Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Gilmer Dairy Farm's Edopt-a-Cow Program

A friend tipped me off to an eye-roller of a program being run by a place called Gilmer Dairy Farm that's being geared towards kids and their teachers. The program is called Edopt-a-Cow and it allows individuals or classrooms to "adopt" a cow and follow her "calving schedules" and machine-like milk production (they call it her "Cowography") and to view her pedigree. Take, for example, nearly-seven-year-old Kathy Sue, otherwise affectionately known as GDF #234. Kathy Sue's been successfully impregnated a whopping five times in her almost nine years, each time having her calves taken from her so that her almost 100,000 pounds of milk could be sold off to humans who don't need it.

The point of this program seems obvious. Under the guise of giving kids a close up and personal view of dairy production, it actually gives the whole thing a cold and detached spin. The cow becomes a machine with a cute nickname. No mention is made of the fate of her offspring or of the cruelty inherent of her being separated from each one so that the milk she produces to nourish him or her is taken from from her until her very last drop is produced and she is forcibly impregnated again. Gilmer Dairy Farm, however, presents the program as a teaching aide that helps kids learn to create charts and plot graphs, how to write business letters and most hypocritically, to "use the [cow's] pedigree to help teach the students about their family trees". Everybody knows that breeding programs are all about family, after all. Of course, no dairy propaganda--er, program--would be complete without a whole whack of educational links designed to make kids think that dairy farms are full of love and sweetness. I'm guessing that the Edopt-a-Cow program conveniently leaves out the fate that awaits Kathy Sue once she's too old to birth any more babies.

Although this page is from the NZ Dairy Cruelty website, the same information applies to cows in other countries like the U.S. and Canada concerning the ordinary lives of dairy cows. If you're concerned about the plight of animals humans raise for their flesh, but still consume milk products while reassuring yourself that there is less harm inherent in the dairy industry, think again. These sentient non-humans undergo immense suffering at various points in their lives. It is impossible to deny the repeated violations of the interest each one of those cows has to live a life that does not involve being enslaved, forcibly impregnated, having her offspring taken from her just after birth, and in the end, led off to slaughter.

There is no logical manner in which someone who chooses not to eat animals for ethical reasons can defend continuing to consume dairy. If you are merely seeking to somehow remove yourself from the cycle of animal slaughter, then every single male calf taken from its mother that ends up on someone's dinner plate is testimony to the fact that you're failing miserably. Furthermore, to promote vegetarianism where dairy consumption is presented (or defended) as one step further along the ethical path towards veganism is wrong-headed and speciesist.

For further information on resources to go dairy-free, visit the Go Dairy Free website or do a simple Google search for alternatives to dairy. Do Kathy Sue and others like her a favour--go vegan!

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