Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Dairy – the sad truth

Posted by on Feb 22, 2013 in Dairy | 10 comments

“I became a vegan the day I watched a calf being born on a factory farm. The baby was dragged away from his mother before he hit the ground. The helpless calf strained its head backwards to find its mother. The mother bolted after her son and exploded into a rage when the rancher slammed the gate on her. She wailed the saddest noise I’d ever heard an animal make, and then thrashed and dug into the ground burying her face in the muddy placenta. I had no idea what was happening respecting brain chemistry, animal instinct or whatever. I just knew that this was deeply wrong. I just knew that such suffering could never be worth the taste of milk and veal. I empathised with the cow and the calf and, in doing so, my life changed” – James McWilliam.




Like the majority of people, I have grown up eating and loving dairy products – milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, cream and all those other delicious concoctions. Up until recently, I thought that milk was just a by product of a happy animal and was pleased that I was eating healthily and keeping my bones strong . Plus, I loved the taste.

It has only been over the last 18 months or so that I have been educating myself on what goes on behind the scenes in the dairy industry that I have had my light bulb moment in realising that the dairy industry is not the kind, wholesome and healthy one I believed it to be. Once again, consumer demand for cheap and abundant milk has led to the demise of the small, family run dairy farm – to be replaced by the equivalent of factory farms to deliver the $1 litre milk and cheap cheese we are used to seeing in the supermarkets.

So, to begin with, some facts and figures about the dairy industry in Australia today :

* The typical Australian dairy cow is inseminated each year so she can have a calf each year so she will produce milk. Her calf is taken from her usually within the first 24 hours of it’s birth so her milk can be used for human consumption. She is inseminated again and the cycle continues. This video from Animals Australia shows it how it is.

* The separation process of the mother and calf is deeply distressing for both. Cows are doting mothers and they will mourn the loss of their baby. There is endless footage on the internet clearly showing the confusion and saddness of the mother when her baby is taken away.

* The average dairy cow is sent to slaughter at 5 years of age, when her milk supplies dwindle and her body succumbs to illness. She would otherwise live to 20-25 years.

* 700,000 male calves (bobby “worth a bob” calves) are sent to slaughter, usually around 5 days of age. They are considered waste products of the industry. The female calves are destined for a life identical to their mothers.

* A calf will suckle about 5 times per day if left with his mother but it is legal in Australia for the calf to be denied any food or water (known as Time Off Feed) for 30 hours prior to it’s slaughter.

* Many dairy cows suffer from painful and untreated lameness and mastitis and their bodies are pushed beyond their limits to produce the maximum amount of milk possible.

* Australia imports an enormous amount of cheese so it is worth considering the even less fortunate life of a dairy cow overseas. In Europe, normal practice is for the cows to be permanently tethered indoors – some without even being allowed the natural urge to lie down. And, veal crates are abundant. By buying imported cheeses, you are unwittingly supporting these dreadful practices.

* The handling of the fragile calves during transport and at the abattoir is often rough and violent and they are not protected by CCTV footage. Undercover footage at the Riverside Meats abattoir in Echuca, Victoria, revealed its workers cruelly treating the calves. This was shown in ABC’s Lateline a few weeks ago and can be viewed here.

* This article shared by Voiceless eloquently discusses the whimsical yet skewed view a lot of us hold about the dairy industry.

* If, as a result of learning about the plight of the dairy cows and their calves, you are seeking to reduce or eliminate dairy from your diet, my following posts will cover some delicious dairy free substitutes and recipes and who to contact to voice your concern about how the dairy industry is allowed to operate.

* If you would still like to keep dairy in your diet but want to source your products from kinder dairies, I will be discussing that too so…….stay tuned !  X

There is an enormous amount of information out there and the following, factual articles are ones worth reading should you want to learn more.

* Dairy Cows Fact Sheet thanks to Animals Australia

* A life of quiet suffering – the dairy cow thanks to Voiceless

* Dairy Cows courtesy of Compassion in World Farming


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Melinda

    Great post Ingy. I stopped eating cheese, eggs and drinking milk about 12 months ago. I am yet to become a vegan however as I still eat products with milk/egg in them. I guess the reason for this is having to feed a family of,four and work full time means that I am time poor to cook myself a separate meal. I know that when my circumstances change i will be completely vegan and proud of it. There is a great vegan store called “The Cruelty Free Shop” in Glebe. They have great products. I’ve tried the vegan sour cream and it is great!! I also buy some good vegan items from Thomas Dux Grocer (i buy a vegan cream cheese from there….yum!!).
    Had a look at some You Tube speaches by Gary Yourofsky.

    His insights as to the lies told about how milk is marketed blew my mind. It baffles me why we are the only mammals that feed the need to drink another mothers milk throughout our life!! Especially in this modern world where we are so easily able to use milk alternatives. Argh so frustrating!!

    Thanks again for your blog!!

    Mel x

  2. Treadkindly

    Thanks Mel, I think you are my biggest fan – I really appreciate your feedback although I know that I am already preaching to the converted !

    I am also edging towards a vegan lifestyle but am not there yet…I have a couple of eggs a week and have a small amount of dairy (usually fetta) but only from Barambah as they don’t take the calves from their mums. I also, completely hypocritically, have prawns and salmon maybe once a fortnight but I think I will get there (vegan) eventually and be equally as proud !

    Was only eating the Vegan sour cream (the Tofutti brand) last night in my soup – it is very good. I love the cruelty free shop in Glebe. I am also a regular at Thomas Dux (I love the Linda McCartney sausages from there, they are the best). I have seen a bit of Gary Yourofsky but will have a bit more of a look. I love Phillip Wollen – think you would too.

    Thanks again Mel….your words of encouragement are sometimes what I need when it feels like nobody is really listening or interested ! It is also so lovely to know somebody who feels the same way xxx

  3. Bettina

    Listening loud and clear! Don’t stop what you’re doing, Ingrid. The more people are educated and made aware of the horrific practices going on in the diary industry the more likely things will change. You are the voice for the animals – don’t give up! Hopefully, the dairy industry will be forced to rectify their inhumane practices because people will stop buying their products in favour of kinder alternatives. I know I am trying to change. (Got any milk alternatives apart from soy?)

    • Treadkindly

      Thanks Bet for your comments….so glad to hear that you’re making some changes too. Next weekend’s post will be about dairy alternatives and dairies who are kind in the practices – such as not removing the calves from their mothers. As for milk alternatives….I love Almond Milk, have been buying the Sanitarium one which is delicious. Apparently it is quite easy to make your own which I will be trying soon. I am keen to do some research into soy as have heard a lot of people say that they try to avoid consuming too much of it due to health concerns. At the moment, I am still drinking soy milk and my brand of choice is Bonsoy which I now prefer over normal milk in my coffee.
      I really appreciate your encouraging words Bet xxx

  4. Bettina

    You should get some share icons on your blog (eg. twitter, facebook etc).

    • Treadkindly

      Great idea….I am not on twitter but, for facebook , yes – great suggestion. I have found Facebook a bit of a minefield to work through at times but it will be on the list of trying ways to increase my audience.

  5. Andy

    Inge, thanks for sharing that. I can’t claim to be ignorant about it anymore. I’m
    forced to think..


  6. Pat

    Ing, I look forward to your post about kinder dairies.

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