Why did I go vegan?
I was vegetarian for a decade before I went vegan. I felt like I was doing enough for the animals, and my compassion extended into my food. I tried to buy high welfare eggs and dairy. Before I went vegan I traded farm chores and vegetables from my garden with a local homesteader (she had 2 cows, chickens, rabbits, horses) so I could know the cow I received my milk from, and made cheese. While I felt at the time I was being more compassionate by knowing the cow, but I realize I was placating myself, and trying to bury cognitive dissonance. When the cow gave birth, and the baby was a boy, I knew he was destined for slaughter. I told my friend I wish I could have land so that this male cow could live out his days.
I met the baby whose breast milk I was taking, and I continued to do it.
I understand that this cow had what would be a wonderful life in comparison to most every other cow, and especially in industrial dairy farms, where store bought milk is produced. Mom and baby lived together, and grazed in the field. They were taken care of by vets, and my friend’s children played side by side with all the animals. The children named the baby cow “Dinner” as there was no skirting around what he would become.
There was a plastic device placed in Dinner’s nose so he couldn’t nurse from his mother. Dinner cried, but for the short time he was allowed life by his human caretakers, he did have it much better than this brothers, because he would live with his mother until he was the right ratio of investment (feed) to product (meat). He would spend this only 18 months with his mother, while she would be inseminated via sperm in the mail, and pregnant again. Dairy cows spend their lives pregnant to continue dairy production. If he has a sister, she will be sold to be a milk cow like her mother, and if he has a brother, he would likely join him on the menu; either was veal at a few weeks old, or as Dinner in 18 months.
I told myself as a vegetarian that I had no dead animals on my plate; I was doing my part. But dairy is dead animals, too. There can be no animal milk without the slaughter of baby animals. Even though I didn’t eat the animals that were killed, I was still paying someone to do it for me. There was no difference.
While I met and took the breast milk of the little jersey cow named Dinner, I vow not to drink the milk of anyone ever again. I’m not a baby. I’m not a cow. And I looked Dinner in the eye while I took his food, knowing he was created only so we could drink his mother’s milk, and eat his flesh if he was born the gender that doesn’t make milk . If all entities in this story were replaced with humans, it would be the most disgusting horror movie possible, but replace it with animals and it’s normal.
I can still eat cheese, milk, ice cream, but they’re made from plant ingredients.
I didn’t give up eating dairy, I just stopped taking what wasn’t mine.