The life of a veal calf, taken from its mother, put into isolation and knowing nothing of this world but this horror.
“(Break your cheese addiction) to lose weight, tackle cholesterol, skin problems, headaches, joint pains, or respiratory troubles … to take an important step for the animals and the earth.” ~ “The Cheese Trap,” Dr. Neal Barnard
If only animals could speak to us.
Cows are gentle and timid. They have been bred to that character for easy abuse. Calves, like all babies, emerge into the world, dependent on the love and devotion of their mothers. This link is to a happy story of a mother cow who hid her baby after losing many babies to the trucks that pick up the males weekly.
Confused and vulnerable, helpless, the baby boy calves are an inevitable byproduct of milk and dairy production. They are taken from their mothers the day they are born, and put pbehind closed doors for 16 weeks, chained at the neck, in narrow stalls which allow them no room to turn, and then are slaughtered for pale white meat called veal. Veal is not from calves — it is calves.
Although the meat industry is horrific, the production of dairy products raises equal ethical concerns. Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York, sent me a link to a video about the industrywide dairy treatment of calves that you can see here.
I live a mile and a half from the Brancel farms. Ben Brancel, born in Portage, served as secretary of agriculture, trade, and consumer protection under Gov. Tommy Thompson, 1997–2001, and was reappointed to that position by Gov. Scott Walker in 2011.
Every fall, I hear mother cows on the farm crying all night, night after night, when their babies are taken from them. When I stopped by to have my chainsaw sharpened by Mr. Brancel at his farm, I told him that. He smiled and said, “Yes — we have to close our windows to shut out the sound.”
The Brancel cows are crying over their female babies, taken to be slaves of the milk industry until they either get mastitis or are slaughtered for meat when their four or five years of service exhaust their bodies. The little white milk huts, seen on the landscape of dairy farms, house the female calves taken from mothers at birth. They are separated from mothers and other babies and fed by human workers from pails until old enough to join the slave trade.
The dairy industry has not successfully researched ways to produce only female calves for their exploitation — and dairy cows are not suitable for producing beef.
The babies of dairy cows, goats and sheep often meet another fate. Genie Metoyer has a beautiful organic vegetable farm in Waushara County. Across from her, there is a goat factory dairy farm. Those farmers dug a huge pit and buried dozens of baby boy goats killed because they are a byproduct of dairy. They have no marketable use.
That is animal suffering. Children all over the state are taught that even baby animals are expendable and their suffering does not matter. It crosses over to being taught, at their parent’s knee, hunting and trapping vulnerable young animals for recreation.
There are human suffering and human health costs as well.
Vegan Fest, Saturday, June 17, has expanded to the Alliant Energy Center, and will feature keynote speaker Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C. He is adjunct associate professor of medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and founder of Barnard Medical Center. “Dr. Barnard is also a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the 2016 recipient of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine’s Trailblazer Award, and has led numerous research studies investigating the effects of diet on diabetes, body weight, and chronic pain, including a groundbreaking study of dietary interventions in type 2 diabetes, funded by the National Institutes of Health,” according to the website of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
The Physicians Committee involves over 12,000 physicians and 150,000 members around the world and focuses on health and compassion.
Barnard will discuss his new book, “The Cheese Trap,” Most cheeses contain estrogen because cows are kept pregnant most of the year, every year. And most cheese is 70 percent fat or more — and most of it is saturated “bad fat.” “In his research studies, he finds people lose an average of 13 extra pounds, sometimes much more, in addition to improving their blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol after swapping greasy foods for nutrient-dense, plant-based fare,” the Physicians Committee reports.
As Madison’s “Cows on the Concourse” event promotes dairy as a healthy food, it is tragic that so much of the Wisconsin economy is based on a lie. Milk and dairy are sustenance to feed baby animals’ rapid growth. Plant-based diets are associated with positive metabolic health outcomes and a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain forms of cancer.
Learn more about a healthy diet on Saturday, June 17, at Mad City Vegan Fest at the Alliant Energy Center. Parking and the event are free and open to the public.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on June 4, 2017.
Action Alert: A bill that would open a hunting season on woodchucks (a.k.a. groundhogs) is moving quickly through Wisconsin’s Legislature (A.B. 323 / S.B. 249). Unnecessary and inhumane, this bill was rejected in 2013, largely thanks to vocal opposition from wildlife advocates. Now it’s back and we need to make noise again. Woodchucks are in the squirrel family and make homes for skunks, foxes and other mammals. Farmers and landowners can already kill them at whim. Please contact your legislators now and tell them NO on A.B. 323 / S.B. 249.