For those throughout the world who consider themselves to be feminists, there seems to be a big disconnect between the rights and abuses of female humans, and female animals. While many understand the cruelty involved within the meat industry, mot many recognize the inherent cruelties of the dairy industry.

Let’s take a look inside the dairy industry.

First of all, a female cow has to be pregnant in order to produce milk. Seems pretty obvious, right? Well you would be surprised at how many people do not make the correlation and assume that female cows are always engorged with milk.

In the dairy industry farmers pump their young female cows up with hormones, like estrogen and prostaglandin, to speed up the maturity process essentially manipulating the bodies of those cows to speed up the maturity process so they will be able to impregnate the young female cows well before they would have been sexually mature.

Once they are able to be impregnated, farmers put each cow into a device sometimes referred to as a “rape rack.” This rack keeps the cows from moving while the farmers stick a sperm gun, and their own arm, elbow deep inside the cow’s vagina and impregnate her will bull semen. Then, 283 days, or nine months later (Sound familiar?) a baby cow is born.

After the baby calf is born, that is when the female cow becomes able to produce milk intended for the baby. Unfortunately though, as soon as the calf is born the calf is taken away from their mother and if male, is put inside a veal crate, a small hutch or crate where they cannot turn or move around in order to keep their muscles “tender” making them ideal veal candidates. After 18-20 weeks of living in those conditions, they are sent off to slaughter. In the United States alone, approximately 4.5 million male calves are born into dairy farms. The female cows, if in excess are also sent to slaughter, or they have their bodies manipulated by hormones, impregnated young and are forced to follow in the same path as their mothers.

A veal crate replica housed at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary for educational purposes.

A veal crate replica housed at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary used for educational purposes.

What then happens to that mother cow? They are milked dry, and then the heartbreaking process is started all over again until the female cow is no longer producing enough milk and is consider unprofitable. They are then also sent to slaughter. While a cow can naturally live to be up to 20 years, in the dairy industry the female cows tend only live between 3-5 years before they are considered useless and sent off to slaughter.

Sounds pretty cruel, right? But what about all of those picturesque scenes we are fed from a young age of blissful cows grazing in open pastures alongside their children? They are lies. A dairy cow’s life is anything but blissful. It is short, filled with sadness and abuse.  If you knew the reality of the situation, would you still feel right downing a glass of milk?

The dairy industry isn’t the only industry whose profits rely entirely on enslaving female animals, abusing their reproductive systems, and using them up until they are no longer profitable. The egg industry is also guilty of similarly cruel practices where once again the male offspring are considered an unwanted byproduct and they are killed immediately after their sex is determined by either suffocation (oftentimes in a garbage bag) or through maseration/grinding.

Not only are these industries that profit over the abuse of the female reproductive system horrible to those animals who have to experience it, it is also taking a huge toll on our environment. I highly recommend watching the documentary Cowspiracy or picking up a copy of The Sustainability Secret, the companion book to the documentary, to learn more about these industries who want to be anything but transparent.

Need some dairy milk substitute suggestions? We’ve got many!

  • Soy Milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Hemp Milk
  • Rice Milk
  • Coconut Milk
  • Flax Milk
  • Cashew Milk
  • Quinoa Milk
  • Hazelnut Milk


Worried about your calcium intake without dairy milk? Don’t – These plant based sources have plenty!

  • Soy Milk
  • Tofu
  • Collard greens
  • Tempeh
  • Okra
  • Tahini
  • Bok Choy
  • Mustard Greens
  • Kale
  • Soybeans
  • Turnip Greens
  • Broccoli

Feature Photo by RichardBH via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)