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Veganism vs Vegetarianism
by Chalissa

Most of us wish to be compassionate individuals, and some of us, as part of our goal to be compassionate eat only vegetarian foods. Many people who are vegetarian feel quite comfortable eating dairy products since they believe there is no killing of an animal and assume that there is no cruelty involved in obtaining such animal products, as milk, cheese, yogurt, and ghee. Is this indeed true? A speaker at the Hari Om Temple suggested that there is great suffering associated with milk and other dairy products.

You should have been at the Hari Om Temple ( Medinah) on Sunday July 22! Dr Steven Gross, who is the co-chair of the Illinois Humane PAC ( Political Action Committee) spoke eloquently on the subject of "Raising of Dairy cows in the USA." What an eye-opener! The gist of his speech follows. Read-on!!

A cow by nature is a grazing animal who needs to ingest huge quantities of grass, typically walking 4-5 miles during the day. Today’s factory dairy farms seek to minimize human overview, and often confine dairy cows to their stalls. This confinement causes several problems. The cow, being fed a concentrated diet of high protein to stimulate milk production develops several diseases. The most common metabolic diseases are ketosis and laminitis, which causes lameness. These diseases are extremely stressful to the cow and often lead to the cow being sent to slaughter since no individual care is typically provided.

Instead of producing twenty-five pounds of milk per day, the factory farmer pushes the cow to produce one hundred pounds of milk. Pushing the cow for production beyond her biological limit causes other diseases such as, mastitis, a painful bacterial infection of the udders and milk fever, a disease that is the result of an imbalance in calcium and phosphorus.

Milk production is pushed even further when a significant number of dairies give their cows bovine growth hormone and sub-therapeutic dosages of antibiotics. These hormones are then ingested by humans and increase the probability of both breast and prostate cancer. Milk also contains insulin-like growth hormone, which is chemically identical to human growth hormone. The ingestion of this hormone is linked not only to cancer but to other chronic diseases as well as contributing to an early onset of puberty. For those of you interested in more details about the health impact of milk and dairy products, it is suggested that you read Eat Right, Live Longer by Neal Barnard, M.D. or Milk: the Deadly Poison by Robert Cohen.

The dairy industry likes to project the image of Bessy the contented cow, grazing on grass, enjoying the sun and fresh air. As noted above, most cows are raised in confinement, most cows do not graze on grass, most do not see the sun, few enjoy fresh air, and in addition many cows are mutilated by having their tails cut off without anesthesia, which causes both short-term pain and long-term suffering because cows use their tails to deal with the many flies that are part and parcel of factory farm life.

Contented Bessy never reaches old age, which is twenty plus years. Instead, she is sent to slaughter somewhere after her third lactation, when she is around five years of age. A significant number of dairy cows are so lame or so devastated by milk fever, that they are unable to walk. Unfortunately, these gentle creatures, are pulled on to trucks by wenches attached to their legs. This process is excruciatingly painful, and causes additional damage to the cow. In most states this process is legal. Thankfully, in Illinois and California, this process is illegal.

In order to replace the cows that are sent to slaughter as well as to have continuous milk production, cows are impregnated every year. Usually, half the calves are female and most are used as replacements for their soon-to-be-slaughtered mothers. Calves, who normally suckle between seven and eight months, are given either no time to suckle or a maximum of three days to suckle. The female calf is taken away from the mother and placed alone in a hut. The calf cannot suckle nor does it receive critical social interaction that is necessary for normal development. Mothers typically vocalize their distress and become depressed after their calf is taken away.

Male calves are either killed within hours or a few days after birth and sold as Bob veal, usually for frozen dinners. Other male calves are raised for meat, and about a million plus male calves are raised for veal. The male calf being raised for veal is tethered by the head, to an extremely small crate. The calf cannot turn around, groom itself, walk, or otherwise engage in most of its critical species-specific behaviors. Additionally, many veal farmers raise the calves in the dark and feed it a liquid diet containing no iron, therefore causing the calf to suffer from anemia. The air that the calf breathes is filled with the smell of excrement. The calf suffers from constant diarrhea, extreme depression, and the atrophying of its muscles. Within a few months the calf will more than double in size, and be sent to slaughter. The first time the calf sees daylight or smells fresh air is enroute to the slaughterhouse!

What can we do to change this horrible situation? First, learn that there are much better sources of calcium than milk. The healthiest calcium sources are greens and beans. In addition, calcium from such greens as broccoli is much better absorbed than calcium from an animal source. We need about 400-500 milligrams of calcium per day, and a cup of broccoli has 178 milligrams of calcium. Second, delicious milk substitutes are readily available in most grocery stores. Soy milks in all flavors, most of which are enriched with additional vitamins, rice milk, which is sweeter, and other grain milks are all excellent substitutes that are better for your health and reduce suffering.

I admire the tenacity and courage of Dr. Gross in this lopsided battle, where milk is touted as the perfect food and celebrities in their ignorance endorse it! See the PCRM website (pcrm.org): ( Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) and find out what they have to say!

Mr A.N. Salwan, president of Hari Om Mandir, and other officers fully endorsed the ideas and information presented by Dr Gross and encouraged the congregation (some of the audience had tears in their eyes unaware of all this) to give up milk and other dairy products— perhaps for one day a month, graduating to one day a week, and eventually giving it up entirely.

Dr. Gross is a selfless individual and spends hours and hours for this God’s work, fighting for the mute and voiceless animals that share Mother Earth with us humans and are treated so very, very badly!

One eminent vegetarian said, " If animals could speak and were asked what does the devil look like, they would tell us humans, "Go look in the mirror." We are not steward’s of the Lords creation as He intended us to be, but are the evil tyrants.

Let us change and learn to be compassionate!!! Be vegan.

© CHAKRA 2 October 2001

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