I feel for our dairy farmers—I really do.
I can’t imagine how it would feel to have everything you’ve ever known dwindle around you. To have your livelihoods rendered worthless. To be thrown into unfair debt. I have no doubt that dairy farmers have the best intentions—and maybe some of them really do look after their animals. But even so: dairy is a destructive industry, where animals are objectified as means to an economic end—and this isn’t okay.
Before you abuse me, take a moment to consider my words—humour me.
Let’s think about the practicality of dairy and how we actually get milk—cows don’t just magically produce it: it results from pregnancy. Like humans, cows carry their young for nine months. Unlike humans, most cows will have their young taken away within 12-14 hours after birth due to their economic strain. Calves less than 30 days old—known as bobby cows—will often be sent to the slaughterhouse. In Australia, this is around 400,000 calves per year. This “cruel separation” is a traumatic experience, destined to be repeated over and over for a cow’s workable lifetime— every 13 months. These calves will never even taste their mother’s milk.
There are 1.6 million dairy cows in Australia. While cows will naturally live around 20 years, cows in the dairy industry are only expected to live around seven to eight years. Australian cows also produce around 5730L of milk per year—which is incredible, as the average is only 2900L. Our farmers are struggling, and no matter how beloved certain cows may be, farmers simply need to get as much as they can from their livestock. But is money worth these drastic measures?
Speaking of drastic measures, let’s talk about industry standards. Yes, there are standards—and yes, they’re a lot better than a lot of other countries. They do genuinely try to provide better lives and treatment for cows in terms of welfare. But some aspects are still quite barbaric, such as dehorning and castration. Dehorning is a common practise for male and female cows, which involves sensitive tissue being sawn off. Castration, while considered a major operation for older bulls, can be done to males younger than six months by anyone—no matter how inexperienced. Shockingly, there are no laws required for pain relief.
Is cruelty and objectification not enough to convince you of a change of heart? Well, let’s look at health factors.
For decades, we’ve been fed the idea that dairy is best—that we need it. But consider who would have encouraged this propaganda: that’s right, the for-profit dairy industry. Yes, dairy is the source of calcium and other vitamins, but to put it bluntly: it’s not meant for us. It’s meant for a rapidly growing baby calf.
Dr Mark Hyman said consuming dairy is actually not in our best interests, and that we’ve been force-fed many ideas that are not factual. For instance, milk doesn’t reduce fractures—it may actually increase the risk of them by 50%. By consuming five to seven portions of fruits and veggies per day (and no animal products), a person can reduce their risk of heart disease by 47%, strokes by 26%, and cancer by up to 18%. Furthermore, about 75% of the population is lactose intolerant. Know why?
Because. We’re. Not. Meant. To. Drink. Another. Animal’s. Milk.
Think about it. Think about what they’re not telling you. Do you think animals should be used purely for economic gain? Even if you don’t think it’s wrong for them to be killed for our consumption, I’d like to think that—as reasonable agents—we can agree that cows should at least be treated well—starting with stricter industry standards and better policing. Even if they’re going to be slaughtered, at the very least, they should live fulfilling lives.
Does this make you feel sad? Do you wish things were different? Well, they can be—and you can help. Change begins with education. Even one mind changed can start a revolution. As it is, we don’t need dairy—there are plenty of plant-based sources of calcium, like dark leafy greens, beans, pulses, nuts, brown bread, enriched fruit juice, plant-based milks, soy mince, tofu and so on. Dairy is dwindling—the number of farms in the last two decades has decreased by two thirds. Maybe there’s a reason for it.
Dairy farmers, I feel sorry for you—that you’ve been brought into this war and are struggling. That you’re only paid 37 cents for a litre of milk, despite it costing 38 cents to produce. But instead of supporting our farmers by buying their product, why don’t we encourage them and donate to them to create new and sustainable livelihoods—livelihoods that don’t rely on forced slavery.
Some things are meant to change—and I for one choose compassion.
I’m vegan, and like many other vegans, I am asked incredibly stupid questions all the time. Last week, while at a friend’s wedding, a person came up to me and asked, “what do you even eat?” while I was holding a massive plate of food. So, to clear it up for you, here’s a list of questions, along with answers.
You’re vegan? Why?
I love animals. I don’t want them to die. I don’t want them to suffer. I don’t think they should be mistreated or killed for a human to have a snack. I also care about the environment.
The meat and dairy industry is not sustainable. According to the United Nations, one billion people do not have enough food. This is expected to rise to three billion within the next 50 years—and animal consumption is a leading cause of this. How? It takes around 9034L of water to produce 0.5kg of meat, compared to 923L for the same amount of tofu. To produce 3.8L of milk, 2585L of water is needed. Furthermore, it takes 4kg of grain to produce 0.5kg of meat. This is because these animals are raised purely to be slaughtered—if the demand did not exist, neither would the strain on resources. These resources could then be used elsewhere and actually solve world hunger.
By converting to a vegan diet, you can save around 829,000L of water per year. Simply decreasing the amount of meat and dairy you consume is incredibly beneficial to the environment and your body. Please, be mindful.
What, do you think you’re better than me or something?
No. Vegans don’t think we’re better than any human or animal. Hence why we don’t eat either.
But if the animal is already dead, you may as well eat it, right?
Where do you get your protein?
You do realise there’s protein in more than just meat, dairy and eggs, right? Like, in vegetables? Same thing with iron. Shitloads of veggies is more than enough to be incredibly healthy. There’s also tofu (but not all vegans like tofu!) and other meat and dairy alternatives.
I bet you’re iron deficient.
My iron levels are fine, thank you very much.
Pigs are cute! Why would you want to murder them? They are living things. They think. They feel pain. They have emotions. They have the will to love. Why should they lose their life so you can have a snack?
Apparently, humans taste like bacon too. Are you going to eat them?
What do you even eat then?
Air. I eat air. And sunlight. Because it’s not like 75% of the average omnivore eats fruits, veggies and grains in their diets anyway.
FYI, the answer is shitloads of vegetables, fruits, pastas, breads, wraps, lasagnes, soups, curries, desserts, chocolates, ice creams cookies . . . Sound familiar? We miss out on nothing. There’s delicious, cruelty-free and healthy alternatives to everything. OREOS ARE ALSO VEGAN!
You’re just one person, you can’t change the world.
Are you serious? How do you think any kind of change happens? We recognise that something is wrong. We change it. We explain it to other people, and they agree. As more and more people come to realise the environmental and health impacts, if they’re reasonable people, they will change—or at least be mindful and decrease the amount of meat and dairy they consume.
We’re supposed to eat meat.
No. We’re not. And it’s destroying the environment. And a whole heap of other health problems.
But plants are living things too, why do you eat them?
Do you tie your own shoe laces in the morning?
Vegans are always trying to shove their beliefs down my throat!
Yeah, because your beliefs are destroying the environment.
My food poops on your food.
You’d eat it too, then, moron. And no, no they don’t.
Do you guys ever shut up about veganism?
How do you know if someone is a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.
Damn straight, i’ll friggin’ tell you. I’ll tell you until the cows come home. Oh, wait. You ate them. Also, that’s a stupid joke.
Vegans are weak!
Arnold Schwarzenegger is (sometimes) vegan. He also advocates for meatless diets. This guy is also vegan:
Did you have to Google how to spell that last name?
Check out other celebrities who have ditched meat and dairy:
Six million animals will be tested on each year in Australia and New Zealand alone. In many cases, these animals are subject to a degree of pain and/or stress. Of these 6 million, nearly 26,000 will die, and a further 124,000 will experience major trauma—this includes being artificially induced with cancer, made to experience major infections, isolation as well as deprivation. More than a million will also experience a degree of stress and discomfort.
And the animals used would surprise you—of course, over a million of these are mice, but a whopping 765,000 are native mammals, including koalas, wallabies, possums and wombats. Cats and dogs are also commonly used.
But the problem is that most of us don’t even know we’re supporting animal cruelty. By purchasing and using these products, we are unknowingly supporting a culture that believes animal lives are less important than human lives—it’s supporting a culture that claims to love animals, yet has no problem with subjecting them to harm and abuse.
We know this is so utterly wrong—so what can we do about it?
As with any kind of advocacy, education is key. Educate yourselves on the products you’re using—and what products test on animals. Cleaning products that test on animals include Ajax, Glen 20, Finish, Windex, Raid, Duck, Dettol, Oral B, Gillette and impulse. Cosmetic offenders include Max Factor, Maybeline, MAC, L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Cover Girl, Clinique, Mary Kay, Avon, Clearasil, Napoleon and Elizabeth Arden.
Most of these things live either under my sink or in my make-up bag. But since becoming aware of the issue, I’ve sought out cruelty-free alternatives that are AWESOME. The Choose Cruelty Free app is a great place to start, as is good old Google. Fear not about compromising on quality; I’ve made myself a Guinea pig so you don’t have to.
Here are my top cruelty-free cosmetics you should DEFINITELY try:
Lush are an Australian company which makes hand-made cosmetics and body care products—and they are ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! I’m currently using their skin care products, soaps, bath bombs and some cosmetics. Everything leaves me feeling clean, relaxed, soft and fragrant. Their facial cleanser, spot treatment and moisturiser has done amazing things for my oily, acne-prone skin; and I especially love their bottled lip colours. Surprisingly, they do have a fair bit of staying power—though beware: they tend to smudge easy!
I cannot rave about these products enough! Her studded kiss lipsticks and everlasting liquid lipsticks last all day, with oodles of awesome colours–including one rather lovely light purple. The foundation is absolutely mind-blowing. It will stay on all day, and it won’t leave those awful marks on your face when you wear sunglasses with your make up! The eye shadow colours are phenomenal, and the liquid eye liner pens come in all sorts of colours, and are delicate enough to make wings sharp enough to cut the haters. Most of her products are vegan, too! Kat Von D products make up most of my makeup bag. You can buy them online or instore at Sephora.
One of the cheaper brands out there, Australis may pleasantly surprise you. In fact, I think their eye shadows and pressed powders are on par with products you may end up spending hundreds on. If you can find it, try it—products are normally around $10: fantastic value for money.
Nude by Nature:
I’ve used their CC cream and liquid foundation—both of which are available in a variety of shades, and are quite nice and light on your skin (sometimes the liquid foundation can flake if it’s caked on—but lasts super well in our hot Australian weather). My favourite product is a liquid illuminator, which somehow seems to perfect your face and minimise your pores. I’ve also heard good things about their mineral powder. These products are roughly around $20-40, but I think it’s worth it.
I love these products. While they are a bit pricey, I think quality is worth it. Their primer is brilliant! And it’s great they have so many different foundation colours—score for us super pale ladies! I am eager to try more of their products, though—as a poor uni student—I definitely can’t afford to any time soon. Sigh—the woes of cosmetics!
These products are the most expensive on the list, but they are quite lovely. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of mineral cosmetics. I’d prefer products with a bit more coverage—but if minerals are your thing, give them a try.
Natio’s eyeshadows are pretty great—though I wish they had a bigger range! I have tried their mineral foundation and primer, but wasn’t too pleased: there wasn’t enough coverage for me. On the plus side, Natio are pretty cheap, and have colours for us pale ladies! And aside from lip products, Natio is vegan!
You make the choice dear readers. Because whether you like it or not, if you purchase products which test on animals, you’re promoting animal abuse, and prolonging the outdated idea that animals are ours to do with as we wish. Don’t be silent! Sign the RSPCA campaign against animal testing here.
Have you tried any great vegan/cruelty-free products? Let me know in the comments