I have a cousin who is a dairy farmer, and I love her dearly. As a kid I climbed and played in her moms barn, as a young adult I watched her deliver calves, and as a vegetarian I came to terms with the fact that all calves get separated from their mothers so that we can profit from their mama’s milk. Calves often do not even get colostrum, the first milk that provides immunity to newborns, and without it they often die in the first week or two of life. They are also confined to small spaces, and when their true nature emerges, they kick and jump, and from the looks of it, try to get the heck outta there, back to their moms. If you put your hand near their nose they suck your fingers, when they are fed ‘milk replacer’ they suck each others lips and tongues, in hopes of finding their mama’s milk. Both the mother cows and the female calves live lives that are beyond torture. To understand the full cruelty of it there are many places to look but Sharon Gannons book Yoga and Vegetarianism: the Diet of Enlightenment covers this well. The male calves not only get separated from their mama, but get sold for meat, at about nine months. I am not sure how old they get before slaughter but probably 2-3 years, so they are ‘prime’. Young and fat.┬áMy cousin asked me why we became vegetarians, and I did not have the courage to tell her. I could have said something simple like, ‘we practice non-violence’, but I didn’t. I did not want to invalidate what she had done all her life, and yet she herself wants to do something different at this point in her life. What I would say now is that I have found a diet without dairy and meat has made a huge difference for me and my health. If she was receptive to the conversation, then I would broach the topic of cruelty because I have seen for myself how attached she becomes to the little ones as she becomes their surrogate mom and cares for them.

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