Taking milk from a calf is nothing like taking candy from a baby. If anything, itís well-planned, systematic cruelty; a chain of horrendous acts to those whose milk us humans steal from. With more photographic proof of dairyís dark side continuing to wake up society, people are starting to steer away from the bull that is dairy farming. It also shows in the numbers; the plant-based milk market has risen globally resulting in a compound annual growth rate of 10.18% spanning 2020-2024. So what exactly is this dark side of dairy thatís made people shift to plant-based milk? 

Misery for the Whole Family

When you shop for any animal milk products, youíre contributing too much more. Behind every carton of milk, a packet of cheese, a bar of chocolate, or even a bottle of soap or shampoo, thereís a long list of painful processes. Not only that but by purchasing animal milk products youíre also feeding fire to the flame that is the meat and leather industry (though both industries arenít dependent on dairy). Most of us are still blind to the fact that these industries are related; dairy animals are sent to slaughterhouses for meat or material (for example leather, cashmere, and wool) in the name of profit and efficiency. 

This vicious cycle starts by ripping families apart from day one. In order to lactate, mammals must first go through pregnancy. In the dairy industry, animals are forcefully impregnated through artificial insemination by semen extracted from bulls. In most cases, cows, sheep, goats, and other animals whose milk we utilize in our daily lives are given steroid hormones in order to produce more milk than they naturally would. This act of invading the body of animals and rearranging their whole molecular structure is even considered as rape. 

Cows, whose milk is most common, suffer the abnormal swelling of udders making it difficult for them to stand up, leading to lameness and even broken bones. Though other mammals whose milk we drink may not suffer the same, they all travel down the same road that ends up at the slaughterhouse.  

Not Your Mom, Not Your Milk 

For mammals, motherís milk is the first and much-needed source of nutrients. For humans, breast milk is considered ďthe perfect food for your babyĒ since it has been specifically engineered to meet the needs of infants. In addition to easy digestion and protecting against diseases, the act of feeding milk to an infant is also believed to strengthen the bond between a mother and infant. In the dairy industry, this bond is almost instantly broken as babies are snatched away from their mothers in just a few hours. 

Surprisingly, humans are the only species that drink milk past the stage of infancy. While other mammals have moved on, humans have created this need to latch onto milk thatís not even from our own species. We rob babies of their essential need for milk to fulfill our imaginary, constant craving. 

Some have even gone as far as calling this dependence on animal milk as odd since itís been biologically proven that most humans gradually lose the ability to digest lactose after infancy (a sugar found in milk and other dairy products). Itís bad enough we go against this path nature has set for us, but us humans also offend the natural course of things by exploiting fellow mammals. 

Have Some Sympathy and Ditch Dairy! 

Animals exploited for dairy are sentenced to miserable lives full of painÖ for less than a quarter of their normal life span. For some, itís even worse; just as in the egg industry where males are killed because theyíre considered economically useless, male calves and kids are either killed on the spot or fattened to be sent to slaughter (for veal or goat meat). 

So next time you pour yourself a tall glass of (animal) milk, remember the real hidden cost that came with it. Yes, dairy is definitely scary.  In honor of World Plant Milk Day, why not make the right choice for both environmental and ethical reasonsÖ and stop stealing milk that isnít ours, to begin with. 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels