Vegan on Mother’s Day

The facts are in front of us. The science is solid. And yet, trying to help humans understand and make the change is still like shouting into the wind.

When the big winter snowstorm hit in the Northeast, who among us rushed out to fill our grocery wagons with gallons of milk, pounds of butter, blocks of cheese and containers of yogurt? I saw dozens of dairy-filled carts as I was filling mine with almond milk, plant-based butter and packages of vegan cheese slices for grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches to eat with my homemade vegan creamy carrot soup.

We (humans) are the only species on the planet who drink the secretions of another species, and long after our natural weaning period has passed. Cow’s milk is baby calf growth fluid – meant to nourish a mother’s baby and grow a 65 pound baby calf into a 650 pound cow within a year. And we wonder why there is an obesity epidemic in our country?

A large New York dairy company, in business for ninety years, has decided to stop producing cow’s milk and produce plant-based milks instead. An article about this trending transition acknowledges that; “Turning cows into milk machines has led to epidemics of “production-related diseases”, such as lameness and mastitis (udder infections), the two leading causes of dairy cow mortality in the U.S. This weakness is due to the extreme genetic manipulation and supplemented hormones which cause unnaturally high milk yields. According to the USDA, 1 in 6 dairy cows in the U.S. suffers from clinical mastitis. This level of disease is reflected in the concentration of somatic cells in the milk. When a cow is infected, more than 90% of the somatic cells in her milk are neutrophils, the inflammatory cells that form pus. The average somatic cell count in U.S. milk per spoonful is 1,120,000, however the dairy industry says this pus doesn’t matter because the milk is pasteurized (the pus gets ‘cooked’). Dairy milk has also been found to contain an alarming cocktail of hormones including: progesterone, oestrogen, cortisone and other adrenal steroids, IGF-1 growth hormone, leptin, oxytocin, prolactin, thyroxine and triiodothyronine. This makes sense as it’s designed to rapidly grow a baby calf – but they aren’t components humans should be consuming.” If you still believe in the health myths perpetuated by the dairy industries, perhaps this information might be helpful.

I am glad that I no longer consume dairy, but not because of the health specifics detailed above. I am eternally grateful that I no longer contribute to an unfathomable suffering of another kind.

When I gave birth to my beautiful son several decades ago, I was nervous, excited and thought I was filled with a great love…but the exact feeling I experienced was more encompassing. I actually became love, in all its exquisite bursts of sensation and spirit. As many of us know, that feeling is one that defies description. The point that we humans miss completely – is that a mother cow doesn’t need to possess our intellect nor our exact sentience to know and feel maternal emotions of love, or the grief and pain of loss. Love is love. Pain is pain. Humans do not hold an exclusive on these emotions. If only we could see and feel what that mother cow experiences as she gives birth, nurtures, cleans and protects her own baby boy. But unlike my miraculous birth experience, that baby calf will be ripped away from his mother as she wails and grieves and tries to protect her child, and fails. Perhaps if we could witness that particular sequence of events up close, we might just understand.

In order to fill our grocery carts with dairy products, that mother (still grieving) will be hooked up to machinery for hours each day, and the milk meant for her baby, will wind up on our grocery store shelves. Her baby will be frightened, alone and crying for his mother. He will be chained up, fed chemicals instead of his mother’s milk, and slaughtered within a few weeks time. Male calves are useless in the dairy industry, so the veal industry was created. After a few month’s time, when her milk has run dry, that same mother cow will be forcibly impregnated again, give birth again, love her baby again…only for a cruel version of groundhog’s day to begin…again.

I’ll keep shouting into the wind…because I have to believe that it is possible for my words to drift into the hearts of some.

Accept this link as a Mother’s Day gift from me to you – it is a user-friendly guide to going dairy free: