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Slaughter-free dairy?

OK. I think this one is a no brainer, but here goes anyway.

I don’t think you should support slaughter-free dairy. I think people should stop taking milk from cows and only consume plant-derived milks.

What prompts this statement?

There is currently an IndieGoGo campaign raising funds for a ‘no slaughter’ dairy farm in the UK called The Ahimsa Dairy Foundation.

If you have ever thought that this sort of scenario is an acceptable alternative to industrialised farming, I would like you to consider some points I find problematic about this venture.

The organisation say the following of the cows they use to produce milk:

We retire our cows to pasture when they have given us their best, and instead of being killed, our male calves work the land when they are old enough to be trained.

The Ahimsa Foundation is positioning these animals as commodities. They are still being kept to serve humans. The male calves will be trained to work for humans. This is not in the best interest of the animal and is not progressive compassion when so many non-animal alternatives are widely available to all communities in the UK.

Patrick Holden of The Sustainable Food Trust states during the fundraising video that the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation “represents the very pinnacle of animal welfare”. I strongly disagree. Humans breeding and controlling animals to extract a product for their own use is falling way short of any sort of animal welfare pinnacle.

Another troubling statement from the campaign

It is an incredibly selfish approach to acknowledge the inherent and widespread cruelty of dairy agriculture yet still produce, promote and consume the products from cows. You don’t need cow milk to be alive. Promoting ‘cruelty free’ dairy works to legitimise the practice of cows being used for humans.

More troubling statements from The Ahimsa Dairy Foundation fundraising page:

Under our system, cows will only become pregnant every two to four years. We also want to primarily milk by hand. We aim to manage the size of our herd very carefully.

I wonder how the cows ‘become’ pregnant? I wonder if the careful management of herd size includes insemination to determine when the cows become pregnant and which male animal is involved? It is also concerning when they say they primarily want to milk by hand. Is it their preferred method but they will use machinery when necessary?

This is not an enterprise I think any compassionate person should back financially. It is a step sideways in the fight for animal liberation. It is greenwashing animal farming, breeding and commodification by trying to appease feelings of unease in people who know there is a better way.

Breeding cows for milk is not necessary.

As a side note, I find it extremely odd that Chrissie Hynde is featured talking in the fundraising video. As Chrissie is a longtime animal advocate and vocal supporter of PeTA, I am surprised to see her speaking in conjunction with this campaign. I wonder if Chrissie knows that she is in this video? If she does know, does she think this enterprise is acceptable?


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Written by fatgayvegan

10 Comments
  1. The crafted niche stupidity of this does not surprise me. Welfarist whitewash to help you ignore the real issues.

  2. Another problem with this sort of “animal-friendly farming” is that it simply cannot scale to provide anything like the amount of animal-product consumption which is going on today. It’s just a way for a few well-meaning (and well-off) people to continue to consume animal products while alleviating some of the guilt they feel.

    The rate at which Britons consume milk today couldn’t be satisfied with these methods. Likewise, other “ethically”-produced animals, could not be produced at the rate required to fill all the supermarket freezers and hot chicken cabinets, all the restaurants and fast-food joints. The output of modern factory farming is tremendous. There’s nothing natural about it.

    For “animal-friendly” farming to be reality, farm companies would need to buy up nearly every inch of land in Britain and convert it to animal farming, and hire vast armies of workers to tend these free-range, natural living flocks and herds. The price of foods containing animal products would skyrocket.

    So “animal-friendly” farming is a myth, an impossibility for mass consumption (though a wealthy few would be able to afford it). The only way – and as you’ve pointed out, an easy, possible way – is to go vegan.

  3. Studying veterinary medicine and having spent plenty of time gaining experience working on farms i can absolutely say that the dairy cow is a machine. i can’t understand this system either, i have a lot of issues with it let alone the milk will be horrendously expensive. They’ll have to select a breed that can live outdoors well. Most of out cow breeds will struggle living well outside all year round.

    Machine milking is a far better long term way of preventing pain and disease among the cows (when milking regularly) Hand milking is equally invasive and will take longer.
    Of all the farming practices drinking the milk of an animal is least justifiable, it’s the most unnatural too. I don’t personally see how milking a cow could ever be uninvasive or stress free. At least with the ideal meat production the animal can be as far from humans as it wants to be until the very end (etc etc).

    It’s very similar to organic production systems. These systems can often be worse because they have strict guidelines to adhere to. For example, the cow has to have access to the outdoors for a certain amount of hours and in awful weather/land conditions makes the cow more prone to lameness and diseases.

    Would the milk will be sterilised/pasteurised? If not, this is a very serious health risk for humans and animals.

    I have to say that i don’t quite understand the concern with artificial insemination but that’ll be because of my knowledge on it. As far as the cow goes, when done properly (which is straightforward enough) the impact on her can be far less than using a bull. Same with pigs – the male causes a lot of trauma. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not natural but neither are any of our domesticated farm animals!

    Just to get this straight – I plan to be a farm veterinarian to promote quality over quantity production. I don’t know whether there will ever be a point when the world is 100% vegetarian/vegan but in the mean time (because it’ll definitely be a long time before that) i aim to encourage the best welfare practice possible.

  4. Not sustainable for the world. Still bad for the environment.

  5. What alternative is there for the cows & bulls???SOMEONE needs to care for them & provide land etc.So WHO is going to be able to do it for free?I.e.as pets…i dont beleive Ahimsa is using the animals as a commodity …i Beleive they have great affection for them & are being as practical as they CAN in an unidealistic world that they want to make better for the animals.
    Even if the whole world turned instantly vegan.Have you any ideas on HOW the vegans would care for the cows & bulls?They will still BE here as a species…IF that is thinking too far ahead?..then in the mean time…do you agree that a transfer from FACTORY farming to the Ahimsa way would be MUCH better for the cows & bulls..ie PROGRESSIVE “practical” compassion in ACTION.Along with a natural REDUCTION in the consumption of dairy produce which the TRUE price would reflect.Even if it became some kind of medicinal luxury?? HOWEVER I DO admire your STAND for the welfare of animals.I cannot think of ANY other solution OTHER than the principles in action of the Ahimsa foundation.

  6. Hi – as a farmer my diets mostly vegan ocasionly vegi, i am someone whos traveled to a lot studied various forms of communiteys and food production methods vegan vegi and otherwise in various countries,
    This is the way i see the question of humans working alongside animals,

    Firstly, i would say that’s the way of the world, humans and animals all live here and each are part of the whole picture and can only function in a balanced state with the help of the other some way or other, so we depend on them and they depend on us, as we all depend on every part of the whole planet and universe, we know this and its increasingly becoming more obvious, as in ecological disasters etc,

    Second, what would realistically happen if all humans stoped using all types of machines would we need animals to help us humans survive or could we survive alone particularly in the colder countries ? without machines and without animals, lets be honest who is 100% doing that or can do that sustainably for a long time with no machine chemical or animal input, wheres the example,
    i don’t see one example that would feed all humans on the planet without animals which is sustainable and without machines dependent on oil and chemicals which is as we know unsustainable,
    therefore the other solution is to work together respectfully with the animals, theories arnt cutting it with this discussion practical examples only are to be seen as proof, that’s my experiences, thanks for reading it, gpd

    • The Ahimsa dairy foundation appears to be paving the way to putting all the ideals into practice …RATHER than being a theoretical idea…..It may be difficult to do in PRACTICE in the begining….BUT …oak trees grow from acorns….It would Transform society …ESPECIALLY compassion consciousness…..1 step at a time along with education …because the horrors of the PRESENT day dairy system are HIDDEN from the average person …SO .,.to have a SOLUTION ..( Ahimsa methods)” READY” as the ANSWER may Stimulate SUPPORT from the ” public” DUE to ” HOPE” ….because there IS an ANSWER! …..& THAT answer covers EVERYTHING if you think about the multi dimensional CHANGES it would bring about ….EVEN the WILLINGNESS to pay MORE for such a delicacy as Milk etc…OR to WILLINGLY consume Less….= sacrificial GIVING ……The average modern cow is FORCED to ” GIVE” ie have ROBBED from her in the most despicable way! ….

      • shure i do think ahimsa is a good efort/starting point
        in the right direction

  7. I was just thinking that my comment may have sounded “Very critical” & ” factory farming is another issue affecting the same group of animals…Anyway.. THEN I found your response & Obviously agree with you….but I didn’t want to be pointing fingers at anyone because the collective human race is ” sort of ” responsible with demands for supply usually unknowingly or distracted by brain washing techniques of the present” Lovers of money/Power” in ignorance of facts ..ALSO humans are oppressed so much that they find it very difficult to change..including for very practical reasons SUCH as They are poor & need to EAT!…& WHO? Does everything ” Right” ???So as JUST a member of public”its like an Opportunity for our Good INTENTIONS to take first steps FORWARD” into “that’s important & what we NEED…even if we Stumble..Leaving the PAST behind….EVEN if the ” majority seem to beSTUCK in it .Sometimes we come to THE point of ….ALL we can do is PRAY ….BUT …..at THAT point it is more Powerful than we could EVER imagine…..& Freedom from the “Old”..& opportunities for the NEW ” appear” !& I must add.. I really appreciate communicating with such a compassionate & knowledgeable & well travelled farmer as yourself ( because i know Nothing about it )who very much respects the interaction of humans & animals …A breath of fresh air in fact !

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