What does the next generation think of today’s issues? The TBS Next Gen program publishes Australian students, mentored by TBS writers. Today, Bailey looks at ways we can live without milk, to end cruelty toward cows from the Australian dairy industry.
Student: Bailey Mason
Mentor: Jordan Rivkin
Topic: Cruelty toward cows from Australian dairy industry
The majority of Australians consume dairy but are unaware of the suffering behind every glass of milk they drink. The dairy industry’s secret is heartbreaking and is damaging to its business. In order for a cow to produce milk, it must have a calf every 12 months. The cows are impregnated using what the dairy industry calls a “rape rack”. Many people are unaware that dairy milk is in fact a cow’s breast milk meant to feed its young, but we abuse this and steal their milk so we that we can consume dairy products. The cows are constantly pregnant and being milked, which often results in mastitis. This is exceptionally painful for the cows and also means their milk contains blood and pus. In Europe, regulators allow 400 million pus cells per litre, while in the US, the FDA allows 750 million pus cells per litre. In Australia, there is no limit to how much pus is permitted.
Antibiotics and hormones are used in order to increase milk production. The mothers are used until their body gives out, before being turned into cheap meat at about a quarter of their natural life span, when they are around four years old.
In Australia each year, 700,000 male calves are torn away from their mothers on the day they are born, causing both the mothers and calves great distress. The mother cows react in a similar way to a human mother who has her child stolen. In some cases, the mothers try to defend the babies by attacking the farmers, while some of the mother cows run helplessly after the truck. This distressing process happens year after year. The babies are stolen because they are male and are of no use to the dairy industry, as they cannot produce milk. The babies are loaded onto trucks and sent to slaughter. Many young calves are shocked with electric prods, pushed and dragged up ramps into the trucks. The dairy industry’s male calves are used for the veal industry and many of the female calves will be used as milking machines just like their mothers…a cruel cycle that never ends.
The dairy industry is inherently cruel, and is terrible for the environment and our health. It’s an industry not worth saving… Our choices and our voices are making a difference.
And if the cruelty wasn’t enough to turn you off that glass of milk, then there are also some environmental considerations to think about. The dairy industry is responsible for the mass consumption of water. It is responsible for 19 percent of all the water used in Australian agriculture. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction worldwide.
Animal agriculture is also responsible for 91 percent of the Amazon’s destruction, and 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions; more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. Cows produce a lot of methane and nitrous oxide in their digestive systems. They also produce a lot of manure which pollutes waterways and soil.
The dairy industry has made us believe that we need milk for strong, healthy bones but this simply isn’t true. There are many plant-based foods that contain calcium such as kale, dried figs, fortified soy and nut milks, tofu, white beans and many more kind, calcium rich options.
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There is now a large demand for delicious dairy-free foods. I had the pleasure of speaking with Fotini Platis from Gelato Blue in Newtown, Sydney. This gelateria has now gone completely dairy-free. She said that they went cruelty free because it was what their customers wanted and it’s their way of helping the environment, all while serving delicious coconut based gelato. Even mainstream supermarkets now stock dairy-alternative cheeses, sour creams, yogurts, milk and ice cream.
The dairy industry is inherently cruel, and is terrible for the environment and our health. It’s an industry not worth saving. If there are alternatives to dairy, why would we not choose them? We can live healthy lives without using animals, despite what the dairy industry has been telling us all our lives. It’s clear that our choices and our voices are making a difference.
The opinions expressed and facts represented in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions of The Big Smoke (referred to as TBS) or its Editorial staff.
This article is part of a series for The Big Smoke Next Gen.
The Big Smoke Next Gen is a program which matches professional and experienced writers, academics and journalists with students who wish to write non-fiction articles and voice their opinions on what is shaping the nation.
For more information about our program at The Big Smoke, or to become a mentor, please contact us.