Blog Entry 27: Moral Thoughts

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First off I want to state that I am not vegan or even a vegetarian. I try to buy local meats from farmers markets and farms around my area.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I considered myself a vegetarian.  I was not following proper diets for that life style and changed back to make sure my unborn child got the best nutrients from me, but even so, I still prefer vegetables over meat. Now its even hard to want to be this way because I am married and have kids that up until this point have the “normal” diet of meat, veggies, dairy and so on. Today I want to talk about the dairy we Canadian’s eat daily.

Dairy, what is it? Well like all mammal mothers, it is the breast milk used for feed our infants. Dairy is the breast milk used to feed an infant cow, also known as a calf. Yet every day thousands of  gallons of milk is bought and sold for our own human uses, be it cheese, drinking milk, and so on.

Did you know that in order to drink or use this milk, we need to steal if from the mouths of calves? What happens to those calves? Well some will grow up to become breeders and or milk producers. Others will be turned towards the veal industry, but that’s another story all together.

It is possible to maintain higher milk production by injecting cows with growth hormones known as recombinant BST or rBST, but this is controversial due to its effects on animal and possibly human health. The European Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have banned its use due to these concerns. Which means thankfully we, as Canadians do not need to worry about this.

What about the health of the average dairy cow that is used in mass productions? Common ailments affecting dairy cows include infectious disease (e.g. mastitis, endometritis and digital dermatitis), metabolic disease (e.g. milk fever and ketosis) and injuries caused by their environment (e.g. hoof and hock lesions). All this for our health, sounds horrible but we are not done.

Cowes that are production milk, in mass factories, do not get to graze freely. They are kept in stalls that they can not turn around in, let alone walk or move around. These same cows sit in filth until the people caring for them come and clean their stalls.

Canadian standards in the Dairy code of practice states that once a cow is no longer responding to medical care they are to be humanely euthanized. Their acceptable methods are:

• free bullet (.22 calibre for calves, .22 magnum or high-powered rifle for mature heifers,
cows and bulls)
• penetrating captive bolt – followed by pithing, bleeding or cardiac puncture
• non-penetrating captive bolt – followed by bleeding (not for adult cattle)
• injection with barbiturates and other drugs (administered by a licensed veterinarian).

Again, all this is in the name of our own greed to eat or drink dairy? Many times bullets or captive bolts do not work and the animal is in unimaginable pain until the pithing: Pithing is a slaughtering technique in which the brain of the animal is destroyed by a tool called a pithing cane or rod, which is inserted into the hole which is created by captive bolt stunning.

So lets recap this a little, in our need to be “healthy” we steal from caves, aka infants. These cows get get ill, again in the name of our health. Once ill if they do not respond to medical treatment they are killed. Interesting that we have no remorse for this, but lets add a some more to this, but lets look at things from our need of health standards and phobias.

Many people do not breast feed their babies out of choice. Some, like myself have no choice due to issues with it, e.g. drying up, lack of milk fat content and others. There is an alarming amount of people who think breast feeding is gross, yet those same people drink milk daily. Almost all people would not drink milk from humans as they find it gross, why is it then not gross to drink breast milk from a cow?

The dairy council would love you to believe that milk is the lone ranger of calcium. The truth is…calcium is naturally abundant in a wide variety of foods, including most vegetables, fruits and nuts. In fact, many green vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy and kale have calcium absorption rates of 50-70%, much higher than the 32% calcium absorption rate found in milk.

Cow’s milk contains over 25 different molecules, which have the potential to elicit an allergic reaction. No wonder milk is repeatedly ranked among the top eight offenders for food allergies! In fact, many doctors, scientists, and health specialists recommend going dairy free as an initial test when a food allergy is suspected.

I am among some of those people who have a dairy allergy. When ingesting dairy, be it milk, cheese, yogurt, or anything with dairy, my guts swell, after which I get uncontrollable gas followed by diarrhea. Sounds fun huh? This allergy is called lactose intolerance.

Symptoms may vary from person to person, and can range from mild, to very uncomfortable, to embarrassing, to severe. The most notable by products of lactose intolerance are:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Intestinal Bloating, the ever so attractive “Pot Belly”
  • Flatulence, otherwise known as party stopping gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

These symptoms typically emerge about 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingesting lactose-laden foods, which dairy has lots of.

So while I may cut out dairy out of my diet and cut back the amount my children have, what does your moral thoughts say about this? Will you be able to drink a glass of milk the same way? I hope you think about this a make better choices.

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Great read on how to be dairy free: http://www.godairyfree.org/

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