Life of a Dairy Calf

It is early in the morning when he first meets the earth. He stands on trembling legs against the cold concrete floor. His brave, tired mother kisses him all over, expressing love and care for her newborn baby. After nine months of carrying her child, he is finally here. Her first born. Little do they know, a calf’s future is predetermined by its sex, and as a male, his life is worth very little.

He breastfeeds from his mother, merely a nameless number. When you belong to someone else, what is the point of being given a name? He his happy to lie with her, blissfully ignorant of what will happen in a few hours time.

'Navetta' by Oikeutta eläimille is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Worth nothing more than a number

Less than twenty-four hours go by before he is moved again. He has drank from his mother’s breast three times, now, her milk is no longer his. A rope is wrapped around him and he is pulled away. Took weak to resist, he has little choice but to comply. It takes more to hold back his mother though, as she screams and cries in panic. She wants to nurse and care for her baby, but instead, she is being dragged away from the maternity pen and into a new shed where her udders will provide nothing but a mere profit for humans.

What happens to her baby?

As a male born calf, his job was done the moment he was born. This crying, trembling, worthless baby means nothing to a dairy farmer now. The short-lived life of a male dairy calf is an unhappy one.

'Frail Calves unloaded at stockyard' by Farm Sanctuary is licensed for use under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Newborn calves being transported to livestock markets.

Ignoring his beating heart, his brain, his tears, his love for his mother, he is sold as a product to another farm. He is bundled onto a trailer and driven for miles. He is confused, and scared. He wants his mum. He doesn’t want to be alone.

At the new farm, his death-date has already been marked into a calendar. Two months is all they need. His new home is tiny, cramped, and full of confusion. His neighbours  – other babies snatched away from their families – don’t know what’s going on, either. New calves come and go almost every day. He is fed a white, milk substitute which makes him grow uncomfortably large. He can’t fit properly in his crate.

'Navetta' by Oikeutta eläimille is licensed for use under CC BY 2.0

Imprisoned just for being a calf

After a mere few weeks it is impossible for him to stand up or lay down with ease. He can’t get comfortable, he can’t turn around. He can’t move. He cries for his mother – for anyone – to save him. Every calf around him is doing the same.

On his death day, he is pushed into a line of other babies. They are all two months old. They are rounded up onto a truck. He is squashed against the wall, his face against a tiny window. A gasp of fresh air. Once the truck is full to the brim of trembling animals, the long journey begins. The babies by the window catch glimpses of the fields and the trees. They can barely breathe. This is even worse than the previous crate! Beside him, another calf has fallen down. He doesn’t get up again.

The stench of fear is foul. When will the journey end? Where are they going? What will happen? Why have I been brought into this life of misery, fear, and suffering?

We all know how the story goes. There is no happy ending. This baby calf, along with millions of others are killed yearly for cheap meat. Nameless, living beings are all subjected to needless suffering in the name of profit. The babies will be forced up a ramp, into a slaughterhouse, where they have no choice but to wait for their turn to die.

Murder – whether done to humans or non-human animals – is unethical. We don’t need cow’s milk, but calves do. We don’t need to eat cow to stay alive, so why do millions of them have to die?

To end this post, I want to share with you an occasion where the compassion of humans brought a calf and their mother back together. I only wish all babies could be brought home to their parents.

“In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.

-Ruth Harrison

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Image Attribution

Navetta‘ by Oikeutta eläimille is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Frail calves unloaded at stockyard‘ by Farm Sanctuary is licensed for use under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Navetta‘ by Oikeutta eläimille is licensed for use under CC BY 2.0

Boycotting Palm Oil Whilst Eating A Steak

'Riau deforestation 2006' by Aidenvironment is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Rainforest Destruction

I’m here to clarify a few things and to put us all back on track.

This post is written as a polite response to a popular group on Facebook who shared my original post: Palm Oil: The Ethical Dilemma, who stated that is was perfectly okay to eat a steak so long as you don’t consume palm oil.

I want to first thank the group who shared my post. Thank you for caring about the rainforest destruction that palm oil causes, and thank you for sharing articles like mine to raise awareness of unsustainable palm oil’s destructive nature. However, the claim that you made about enjoying steak being fine completely undermines the message I was putting across in my article.

Eating a steak, or a burger, or even drinking a glass of milk whilst angrily boycotting palm oil on social media sends to me mixed signals. Let me explain how I see it. It would be like me buying a two minute shower timer for my shower, and telling everyone to use less water when washing. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Saving water, helping the environment? Well, imagine me also leaving my taps on all night after I’d gone to bed. All the water that I’ve saved from taking shorter showers in suddenly wasted, down the drain, whilst I sleep peacefully. And then imagine me telling people that if you took shorter showers then it was okay to leave taps on at night. Because I was already doing my part.

Doesn’t that sound absurd?

As I stated in my original post, 26 million acres of rainforest have been cleared to grow unsustainable palm oil. That sounds like a lot, and it is. But how much of the rainforest has been destroyed in the name of animal agriculture? 136 million acres. Suddenly the palm oil figures look rather meek and mild in comparison to this giant mess.

If you are an environmentalist, if you care about the biodiversity of our rainforests, you should not eat meat. Despite everything you’ve been told, the simple fact is that animal products are far more destructive than palm oil will ever be.

The point of my original blog post was to encourage people to be as kind to the environment as possible, and that means cutting the animal products. The secondary step is cutting out the palm oil. Whilst the post was aimed at anyone interested, I was looking to provide advice and information for vegans or vegetarians who wanted to do even more to help our planet.

If you walked away from reading my article feeling as though you could justify eating cows because you only buy sustainable palm oil, then I’m sorry, but that is not the message that I want to spread.

I don’t think people should feel guilty for their dietary choices either, especially if they’re uninformed. It’s just not a case of one or the other, here, and if it were, I would much prefer the world to be boycotting animal agriculture whilst consuming palm oil.

That being said I think it’s important for everyone to do the best they can with the situation they have! If you’re vegan but live in a place where it’s impossible to avoid unsustainable palm oil, then no hate. If you can’t cut out the palm oil completely but you are aware of the situation and try to avoid it when you can, that’s awesome. If you’re a vegetarian slowly reducing your dairy intake in order to lower your carbon footprint, then keep it up! I would never advocate anything other than veganism to people (in general), but I’m not a robot! I know that people have different struggles, different paths, different ways of adapting to change. You do you.

So I guess the summary of my blog post is… don’t advertise eating steak on an article of mine, don’t think that eating steak is justified because you boycott palm oil, don’t leave water on overnight, animal agriculture is damaging to the environment, palm oil is damaging too, everyone should try their best to avoid both eating animals and palm oil if possible, and finally: make the best of the situation you have.

You can read the original article here: Palm Oil: The Ethical Dilemma

Do you have any questions about going vegan or cutting palm oil from your diet? Feel free to leave me a comment, or send me a message on any of my social medias, linked below. Don’t forget to share this page and subscribe to the website for new content. You can also find me on YoutubeTwitter,Instagram, Google +, Facebook and Tumblr for even more!

Image Attribution

Riau deforestation 2006‘ by Aidenvironment is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0