Buckle up, because we’re about to delve into the shocking reality of dairy farms.
According to this article by Vegetarian Times, 7.3 million American citizens follow a mostly vegetarian diet. Strict vegans make up about 1 million of all vegetarians. Both numbers have been slowly but steadily increasing over the years.
So what’s wrong with dairy?
Many people are under the false impression that, because cows and chickens aren’t directly killed for their milk and eggs, it is perfectly moral to enjoy these goods; however, the reality is that with factory farms, animals exploited for any purpose will inevitably suffer. One may argue that dairy cows and hens endure a fate worse than only death. To ensure continued milk production, dairy cows are put on the “rape rack” once a year and forcibly impregnanted, only to endure the tragic loss of their calves when they are taken away minutes after birth.
Male calves spend a maximum of four months on earth before being turned into veal, while females are doomed to share their mother’s fate for 4-6 years until they are considered “spent” and sent off to slaughter. On average, cows can live 25 years or longer if left in peace.
The conditions for chickens are not much better, to say the least. Often, 5-10 hens will be stuffed into a single wire cage, leaving barely enough room to stand. The stress caused by these cramped conditions leads the sensitive hens to essentially go mad and start pecking at each other. Instead of giving the hens more room, farmers resort to a painful process called “debeaking” – cutting off a portion of their beaks without anesthetic. Despite popular belief, “free range” hens are not free at all; rather than being stuffed in a cage, they are packed by the thousands into tiny sheds.
In the natural environment, chickens can live up to 15 years, and hens will produce, on average, 10-15 eggs annually during breeding season; however, selective breeding and genetic manipulation forces the hens to lay as many as 300 eggs per year. By 12-18 months, the hens, like the cows, become spent and are sent to slaughter. Since male chicks born to egg-laying hens are not the right breed for meat and cannot reproduce, they are useless to the industry and disposed of like trash.
It would take a novel to write about all of the horrors of animal agriculture, but these are the basic, unfortunate facts. I encourage everyone to visit the links in this post and to conduct your own research on factory farms if interested. Ignorance of farming practices is a huge issue, and it is our responsibility to stay informed in order to make morally sound decisions.