top of page

Speaking up for cows: Viva! outreach

Last weekend I took part in Viva!’s ‘True Costa Dairy’ UK-wide day of action. It was the second event I’d arranged as part of this campaign, and whilst it was really cold and at times, demoralising, it was 100% worth it.

Here’s why I feel the need to fight the dairy industry:

Ever wondered about milk? I hadn’t, really. Like most, I just bought into the idea that cows make it. End of. It wasn’t until something really prompted me to think-think about it that I considered…

‘Hang on...a body only produces milk when it has a baby to feed…’

Life would be much nicer if I'd never had this lightbulb moment, because now I know it I can’t un-know it, and I truly think the dairy industry might be one of the most systematically cruel and exploitative things on earth.

Here it is, broken down to super simple:

  • Female cow is forcibly impregnated, using a piece of apparatus the industry casually refers to as a ‘rape rack’.

  • Cow spends 9 months growing her baby.

  • Cow gives birth. Naturally, she’d spend around 10 months feeding her new baby, but dairy calves are typically taken away from their mothers anywhere between a few hours and a couple of days after birth.

[Side note: Imagine that – even if there was nothing more to come. You carry a baby in your tummy for nine months and then they're taken from you just hours after you finally meet them… cows are strongly maternal creatures and it’s well documented that mother and baby call out for each other as they’re separated and sometimes for days afterwards].

  • The baby is effectively a by-product of the process, so girls will be kept until they’re around 18 months old, when they’re fed into the same production cycle as their mums. Baby boys will either be shipped off to the veal market, or just shot in the head – they serve no purpose in this cycle so feeding them would impact profit. (Yes, you read that right, the milk in your tea or on your daily cereal = babies shot in the head).

  • Mummy cow now gets hooked up to the machine that takes all the milk she produced to feed her baby. She’ll be drained of this until she has no more to give, at which point she’ll probably already have been re-impregnated, and the cycle will start all over again. She will typically have 3 or 4 calves in her lifetime.

  • Needless to say, her poor, exploited body will be exhausted far before the limits of her natural lifespan. Selective breeding means that cows in dairy herds produce unnatural amounts of milk, and since they’re typically milked twice a day (instead of having their calf feed five or six times per day) up to 20 litres of milk can accumulate in their udders at any one time, causing difficulty with mobility, painful mastitis and lameness. They often have their back legs shackled together to stop them doing the splits under the weight. Cows should live for 20 years. Dairy cows typically live for around 6, before their broken bodies give up and they’re sold off for cheap meat.

[Another side note: Mastitis is an infection…it involves pus. The legal allowance in milk is 400 million pus cells per litre. The milk in your tea quite possibly contains pus].

We don’t need dairy. There is no other species whose members consume milk of another animal. It’s weird and unnatural, and the amount of people who are lactose intolerant are testament to the fact that as adults, we shouldn't be drinking a product that nature designed for babies. (Lactose is a sugar contained in milk – when we’re babies we produce an enzyme called lactase that helps our bodies break the lactose down – many people’s bodies stop producing lactase when they’re weaned, hence can longer digest lactose! An interesting article on that here.

An argument I was faced with a lot last weekend was that the farm investigated by Viva! must be a bit of a one off. It’s not. In fact, it’s Red Tractor approved. A supposed assurance of welfare standards.

There are loads of dairy-milk alternatives available. Oat milk. Coconut milk. Soya milk. Rice milk. Hemp milk. Almond milk. Hazelnut milk. Pea milk. Cashew milk. Potato milk...

So many milks.

Time for us to switch to others. The production of which don't involve forced pregnancy and pain and pus and death. Plants don’t bellow when we take away their babies.

A short video with further details of Viva!'s campaign can be found here:


bottom of page