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The dairy industry is cruel and unsustainable.

Cows have to give birth to a calf every year in order to produce milk. Mother cows are known to have highly developed maternal instincts and can bellow for days for their stolen babies! The killing of bobby calves, usually at 5 days old as unwanted by-products of the dairy industry, is one aspect that shows it is not a benign industry. We kill over one million new-born calves each year. In Australia, legal means of destroying these unviable calves on farm includes bludgeoning calf skulls with a hammer or shooting them in the head with a rifle or a mechanical bolt. Vealers are raised in crates to be anaemic, for white flesh.

The dairy industry is a high water consumer, and must take a lot of responsibility for the demise of the Murray-Darling food basin! We are also heavy exporters of dairy products. How sustainable is our dairy industry?

Methane emissions from dairy cattle contribute around 30% of all agricultural emissions that total an 18% contribution from agriculture, due mainly to livestock.

According to ABS, in 2005-06, the agricultural commodities that used the most water in the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) were dairy farming - 1,287 GL or 17% and pasture for other livestock - 1,284 GL or 17%, much of this for dairy cattle. In 2005-06, the dairy industry accounted for 39% of the total irrigated area of pasture in the MDB.

About 45% of Australian milk is exported (2007/2008), mainly as milk powders, cheese and butter.

European style diary products can be replaced by more humane and sustainable plant-based ones such as soy, rice and oat milks.

Dairy products have naturally high levels of saturated fat which raises blood cholesterol and will increase vascular disease risk in many people. The traditional cuisines of many countries are dairy-free. Australia's Western-style diseases can be attributed to the amounts of animal-saturated fats we consume, including that found in dairy products.

The amount of water used to make a litre of milk is between 320 and 1000 litres. Soymilk requires about half the amount water of dairy milk. Soymilk is high in protein without the water consumption, the environmental impact of livestock, without the deaths of calves and cruelty to cows, and is healthier!


As much as milk is 'natural' in origin, it couldn't be more unnatural, being it is the milk of another animal that was not designed for humans to consume. In fact lactic acid in milk restricts the absorbtion of calcium in drinkers of milk, so better to definately go for soy or rice milk. There is no cholesterol in those products, and there is no need to use tons of water for such a product. C'mon - if we're meant to be self-sufficient creatures and societies, why are we relying on animal products, daily, too? There's something eery about sucking on milk as adults, when we don't need to. If we were meant to have milk for life, they why don't women lactate 24/7, to 'feed' all these adults? Let alone stealing baby cows from their mothers and killing these cows, to sickly feed human people this milk. Literally blood on your hands. So why not suck blood. Would that not be healthy? Think about it.

I don't think soy milk is particularly good for the environment either.

Let's not forger how rainforests are being destroyed in South America to make way for toxic soy bean monocultures.

It is going to be difficult to obtain sustenance without infllcting cruelty on animals, or damaging the environment or doing both.

Until we achieve harmony with our natural environment with stable and sustainable human population, we are likely to be faced with many terrible choices between what is bad and what is worse.

Most of the soy products goes to livestock as feed, not to humans! While many peoples of the world are suffering from starvation, resources are being consumed to feed livestock and the products are going to the wealthy developed nations. It is more efficient to get our food sources directly from nature, from the plants, than use animals to process it, and much more environmentally sound. It is even hard to buy soy beans, despite the high production. They contain high quality protein, compariable to meat without the animal fats.

Bea states:
"As much as milk is 'natural' in origin, it couldn't be more unnatural, being it is the milk of another animal that was not designed for humans to consume."
"Literally blood on your hands. So why not suck blood. Would that not be healthy? Think about it.".

Really though, what is "natural" and "healthy"?

The Masai in Southern Africa very 'naturally' engage in the regular consumption of a mixture of cow's blood and milk. They've done so for thousands of years and been well-sustained by it up until the recent decimation of their culture and homelands by European imperialism.

The relatively 'naturalness' of other species blood, milk, brains or whatever are all matters of cultural subjectivity, not physical naturalness. For example it is wrong for an ant to suck the sweet exudation of an aphid? If not, why is is wrong for a human to suck milk from another species?

I think it is fair and accurate to state that the most essentially necessary, thereby 'natural', behavior of any living being is to seek a regular energy supplement in excess of the energy expended to gain that supplement.

I think it is also fair and accurate to state that, in the case of sentient animals, there exists a natural need and a demonstrated capacity to ensure the extraction of this energy dividend is kept within the ongoing capacity of the local ecology to provide without degenerative exhaustion of the local system.

It is apparent that none of milk, meat, soy, or whatever basic foodstuff, are inherently un-natural or unhealthy. It is the industrial process that is so. Industrialise the production of anything, no matter how inherently benign the material, and it becomes corrosive to the ecology, the host society and the consuming individual.

We are stuck within a very complex mess at the moment. It helps greatly to discern the physically essential from the culturally contrived and familiar. Then we can see which of these contrivances are valid and which are obfuscatory and/or actively dangerous.

The status quo of what the human species does, even over thousands of years, is not necessarily justified as "natural", or "normal"! We humans are very much a herd species, and the instinct to continue what has been done by our culture and ancestors before us is very strong. We follow the herd, often blindly without thinking! Taking milk from cattle may have been done sustainably in the past, and helped malnourished or orphaned children. However, now dairy foods are seen as a "need" rather than a special treat, a luxury! The environmental cost of dairy, in land, air and water pollution, is enourmous! If tasty alternatives from plant sources can be produced, and they are becoming more available and improved, they should be promoted. Foods sourced from livestock are inefficient and compromises our environment. As humans, we have the ability to make moral judgements, and not be blinded by culture and commercial pressures.

The industrial scale of agriculture to feed a massive number of people is problematic to say the least. It would be OK to take some of the milk from a lactating cow to give to a couple of people but to make that cow sacrifice ALL its milk to supply maybe hundreds or thousands of people is out of proportion and cruel. The sacrifice of its young and the need to keep the cow in calf annually is obviously detrimental and a in itself a symptom of the unsustainable scale and nature of our agriculture and way of life.

Animal welfare group Voiceless says consumers should stay away from milk because increasing numbers of dairy cows are suffering. Bobby Calves are male calves that can't be raised to produce milk. Cows must give birth often to ensure a consistent milk supply, just like all other mammals.
To acquire the milk, the calves must be removed from the mothers after a few short days.
If they give birth to a male it is likely to be sent to slaughter after a few days of life, or put down on the farm. Others end up in crates to be slaughtered for veal.
The bobby calf issue is a sensitive one, for the right reasons, and that unfortunately the dairy industry doesn't see any other options. They are the by-product of the seemingly benign dairy industry. Bobbie calves can be used for pharmaceutical products, leather and pet food, when not grown for veal.
Bobby calves are not worth a great value, dollar-wise, therefore it becomes uneconomic if they have to travel vast distances, and in an animal health and welfare sense they can't be on the road for too long, either.
Australia's dairy cow population of about 1.8 million has remained stable for the past 30 years, but annual milk production has doubled to 9.3 billion litres in that time, figures from the Department of Agriculture show. It means that cows are bred to produce more milk, and that there is a consumer drive towards alternatives. It also means that the modern dairy cow commonly suffers from mastitis, lameness, metabolic disorders, mutilation procedures and the inevitability of repeatedly losing her calf.
On top of the issue of overworked cows, it raises welfare concerns such as tail docking, dehorning, and disbudding, as well as the treatment of bobby calves.
SMH:Dairy cows suffer from doubling milk production in 30 years
Hundreds of thousands of new born calves are slaughtered each year, as a by-product of our milk consumption. Dairy is not an essential food for humans. Humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk, in contrary to the advice of most nutritionists who encourage people to consume three servings of dairy a day. In multiple, peer-reviewed animal studies, researchers discovered they could actually turn the growth of cancer cells on and off by raising and lowering doses of casein, the main protein found in cow's milk. Ironically, the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are Australia, the US and the UK "where we have the highest intake of dairy"!