This post is not directly about simplifying. It’s about a paradigm shift I experienced, probably as a result of simplifying. Please note, it has difficult content.
A few weeks ago I sat on the couch and breastfed one of my children. I did so as I have been doing for several years, ever since my body started producing secretions minutes after I gave birth.
As I sat, I thought about milk.
For most of my 35 years of life I consumed milk, cow’s milk. I drank it because isn’t that what we do as Americans? Drive cars, live in houses, and drink cow’s milk? It tastes good. It’s what most cheeses, yogurt, and ice cream are made of.
I have always been an animal lover, and I suppose I'd thought that cows naturally produced milk all year round, in the same way that a bird might build a nest, or a snake sheds its skin. That it was the natural order of things. That perhaps we are doing cows a favor by emptying their overflowing udders.
Then like a ton of bricks, it hit me. I had very painful realization: Cow’s don’t just produce milk. Their bodies make it after they carry a calf in their womb for nine months and give birth. Just as I gave birth to a wet, helpless newborn who wanted nothing more than to nurse and nuzzle me, so too does a calf come out of his mother wet, and helpless, and wanting to nurse and nuzzle his mama.
Every time I had consumed a dairy product made from cow’s milk, I had taken milk that was meant for a calf. A calf whose life was probably ended at just one day old (standard industry practice). What a heavy cost my life’s worth of dairy consumption had! Among a myriad of troubling things, it involved breaking the bond between a mother and her newborn.
I wept as I realized that for decades I had been contributing to a very violent institution. How could this have happened?
After days of thinking it over, this is what I’ve come up with;
98% of America’s dairy comes from factory farms. These are places so disturbing that almost none of us have actually seen the inside, lest we shun them.
We are told by a multitude of media and other messages that our bodies, and our children’s bodies NEED cow’s milk.
-requires a female cow to be forcibly impregnated, have her new born calf taken and shot in the head after birth if it’s a male, or given the horrible fate to become veal (ie: kept in a pen without the ability to move around, fed a milk substitute, lame and sick with diarrhea, and scared and desperate for his mama’s affection). If it’s a female, she is most likely taken away to be given a similar life as her mother.
-causes incredible environmental damage to obtain
-looks similar to the milk a female bodied human usually produces, which is suited quite perfectly for human babies and young children
Is it possible that we DON'T ACTUALLY NEED DAIRY? Is it possible that the dairy institution is a rich and powerful lobby, that cares first and foremost about making money, and has been deceiving the American public all these years?
Is it possible that we can all lead happy, healthy lives by drinking soy milk instead? Or coconut milk? Or rice milk? Or cashew milk? Or flax seed milk? Or Hemp milk? Or Oat milk? Or Almond milk? Or Quinoa milk?
Is it possible that there is a better way to treat a living, breathing being than raping her, murdering her newborn, and then attaching her to machines for 10 months to steal her milk, through chapped, bleeding, overused nipples?
She may not be as smart as a dog, or cuddly as a cat, but does she not deserve better? Does she not have feelings of love for her newborn, and feelings of incredible pain and sadness when we rip them apart soon after birth, so that WE can drink her milk? Milk that is suited in every way for a calf, not a human. Just as a dogs milk is suited for puppies, or a cats milk is suited for kittens.
Just because the secretions of an animal taste good to us, does that mean we MUST consume it?
Surely we can all do better than this. Surely we can explore similar but alternative foods to dairy. Surely ice cream and pizza is not worth the cost of such incredible suffering of sentient creatures of the earth.