Chakra Living

Milk Production And Cruelty to Cattle

by Sridhar Raman

Posted March 11, 2008

There has been some discussion about vegan versus vegetarian diets and which is superior — morally, spiritually and health-wise. Here are some points that might be useful to consider.

Most large-scale modern farms treat their animals cruelly. Cows are injected with massive doses of antibiotics and growth hormones, and they are crammed into very small spaces. A lot of them get crippled because their legs can't hold their unnatural weight due to the growth hormones, and many become diseased because of their living conditions. These are very stressful conditions, and stress is known to produce toxins within the body. The milk produced from cows in large-scale farms not only promotes cruelty to the animals but is also unhealthy to ourselves.

For lacto-vegetarians, a better alternative would be to buy organic milk and milk products from farms that allow animals to roam free- range for at least for a good part of the day and that provide decent living spaces to them. These farms are typically family-owned and operate as a small-scale business. They often encourage you to write to them to obtain information about their farming practices and philosophy (check the labels on the container for contact information). Some of these people come across as conscientious human beings who are committed to treating their animals more humanely.

However, there are some downsides to this alternative. Cost is a factor, in that organic milk and milk products are more expensive than regular ones. More importantly, these farms must send male calves to the veal industry and the older cows for slaughter in order to survive against market forces. If they don't, they will have to shut down.

A vegan diet which satisfies all the nutrient requirements and contributes to physical well-being is the best option. If one is unable to follow a vegan diet but wishes to minimize one's participation in the cruelty to cows, one could do these three things: buy milk from organic and small-scale farms that treat their animals humanely, use milk sparingly as needed and, when possible, use soy milk as a substitute.

We can go on endlessly discussing and rationalizing about how Krishna liked his milk and how Prabhupada encouraged milk consumption, but ultimately, it all comes down to our conscience and how much compassion we are willing to extend — both to suffering animals and to own well-being. The only place where controversy exists is within ourselves.

For further reading:

Srila Prabhupada Kept a Cow, by Madhava Gosh das
What is the Price of a Gallon of Milk?, by Prema Bhakti das and Tapati dasi
Price of Milk Versus the Cost, by Madhava Gosh das
Giving up on Commercial Milk saves Cows?, by Syamasundara das
Vegan Ethics (1), by Vasu Murti
Vegan Ethics (2), by Bhakta Ole
Economic Nonviability of Devotee Milk Production, by Madhava Gosh das
Questions on Milk and Mothers, by Mayesvara das
Writer Admires Vegans’ Austerity, by Gaurav Mittal
Milk and Cruelty, by Niscala dasi
Milk Consumption and Karmic Offsetting, by Madhava Gosh das
Vegans and Non-Vegans Okay, by Krsna Avatar das