When it comes to consumer perception of the meat and dairy industry, there are some things even the most hardcore supporters are against. Raw, unpasteurized milk is opposed by many. Eating unusual animals like kangaroos isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. And many people find themselves with a bad taste in their mouth when thinking about the prospect of eating veal. After all, by now, many people know that veal is in fact, a baby calf that has been subject to a pitiful life of standing alone, virtually motionless, in a crate. Farmers limit veal calves‘ movement as a preventative measure. They want to ensure that their muscles do not develop too much because it would render their flesh, or meat, tough as opposed to tender.
What some people may not realize is how intertwined this cruel practice is with the dairy industry. The reality of the matter is without the dairy industry, these young male calves would not exist. In blunt terms, this is how it breaks down: farmer needs milk, a pregnant female cow produces milk, so they impregnate a cow via a device aptly named a “rape rack.” Once the mother cow gives birth, the farmer swoops in, yanks the calf away so that they don’t consume any of the precious milk, and collects the milk to sell for profit. Now one of two things happen: if the calf is a female, she is moved and set up to follow the footsteps of her mother and become a dairy cow, if the calf is a male, he is moved and set up to live out a short life of misery as a veal calf. Sadly, both scenarios are dreadful.
Veal calves live and are chained to tiny sheds. You can see the fear and sadness in this young calf’s eyes. No animal deserves to live like this.
Sometimes it is easier to leave the dots unconnected and not delve too deep into the realities of modern animal agriculture, the cruelty present in it, and how interconnected some of the sectors are. That being said, at some point or another, it is important for all of us to truly analyze our current food system and ask ourselves: is this really the type of system I want to be supporting?
Image source: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals