The question of whether or not dairy should be a part of my diet has been an extant one for almost a decade. A close look at the business of factory farming reveals some pretty immediate ethical concerns, especially when one considers the non-necessity of it with regard to our survival. Modern technology has provided alternatives that offer equal or better nutritional value with a greatly reduced ethical cost.
Making the move to a vegetarian diet was never a question after that realization, choosing a veggie burger over beef became an easy choice once the costs and benefits were weighed. But when considering the question of dairy the costs are different. The assumption was that the dairy cows weren’t killed in production so the ethical concern was eliminated for me, in addition I couldn’t find what I considered to be sufficient alternatives. Both of those assumptions are no longer true.
How Does Factory Dairy Farming Work?
Gone are the days of the happy farmer, up with the sun to milk his cow on a stool in the barn. In those days excess milk was harvested from an already nursing cow and once the calf was weaned and the milk dried up, harvesting stopped. Today, female cows are constantly impregnated (usually via artificial insemination) and may produce milk up to 305 days a year. This will go on, year after year… for about three years, at which point the cow is sold for beef. The next logical question concerns what happens with all of those calves. Some of them may be incorporated into the operation others are butchered and sold for veal. A look at modern dairy farming reveals that all of the ethical concerns present in meat farming are present as well in the dairy industry.
What Are the Alternatives to Dairy?
As previously stated, when this question first came to mind I found that all of the available alternatives were unsatisfactory, either because an alternative simply didn’t exist or that it was a poor analogue. I can’t/won’t discount the importance that food has to our psyche, a certain amount of joy is derived from eating, it should be enjoyable. Luckily things have progressed in recent years and now there are alternatives to every type of dairy product you could hope to get a hold of. Not only can you find faux taco meat, but you can get sour cream and cheese to top it off. If tacos aren’t your bag, you can make a sandwich with vegan mayonnaise and chocolate coconut ice cream for dessert.
Dairy Consumption Cost Benefit Analysis
I don’t presume to tell anyone what to do, personal circumstance must be taken into account, from where I sit, the costs of the current course of action aren’t justified by my needs. The availability of sufficient alternatives removes the need to contribute to an industry that doesn’t sit well with my moral center. Considering the information leaves only one real course of action for me, to remove the offending foods from my diet, I intend to live the remainder of my life dairy free.