Today with Sean O’Rourke: Dairy Industry Myths or Vegan Facts?

Last year the UK Advertising Standards Authority found in favour of the Go Vegan World claim that dairy is inhumane.

As a result of animal rights advocacy and vegan education, many people have eliminated animal use from their lives. It appears that there may be a decrease in the consumption of dairy products in Ireland, particularly among groups previously susceptible to and targeted by the dairy industry.

The role of the Irish National Dairy Council is to profit from the exploitation of other animals through the human demand for their milk. To do so it sells the myth that dairy products are essential for human health at all stages of life. It aims to make dairy products particularly attractive and nurturing to susceptible groups such as young people concerned with their health, weight or appearance, athletes, and to anyone caring for a sick, elderly or very young child.

It also aims to sell the myth that dairy is indispensable to the social and economic wellbeing of Ireland.

That is what Zoe Kavanagh, CEO of the National Dairy Council, and former manager with PepsiCo, attempted on the Sean O’Rourke show this morning: to convince the public that dairy is essential for the health of the Irish population so that the industry can maintain its profits.

Sandra Higgins, who was interviewed with Ms Kavanagh runs Go Vegan World, a non-profit organisation. Go Vegan World aims to provide the public with accurate information and up to date science so that they can make up their own minds about the morality and necessity of animal use. All Go Vegan World information and material is available free of charge.

Today with Sean O’Rourke: Dairy Industry Myths or Vegan Facts?

You can listen to the interview

Dairy Facts

  • Cows are mammals like humans.
  • They only lactate (produce milk) to feed their young, after they have given birth.
  • They become pregnant (usually) after artificial insemination, a process that is conducted while they are restrained, and to which they are unable to consent.
  • Their pregnancy lasts 9 months.
  • They have the same strong maternal instinct and bond with their calves as human mothers have with their babies.
  • In order for the industry to profit from them, their calves are taken from them soon after birth. In the case of the Irish dairy industry, they are separated immediately.
  • Animal Behaviour and Veterinary journals confirm the extreme distress that separation causes both mother and calf, and the long term negative consequences of separation into adulthood.
  • Their daughters will replace them in the dairy industry.
  • Their sons are slaughtered for their flesh, either as veal (usually via life transport), or when they are still very young as ‘beef’.
  • In the goat dairy industry, most male goats are killed at birth.
  • Cows are milked for 7 of their 9-month pregnancy.
  • They are artificially inseminated within months of giving birth.
  • When their milk production declines they are slaughtered at 6 years of age.
  • Their natural lifespan would have been 25 years.

Is Dairy Essential for Human Health?

All the major world dietetics associations concur that humans do not need to use animals as food. A 100% plant diet is nutritionally adequate for all stages of the human lifespan and can prevent many diseases and causes of premature mortality. (Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2016;116:1970-1980)

Vegans who eat a well-planned plant diet that includes green leafy vegetables, fortified food such as fortified soy or other plant milk, or who make sure they include a daily supplement, can easily, enjoyably, and cheaply meet all their nutritional needs.

If you are concerned about taking a supplement, please consider that the animals used as food are frequently fed supplements of calcium, B12 etc to boost their low reserves. Arguably it is better to ensure an adequate diet through good planning or fortified foods than to take a supplement. But it is surely better to take a supplement than to recycle those supplements through the bodies of exploited, sentient beings who are violently killed so that we can consume their body parts, milk or eggs.

People who consume dairy products are not necessarily healthier than those who consume less or no dairy products. In fact, the consumption of dairy appears to confer no protective factor against fracture or osteoporosis, and may contribute to heart disease, diabetes, ovarian and prostate cancer (Harvard School of Public Health).

Is Dairy essential for the social and economic wellbeing of Ireland?

The Irish Dairy Industry is undeniably a profitable one, at least for a few people and in the short term. That is why it can afford an enormous advertising budget to sell the myth of dairy benefits. But tobacco and cocaine are also profitable industries. That does not make them morally justifiable.

Worldwide the animal agriculture industry accounts for 14.5% of GHG emissions. The animal agriculture industry in Ireland accounts for around 36%, most of it coming from the Irish dairy industry. This will cost the Irish tax payer €450 million in 2020 in fines for failing to reduce the damage we are causing by promoting animal use, including dairy.

Based on reports in other countries, including the UK with a similar soil structure and climate to Ireland, a plant based economy is entirely feasible in the Irish context. Farmers are ensured a sustainable livelihood with better working conditions by growing food to feed directly to humans, and by diversifying into other veganic and plant agriculture to sustain all our human needs than if they continue farming other animals. Indeed, our current system is only made possible by subsidies.

Animal Use is Not Morally Justified

In summary, humans are not superior to other animals. The life purpose of other animals is not to be used as objects or tools to meet our trivial human desires for taste, convenience, beauty, or profit. We can live healthy and enjoyable lives by using plants and vegan friendly methods of meeting our needs and desires. We don’t have to use other animals. When we are not vegan we cause them unnecessary misery, we kill them violently and we use choose to meet the most trivial of our needs in ways that are immoral and unjustified when we could just as easily meet them by non-violent means.

You have a right to accurate information. Who is more likely to provide you with that information? An organisation that profits from you, or an organisation that seeks nothing more than to provide you with the sources so that you can investigate the truth for yourself?

For more information on why and how to be vegan download our free vegan guide from this website.