“I would love to be vegan, but I could never give up cheese!”
It’s the phrase I hear repeatedly from fellow friends and acquaintances. I usually smile and say how I am completely satisfied I am with my vegan cheese, waiting to see if they want to know more about why I choose to be vegan.
Whether I say it out loud or not, what really go through my mind when I hear comments like this are images. Images of a calf ripped from her mother hours within birth and the mother calling for her baby for days. Images of the baby calf wailing so much that her tiny throat becomes raw. Images of her little body, so sick from the distress of separation that she loses weight from not eating.
Overall, I see the mental and physical exhaustion that little calf will continue to go through along with all factory-farmed dairy cows, just for the satisfaction of humans. Satisfaction that is not necessary for our survival, nor for a healthy lifestyle.
One thing I never thought about is that dairy cows have to be pregnant in order to produce milk. In the factory farming industry, dairy cows are constantly impregnated through artificial insemination. Milking regimens and drugs are used to produce even more milk. It is not surprising that cows today make more than four times the amount of milk than they did in 1950.
What goes through my head when I hear people’s never ending love for cheese is the dirty, dark, cramped, bloody, and painful lives dairy cows live in the factory-farming industry. Because of my love for animals, it is easy for me to give up cheese and all other dairy products. However, before I was vegan, I was under the impression that dairy cows lived happy lives. It is easy to be fooled by the “happy cow” images that are on packages and used within the media. Green open pastures, clear streams, and sunlight are far from the life the typical dairy cow leads.
Factory-farmed dairy cows typically live about five years compared to the natural lifespan of 20 years. This is due to constantly being pregnant, and about 50 percent of the cows become lame from standing on concrete floors filled with their own filth while hooked up to a not-so-comfortable milking machine day in and day out. Basically, the cow either dies from exhaustion on the spot or collapses and, unable to produce milk anymore, is sent to the slaughterhouse.
In my opinion, dairy cows lead harder lives than cows raised for meat production. Their bodies are used to the point of exhaustion physically and mentally, then they are thrown in a trailer to experience a traumatizing and inhumane death at the nearest slaughterhouse to top it all off.
I would be lying to say that I don’t like the taste of cheese. Of course I do! There are many different plant-based dairy products available to choose from. One of my favorites is the Daiya brand. Daiya makes shredded, block, and sliced cheeses of different flavors along with products like pizza, mac and cheese, cream cheese, cheesecake, yogurt, and dressings.
Although I was never a huge milk fan, I buy Almond Breeze and like it far more than dairy milk. Almondmilk is a healthier and cruelty-free way to buy. It is filled with calcium, protein, and vitamins D and E and is a good source of vitamin A. With Daiya, Almond Breeze, and other brands like these, you are not only saving animals: You are reducing the carbon footprint.
“I could never give up cheese!” Well, I sure can, and I’m happy that I did.