Is it possible for dairy to be ethical? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 08-27-2015, 12:41 PM
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Is it possible for dairy to be ethical?

What if you :
-let cows be with their calves
-gave calves cow milk
-didn't milk the cows enough for them to get sick
-let the cows wander around and be cows most of the time
-let the cows be in their social groups
-fed them grass (they eat it in their field & graze) and sometimes hay
-only used the milk for yourself/some of your friends
-only collected a little bit of milk
-dont give the cows any hormones
-have the cows primarily for companionship (like if you're a cow person) and the milk is just a bonus
-let the cows mate naturally and don't force them into pregnancy -- if you run out of milk, then you run out of milk. Oh well. Your cows aren't machines; they're sentient beings.
It wouldn't be "vegan", but would it be okay?
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#2 Old 08-27-2015, 12:54 PM
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good question.

I think this is where vegetarians could legitimately split in two camps. Camp A would NEVER use animal products under any circumstances, but camp b could use milk IF and only IF it was "ethically sourced". Now, to camp b, the question is to define ethical sourcing for milk. I think that the cow would need the legal rights of a human infant first before we can discuss ethically sourcing milk. We can love our cows all we want, but until the law of the land recognizes them as individual beings of similarity to humans, all our talk of ethics will reach this roadblock. Even if we treat cows as "human beings", how are we to know that we are not exploiting them?

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#3 Old 08-27-2015, 01:43 PM
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You would still be breeding an animal to be a commodity for human consumption, regardless to the inherent value and interest of the animal.

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#4 Old 08-27-2015, 01:48 PM
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saying that milking a cow is "treating it as a commodity" is like saying having your cat control the pests in your home is, or service dogs, or riding horses.

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#5 Old 08-27-2015, 02:02 PM
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saying that milking a cow is "treating it as a commodity" is like saying making your children do things for you is.
If you're genuinely making your children do things for you as opposed to asking them to do things for you, or making them do things for their own benefit, I'd say that's not particularly ethical either. That said, children are human beings who can speak and make their wishes clear. Cows are not. If you truly care for the well-being of your cows, you will only act in their best interests. Taking their bodily secretions for your own pleasure or profit is a purely selfish act. If you care for cows, care for cows. Why is it necessary to act as though their breast milk is something acceptable and desirable for humans to drink?

If you were caring for a vulnerable pregnant woman who, for some reason, could not give you consent, would you consider taking some of her breast milk to drink and give to your friends? Would that be morally acceptable because you feed her and give her a place to stay, or is there something inherently wrong and creepy about siphoning off her breast milk for yourself? Personally, I would feel remarkably uncomfortable drinking milk from such a woman. A cow is no different. You only believe that cow's milk is acceptable for human consumption because of the very long-standing human tradition of stealing it. These animals do not exist for our purposes but for their own, like anyone else.
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#6 Old 08-27-2015, 02:08 PM
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saying that milking a cow is "treating it as a commodity" is like saying making your children do things for you is.
If you're genuinely making your children do things for you as opposed to asking them to do things for you, or making them do things for their own benefit, I'd say that's not particularly ethical either. That said, children are human beings who can speak and make their wishes clear. Cows are not. If you truly care for the well-being of your cows, you will only act in their best interests. Taking their bodily secretions for your own pleasure or profit is a purely selfish act. If you care for cows, care for cows. Why is it necessary to act as though their breast milk is something acceptable and desirable for humans to drink?

If you were caring for a vulnerable pregnant woman who, for some reason, could not give you consent, would you consider taking some of her breast milk to drink and give to your friends? Would that be morally acceptable because you feed her and give her a place to stay, or is there something inherently wrong and creepy about siphoning off her breast milk for yourself? Personally, I would feel remarkably uncomfortable drinking milk from such a woman. A cow is no different. You only believe that cow's milk is acceptable for human consumption because of the very long-standing human tradition of stealing it. These animals do not exist for our purposes but for their own, like anyone else.
If it has to come out anyway & for some reason it couldn't go to the baby and it tasted good then sure. Kinda gross but not unethical. Also, no kid wants to do chores. So you're essentially making them whether you call it that or not

Also sometimes a momma produces more milk than her baby needs what are u supposed to do with it throw it away???
There's actually a human breast milk market out there.

Last edited by Lymo; 08-27-2015 at 02:22 PM.
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#7 Old 08-27-2015, 02:33 PM
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It's certainly possible to be okay. I know because I've thrown away dog milk that had to be taken out. Humans get the same problem so I am sure cows or goats or whatever also can suffer from the same issue. I think in my currently situation I could ethically get a full glass of milk every sixty or so years.

For a cow...if you happen to have a cow, and it happens to get pregnant, and during feeding it happens to be producing too much milk and for medical reasons you need to milk the cow then I would have zero problems with someone drinking it if they wanted. So yeah, milk can be ethical...

Is it possible for the dairy industry to be ethical? Anything is possible, but I think I have about as much chance of living a nuclear explosion as that. Ethical industry milk would cost like $100,000 a litre.
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#8 Old 08-27-2015, 03:00 PM
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saying that milking a cow is "treating it as a commodity" is like saying having your cat control the pests in your home is, or service dogs, or riding horses.
Saying it is morally permissible to breed a being with interests for human exploitation is like saying slavery is morally permissible, racism and sexism are permissble by virtue of being "bred" for certain tasks/station in life, and implies the supremacy of human luxuries over the right of bodily integrity/bodily liberty inherent in every living being.

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#9 Old 08-27-2015, 03:43 PM
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The most natural way to consume milk is straight from the breast.
The day I can suck milk from a cows beasts in front of an elementary school and not be arrested I will consider further arguments

Now- eating turnips on the street, thats perfectly accepted.
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#10 Old 08-27-2015, 03:47 PM
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100% ethical? Not really, but surely what you described would be about the best way to go about it if you just HAD to have the cow milk! For me, I would just rather have water to drink.

Now in the cereal is another question! Is what you described in your ideal cow milk paradise more "ethical" than supporting some large company that sells soy/almond/rice milk that is most certainly causing environmental damage (the stuff was transported in a truck and came from a massive field somewhere, and was processed at a facility using lots of energy).

I don't know, tough call...for me the choice is almond/soy/rice for now, only because the grocery store is my primary food supply until I get deeper into walking the walk. I would rather support BIG plant farming than BIG animal farming. Ideally neither in the future though.
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#11 Old 08-27-2015, 03:55 PM
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If it has to come out anyway & for some reason it couldn't go to the baby and it tasted good then sure. Kinda gross but not unethical. Also, no kid wants to do chores. So you're essentially making them whether you call it that or not

Also sometimes a momma produces more milk than her baby needs what are u supposed to do with it throw it away???
There's actually a human breast milk market out there.
Yes, primarily for premature and sick babies who really need it. I know that some women purchase others' breast milk for their babies rather than buy formula, but I don't know how this works.

I don't see anything wrong with women being paid for their extra milk, but no one is forcing them to do it, unlike the poor cows. And grabbing at their udders or using those suction things, poor cows. Like 'leave me alone for once', I can imagine them thinking.
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#12 Old 08-27-2015, 03:59 PM
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Saying it is morally permissible to breed a being with interests for human exploitation is like saying slavery is morally permissible, racism and sexism are permissble by virtue of being "bred" for certain tasks/station in life, and implies the supremacy of human luxuries over the right of bodily integrity/bodily liberty inherent in every living being.
This.
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#13 Old 08-27-2015, 04:09 PM
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Also, keep in mind that "dairy" breeds of cows have been intentionally bred to produce more milk than their calves need. This can cause health problems for cows. The ethical dairy scenario would probably need to include breeding the cows back to a more natural milk production level. As I understand it, if you keep milking a cow past the point where her calf has been weaned, she'll still produce milk, but only at a minimal level (not sure exactly how minimal, but it does drop off and then, I think, stop completely. Or should I say... stop utterly? *ducks the incoming hail of assorted fruit*)

Anyway, this would contribute to the high price of ethically-produced milk which odizzido mentions above. And you can imagine how some unscrupulous producers would want to charge such high prices for their milk, but try to skimp on the (expensive) welfare of their cows!
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#14 Old 08-27-2015, 05:55 PM
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I can think of 2 (EXTREMELY UNLIKELY) circumstances milk *might* be arguably ethical:

1. As others have brought up, a female animal who got pregnant naturally and is producing more milk than her baby needs (and after weaning her baby she is allowed to have her milk dry up naturally as well).

2. The extremely rare, though not unheard of, situation where a deeply bonded female animal spontaneously lactates in response to "sensing" the needs of another animal (possibly human) needing it. Now the chances of this happening are pretty much 0 seeing as dairy animals are rarely kept as companion animals in a setting they would form a deep bond with a human AND would be in a situation which would create spontaneous lactation. But in *theory* if the animal is "freely" offering her milk, I would argue it being ethical to consume.
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#15 Old 08-27-2015, 06:18 PM
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I see a cow that has been bred into existence for her milk, regardless of how well she is treated and how naturally she produces that milk (otherwise why would one be so concerned about wastage of her milk to begin with if they didn't have her for that reason), and that cow also being fed a LOT of plants and water and needing a lot of space for her needs. While around much of the world people are starving and desperate for food, and water shortages are becoming more and more commonplace. Raising cattle is one of the top reasons for water shortages and it demands the most use of it. How ethical is this in a world of increasing human population that can not sustain this sort of practice? Dairy milk is a hugely inefficient way to produce nutrition. It requires plants, water, AND the animal to produce the milk which she could not do without consumption of those other resources.

I am so grateful for farm animal sanctuaries where cows are rescued from abuse, neglect, and exploitation and allowed to live out their natural lives and they are not made to produce milk for someone elses wants and needs. They are still cared for and loved and when they die that is it. No breeding, no selling or consuming them or their products. No looking for another cow to have as a "pet with benefits". No unwanted resulting male calves either. I don't consider it a waste of milk or meat. The animal is a sentient being with her own needs and interests. She is not a commodity.

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#16 Old 08-28-2015, 02:09 AM
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If it has to come out anyway & for some reason it couldn't go to the baby and it tasted good then sure.
All right. If that is the only way that taking breast milk from a non-consenting human woman would be morally acceptable, then the same applies to cows. IF it MUST come out anyway AND for some reason it couldn't go to the baby (other than that you purposefully removed the child to steal its mother's milk), then go ahead and drink it. In that highly unlikely situation, you wouldn't get enough milk to use for any significant purpose, anyway. I don't understand why you would want to do these logical somersaults in an attempt to justify drinking someone else's breast milk. Isn't it much simpler to just buy a carton of soya? Then you don't have to care for rescued cows and bulls, wait for them to mate naturally and give birth, then hope for some situation where you'll be required to pump some of a cow's milk so that you can drink a few sips. It seems like an awful lot of hassle for the potential opportunity to drink something that you don't need, that isn't good for you, and that is frankly kind of disgusting.

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Also, no kid wants to do chores. So you're essentially making them whether you call it that or not
Patents "make" children do chores for their own benefit, so that they'll learn to be independent when they leave home. I covered this. If you're genuinely using your children as slaves because you want to shirk your own domestic responsibilities, then no, that's not ethical.

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Also sometimes a momma produces more milk than her baby needs what are u supposed to do with it throw it away???
There's actually a human breast milk market out there.
In most circumstances, breasts produce exactly the amount of milk that a baby needs. The more the baby nurses, the more milk is produced. The less the baby nurses,the less milk is produced. Sometimes it doesn't work out this way and mothers supplement with formula or pump milk into bottles to freeze and feed to baby later. Or, yes, you could throw it away. Why would the obvious option be to DRINK it? That doesn't strike you as bizarre? I produce a great deal of bodily fluids that I simply throw away but would be glad to sell to you if you're so inclined.

There's a market for human breast milk to feed to human babies, yes. How is this comparable to humans taking breast milk from non-consenting cows?
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#17 Old 08-28-2015, 06:17 AM
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It's only ethical if the cow gives you permission.

My definition of permission: The cow strolls over, places its hoof behind your head, and gently urges your parched lips onto it's udder.

If not leave the cow alone.
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#18 Old 08-28-2015, 07:31 AM
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It's only ethical if the cow gives you permission.

My definition of permission: The cow strolls over, places its hoof behind your head, and gently urges your parched lips onto it's udder.

If not leave the cow alone.
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#19 Old 08-28-2015, 07:46 AM
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Never heard of it
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#21 Old 08-28-2015, 10:23 AM
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#22 Old 08-28-2015, 11:07 AM
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It doesn't meet all your criteria, but there is a small organic diary in my town where the cows graze on grass, weather permitting, get no hormones or antibiotics, no mud on the floor of the barn, gentle music that they seem to like played in the barn, calves kept near their mothers, and baby bulls and cows that don't produce milk are adopted by a kindly neighbor who keeps them until they die of natural causes.

I drink the milk sometimes, and feel good about it. I respect others moral choices, too.
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#23 Old 08-28-2015, 11:38 AM
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It doesn't meet all your criteria, but there is a small organic diary in my town where the cows graze on grass, weather permitting, get no hormones or antibiotics, no mud on the floor of the barn, gentle music that they seem to like played in the barn, calves kept near their mothers, and baby bulls and cows that don't produce milk are adopted by a kindly neighbor who keeps them until they die of natural causes.

I drink the milk sometimes, and feel good about it. I respect others moral choices, too.
Emphasis mine. That sounds so made up it isn't even funny.

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#24 Old 08-28-2015, 12:31 PM
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Emphasis mine. That sounds so made up it isn't even funny.
What do you mean, River? The kindly neighbour clearly lives next door to that farm in upstate New York where all my childhood pets went.
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#25 Old 08-28-2015, 12:46 PM
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It doesn't meet all your criteria, but there is a small organic diary in my town where the cows graze on grass, weather permitting, get no hormones or antibiotics, no mud on the floor of the barn, gentle music that they seem to like played in the barn, calves kept near their mothers, and baby bulls and cows that don't produce milk are adopted by a kindly neighbor who keeps them until they die of natural causes.

I drink the milk sometimes, and feel good about it. I respect others moral choices, too.
Pics or shens
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#26 Old 08-28-2015, 01:11 PM
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It doesn't meet all your criteria, but there is a small organic diary in my town where the cows graze on grass, weather permitting, get no hormones or antibiotics, no mud on the floor of the barn, gentle music that they seem to like played in the barn, calves kept near their mothers, and baby bulls and cows that don't produce milk are adopted by a kindly neighbor who keeps them until they die of natural causes.

I drink the milk sometimes, and feel good about it. I respect others moral choices, too.
That's cool if that actually does exist. Better than factory farming any day
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#27 Old 08-29-2015, 02:34 PM
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I'd rather not give the name or post pics because I am paranoid about online security. Sometimes I post controversial political opinions online and I have gotten death threats for doing that.

I appreciate the skepticism. I guess I'd be skeptical, too.

It's real, though. I've visited the farm and personally know the awesome individual who adopts the cows and bulls.

I respect vegan ethics though my own vegetarian ethics differ. I did go vegan for about a year and may do that again. I felt great when I was doing it.

By the way, why would someone make up something like this? In any case, feel free to doubt away! No hard feelings

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#28 Old 08-30-2015, 02:36 AM
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I'd rather not give the name or post pics because I am paranoid about online security. Sometimes I post controversial political opinions online and I have gotten death threats for doing that.

I appreciate the skepticism. I guess I'd be skeptical, too.

It's real, though. I've visited the farm and personally know the awesome individual who adopts the cows and bulls.

I respect vegan ethics though my own vegetarian ethics differ. I did go vegan for about a year and may do that again. I felt great when I was doing it.

By the way, why would someone make up something like this? In any case, feel free to doubt away! No hard feelings
How would posting the name of a known dairy farm compromise your online security? We're supposedly talking about a business which, presumably, wants the world to know it exists. For instance, I frequently tell people to visit Daisy Moo's Bakehouse in Worthing because they have amazing raw pumpkin pie. I don't think anyone's privacy is being compromised by my plugging a local bakery!

People make up "humane" dairy farms all the time in order to justify drinking milk. It seems that every non-vegan on the Internet lives next door to a farm where cows spontaneously produce milk without giving birth, where no animals are ever slaughtered or sold. None of these farms seem to have a website or any contact information, tellingly...

If someone were to legitimately adopt every male calf born to every dairy cow on a farm, that would add up to a very large number of bulls, each of which could live for up to 20 years and none of which would bring in any money unless this neighbour was selling them or renting them for breeding purposes. Is this man extremely wealthy?
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#29 Old 08-30-2015, 04:23 AM
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I'd rather not give the name or post pics because I am paranoid about online security. Sometimes I post controversial political opinions online and I have gotten death threats for doing that.

I appreciate the skepticism. I guess I'd be skeptical, too.

It's real, though. I've visited the farm and personally know the awesome individual who adopts the cows and bulls.

I respect vegan ethics though my own vegetarian ethics differ. I did go vegan for about a year and may do that again. I felt great when I was doing it.

By the way, why would someone make up something like this? In any case, feel free to doubt away! No hard feelings
You could post pics without a farm name being given. I truly would like to see these bulls living happily in freedom, as I have been looking into dairy farms for years and have never seen this.
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#30 Old 08-30-2015, 07:09 AM
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I'd rather not give the name or post pics because I am paranoid about online security. Sometimes I post controversial political opinions online and I have gotten death threats for doing that.

I appreciate the skepticism. I guess I'd be skeptical, too.

It's real, though. I've visited the farm and personally know the awesome individual who adopts the cows and bulls.

I respect vegan ethics though my own vegetarian ethics differ. I did go vegan for about a year and may do that again. I felt great when I was doing it.

By the way, why would someone make up something like this? In any case, feel free to doubt away! No hard feelings
You're talking about a business, not your Great Aunt Tilly's silver collection. Businesses typically like advertisement (free too!) And exposure to a willing market. There would be few more willing markets than a site devoted to vegetarians.

As others have stated, most businesses have websites (some even with photos!). A company's name isn't a secret, and a choice to not tell has nothing to do with security concerns and everything to do with the fact that it doesn't exist.

Watch this:
Back when I lived in Bellingham, WA there was a farm down the street from me that has the MOST amazing strawberries and sweet peas. They are grown outside and so psychoticly juicy. I miss those strawberries and sweet peas. It was called Joe's Gardens, here's their website: http://www.joesgardens.com/ .
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