Dairy Life: A Vegan View, and My Response

S.B. writes:

“Hello Kurma,

I know this is unsolicited, but after reading your interview in the Abolitionist-Online, I felt compelled to address some of your statements. Please consider what I have to say, I’m sure you are a busy man, but I would not take the time to write this email if I did not think it was important.

Kurma, the dairy industry, from the biggest factory farms to the smallest family run boutique operations, relies on rape, mutilation and death in order to profit from the milk of cows.

There is no way around it. In order for cows to produce milk they must be made pregnant, after they give birth their calves are removed from them and they are milked twice a day every day. When they reach the end of their lactation period, they are made pregnant again, this cycle continues until they are ‘spent’, typically 5 years or so, and they are then discarded, to be processed into petfood or hamburgers.

Veal is a byproduct of the dairy industry, male calves obviously do not produce milk and are taken from their mothers in the first few days after being born. It costs too much to raise them for beef as they grow to slowly, for about 4 months they will be fed on a high protein milk replacement, some in veal crates, until it is time to go to the slaughterhouse.

Mother dairy cows do not get the chance to be mothers, their calves, be they male or female are taken away so they do not take the milk which we humans will steal from them. This is not nature’s arrangement, cows have been bred to produce ever larger quantities of milk, to be consumed by the only species on the planet which deems it necessary to drink and eat the lactic secretions of another species, which is intended for calves, not fully grown humans.

Think about all the other animals in the wild. There is no residual milk, they produce what is necessary to feed their babies, the only way to get dairy is through interference and exploitation.

Cows, and all other “food” animals are treated like machines, and they are considered the property of their owners. No animal, human or non-human should be the property of another, this is a fundamental right that is ignored when we take that which is not freely given, be it bodies of animals, their lives, labour or bodily secretions.

Kurma, I hope you will consider what I have written and feel free to write back to me, I am happy to provide evidence of all of my claims in this email.”

vrindavan cow:

My response:

Hello S.,

Thanks for your letter. Much appreciated.

Yes, I am aware of all you have described, and have discussed these matters in depth for decades with passionate vegans like yourself. I do totally respect and appreciate your views, and while we agree on many things, we cannot totally ignore the very special benefits of a respectful and sacred symbiosis between cows and humans.

Despite the plethora of bovine mistreatment, there are in fact farms where cows are treated with affection and love, and some of these I have visited. A number of my fellow Hare Krishna farmer friends subscribe to my views on cows, and in many cases have been able to put into practice a very special mutual affectionate relationship with these very unique creatures, based on service.

holy cow:

You say ‘No animal, human or non-human should be the property of another’, but what about our pets? Do we not serve them dutifully, feeding them daily, giving them a place to sleep, taking them to the vet when they are sick. We love to serve our pets, and they love to be served by us. So it is the same with cows. Just as we would not dream of slaughtering and eating our pets, we would not harm our cows. Dogs reciprocate to their human masters with dutiful affection and service, so why not cows?

Service is the actual occupation of the soul. Service is how we share love with others. We love to serve the ones we love. In a loving exchange, partners exchange service. The same is there with cows.

caring for calf:

We serve the cows, look after them, and treat them with love and affection until the day they die of natural causes, like we would our mother.

In return they happily give bountifully their excess milk for use by us. With these dairy products we prepare offerings of sacred food for God, and those who prepare these dishes, those who partake of these foods, as well as the cows themselves, are all spiritually elevated.

These ideas are far, far beyond the ken of the materialistc vision, what to speak of mundane dairy industrialists.

Cows are unique amongst all animal species and there is a very sacred and deep bond that spiritual adherents based on traditional Vedic lifestyle can appreciate.

Here’s a nice essay by a Krishna devotee farmer friend (scroll down).

So thank you for sharing your views with me. For those ideas of ours that do not completely run parallel, I say ‘vive la difference’. With respect, Kurma.
Posted by Kurma on 10/6/07; 7:04:35 AM

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