Whether it’s slathering a bagel with cream cheese, drowning cereal in milk, or turning my “coffee with cream” into “cream with a splash of coffee,” milk has always been part of my morning routine. My family bought something like four gallons a week when I was a kid. We had a glass of milk with every meal. I definitely drank milk when I probably should have been drinking water.
When I flirted with the idea of going vegan, I couldn’t imagine giving up milk. But the more I learned, the more I couldn’t ignore what I was contributing to–or more honestly, what I was paying for. There are the environmental impacts of dairy, but then there’s the experience for the animals.
Like humans (and all other mammals), cows and goats need to be impregnated and give birth to produce milk. This simple fact serves up additional questions:
- How is the semen harvested?
- How is the mother impregnated?
- What happens to her female baby?
- Where do her male babies go?
- How often is this cycle repeated in her lifetime?
- What effect do repeated pregnancies have on her?
- What happens when she can no longer give birth?
Truth time: The answers to each of these questions are pretty heavy to consider over your morning granola. Rather than go into the details myself, it might be helpful to get the answers straight from the dairy farmers:
- Semen Collection from Bulls – Colorado State University
- 8-step guide to artificially inseminating a dairy cow – Farmer’s Weekly
- Why are calves separated from their mothers? – Farm & Dairy
- Veal Calves – USDA
- Are Dairy Cows Constantly Pregnant? – The Farmer’s Wifee
- Improve pregnancy rate to help maximize profitability – Zoetis
- Right-size your herd to help lower expenses – Zoetis
- Dairy Cattle Beef up Beef Industry – Ag Web
If you feel up to it, Google “dairy is scary“–or better still, watch Dominion, read the transcript, or read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.
If you can’t bring yourself to watch a video or read up, consider oat milk. Or soy milk. Or rice or almond or hemp or cashew or coconut or flax or hazelnut or sunflower or peanut or pea milk. There’s so much joy in finding tasty alternatives. And there’s peace in not paying for the exploitation of the female reproductive system and benefiting momentarily from the suffering of sentient beings.
The world is a messed up place right now, but it doesn’t have to be. Imagine how many things would start to change if more of us brought peace into our hearts and onto our plates. When we allow ourselves to be tender and empathetic to the innocent, our hearts can only grow bigger.
Learn more: Turns Out, Cows Love Being Mamas
My current dairy-free favorites:
- Trader Joe’s Non-Dairy Almond Beverage
- Trader Joe’s Soy Creamer
- Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Chip
- Trader Joes’ Coconut Whipped Topping
- Anything Oatly: Milk, ice cream (!!), coffee creamer
- Follow Your Heart cheeses
- Miyoko’s Organic Cultured Vegan Butter (OMG)
- Cultured Kindness gourmet cheese (Portland, OR only)
- Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
Into baking and cooking? No sweat. Choosing dairy-free is getting easier that ever. Urban Bliss Life share’s their favorite dairy-free products for cooking and baking.