farm sanctuary and see how different life can be for the cows. Listen to or read about Harold Brown, who was born into and worked in the dairy industry. http://www.farmkind.org/ Challenge yourself to think differently.

  5. Jennifer

    Sometimes I wonder if someday, there will be two new species in the genus Homo. There will be those like there are now, how humans have evolved: with canines for eating meat, and molars for eating plants, and then a new species that have multiple stomachs, symbiotic bacteria so that they can actually digest cellulose and use it for something, and teeth strong enough to break plant cell walls.

    Just because we have a more advanced brain, and morals that have lowered us considerably in the food chain, morals that will eventually put us at the bottom of the food chain, does not mean that we still are not animals, who have needs, and instincts. There is a reason we all aren’t sitting in fields, happily munching on grass and leaves. Because we CAN’T. We can’t digest it and do anything with it; it just passes right through us.

    I think that you should go to a farm, and look into the eyes of a cow, and then come back and say what you see. And then, go and look into the eyes of a bison in Wyoming, and tell me if you think that bison looks any happier than the cow on the farm. Do you think that all female bison want to get pregnant when they do? Do you think that when the bull, who is much larger and in charge, impregnates them, that it is always what it wants? Do you think it’s the same for all animals? Do you think that they ALWAYS want to get pregnant when the male wants to mate? Do you think he cares if she doesn’t want to? Does it make a difference, even in the wild? Do you think it is better, in captivity, to not artificially inseminate animals and just stick a cow in with a bull that forces her to mate anyway, even if she doesn’t want to, and would likely hurt her in the process? If you think that the cows wouldn’t lay on their babies, or step on them, you obviously have never been around dairy cows before! Lauren, who posted above, is my best friend, and one of her cows stepped on the calf, and it lost its tail because of it. If you think that all animals have a special bond with their babies, maybe you should do a little research, because that is not at all true. I know many mares who have tried to kill their babies once they had them, because they had no idea what the hell it was that was in their space. And these animals that you say create “special bonds” kick their babies out once they’re old enough to not need the milk, and after that they don’t really know that it’s their baby. Guess what animals do know, and keep that bond, for the most part?! Hominids. Or, apes. Which humans are.

    After reading through a lot of your blogs, and seeing your insistence that all humans do with animals is exploit them, I am curious about your opinion on a few things. Do the people at sanctuaries get joy from those animals? That is exploitation. They are forcing those animals into enclosed spaces for their own enjoyment. Did they ask those animals if they wanted to be in those spaces, and in their care? I doubt it. Isn’t owning a dog exploitation? A cat? Horses? Do you think equestrian sports are exploitation? Because I can certainly tell you that I have been on a horse that wanted to jump a jump so bad there wasn’t a thing I was going to be able to do to stop it from doing so. They certainly enjoy it, and they know when they win, and they hold themselves higher. So do dogs. Do you agree with some other vegans I have come across that all domestic animals should be spayed/neutered until they no longer exist? Is your solution to this so-called “exploitation” causing hundreds of species to go extinct? That’s some pretty screwed up logic…

  6. cvc

    The full piece is on ABC’s site: http://abcnews.go.com/video/video?id=9671990

    These comments were interesting. People never want to be “bad guys” and so will go to great lengths to persuade themselves they’re doing nothing wrong–even in the face of such obvious evidence to the contrary.

    I, for one, am happy to see exposes like this one, documentaries such as Food, Inc., and more and more anti-factory-farming publicity put out there by meat-eaters such as Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan. It’s important to know where our food comes from. Factory farming is disgusting and cruel and rightly deserves the criticism it’s getting.

  7. Jovanka

    I applaud you for this blog entry and most of all for your patience with the ignorance of the comments here. It makes me so sad to see the meat-headed (in the truest sense of the word) attitudes of people who truly regard animals as “things” to be consumed at their whim. And it baffles me because not only is veganism morally correct; it’s also far healthier and far better for our planet. We use about 12 times the resources to produce a pound of “beef” as we do to produce an equivalent plant based protein such as soy.

    I have been a vegetarian for 20 years (finally saw he light and went vegan a year ago) and I can tell you quite honestly that in my 40s I am much healthier and younger looking than my meat eating friends – not a boast, just a fact. : ) And since giving up dairy a year ago, my asthma – which I had had since I was a teenager – is gone. I quite literally went from using my inhaler 8 times a day for more than half my life to not needing it at all.

    There simply is no intelligent argument for eating meat or dairy. And with athletes like Carl Lewis discovering the benefits of a vegan diet, myths about it lacking protein or making people weak are being shattered.

  8. Jennifer

    Simply because people don’t agree with your view or don’t do the same thing as you doesn’t make them ignorant. I like meat. I’m sorry, but I do. I do NOT view animals as “things”, and I never will. I love animals. Morals are a personal thing; there is no set standard for them. While I do not think it is wrong to kill animals in order to eat them, I do think it is wrong when it is done improperly and inhumanely. If someone doesn’t have the same morals as you, that also doesn’t make them ignorant. Refusing to listen to someone else’s viewpoints makes you ignorant, and instantly calling them out as wrong makes you ignorant.

    I don’t really care if someone wants to be vegan, but unless you’ve actually been on a REAL farm and physically around farm animals and the people that take care of them, you quite honestly have no idea what you’re talking about. If, after that, you still think it’s cruel and horrid to milk a cow or collect a chicken’s eggs or eat meat, then fine, that’s your personal opinion on it.

    Factory farms are bad. They really are, and I know that, and I believe that. If that’s the only reason people don’t eat meat, then they need to think about it a little. If people stop buying it, who will it hurt? Low prices won’t hurt the factory farms much because they produce large volume. It hurts small farms, ones where animals are treated properly, because they just don’t have enough animals to keep them going when prices drop a lot. Buying local is an easy way to solve it, and since those farms are usually smaller, they are not as detrimental to the environment.

    As far as there being no “intelligent argument” – well, that’s your opinion. Not every person in the world has the exact same dietary needs. Not every person can be healty on a totally vegan diet. Not every person can be healthy on an omniverous diet. I spent a week at my school eating only salads and drinking only water. I felt horrible, and had headaches all the time, and wasn’t sleeping. As soon as I went back to drinking a glass of milk a day and eating a balanced meal, I felt fine. It could have been a psychological thing, who knows, but that’s what happened.

    I am trying to have an adult conversation, without the name-calling. I enjoy hearing other people’s viewpoints, as long as I’m not told I’m wrong. It’s alright to agree to disagree, with I’m alright with doing, it’s just nice if people can take a step back and look at things from a different view. If you’ve never really experienced what you’re critiquing, I can certainly see why you would think it’s wrong. All I’m saying is that if you only know what you see on TV, maybe you should take the time to see if it’s really so horrid. I’m sorry if that’s ignorant.

  9. ryan

    I spent a week at my school eating only salads and drinking only water. I felt horrible, and had headaches all the time, and wasn’t sleeping.

    Heh. Of COURSE you felt horrible if you ate only salads and water! If that’s what you think a vegan eats, than wow — there’s a more serious misunderstanding than I thought.

    It comes down to this Jennifer: if you love animals, then you don’t eat them. Now, I suspect, you’re thinking, “But I *do* love animals!” But do you mean all animals? Would you eat your dog? Probably not, right? Then why would you eat a cow or a chicken? Keep in mind that there is no such thing as “humane” slaughter, because slaughter implies killing an animal unnecessarily early because you have a taste for them.

    How old do the cows that you’ve worked with live to be? Did you know they can live to be over 20 if they’re not used and then killed?

    With regards to having worked on a farm or not, I can name a number of vegans that have worked on farms, in zoos, in testing laboratories, etc. and went on to become vegan largely because of what they saw, experienced, and were forced to do. They’re people who I respect, so their experiences are good enough for me.

    Oh, and to answer one of your earlier comments:

    After reading through a lot of your blogs, and seeing your insistence that all humans do with animals is exploit them, I am curious about your opinion on a few things. Do the people at sanctuaries get joy from those animals? That is exploitation.

    If you’re equating the work of a non-profit organization that cares for animals and gives them a safe place to live out their lives without being used or abused with what the dairy, meat, and egg industries do to animals, there’s a serious disconnect happening. Sure, people at sanctuaries get joy from working with animals, but that’s a side effect of the work they do. Just like the enjoyment you get being with a friend or family member isn’t exploitation, it’s not exploitation to enjoy being around an animal who you’ve saved from a horrible fate (same goes for companion animals).

    Keep in mind, Jennifer, that you came onto a blog about veganism and animal rights, so you’ve got to expect a little bit of backlash. I don’t bother spending time on dairy industry blogs or chicken production discussion forums because I know I’m not going to change any minds there. I don’t think anyone here has been particularly rude to you directly.

  10. Jovanka

    In response to this:

    As far as there being no “intelligent argument” – well, that’s your opinion. Not every person in the world has the exact same dietary needs. Not every person can be healty on a totally vegan diet. Not every person can be healthy on an omniverous diet. I spent a week at my school eating only salads and drinking only water. I felt horrible, and had headaches all the time, and wasn’t sleeping. As soon as I went back to drinking a glass of milk a day and eating a balanced meal, I felt fine. It could have been a psychological thing, who knows, but that’s what happened.

    First, no, it isn’t just my “opinion” that there’s no intelligent argument for meat eating, there just isn’t. Here’s a challenge: Try to name ONE advantage of meat eating over a vegan diet. You can’t because there isn’t any. And yes, every person can absolutely be healthy on a PROPER vegan diet. Eating lettuce and water is NOT a vegan diet – it’s absolutely ridiculous. If that’s what you think a vegan diet is than perhaps you are the one who needs to experience what you’re critiquing? A balanced vegan diet includes a variety of grains, beans and all sorts of vegetables and is much richer in nutrients than the average American meat and potatoes fare.

    As a matter of fact I have spent time on a farm and I do know what I’m talking about. I’ve also spent time on rescue farms getting to know rescued farm animals; cows, goats, chickens, pigs, sheep for the wonderful intelligent and loving creatures that they are. Have you?

    Animals – all animals – deserve to live their lives on their terms, not ours. We have no right to enslave them, torture them and murder them and it’s even more of a blasphemy that we do so when the vegan alternative is so much healthier for our bodies and the planet.

    Loving animals means loving ALL animals. If you love them you don’t murder them.

  11. Jennifer

    I know exactly what a vegan diet entails because I did that vegan diet with advice from a former vegan who went back to just being vegetarian. I believe bread, fruit, nuts, and other things like soy beans are included in said diet, and that salad does not imply only eating lettuce, which isn’t nutritionally helpful to you at all. And I ate them as well, and I still felt like crap and I was hungry all the time. Perhaps the next time I say anything, I should give complete details to my diet and tell you exactly what I ate and exactly how I felt after each meal and at the end of each day.

    There are plenty of biological arguments that disprove your theory that plants can provide every single nutrient that the human body needs to be healthy. Some can only be found in animal cells. Even if they artifically create them and sell them to you, they are either made from animal cells, which would not be vegan, or synthetic which means they can still attach to enzymes, but are not the actual product and will no provide the exact same nutritional advantages. Eating artificial products, no matter what you may think and no matter how much you may want to call me a liar, is not healthy.

    All I wanted to point out is that you shouldn’t take everything you see to be on TV as the norm, because it’s not. The media is in it for shock factor, and they seem to have gotten it.

    Eploitation: The action of turning to account for selfish purposes, using for one’s own profit.

    Profit: A favourable circumstance or condition; advantage, gain; a person’s benefit or good.

    By definition, having animals on your land, keeping them penned up without asking their permission, and leaving them to the elements, something that stresses a dairy cow out beyond belief because change freaks them out, and watching them and simply keeping them their for your own personal happiness is exploitation.

    I do know that sometimes a cow can live for up to 20 years if taken care of in captivity. In the wild, that wouldn’t happen. Most animals don’t have any concept of time, and so it makes no difference to them if they live a good life of 5 years, or a good life of 20 years.

    When it comes right down to it, I am an animal, and I love other animals. I do not put myself above other animals and try and tell them what to eat. I eat meat just like other apes do, and I eat plants and fruits just like other animals do. I will continue to behave like an animal, and eat what my natural instincts tell me I need to eat. I refuse to put myself above other animals and tell them that we should all just get along and never eat another animal, that all animals, even those that do not have strong enough teeth to break plant cells walls and digest them properly, should just eat those plants because it’s apparantly wrong to kill anything. I am a naturally omniverous animal and will continue to be one until the day I die. I will not put myself above other animals. Period. And I’m sure that I’ll get the “but you ARE because you EAT them!” argument, which is completely invalid because so do tons of other animals.

    But of course, what do I know? I’m just an ignorant moron who has screwed up morals and is just a simpleton biology major that knows nothing at all about cells, ecology, the environment, animal behavior, or nutrition.

    Toodles, I will just have adult conversations with college students that are vegans and vegetarians who will actually listen to you without telling you that you are completely wrong.

  12. Krista

    I grew up on a small family farm. We treated our animals “humanely”. I am now a vegan. So, here’s my perspective on things.

    If cows have enough space they will not roll onto or crush their babies. Same with pigs, (since that’s the argument for gestation crates). We have created an artificial environment that makes it unsafe for the calves and then you justify taking away THEIR BABIES for the “good” of the babies.

    As a lactating mother I know there is no such thing as surplus milk”. My child nurses all the milk I make. When he needs more I will make more, when he needs less I will make less. When he eventually doesn’t need anymore milk (of any kind!) I will dry up. If you leave a cow with her calf her milk supply will create enough milk for that baby and no more. There is not a surplus specifically created for human consumption. I do not make milk for cows. The ridiculous argument that a nursing calf will create a mastitis infection is, well, ridiculous. Mastitis comes from a bacteria, and often the case is when the mother is making TOO much milk, such as when dairy farms make cows mega-producers.

    Calves need milk for longer than a month. Look at a natural weaning situation and you will see a calf can nurse for several months. Humans create unnatural weaning situations so that we can use cow milk for ourselves. Guess what, when you take milk from a cow that she is producing specifically for her calf you are stealing her milk. Would you force a lactating human to wean her child early so you could use breastmilk for another purpose?

    When a cow and a bull are able to breed naturally the cow is not raped. If the cow doesn’t want to have sex with the bull all she has to do is walk away. If a bull doesn’t have a stationary cow to mount he cannot breed. Artificial insemination benefits only the farmer. It’s easier to store semen straws than it is to house a “dangerous” bull. And, yup, bulls can be dangerous. You know why? Nature has intended bulls to protect their herds. It’s also cheaper to get some semen straws than it is to transport a specific bull.

    Dehorning hurts. End of story. There were three ways we dehorned on my family farm: burning the horn buds when the calf is a few days old, applying a caustic substance to the horn buds, or cutting off the horns when they were big enough. Horns are full of blood vessels, whenever they were cut the horns bled a lot. They are sensitive. And hearing those babies cry when we dehorned them was horrible. This argument to me smacks of when an adult tries to say circumcision doesn’t hurt babies. Pu-leez.

    The thing is any milk besides human milk is unnecessary for humans. And humans only need milk for as long as they need to nurse, which is about 2-4 years. After that our bodies do not make the digestive enzymes to even utilize milk. Expect for in extreme circumstances have you ever seen adult mammals drink milk? They don’t. We don’t need to, either.

    Trust me, I understand the defensive position. In the beginning I was defensive because I felt my family did a “great” job raising our animals humanely. And we do, compared to factory farming. But when it comes down to it and you learn that animal products are not needed for a healthy life you start to question why we use them. And here I am, a vegan.

  13. ryan

    Jennifer —

    There are plenty of biological arguments that disprove your theory that plants can provide every single nutrient that the human body needs to be healthy. Some can only be found in animal cells.

    Please expand.

    I am a naturally omniverous [sic] animal and will continue to be one until the day I die.

    I agree with you here. You are omnivorous.

    Which means you can eat meat. But you don’t have to. Omnivores can subsist just fine on a vegan diet, if they choose to do so.

    And I’m sure that I’ll get the “but you ARE because you EAT them!” argument, which is completely invalid because so do tons of other animals.

    The “tons of other animals” need to eat other animals to survive. We have a choice. So it’s not at all invalid.

    … Ryan

  14. ryan

    (And, thanks Krista, for chiming in and sharing your experiences as a former farm person.)

  15. Jennifer

    So… I typed up a long response and accidently hit backspace when I wasn’t clicked in here and lost it, and I don’t feel like retyping it. Biologically speaking, there isn’t much of a difference, but there are things you can’t get from plant cells. I suppose taking it in pill form when it just comes from animal cells makes it okay for you. As long as it doesn’t have a brain, it’s okay is my understanding. I make the choice to eat meat. You make the choice not to. I’m not going to shove my beliefs on you, I don’t really care what you do. I was just annoyed that you took what was on TV as fact and normal, and that it’s apparantly ignorant and stupid to eat meat.

    Rights and morals are some made up thing by humans for control, that’s all. We aren’t born with them, they’re taught.

    Cats are also omniverous. They also play with their food. What evil, vile creatures.

    Bears are omniverous. They eat berries, and they eat meat. They don’t need to eat meat, how dare they do so.

    I’m an animal. I’m an omnivore. I eat meat and I eat lots of other things as well, even crickets. I recommend the kind with the fake cheese stuff on them.

    Just because I don’t -need- something doesn’t mean I don’t use it/eat it/want it.

    As I said before, which you also ignored, I’m an animal, and if you think humans are no better than animals, I’m going to do what animals do and eat what I want.

    I’m not replying anymore, and it is NOT BECAUSE I HAVE RUN OUT OF ARGUMENTS, which I’m sure is what will be said. Not true, I’m bored with this, quite frankly, and don’t feel like explaining how the human body works and how digestion works to people who don’t care.

  16. ryan

    Jennifer —

    Did you read Krista’s reply? I’d be curious what you have to say about that since you’d implied someone that had worked on a family farm would know that it was all OK.

    As I said before, which you also ignored, I’m an animal, and if you think humans are no better than animals, I’m going to do what animals do and eat what I want.

    Never said humans were better/worse than other animals. We’re different. I, personally, am not concerned with what a cat chooses to eat or what a bear eats, because I’m not one. I know that, as humans, we have simple choices we can make about how we eat, what we wear, etc. We can make choices that cause the least amount of suffering possible. We can make choices that aren’t as harmful to the environment. We can make choices that extend compassion beyond our immediate surroundings.

    Not true, I’m bored with this, quite frankly, and don’t feel like explaining how the human body works and how digestion works to people who don’t care.

    It seems to me that you’re the one taking the know-it-all attitude. There’s plenty of literature out there to take in that discusses vegan nutrition. As a vegan of five years, I can tell you that I feel much better physically now than I did when I ate meat and (especially) consumed dairy. When I get a cold, it lasts a shorter length of time. I used to have horrible digestive issues that required medication that have completely gone away. Anecdotal evidence, sure, but there’s no shortage of scientific evidence that a vegan diet is at worst as health as an omnivorous diet and, in most cases, healthier. Shoot, even the conservative ADA has said it.

    And I’m not quite sure where this “taking it in pill form” is coming from… I occasionally take a multivitamin, no magical Psuedo-Animal-Cell Pills. I really am curious about what you’re talking about… even if you don’t want to go into it, give me some terms, something to Google…

    Again, I don’t think anyone here has attacked you personally. Sure, we’ve attacked ideas and arguments, but that’s what this is all about, no? As I said earlier, if you come on a vegan/animal rights site and compare the exploitation of animals in dairy and meat production to the lives they lead at sanctuaries, you better be prepared for some backlash.

  17. Jovanka

    Jennifer:

    Um, sweetie? I am a University graduate, thank you very much. Is there some reason you’re being so rude? Are your arteries clogging or something? ……And for someone who is claiming to be educated you sure don’t support your statements very well. You say there are “plenty of biological arguments that disprove my theory”. Really? Well then why don’t you provide a link to just ONE of them?

    And stop with your assumptions that I am getting my information from TV. I do not live in America nor am I an avid television watcher.

    Just as an FYI since you obviously have no clue about what a rescue farm is like: animals are not kept “penned up” there. Here, why don’t you have a look at what goes on at one of them: http://farmsanctuary.org/ …….Gee – see what I did there? Providing a link to back up what I say? A novel approach!

    And yes you certainly are a hypocrite to call yourself an animal lover. If you love them you don’t murder and eat them. The fact that you predicted what I would respond about that only demonstrates that at some level you must be cognizant of this.

    For your edification, here is a link about how much healthier a vegan diet is: http://www.vegan.org/FAQs/index.html

    BTW I do find it interesting that you still weren’t able to come up with ONE advantage of a meat eating diet. It was a simple challenge and it speaks volumes that you couldn’t meet it. You might want to give that some thought.

    Meanwhile here are some statistics you might find interesting:

    The Hunger Argument
    Number of people worldwide who will die as a result of malnutrition this year: 20 million
    Number of people who could be adequately fed using land freed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%: 100 million
    Percentage of corn grown in the U.S. eaten by people: 20
    Percentage of corn grown in the U.S. eaten by livestock: 80
    Percentage of oats grown in the U.S. eaten by livestock: 95
    Percentage of protein wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 90
    How frequently a child dies as a result of malnutrition: every 2.3 seconds
    Pounds of potatoes that can be grown on an acre: 40,000
    Pounds of beef produced on an acre: 250
    Percentage of U.S. farmland devoted to beef production: 56
    Pounds of grain and soybeans needed to produce a pound of edible flesh from feedlot beef: 16

    The Environmental Argument
    Cause of global warming: greenhouse effect
    Primary cause of greenhouse effect: carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels
    Fossil fuels needed to produce meat-centered diet vs. a meat-free diet: 3 times more
    Percentage of U.S. topsoil lost to date: 75
    Percentage of U.S. topsoil loss directly related to livestock raising: 85
    Number of acres of U.S. forest cleared for cropland to produce meat-centered diet: 260 million
    Amount of meat imported to U.S. annually from Central and South America: 300,000,000 pounds
    Percentage of Central American children under the age of five who are undernourished: 75
    Area of tropical rainforest consumed in every quarter-pound of rainforest beef: 55 square feet
    Current rate of species extinction due to destruction of tropical rainforests for meat grazing and other uses: 1,000 per year

    The Cancer Argument
    Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat meat daily compared to less than once a week: 3.8 times
    For women who eat eggs daily compared to once a week: 2.8 times
    For women who eat butter and cheese 2-4 times a week: 3.25 times
    Increased risk of fatal ovarian cancer for women who eat eggs 3 or more times a week vs. less than once a week: 3 times
    Increased risk of fatal prostate cancer for men who consume meat, cheese, eggs and milk daily vs. sparingly or not at all: 3.6 times.

    The Cholesterol Argument
    Number of U.S. medical schools: 125
    Number requiring a course in nutrition: 30
    Nutrition training received by average U.S. physician during four years in medical school: 2.5 hours
    Most common cause of death in the U.S.: heart attack
    How frequently a heart attack kills in the U.S.: every 45 seconds
    Average U.S. man’s risk of death from heart attack: 50 percent
    Risk of average U.S. man who eats no meat: 15 percent
    Risk of average U.S. man who eats no meat, dairy or eggs: 4 percent
    Amount you reduce risk of heart attack if you reduce consumption of meat, dairy and eggs by 10 percent: 9 percent
    Amount you reduce risk of heart attack if you reduce consumption by 50 percent: 45 percent
    Amount you reduce risk if you eliminate meat, dairy and eggs from your diet: 90 percent
    Average cholesterol level of people eating meat-centered-diet: 210 mg/dl
    Chance of dying from heart disease if you are male and your blood cholesterol level is 210 mg/dl: greater than 50 percent

    The Natural Resources Argument
    User of more than half of all water used for all purposes in the U.S.: livestock production
    Amount of water used in production of the average cow: sufficient to float a destroyer
    Gallons of water needed to produce a pound of wheat: 25
    Gallons of water needed to produce a pound of California beef: 5,000
    Years the world’s known oil reserves would last if every human ate a meat-centered diet: 13
    Years they would last if human beings no longer ate meat: 260
    Calories of fossil fuel expended to get 1 calorie of protein from beef: 78
    To get 1 calorie of protein from soybeans: 2
    Percentage of all raw materials (base products of farming, forestry and mining, including fossil fuels) consumed by U.S. that is devoted to the production of livestock: 33
    Percentage of all raw materials consumed by the U.S. needed to produce a complete vegetarian diet: 2

    The Antibiotic Argument
    Percentage of U.S. antibiotics fed to livestock: 55
    Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13
    Percentage resistant in 1988: 91
    Response of European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: ban
    Response of U.S. meat and pharmaceutical industries to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: full and complete support

    The Pesticide Argument
    Common belief: U.S. Department of Agriculture protects our health through meat inspection
    Reality: fewer than 1 out of every 250,000 slaughtered animals is tested for toxic chemical residues
    Percentage of U.S. mother’s milk containing significant levels of DDT: 99
    Percentage of U.S. vegetarian mother’s milk containing significant levels of DDT: 8
    Contamination of breast milk, due to chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides in animal products, found in meat-eating mothers vs. non-meat eating mothers: 35 times higher
    Amount of Dieldrin ingested by the average breast-fed American infant: 9 times the permissible level

    The Ethical Argument
    Number of animals killed for meat per hour in the U.S.: 660,000
    Occupation with highest turnover rate in U.S.: slaughterhouse worker
    Occupation with highest rate of on-the-job-injury in U.S.: slaughterhouse worker

    The Survival Argument
    Athlete to win Ironman Triathlon more than twice: Dave Scott (6 time winner)
    Food choice of Dave Scott: Vegetarian
    Largest meat eater that ever lived: Tyrannosaurus Rex (Where is he today?)

  18. Gary

    We don’t base our morals on what cats or bears do, but on near-universal principals of moral human behavior such as the golden rule, having mercy, refraining from inflicting avoidable harm.

    In an open (but well-moderated) forum like this, no one is shoving ideas down anyone’s throat. The only real forcing re this discussion is the various manipulations, amputations, killings, genetic engineering, etc. that are done to cows in the dairy industry.

    When one’s intentional behavior affects others – especially in a severe way – it goes beyond personal choice. The choice of the victims must be considered.

    In studies, vegans are shown to be at least as healthy as the general population, and with lower rates of some serious diseases. A well-planned vegan diet (as the American Dietetic Association has stated) is demonstrably, obviously healthy.

    Most people who give up dairy for ethical reasons find that it is not nearly as hard as they thought it would be, are very glad about their decision, and find tons of foods to replace dairy. In fact, going vegan is quite often a catalyst for discovering a wealth of new and delicious foods.

    Generally, once you’re no longer exploiting animals for profit or pleasure, or out of habit, you feel no need to defend it. There really is no convincing argument for inflicting avoidable pain on other beings.

    All creatures want peace and freedom from harm. We cannot end all suffering and untimely death, but there is a lot we can do in our everyday decisions to lower the suffering and death we cause. Going vegan is part of that peaceful pursuit. Give it a try!

  19. ryan

    Gary — You are always so much more diplomatic than I am! Well done. :)

  20. Jenn

    I don’t know everything. Vegan diets can be healthy. Vegetarian diets can be healthy. Omniverous diets can be healthy. It all has to do with moderation and what you personally think is right. As I have said before, it only bothers me that people assume that everything they see on TV is the complete and utter truth and that all animals, no matter what, when on a farm, are abused.

    It all has to do with your personal viewpoints. I can kill a deer and gut it and be perfectly fine with it. I can take my dog to the vet to get his shots and listen to him cry like crazy and not be bothered. I can watch a calf get branded and not be bothered. I’ve been burned, and I’ve had shots, and I know that pain only lasts for a second. It was never my choice to do so, but I got over it. Animals can too. If some people, some farmers, some zoo keepers, do not like what they see, good for them, and I’m glad they made life choices that are better for them.

    I may possibly feel better on a vegan diet, but I feel wonderful right now. My family has all lived to be over 90, so I don’t really see the point in changing it. In an ever changing world, there are millions of studies that contradict other studies, and what is healthy and what isn’t changes constantly. I’ve never had the flu. I rarely get colds. I haven’t been sick where I throw up in over six years. Sometimes a change in diet is required to make you healthier, and by all means, you should change your diet in order to be healthy; a lot of Americans need to do that. Personally, I would be horribly manourished on a vegan diet and I know it. A lot of the foods that you need to eat in order to get everything you need that I can just get in one little steak make me want to vomit because of the way that they taste. It’s all a completely personal choice and preference, and I realize that, and I never said that you’re wrong for only wanting to eat the stationary living things without brains, but as I said many times, it just bothers me that people think if national TV says it, it must be true and must happen on every farm ever.

    To be quite honest, I’m not eating very much meat right now because of the whole college food setting. It’s disgusting, has a funny flavor, and I have no idea where it comes from, so I won’t eat it.

    Exploitation is exploitation no matter what package you wrap it in. I am going to continue exploiting the animals that I am a complete and utter slave to.

    I guess I just have a philosophical problem with it – supposedly what separates us from other animals is our ability to reason, and to use that reason to choose. Other animals can’t do that, so what gives them this choice ability and the ability to want? It’s hard to take a step back and look at it like that, but it’s interesting. We can choose. We can reason and choose, and we have wants, not just needs. Do other animals?

    And, I was thinking about it last night… If we want a truely environmentally friendly way of eating, we ought to just eat insects. They are readily available, easy to naturally breed, and come in massive quantities in a small amount of space! :D

  21. Jennifer

    If you just take a multivitamin you’re fine. Just be careful when buying supplements, because some are made from animal cells; not all are made from plants. Just a warning…

    It’s hard to find on google because site generally come up with people bashing those that choose to eat meat. If you stick to buying things from strictly vegan sites, you should be alright.

    :]

    And, just out of curiosity, does veganism include the cells, or only the entire organism?

  22. ryan

    And, just out of curiosity, does veganism include the cells, or only the entire organism?

    Vegans avoid foods that have explicit animal ingredients or ingredients that are animal derived (like most D3, for instance). And just because they’re not animal ingredients, doesn’t mean that they’re synthetic — often the source is just what the animals themselves get the nutrient from (like B-12 or algae-based DHA).

  23. Gary

    Jenn,

    I rarely argue veganism on health grounds, other than to counter myths that vegan diets are inherently unhealthy.

    I agree that too many people believe what’s on TV. For example, a a steady bombardment of TV commercials shows totally unrealistic happy dairy cows in pasture (less than 10 percent of dairy cows in the US currently graze in pasture), and never shows the everyday cruelties of dairy such as stealing babies from their mothers, forcing cows to produce up to 10 times more milk than normal, and killing cows when only five years old even if in late pregnancy.

    These cruelties are standard practice on nearly every dairy farm in the country, and one way to find out is to ask the dairy farmers themselves, as I have done.

    Virtually every undercover investigation of factory farms and slaughterhouses shows hideous cruelties. These are not isolated cases. Note that more than 95 percent of animal products in the US come from factory farms.

    Plenty of cruelty occurs on small family farms, also. For example, a visitor to Polyface Farms, held up as the ideal animal farm in Food Inc., viewed “chickens in tiny cages with tin roofs in the beating sun, panting like mad…Rabbits were kept in factory-farm conditions in suspended, barren wire cages.” At the farm sanctuary where I volunteer, many times we have taken in abused and neglected animals from family farms.

    Gail Eisnitz in “Slaughterhouse” interviewed ex-pig slaughterhouse workers, and repeatedly they told horrid tales of beating “uncooperative” pigs with iron rods, and pigs who were fully conscious as they were immersed in scalding water and thrashed for up to two minutes before drowning. The Washington Post did an investigation of a slaughterhouse in which they saw insufficiently stunned cows still alive and conscious as they were dismembered. The Humane Farming Association reported rabbits in slaughterhouses screaming like human babies as their heads were sawed off – and this was corroborated by the USDA’s own inspection reports.

    This is only the tip of the iceberg. Investigations of factory farms and slaughterhouses have gone on for decades, around the world. Animals on farms are treated as disposable commodities. They are typically starved one to four days before slaughter because the food they would eat during their last few days wouldn’t have enough time to be converted to profitable meat. Livestock may be transported in sweltering heat for over 24 hours with no food or water. Once at the slaughterhouse, they may be confined in holding pens for another 12 hours with no food or water. Many animals die on the way to being slaughtered, and the meat industry accepts this as a cost of doing business. Multiple investigations have revealed horrible suffering during animal transport.

    Many other species show reasoning ability, but even if they didn’t, it is obvious that animals do not want to be harmed. They will go to great lengths to avoid being killed or harmed; they suffer profoundly and in similar ways to us when in great pain; they have similar hormonal and biological responses to us when they are in fear or ecstatically happy, when stressed or when content.

    We typically take our beloved family dogs to the vet for their own benefit. We usually comfort them as much as possible if they have to endure some temporary pain or stress while at the vet. Most of the standard cruelties inflicted on farm animals would be illegal if we did them to our pets; many would be felonies. We de-horn cows without painkillers, send “excess” calves to veal pens, grind up baby male chicks at hen hatcheries, and breed turkeys to be so heavy they sometimes collapse – not for their benefit but for profit and superficial pleasure. There’s a huge difference between taking a dog for shots and inflicting long-term harm and early death on farm animals – both in severity and attitude.

    Veganism is not about health (though a well-planned vegan diet can be extremely healthy); it is not about feeling queasy at the sight of blood – you can be vegan and stoic. It is about having enough respect and empathy for other sentient individuals to refrain from inflicting avoidable harm on them. Empathy and respect for others who have the capacity to enjoy life and suffer dictates that we try to avoid harming them. Some harm is unavoidable, but other harm is preventable. If we can easily prevent harming others, why would we *not* do that?

    For most of us, we can make the biggest reduction in human-caused suffering and untimely death by choosing a vegan diet. It may seem daunting at first. I used to love meat. I ate it almost every day for over 40 years. But like most other people who switch to a vegan diet out of ethical concerns, I discovered at least ten new foods for every food I gave up. My diet has never been more varied or satisfying. There is a plethora of plant-based foods out there, not to mention cooking styles and cuisines. Furthermore, veggie meats continue to improve. Gardein pairs well with rice, green veggies, and most sauces. Field Roast apple sage sausage is divine in tofu scramble or hash browns. You can make a wide variety of excellent homemade veggie burgers that leave the frozen varieties (though handy) in the dust. Indian spices and dishes are amazing. I’ve made vegan sloppy Joes, chili, and “meaty” spaghetti so many times for meat eaters who never knew the difference and asked for seconds, I’ve lost count. In recent years, vegan chocolate cake, coffee cake, and cornbread have won well-publicized cooking contests in which both the judges and most of the other entries were non-vegan. Vegan baking is actually quite easy. When it comes to diet, expand your horizons – it’s gratifying and fun!

    If it’s taste and texture you’re worried about, I recommend perusing some of the hundreds of vegan food blogs online. They’re often amazing, there is every style imaginable, and the authors are usually more than happy to provide guidance. If you’re worried about nutrition I’d recommend consulting with a veg-friendly nutritionist. Or follow the guidelines at http://www.veganhealth.org.

    Ultimately, it’s far easier to acknowledge cruel habits and divest yourself of them than it is to defend them. It’s liberating not only to the victims of those habits but to the person doing them. One never really regrets making a kind choice. Try a gradual transition to veganism. Think of the animal product that would be most easy to replace. Once that works out, try another. Don’t psyche yourself out with “I could never give up steak.” Take it one step at a time. You may be pleasantly surprised where you end up.

    Gary

  24. Jovanka

    Jenn/Jennifer (who I’m assuming to be the same person):

    You strike me as being very naïve. You say you “feel wonderful” even though you’re eating meat? Well of course you do now, YOU’RE A TEENAGER – (or close to it if you are in college as you claim). Your eating habits haven’t caught up with you yet, but they will. And those people in your family who lived into their 90s I will guarantee didn’t eat as much meat a you do – (meat consumption in the US has nearly tripled in two generations) – nor did they eat meat that was so packed with growth hormones and other harmful chemicals as it is now. Were they active people riding bicycles/working in their gardens well into their 90s and beyond as the near-vegan population of Okinawa centenarians are? I rather doubt it…..

    And as for this sentence of yours:

    “It all has to do with your personal viewpoints. I can kill a deer and gut it and be perfectly fine with it. I can take my dog to the vet to get his shots and listen to him cry like crazy and not be bothered. I can watch a calf get branded and not be bothered.”

    …..I hope with that kind of sociopathic-bordering-on-sadistic attitude of yours that you never have children. The fact that you seem to be proud so of your lack of empathy that you felt the need to antagonize people with it on a vegan blog reveals you as a very ugly person.

    I hope you can gain a little wisdom. Because whether you believe it or not your karma will catch up with you.

  25. Jennifer

    …..I hope with that kind of sociopathic-bordering-on-sadistic attitude of yours that you never have children. The fact that you seem to be proud so of your lack of empathy that you felt the need to antagonize people with it on a vegan blog reveals you as a very ugly person.

    I’m an ugly person because I hunt? Sweet, I know lots of ugly people that are extremely sadistic by your definition then. I’m not trying to antagonize anyone, just pointing out that everyone is different. I didn’t know it was considered sadistic when you don’t freak out when your dog gets shots, or when a calf gets branded. I don’t stand there laughing evilly and enjoy it, I just know that it will only hurt for a second and that they’ll be over it rather quickly, as I said… Which I believe is empathy. When I do hunt, I don’t shoot a deer in the leg and laugh as I watch it limp off. I’m not some evil person, I’m just like every other hunter I know – we go for clean kills so the deer drops immediately and never knows what hits it. I’ve never left a wounded deer or had one that ran for more than ten yards, thank you very much, and that’s the way I like it. I don’t want the cute little things to suffer.

    Hehe…
    And those people in your family who lived into their 90s I will guarantee didn’t eat as much meat a you do – (meat consumption in the US has nearly tripled in two generations) – nor did they eat meat that was so packed with growth hormones and other harmful chemicals as it is now.

    Goodness, you make me sound like some vicious carnivore that eats only meat three meals a day and nothing else. I wonder if the meat consumption has to do with fast food places that make it readily available? I don’t eat fast food, nor do I eat a ton of meat. I eat meat maybe once a week, maybe. Sadly those growth hormones haven’t made me any taller… (that’s supposed to be funny, I’m not serious there, just so you know). Fruits and veggies are just as packed with the harmful chemicals, unless you buy organic things, which I know very well I can’t afford, and neither can my family. I try very hard to balance my diet, and I eat all sorts of food, including the oh-so-delicious cashew and sunflower seed, yum. (that’s what I’m snacking now :] )

    My 90-year-old grandfather eats meat for three meals a day, every day, and has since he was a kid except for when he was in Europe during WWII. He works in his garden, shovels his driveway, and mows his lawn. He’s quite spry for his age, and my grandma doesn’t even buy lean meat, they buy the nasty stuff filled with tons of fat that I would never, ever eat, and he’s never been in the hospital except for the one time he sliced his arm open with some hunk of metal and was spurting blood everywhere.

    I hate factory farms, which is why I do my best to get only local meat and dairy, and eggs. I do not know of any farms anywhere near where I live that treat their animals so horribly, nor have I ever heard of many at all that do. I always laugh when I see those dairy commercials and the cows in the pasture, because that just doesn’t happen. They’re usually inside, chewing their cud, listening to their classical music, getting cleaned up after, and getting cooled by amazingly huge fans. Change the song and man do they get stressed out. Even if you wanted them to go outside… They don’t wanna, I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. There’s a 1000+ head dairy farm right across from my elementary school, and that’s how they are. They are so incredibly spoiled. At least I think they are, I would want that life.

    Maybe every farm in the entire world does torture and beat their animals and force them to do terrible things that are horrendous and I’m just and idiot and don’t see it. I know a little about butchering animals, and I find it hard to believe that every slaughterhouse ever beats and tortures their animals. The steaks would be rather nasty if that were the case.

    But, whatever, I’m evil in your eyes, and you are very passionate about your beliefs and defensive of them in mine. I applaud you for sticking up for them so passionately, because I could not handle having to do so all the time. I never, ever meant to insult anyone or attack you, I was kind of hoping for a good conversation, as I saw on some of the others. I didn’t think I was being rude, but apparantly I was and I apologize. I know this is a vegan board, I can read, and I expected some backlash, and some intelligent conversation, but it seems like I can’t get it because you guys apparantly know much more than I do about everything.

    So, I’m sorry.

    Live Long and Prosper
    \\//

  26. Gary

    “They are so incredibly spoiled. At least I think they are, I would want that life.”

    You probably wouldn’t want to be genetically forced to pump out 5-10 times more milk than normal, be kept constantly pregnant or lactating your entire adult life, have your babies repeatedly stolen from you, be forced into a truck with electric prods, or be killed when a young adult – even if in late-term pregnancy, or killed even earlier if you were injured or couldn’t get pregnant.

    They’re not spoiled and you wouldn’t want that life.

    “Even if you wanted them to go outside… They don’t wanna, I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. There’s a 1000+ head dairy farm right across from my elementary school, and that’s how they are.”

    There’s some sort of disconnect here. At the farm sanctuary where I volunteer, the cows are outside – by choice – nearly every day of the year. In fact they often wander throughout the hundreds of acres of the sanctuary – and benefit immensely from the exercise and mental stimulation. Perhaps the cows in the 1000+ dairy herd have become dispirited from having their babies stolen from them, or osteoporatic from having to pump out so much milk (its estimated that up to 50% of dairy cows suffer from some sort of lameness by the time they’re five years old), or that the ratio of cows to land has degraded the quality of the pasture, or that there’s no cool nearby woods in the summer (the sanctuary cows love to go into the woods when it’s hot out – most people are completely unaware that cows do that). Or there’s some other reason.

    But please don’t get the idea that cows naturally avoid pasture. Our cows enjoy it every day. And they – not the ones in huge dairy farms – are spoiled. They get to live their normal lifespans; they get to form long-term friendships. They have plenty of space. Calves are smothered with love; they’re not taken from their mothers when two days old. If a cow is injured, she’s given veterinary treatment, not killed.

    ” find it hard to believe that every slaughterhouse ever beats and tortures their animals. The steaks would be rather nasty if that were the case.”

    Never say never, but investigation after investigation, for decades now, around the world, shows horrendous cruelty to be commonplace in slaughterhouses. It may be a function of mass-killing day after day. As the undercover investigators and some of the workers themselves have revealed, sometimes the frustration of the work is taken out against the poor animals.

    The quality of a flank steak wouldn’t be directly impacted if the animal was beaten on the head, or alive and kicking while being dismembered. But the quality of our ethics and morality would suffer. Furthermore, the meat from some animals gets turned into ground beef or bits in chicken soup; there’s no way to tell from eating the meat to know if the animal was beaten.

    But there is always that chance, regardless of where the animal was raised. Factory farms are hideous, but plenty of investigations of revealed horrid cruelties on small farms also. And even a grass-fed cow on a small farm may have a horrid last ride to the slaughterhouse, and a hellish experience once there.

    Furthermore, simply the way the animals are bred causes them pain and hardship. Modern farm animals have been intensively bred to grossly overproduce flesh, milk, and eggs, all of which takes a substantial toll on their bodies.

    Note – I’m just arguing concepts here. I don’t think you’re a bad or evil person. I think all of us have the potential to be better than we currently are – more compassionate, more respectful, more peaceful. It’s a lifelong process. None of us should ever think we’re done with that journey.

    Gary

  27. Vegan Bites: Feb. 9, 2010

    […] ABC’s dairy expose […]

  28. Megan

    Actually, just for the record, slaughterhouses are designed to calm the animals before slaughter. The halls are called serpentine ramps. They are cool and dark (not pitch black, but the animals tend to like the cool dark atmosphere). The cattle aren’t yelled and rarely touched- they usually tend to naturally follow eachother (which we can imagine as true by our knowledge of cattle stampedes) Every precaution is made so that the animal has no discomfort, not only physically, but mentally as well. Then the slaughter is performed instantly with a blow to a head by a machine, so as not to eliminate human error. It is the death of an animal, I won’t deny that, but to say that animals are stressed in slaughterhouses and that it has no affect on the meat quality is untrue. Just as a human’s levels of lactic acid would increase after a workout or long run, an animal’s would as well- causing the meat to be poor quality and tough, even long after slaughter. I’m a student attending a university, and I too am young but I am educated enough to know that there is a right and wrong way to share your area of expertise and debate with others. I rarely see if done the right way (without personal attack and snide comments) and this feed is no different.

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