There's nothing "vegetarian" about cruelty to animals.
In India, there is no such thing as cattle raised solely for beef. Therefore, the dairy industry is the primary supplier of cattle to the beef industry. Ethical vegetarians do not realise that they’re supporting the beef industry and the slaughter of animals when they consume cow or buffalo milk, because they usually believe that a “green dot” designates foods that are cruelty-free.
But cows and buffaloes on today’s commercial dairy farms are raised by a Western method – i.e., they are repeatedly artificially inseminated, a crude and painful procedure that’s actually rape, and forced to undergo multiple pregnancies, only to have their calves, especially males, taken away from them so that the milk that’s meant for them can be sold. This leaves both the mothers and the calves bellowing in distress for days.
Male calves, who are of no commercial value to the dairy industry, are typically abandoned on the streets to be hit by cars, are left to starve, or are sent to be slaughtered for beef and leather. Female calves are commonly fed milk replacer and then endure the same fate as their mothers, including being chained or tied in place, roughly handled, and made to stand in their own filth.
It has been regularly reported in the media that although the use of oxytocin is prohibited and causes painful uterine contractions, the hormone is actually still widely used to cause animals to let down more milk. Oxytocin residue in milk is thought to be a key factor in premature puberty in females and gynaecomastia (breast enlargement) in males.
Once cows are “spent” – that is, unable to produce amounts of milk deemed satisfactory by the industry – some end up in gaushalas, but countless others are illegally smuggled into states where they can be killed or into Bangladesh. Buffaloes are routinely sent to slaughter. All these animals are transported in severely crowded conditions, resulting in broken bones, suffocation when live animals are trapped under the fallen dead, and ripped nostrils as they are tied to a careening vehicle by nose ropes. Video footage from slaughterhouses shows them being hacked at with dull knives in full view of each other.
Cow and Buffalo Milk Is for Calves, Not Humans
It’s also important to differentiate plant-based foods from those derived from animals, because about 75 per cent of the world’s public, including three out of four Indians, cannot properly digest milk, as they lose their enzymes for doing so after weaning. Medically, those who are not able to digest milk after infancy are now considered “normal”, while those who can are recognised as being able to do so because of a genetic mutation. When individuals who cannot digest milk consume it, they commonly experience symptoms such as bloating, pain, gas, diarrhoea, or vomiting.
The inability of most humans to digest milk properly goes to show that humans, like other mammals, have not naturally adapted to drink this animal-derived “product” after infancy – and certainly not the milk of another species. Cows and buffaloes produce milk for their own calves, not humans, just as dogs produce milk for puppies, cats for kittens, rats for their babies, and so on. Human milk is the perfect food for a human baby – likewise, cow and buffalo milk is just what’s required to help a four-legged bovine with a multi-chambered stomach to grow hundreds of kilos very quickly.
And because animals produce milk for their own species, doctors now warn that the consumption of dairy “products” is linked to cardiovascular disease, childhood onset diabetes, higher rates of certain types of cancer, and other ailments in humans.
Cows and Buffaloes Deserve Better
In our country, cows are considered sacred by many, but the dairy industry treats these sensitive animals and buffaloes like mere commodities. Cows and buffaloes are deeply maternal, and they develop strong bonds with their babies immediately. Cows have been known to perform impressive feats, such as leaping over a 1.8-meter fence to escape the slaughterhouse, walking 11 kilometres to be reunited with a calf, and swimming across a river to freedom. Cows and buffaloes also form friendships and develop social hierarchies among their own relatives.
Urge the FSSAI to Label Animal Milk With a Brown Dot
PETA is urging the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to label animal milk and other dairy foods and products containing dairy as non-vegetarian with a brown dot, and you can help. Please add your voice to the call for non-vegetarian labelling of animal milk by signing our action alert.