The Dark Reality of Dairy

Published by plantsarepower on

In India, cows are considered a sacred symbol of life. In the Hindu Vedas, cows are associated with various gods like Krishna and Shiva, and therefore, many believe they should be protected and worshipped. So, why do we ignore their suffering when it comes to dairy farming? Yes, cows in dairy farms are brutally tortured just so you can have your vanilla milkshakes and cheese sandwiches. It is high time we expose the dark side of dairy.


Cows are extremely inquisitive and intelligent animals. They have long-term memories and can learn from one another. Cows have distinct personalities and forge close, lifelong friendships. The bond between a mother cow and her calves is particularly strong. Like humans, they mourn the loss of friends and family members. Cows are affectionate mothers and share the responsibility of watching over their playful calves with other females in the herd.


In today’s industrial dairy farms, cows are bred specifically to maximise milk production. As a result of this breeding, the average milk yield per cow has risen dramatically over the years. Calves naturally require about 8 litres of milk per day for healthy growth. In contrast, modern breeds of dairy cows on industrial farms produce up to 50 litres per day, and as much as 12,000 litres of milk per year. Producing milk at such an unnaturally elevated rate is physically exhausting for cows, comparable in terms of metabolic effort to a human running 1.5 marathons every day. In order to produce a single litre of milk, a cow’s body must pump half a tonne of blood through her udder.

On many commercial dairy farms, cows live in cramped stalls, tied in place with a chain or rope. These conditions are so restrictive that, for much of their lives, cows in tie stalls are unable to walk, turn around, groom, look to the side, or interact with other herd members in a natural way.


Like all mammals, cows produce milk only after giving birth. In order to maintain milk production levels, industrial dairy cows are forcibly inseminated each year. Like humans, cows gestate for nine months. During this time, cows are milked up until the 7th month of their pregnancies. Newborn calves are separated from their mothers within a few hours of birth since the mothers’ milk is reserved for human consumption. The separation is traumatic for both the mother and her calf.

She will be inseminated again six to eight weeks after giving birth.

Most female calves born to dairy cows face the same fate as their mothers. They are isolated in small pens for the first 8 weeks of their life, then spend the remainder of their lives producing milk for the dairy industry. Male calves and ‘surplus’ females are most commonly sold to fattening farms, where they spend a few weeks gaining weight until they are slaughtered. In total, more than 300 million cows are slaughtered for beef around the world each year.

According to an undercover investigation conducted in 2016 across 4 different cities in Rajasthan by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), “in order to continue the milking process and keep the mother lactating, a ‘khalbaccha’ — a makeshift calf — is placed next to her. In certain farms, the tail and the head of the young calf is dismantled from the carcass and is placed at the ends of the stick. The smell of death is camouflaged with hay and a balm; hence, the cow continues to get milked, while the remains of the young calf are sold in the market as veal” (FIAPO, 2016). Click here to know more about the heartbreaking findings of FIAPO’s undercover investigation.


Dairy products can be associated with health problems. Worldwide, about 75% of people are lactose intolerant, which means that they cannot digest the lactose in dairy products. Symptoms of lactose intolerance may include bloating, diarrhoea, gas, nausea, and pain in the abdomen. This can go undiagnosed for a long period of time and may impact negatively on health if it prevents the body from getting enough nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D. The consumption of milk and dairy products can also promote heart disease due to high content of cholesterol and saturated fats. Dairy products are also suspected of promoting some types of cancer, including prostate and breast cancer. In addition, dairy products can contain contaminants such as hormones and pesticides. If you want more information pertaining to the health risks of dairy products- particularly milk, check out our  ‘Cow’s Milk: Friend or Foe’ article here!


More and more consumers are now questioning their consumption of cow’s milk and the effects that our diets have on animals, the environment, and our health. This is also reflected in the increasing demand for non-dairy milk. People choose plant milks over dairy milk for a variety of reasons. Whether it is for their nutritional value, animal welfare reasons, lower environmental impact, to avoid lactose or dairy milk allergens, or simply out of preference. 

This mother cow and her baby might soon be the victims of the cruel dairy farming practices but you can change that! YOU HAVE THE POWER to save them by switching to some equally delicious plant-based milk alternatives! Check them out here and go cruelty-free! 

Interested in knowing more? To access the full article, please visit:
Proveg: Treatment of cows in the dairy industry

Categories: Animals


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