With a rising number of consumers ditching dairy, particularly females, the question of whether human mothers drinking dairy resonates is inevitably raised.
The reasons behind such a proposition are plentiful: drinking dairy poses adverse health effects, so should this be allowed to influence the development of a child? Dairy farming exacerbates climate change — should we raise children in a damaged environment? Is it ethical and morally acceptable to farm and exploit another mother for her milk, to then consume as fuel for producing human breast milk?
In an article published by vegan non-profit organisation, Free From Harm, ten mothers share their reasons for opting for plant-based milk over cow’s milk. Upon giving birth, humans and cows alike excrete oxytocin, the bonding hormone between mother and baby. While no one has to be a mother to be a vegan, one mother notes she has never felt the principles of the lifestyle empathize with her so strongly until she gave birth to her son.
Megan Ferreira said she was producing an abundance of breast milk while nursing her young son, she made a conscious decision to donate excess milk to other infants in need. However, she adds, calves born into the dairy industry do not get this time with their mothers, as farmers take the calves away and pump out the cow’s milk to satiate the palate of the masses.
Another mother, Rama Ganesan, said a turning point for her advocacy life came after reading the book “Eating Animals,” by Jonathan Safran Foer. “Dairy cows do not make milk for humans — they make milk to feed their own babies. A female only makes milk when she has a baby — whether it is a human female or a bovine female.” Ganesan says.
“In the dairy industry, female cows are forcibly impregnated so that they will lactate when their calves are born. So in this process, the baby calf is a by-product of the dairy industry. But to the mother cow, her calf is everything. To the calf, the mother is the center of the universe. They want to be together, just like we want to be with our babies.”
She adds “Over some months, I began to figure out that what I was doing when I ate yogurt, cheese or ice cream was taking the milk that belongs to other babies. I had been fixated with my own nursing relationship with my babies, but I did not spend a moment’s thought on other nursing relationships that I was disrupting every day when I ate my meals.” Ganesan is now a vegan and animal rights activist.