Tag Archives: milk

Escaped cow teaches us a lesson in compassion

By Alisa Mullins
 
His name is Freddie. Two weeks ago, he was just a number — one of the 30 million anonymous cows slaughtered for their flesh and skin in the U.S. every year. Today, he’s a poster cow for eating vegan.
 
Freddie became famous when he made a break for it while being unloaded from a truck at a slaughterhouse in Queens, New York, and bolted down a busy street. He was quickly rounded up by police and returned to the slaughterhouse. But by then, his story had gone viral and captured the public’s imagination. New York musician Ramona Montañez expressed the sentiments of many with her tweet: “Let the cow live!”
 
The cow—technically a steer—did live, thanks to Mike Stura, founder of Skylands Animal Sanctuary & Rescue in New Jersey, who drove to the slaughterhouse and waited outside all night in his truck to make sure he was there first thing in the morning when workers arrived. His patience paid off: The slaughterhouse owner agreed to spare the young steer.
 
“It’s nice if one lives once in a while,” said Stura.
 
Freddie had been earmarked for a family who was planning to use his flesh for a “special event,” and another cow will probably be killed in Freddie’s place—unless the family decides to serve only vegan food at its big do.
 
Sound unlikely? Perhaps, but it’s almost certain that many of the millions of people who heard Freddie’s story are looking at their T-bones and hamburgers in a new light. That steak used to be a someone—someone who didn’t want to die.
 
We don’t like to give much thought to the billions of animals killed for food every year. It’s easier to pretend that they don’t suffer when the killing goes on behind closed doors, far away from our kitchen tables, where we can’t see the terror in their eyes or hear their screams of protest. We don’t like to think about their slaughter: how they are shot in the head with a captive-bolt pistol, are shackled by a hind leg and hoisted up in the air, have their throats slit, and are eviscerated and dismembered—all while fully conscious if the captive-bolt gun happens to be off the mark, as it often is on high-speed automated slaughter lines that kill 19,000 animals every minute.
 
But when we’re brought face to face with our “dinner,” as people in Queens were, most of us realize that this animal is not a walking entrée—he’s an individual who has feelings, just as our dogs and cats do … just as we do.
 
People who’ve never met a cow like Freddie in person often pretend that cows are stupid, because that makes them feel better about eating them. But cows aren’t stupid. They’re known for their problem-solving capabilities, as well as for being gentle, inquisitive, sociable, amiable and trusting. If their trust in us is misplaced, that reflects badly on us, not them.
 
Maybe the humans who insist—all evidence to the contrary—that eating meat doesn’t hurt animals (or the planet or our health) are the slow-witted ones. In her book, Do Unto Animals, author Tracey Stewart writes movingly about hearing mother cows on a dairy farm crying for their calves, who’d been taken away to be sold for veal. “Sometimes you have to listen a little harder to understand what an animal is trying to say,” she writes. “And sometimes they are saying it so loudly it’s hard to imagine people don’t hear.”

Calves are born into a world of abuse

I’ve made some sections bold. -R.T.

By Dan Paden
 
Many consumers don’t realize (probably because they’ve never really thought about it) that cows produce milk for the same reason that human mothers do: to feed their babies.

Given the opportunity, cows are excellent mothers. They’re smart, sensitive animals, and their maternal instinct is just as strong as ours.
 
But on dairy farms, they are repeatedly impregnated and then forced to watch helplessly as their terrified babies — whom they carry for nine months, just like us — are torn away from them again and again.

In order to squeeze as much milk as possible out of them, dairy farms keep them almost constantly pregnant. They give birth to calf after calf, year in and year out.
 
This is just one reason why PETA urges consumers to ditch dairy products. Our latest eyewitness exposé of the dairy industry provides several more.
 
Daisy Farms, a Texas-based milk supplier to Daisy Brand sour cream and cottage cheese—which can be found in supermarkets all over the U.S.—claims that it has the “best cared-for cows on the planet.” It refers to them as “princesses,” “queens,” “our babies” and “our pets.” 
 
But after receiving a disturbing tip from a whistleblower who reported that many calves on this farm were visibly ill—coughing, trembling and/or unable to stand—we took a look ourselves and found that Daisy Farms is just a plain old, run-of-the-mill factory farm.
 
The cows are confined to massive sheds and some had no choice but to stand and lie down in their own waste.

PETA’s eyewitness saw workers put a rope around one cow’s head and pull her off a resting area. She slipped and fell on her udder on the slick feces-coated floor before being led away to be milked. 
 
Cows were kicked, whipped and jabbed with pens and a knife—even while they were in labor.

Workers twisted their tails, which can cause the animals severe pain and even break the bones inside.

Two cows with severe lacerations on their tails were not treated by a veterinarian, to the knowledge of PETA’s observer, including one whose wound was seen bleeding more than three weeks after her tail was severed.

Some sick cows were finally shot, while others were killed by injection to induce a heart attack—while they were fully conscious.
 
When cows at this farm had difficulty giving birth, workers used chains to drag their calves out of their wombs, causing them to cry out and defecate. The calves were not even allowed to nurse, because their mothers’ milk is sold
for human consumption. Instead, they are torn away from their mothers within hours of birth. Some are force-fed milk taken from another cow. Several newborn calves drowned when workers shoved tubes down their throats and milk was forced into their lungs instead of their stomachs.
 
Newborn calves also had holes punched into their ears and numbered tags clamped onto them, and their heads were smeared with a caustic paste to destroy their sensitive horn tissue—all without any painkillers. Nearly all cows born on dairy farms have tissue that will develop into horns if left alone, but most are cruelly “dehorned”—either via caustic paste, as in this case, or by other harsh methods such as gouging out the tissue with a sharp metal scoop as they struggle and cry out in pain.
 
When cows’ bodies wear out from constant pregnancy or lactation—after about five years—they are slaughtered.
PETA has said it before, but it’s worth repeating: The only way to ensure that no animals suffer for your sour cream, cheese, milk, ice cream and yogurt is to go vegan. By choosing kinder, plant-based options, like almond and soy milk, vegan cheese and sour cream, coconut-milk coffee creamer and cashew-milk ice cream, we can let animals live in peace.

Milk makes you fat and doesn’t live up to its nutritional hype

CAM00343
 A blast from the past! This milk bottle and m b caddy can be had for a song at UNIQUE FINDS ANTIQUE AND VINTAGE GIFTS SHOP, 1329 Main St., Worcester. Open until 7 p.m. seven days a week! Great shop bursting with funky treasures! BEST PRICES!  – R.T.

By Michelle Kretzer

Let’s just clear this up: No one needs to drink cow’s milk. Ever.

It’s a calorie-rich, nutrient-poor beverage that’s been linked to numerous illnesses, and consuming it hurts both humans and bovine mothers.

So what about all the health claims for milk that we’ve been hearing ever since we could walk? The story of milk seems to have involved a lot of whitewashing:

During the dairy surplus of World War I, the “Dairy Division” of the Department of Agriculture began promoting milk in order to increase consumption. It worked.

Since then, our understanding of the impact of cow’s milk on human health has improved greatly. But the dairy industry is still spending millions of dollars every year to promote milk as a health food through a powerful lobby, the educational materials it sends to schools, and ads on TV, in print and online. And that incomplete and misleading information causes problems for parents and kids.

Despite the hype, cow’s milk actually robs our bones of calcium. Animal protein produces acids when broken down, and since calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer, you can see where this is going. Our bodies can use the calcium in milk, but they also take some from our own body stores to neutralize the acid before it’s eliminated. So every glass of milk we drink leaches calcium from our bones.

The dairy industry also promotes milk as a source of vitamin D, but this nutrient doesn’t occur in milk naturally and is only added later, in the same way that soy milk, orange juice, and cereals, bread and other grain products are fortified.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reports that milk has also been linked to colic, anemia, food allergies and digestive problems. And since cow’s milk is designed to suit the nutritional needs of calves, who gain hundreds of pounds in a matter of months, it also encourages the development of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

And dairy farming isn’t kind to bovine mothers or their calves, either.

Cows produce milk for the same reason that human women do: to feed their babies.

In order to make mother cows keep producing milk, dairy farmers repeatedly artificially inseminate them and then take their babies away from them within 24 hours, which traumatizes them both. Female calves are killed immediately or are fed milk replacers (so that humans can steal the milk meant for them) and sentenced to the same fate as their mothers. Male calves are often sold to the veal industry, where they’re chained inside tiny stalls and kept anemic so their flesh will stay pale.

Cows have been known to escape from their enclosures and travel for miles trying to find their missing babies. One cow, Clarabelle, was just hours away from being slaughtered after her milk production had waned when she was rescued by a sanctuary. The sanctuary’s volunteers soon discovered that Clarabelle was pregnant. This loving mother had had her babies taken away from her so many times that this time, when she gave birth at the sanctuary, she hid her calf in a tall patch of grass a distance away. Of course, no one took that baby away. But the story for most cows on dairy farms doesn’t have a happy ending.

With mounting evidence that milk is a product of cruelty that actually does a body bad, it’s not surprising that consumption has dropped by 25 percent since 1975.

Nondairy milks, such as soy, rice, almond and coconut milks, meanwhile, have been flying off the shelves, averaging annual sales growth of 10.9 percent since 1999.

Many nondairy options are fortified with calcium and other vitamins, and several offer a lot of protein with fewer calories than dairy milk.

And of course, they’re all free of the saturated fat, cholesterol and cruelty associated with dairy products.

Don’t say cheese: de-horning is dairy’s dirty secret

By David Byer

Some readers may be surprised to learn that although PETA is best known for its stunts, provocative ads and “rather go naked than wear fur” demonstrations, we have purchased stock in dozens of companies as part of our effort to eliminate practices that cause animals to suffer. PETA purchases or accepts donations of small amounts of stock in companies to gain access to annual meetings and similar events, which allows us to appeal to the corporate leadership, board members and other stockholders and submit shareholder resolutions.

Recently, PETA has been using the leverage of our stock ownership to try to eradicate one of the dairy industry’s dark secrets: a painful procedure known as “dehorning,” in which cows’ sensitive horn tissue—or the developing horns themselves—are burned or cut out of their heads. We have presented resolutions at the annual meetings of Dean Foods, Papa John’s and Domino’s urging them to require suppliers to phase out dehorning in favor of instead selecting for naturally hornless (or “polled”) cattle.

Of course, you’d never know that nearly all cows born on dairy farms have tissue that will develop into horns because most farmers destroy that tissue or excise developing horns from the cows’ skulls. This procedure is extremely traumatic to calves, who are as young as a few days old when their horn buds are painfully removed. During disbudding, workers commonly burn searing-hot irons into calves’ heads, sometimes damaging the underlying bone of their skulls. Other methods involve using a caustic chemical paste to dissolve the tissue or simply cutting it out with knives or other tools.

Older cows have it even worse since dehorning in mature cattle typically involves cutting off the horn, which has already taken root in the skull. Tools used for this procedure include saws, gougers, sharp wires or gruesome guillotine dehorners, which may also cut off the surrounding skin. Horn removal can lead to postoperative problems, including hemorrhaging, tissue necrosis, bone fracture, sinusitis and even death. The wound caused by this amputation can take months to heal.

The animals subjected to dehorning often struggle desperately, thrashing, tossing their heads, rearing up, bellowing and collapsing to the ground—all signs of severe pain and distress that also increase the risk of additional trauma and blood loss. The excruciating process is routinely performed without anesthetics or painkillers.

One recent study from Texas Tech University found that calves who had been dehorned were observed to engage in abnormal behaviors indicative of stress, such as head-shaking and reduced grooming and eating time following the procedure. The study also noted that calves who had been painfully dehorned lost approximately 1 percent of their bodyweight by the next day.

Breeding for polled cattle is better for cows’ well-being. It’s also more efficient for producers since they will no longer need to spend time dehorning or risk setbacks caused by damage to the animals’ physical and emotional health.

Dairy farmers breed their cows regularly to keep them lactating, typically using artificial insemination. Just as farmers select for traits such as coat color, they can select for the hornless gene, and since the gene is dominant, at least half of a polled bull’s offspring will be hornless. Over time, the entire herd can become polled as a result of a regular breeding program, without the need for structural or operational changes—except, of course, for eliminating dehorning, which many workers admit is the worst job on the farm.

PETA will continue to urge the dairy industry and its largest corporate clients to do the responsible and sensible thing by replacing cruel dehorning with breeding for polled cattle, as is already widely practiced in the beef industry. Concerned consumers can help calves on dairy farms by choosing nondairy beverages and foods, such as milks, cheeses, yogurts and ice creams made from soy, coconut, rice, almonds, oats and other natural plant sources.

PAHO calls for renewed commitment to support best-breastfeeding practices

Washington, D. C. – The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) is calling for renewed commitment from all sectors of society to improve implementation of the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding. This call for action comes at the start of World Breastfeeding Week 2012 (August 1-7).

 To highlight this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, PAHO/WHO has developed a policy brief summarizing the implementation of the Global Strategy in the Region of the Americas and its relationship to breastfeeding trends. PAHO has also developed a poster entitled “For You It’s Milk. For Your Baby, Life.”  These materials are available through PAHO’s headquarters, offices in each country and at www.paho.org/childnutrition.

 Although breastfeeding has been increasing in many countries in the Americas, much remains to be done to optimize breastfeeding practices. In most countries of the Americas, fewer than half of babies begin breastfeeding within the first hour of life, as recommended by PAHO/WHO. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months–also recommended–is low, ranging from 8 percent to 68 percent of babies in different countries of Latin America.

Also, the vast majority of babies and young children do not benefit from optimal complementary feeding. Nearly 20 percent do not receive solid, semi-solid or soft foods between 6 and 9 months of age, as recommended by PAHO/WHO. Only 28 percent of young children in Haiti and 81 percent in Peru receive a minimum dietary diversity. Only 46 percent of young children in Haiti and 78 percent in Peru receive a minimum meal frequency.  

 “We need to improve both breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices by creating strong and supportive public health policies and programs,” said PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses.

 This year’s World Breastfeeding Week, whose theme is “Understanding the Past, Planning the Future-Celebrating 10 Years of WHO/UNICEF’s Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding,” highlights progress toward the strategy’s implementation in countries around the world.

 Breastfeeding is the single most effective intervention for preventing deaths among children under 5. Research shows that about 20 percent of neonatal (under age 1 month) deaths could be prevented if all newborns began breastfeeding during the first hour of life.

In addition, children who are breastfed for seven to nine months have on average six points higher IQ than children who are breastfed for less than a month. Breastfeeding also helps mothers lose weight and reduces their risk of breast and ovarian cancer as well as type 2 diabetes.

PAHO, which celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, is the oldest public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.

Dairy farm abuses hard to swallow

By Daphna Nachminovitch

A recent Washington Post article about safety concerns in the food industry revealed that the plants that process dairy products are inspected, on average, once every decade. You read that right: once every decade.

While the FDA, which regulates dairy plants, is under pressure to overhaul its inspection procedures, a new undercover investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) shows that more oversight is also needed on the farms themselves.

A PETA investigator spent three months working at a New York dairy farm that supplies Agri-Mark, which makes Cabot and McCadam cheeses. Cows on this farm were jabbed and struck, even in the udder, with poles and canes. Young calves bellowed and thrashed as workers burned their horn buds—without providing any pain relief—in order to stop their horns from growing. Such atrocities should make any caring person think twice about buying cow’s milk and cheese.

PETA’s investigator documented one farm manager as he repeatedly electro-shocked a cow in the face. The same man also jabbed another cow, who was unable to stand, in the ribs with a screwdriver and used a skid steer to drag her 25 feet.

Supervisors failed to provide veterinary care or euthanasia to cows who were suffering from bloody vaginal prolapses. One boss said “we do nothing” for such cows, and indeed, the animals’ exposed, pus- and manure-covered tissue was left untreated for months. He added that when a cow’s “whole uterus comes out” during calving, farm workers simply push it back in and hope that the animal lives “long enough for the beef truck to come get her.”

Another manager, a layperson, laughingly admitted that he had plunged a long needle into “the wrong organ” of one cow when trying to penetrate her stomach. Twelve days later, evidently not having recovered and no longer useful to the dairy farm, the cow was loaded onto a truck and sent to a slaughterhouse.

Some of the abuses that we documented are standard practice in the dairy industry. For example, workers wrapped tight bands around calves’ tails in order to cause the tissue to die and fall off, a cruel procedure that results in acute and chronic pain. Workers used “guns” to artificially inseminate cows and injected cows with bovine growth hormone, or BGH, to increase their milk production. BGH contributes to an extremely painful udder infection called “mastitis,” and cows tested positive for it almost daily.

PETA is calling for appropriate disciplinary action—including termination—against all workers who abused or neglected animals at this farm. We’re also asking Agri-Mark to implement a number of new polices immediately, including phasing out all forms of dehorning, such as the burning of horn buds on calves’ heads, and banning the use of electric-shock devices.

These changes will eliminate some of the most egregious forms of cruelty to cows on Agri-Mark member farms. But they won’t eliminate all of them.

As long as consumers continue to purchase dairy products instead of healthier options such as almond milk and soy cheese, animals will continue to suffer. Mother cows will continue to watch helplessly as their calves—whom they carry for nine months, just like us—are torn away from them again and again, which is acutely distressing to both cow and calf. They will continue to go lame from intense confinement and filthy surroundings. And they will continue to be trucked to slaughter and ground up for burgers and dog food when their worn-out bodies are no longer of any use to farmers.

If you find such cruelty hard to swallow, the solution is simple: Dump dairy from your diet.