Over the past couple of years there has been several Facebook posts linking veganism and feminism – indeed, several thinkers have started to blog about it too.
The main thinking behind it is that in the dairy industry, the production of milk involves forced impregnation, forcibly removing a mother’s milk and forcibly removing the baby cow from the mother.
Many even use the word “rape” to describe the act of impregnation. The physical abuse of a cow’s mammary glands also has to be taken into consideration.
Therefore, is it any surprise that some are now saying that you cannot be a true feminist without being a vegan? Obviously, I’m in no position to judge as I’m not female, but I can see the point.
If we follow the generally accepted vegan philosophy that all life is equal and all species are equal, then to see a female creature abused is wrong, and of course, it becomes a feminist issue.
Unwanted male calves are what the veal industry is built around – they wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the dairy industry, so the effects of a vegetarian diet can also be brought into question here. Putting it bluntly, by choosing a vegetarian diet that includes dairy products you are adding to the meat industry by helping to fund the production of veal in the dairy industry.
People in the countryside often tell of cows crying out for their calves after they have been taken away from them – this maternal instinct is natural in most mothers – whatever the species and is a level of connection many meat-eaters – including mums – fail to make.
A dairy cow is re-impregnated every year to keep her profitable, meaning the mother spends six to seven months a year pregnant, producing milk while she is still pregnant – this can hardly be healthy and means that the cow is literally worked to the bone in a cycle of impregnation, milking and the emotional trauma of seeing her offspring taken away. And the process of milking while pregnant causes the cow a great deal of discomfort.
The phrase “a mother’s work is never done” has never been more apt. This may all be a simplification of the issue, but scientists established a long time ago that animals do undergo a grieving process, so the notion of children being taken from mothers can be applied to any animal that is slaughtered of meat too. It is the emotional detachment many people feel towards animals of a different species that allows the meat industry and, indeed, the dairy industry to survive. The fact that many feminists have yet to see their beliefs cross the species barrier is another reason that there’s not outrage over the treatment of an over-worked mother – a mother who produces between 20 and 50 litres of milk a day – 10 times the amount her calf would need – how is this natural or fair on the female? Dairy cows or often worn out with the over-milking at around the age of four or five and they are sent to slaughter. A cow’s natural lifespan is at least 15 years – some can live to be 25.
Feminism rejects the idea of women being abused by men and, in short, that is exactly what happens to a cow – so the dairy industry is very much a feminist issue in my humble opinion.