Sunday, 12 October 2008

A bovine dilemma

I know I have often said that cows' milk is for calves and not for humans – and this has been brought especially to mind with the melamine contamination of a New Zealand produced milk derivative used to ‘enrich’ formula milk. But I still drink the stuff and like cheese and ice cream. And N earns her keep from the stuff.
But I am being hypocritical in saying I am vegetarian because I don't want animals to die or suffer so I can live if I still do continue to drink it. This film clip[1] reminded me that milk production does involve the death of young, particularly male, calves and, in many cases the cruel production of veal.
As you know, I got my training at several UK slaughterhouses and the film's depiction of limping cows is not typical there. And I have also visited several milking parlours and the animals did not appear distressed as shown in the film and the equipment is carefully designed and applied so as not to cause injury or pain. If it did, and mastitis were to set in, the milk would have to be discarded.
It is an example of over-stating the case by taking the worst examples. But that does not mean that the case is a bad one. I am uncomfortable about industrial milk production and when my current supply is exhausted I will not continue.[2]
I do not think that it is wrong to take milk from animals per se as long as you don't kill their young or deprive them from their rightful share of the milk. To keep a nanny goat might not be a bad idea. I was thinking of getting a lawn mower because I don't like to see people cutting my lawn with tiny knives on their hands and knees. My first thought was that a nanny goat would be more environmentally friendly than a lawnmower. But then I remembered that the burping of ruminants emits a lot of methane – a potent greenhouse gas. The dilemma[3] of a billy goat, on the other hand, might be a deterrent to intruders.