In 2014 Quartz Media reported that India’s dairy industry produces more milk than every country in the European Union combined. As the top milk-producing country in the world, followed closely by the United States and China, India has the largest number of dairy farms—more than 75 million. This is 61 million more than Pakistan, the country with the second-highest number of dairy farms.
With more dairy farms comes more suffering. While the majority of Indian milk comes from buffaloes (the U.S. is still the number one producer of cow’s milk), buffaloes suffer the same cruelty as common domesticated cows.
To produce milk, mother cows and buffaloes are forcibly impregnated through a highly stressful and invasive procedure. After carrying their young for nine months—just like humans—mother cows give birth. Mere hours later, the babies are taken from their mothers so that humans can collect the milk intended for the calves.
In a 2000 interview published on Rediff.com, Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi stated, “Every time you drink a glass of milk, remember it comes from a sad, suffering mother whose own child was killed before her eyes and who herself will be killed when she dries up.” In a system that caters to demand, the cow is the ultimate victim. Minister Ghandi explains the process:
The cow is forced into yearly pregnancies. After giving birth she is milked for 10 months but will be artificially inseminated during her third month so that she is milked even when she is pregnant! The demanded production of milk is more than her body can give. So she starts breaking down body tissue to produce milk. The result is an illness called ketosis. Most of the day she is tied up in a narrow stall, usually wallowing in her own excrement. She gets mastitis because the hands that milk her are rough and usually unclean. She gets rumen acidosis from bad food and lameness. She is kept alive with antibiotics and hormones. Each year 20 per cent of these dairy cows are sent illegally by truck and train to slaughterhouses. Or they are starved to death by letting them loose in the cities.It is no secret that the slaughterhouse in Goa was made by Amul Dairy. No cow lives out her normal life span. She is milked, made sick and then killed. Even worse happens to her child. The male calves are tied up and starved to death. Or sent to the slaughterhouses. It is not by chance that a calf is no longer called bachda in India. It is called katra, which means one who is to be killed. Even Dr Kurien admits that in Mumbai every year 80,000 calves are forcibly put to death.
Understandably, forced separation from their calves causes the mothers to bellow for hours or days; they even pace and search in vain for their stolen babies. This heartbreak happens at every dairy farm.
Once separated from their calves, the mothers are subjected to cruel milking practices. Believing it induces milk production, villagers poke and wiggle a stick into the cow’s uterus, causing her intense pain. In some cities, oxytocin is administered twice a day to speed up milk production, provoking labour pains each time. In humans, oxytocin can cause hormonal imbalance, weak eyesight, miscarriages, and cancer. In cows, it causes uterine sores and premature sterilisation.
With more and more people speaking out about the brutality animals endure for dairy, there has never been a better time to try plant-based alternatives. By removing dairy from your diet, you end your support of an abhorrently cruel industry.
Join Maneka Gandhi and millions of others in adopting a compassionate, plant-based diet. Click here to get started.