Dairy is crueler than meat
This isn’t going to sit well with a lot of readers but I’ve got something I want to get off my chest.
I believe the dairy and egg industries are responsible for much more harm and suffering than raising and killing animals solely for meat.
I think a meat eater who doesn’t eat dairy or eggs is far less complicit in animal suffering than a vegetarian who consumes dairy and eggs every day.
To understand my point, we need to compare the lives of animals raised as meat with the lives of animals used for dairy and eggs.
The life of a broiler or meat chicken is horrendous to be sure, but the cruel conditions it is kept in last for a relatively-short six weeks compared to the drawn out suffering of an egg-producing bird.
The vast majority of egg-producing birds spend their torturous lives in tiny cages or mammoth windowless sheds crammed with tens of thousands of others. They are denied natural light, they suffer from broken bones, their bodies are depleted of essential nutrients due to over-laying and they are subjected to cruel procedures such as live debeaking.
If an egg producer is unfortunate enough to live the approximate two years she is able to meet the demands of the company, her frail and ill body is then sent for slaughter.
To recap, meat chickens suffer for six weeks before being killed but egg birds live in agony for approximately two years in some of the worst conditions of any animal industry.
Eating eggs supports this mass suffering. Vegetarians as well as omnivores are equally responsible for this suffering. If your vegetarianism is driven by compassion, I suggest you take a moment to consider the part you play in perpetuating harm. If you do not want birds to suffer for up to two years, stop eating eggs.
The life of a meat cow is not something you would wish on any creature. Overfed and often pumped with hormones, the growth of these animals is accelerated in order for them to be sent to slaughter within a year of being born.
However, the sad short life of a meat cow might seem like a desirable outcome when held up against the existence of a dairy cow.
Consider this if you feel unable to stop consuming cow milk.
A dairy-producing cow only lactates following the birth of a newborn. To ensure each cow is giving the most milk possible, newborn calves are taken from their mothers within hours of entering the world. You don’t have to be an animal expert to imagine the immense trauma this causes for both mother and child.
With the baby cow out of the way (either to become a milk cow itself or killed for meat/raised as veal in a crate if it is male), the milk the cow’s body produces to feed her young is pumped out of her body using machines in order for omnivorous and vegetarian humans to drink it.
Once her cycle of giving milk for that pregnancy has slowed, the dairy cow is impregnated and the cycle happens all over again. The impregnation takes place approximately 60 days after the previous baby was taken away. Baby taken away, cycle starts again.
The dairy cow exists within this cycle for up to four or five years, before her frail body is killed to be used for low-grade meat.
To recap, meat cows are killed at about one year old but dairy cows are impregnated repeatedly and separated from their offspring over the course of five years.
Drinking milk supports this outrageous system and ultimately supports the traumatic lives and terrifying deaths of hundreds of millions of cows currently being controlled on the planet.
As a vegetarian, you believe you are on a compassionate path and that is a great place to be. The more we think about where our food comes from, the more we can make informed choices to reduce suffering.
This post presents meat as less cruel than dairy and eggs, which seems a bit of a flippant concept. All death and suffering is tragic. However, vegetarian diets are often portrayed as a kind option when actually they clearly and irrefutably contribute to the prolonged suffering and ultimate deaths of billions of animals.
There is no getting around this fact. Consuming eggs and dairy financially supports industries that prolong horrendous animal suffering over years, not months.
If you are vegetarian for the animals, drop the eggs and milk for real peace of mind.
Please note: this is not intended as an attack on vegetarians. Every person is on their own journey of compassion. This post is my attempt to get people to think about the possibility of transitioning away from eating eggs and dairy. It is not intended to shame anyone personally for food choices. As with everything I do on the blog, my intention is to improve outcomes for non-human animals.