Before I was vegan, cheese was a huge staple in my diet and something I really enjoyed. But once I learned of the horrors that go into producing cheese (and all dairy), I could no longer go on eating it. My taste for cheese was overridden by my heart and head with the knowledge that:
- horrific violence toward cows and calves - many whom are punched, kicked, stabbed, and mutilated - takes place every day on dairy farms and is largely hidden from the public.
- male calves are separated from their mothers immediately after they are born and shipped off to the beef and veal industries. Many die in transport because they are without their mother's care and nourishment.
- male calves are among the youngest downers- too weak, sick or crippled to even stand. Their value is deemed so worthless (less than a few dollars), that if sick or injured, they are often left for dead on a pile by the road.
- the veal industry was created solely from the surplus of unwanted male calves born on dairy farms.
- those calves who survive typically last no more than five months chained inside two-feet-wide veal crates, surrounded by their own excrement, before being sent to slaughter.
- dairy cows, who are artificially inseminated to deliver a calf every year in order to produce milk on a steady basis, produce ten times more milk than they would produce naturally for their own calves. This excess results in a number of severe health problems like mastitis, an extremely painful udder infection that causes sores and puss, which often ends up in the milk itself.
An ever growing disconnection with farm animals, coupled with the hypnotic-like control of the food industry, results in ridiculous statements like, "I love cheese too much to give it up." The dairy industry welcomes this apathy. According to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) President Dr. Neal Barnard, in his book Breaking the Food Seduction, a Dairy Promotion Programs report to Congress in 2000 detailed efforts on how the the government (and taxpayers) helped the dairy industry to conspicuously promote cheese to consumers in fast-food menus a la Wendy's Cheddar Lover's Bacon Cheeseburger, Pizza Hut's Ultimate Cheese Pizza and by making cheese a requirement for Subway sandwiches.
What's more, cheese actually has addictive properties, making this cheese-pushing tactic even more sinister. According to Dr. Barnard, there is actually some morphine in both cow and human milks. In addition, the protein, casein, also found in both milks, releases opiates when broken down. Cheese contains more casein than other dairy products and also contains an amphetamine-like chemical that is also found in chocolate. Why are these ingredients contained in both cow and human milks? These opiates not only have a calming effect on a suckling infant, but they ensure that babies bond with their mothers and get all the nutrients they need. Another undeniable affirmation for why milk is for babies only- cow's milk is for calves and human milk is for infants. Remarkably, our "highly-advanced" human species is the only one that ingests milk from other mammals and does so continuously to our detriment (lactose intolerance, obesity, heart disease) and the detriment of others (animals).
If people want to continue rationalizing eating cheese, they do so as passive participants in animal abuse. I want to hear some fresh rationales for this callous indifference because saying that one "loves" cheese or is addicted to cheese is simply not good enough. There isn't a reason in the world to justify a product or "food" as being so pleasurable as to warrant the suffering on animals to produce it.
Click here for more information on cruelty-free cheese and dairy alternatives.