So why do I care about dairy cows so much? It is the mother to mother empathy which overwhelms me. The very essence of our being as mammals is denied and perverted. Imagining a mother crying desperately for her new-born baby to be returned is indescribable. To tear a new born human baby from their mother would be the crime of all crimes, unthinkable, evil, imprisonable and inhumane, yet this brutal act is not only fundamental to the functioning of the dairy industry but also has become so routine, desensitised and organised that the cries of anguish from new mother cows for their new born babies are simply ignored, just part of a bigger picture of collecting their milk for humans, for profit and business as usual. There is no worse fate than that of a dairy cow. I have racked my brain and heart to think of something more cruel or painful. As a mother to lose my child would be the worst pain that could be inflicted upon me, just the very thought of it is too much to bare, and if it was I would definitely know the reason why and would be showered with love, care, sympathy, affection and support, yet dairy cows have to repeat this unthinkable trauma year after year without any explanation or comfort, left to grieve alone unheard and seen as a milk producing commodities without personal identity or feelings. My mission is to get as many people as I can to the place of thinking and feeling that I am at now, far quicker than it took me to get here. I want people to see cows as mothers and not milk machines here to serve us.
II actually still can’t quite believe that I reached the age of 39 without ever questioning how dairy was produced. I’d eaten dairy in some form or other for breakfast lunch and dinner pretty much every day of my life and had always considered myself a considerate, compassionate person. I simply believed the idea that cows were just the animals that gave us humans our milk, and it was vital for our health. I had never once even considered that the cows had to be mothers to produce the milk or why they produced this milk in the first place.
Driving past a farmer’s market in London around Christmas time I read graffitied on a wall ‘Milk is Murder’. This caught my eye and my mind boggled as to what it could mean. Milk murder? I was so confused I actually assumed it was written by an anarchist who had no idea of reality. However, somewhere in my conscience the phrase stuck. A month later, whilst in Thailand on a holiday with my two year old milk loving son and boyfriend, I remembered the phrase and one evening Googled what it meant. What I read was jaw dropping, a total shock and chilling revelation, the way I saw the world completely changed that very moment.
Just the day before I had spent about £10 on assorted milks for my son, a new country and new varieties to try, the fridge in our room was jam packed with colourful cows’ milks.
As I sat on our terrace in a Thai paradise with my precious son sleeping inside, an empty guzzled milk bottle innocently by his side, processing the dumbfounding information about the reality of dairy, I experienced a feeling I had never felt before. I was resolute, I was awakening, I knew I had unearthed something life changing and there was nothing I could silence it with. I said to my boyfriend ‘when we get back to England we will be dairy free’. He agreed. Half an hour or so later as this life changing information sunk in some more, I gasped aloud ‘mother to mother,’ I have to stop now. This was such a poignant moment and one I’ll never forget. As a mother, how could I be complicit in inflicting the most unthinkable pain on another mother? I went into our room and emptied all the cows milk from our fridge down the sink and then, determined and driven, went to the local 7-11 supermarket to buy plant milks for my son. I had never been clearer or more resolute about anything else in my entire life. My eyes had been opened, and I couldn’t stop searching for more information. Over the next few days I learnt about the other farmed animals and their suffering, and couldn’t see them as food any more. I was vegan from that moment and committed to sharing their truth and speaking up for them.
Dairy is Everywhere
As I wander along each parade of shops near me and look into the cafés and shop windows filled with pastries, cakes, milky coffees, ice creams and other dairy based products I think of the milk used to make them and where it comes from. Then I think of all the houses and flats along that street and the fridges and cupboards inside filled with dairy products or other products containing dairy, I then think of all the bigger supermarkets in my area and the miles of aisles and shelves they have filled with dairy products, cheese, yoghurts, milks, dips, desserts, ice creams, cakes, chocolates, pizzas, ready meals- and then I think of the high streets, cafés, shops, streets of flats and houses and bigger supermarkets in the area next to my area and how much dairy is there, then I think about the dairy in all the restaurants and houses and supermarkets across the whole of London, then the rest of the UK, and before I get any further I start to picture the scale of demand and the enormity of the industry, and just how many dairy cows this must mean all around the world, dairy cows who are forgotten mothers, commoditised, unheard and how many motherless calves this must mean to sustain this amount of dairy products for human consumption. The Western diet is largely centred around dairy and animal products, with middle income countries in Latin America and East Asia following suit as they prosper in wealth and income growth.