A deluge of dairy was once seen as an integral part of a healthy diet. White-moustached kids grinning eerily on billboards.
Now, falling popularity means milk is even cheaper than water, putting huge pressure on the dairy industry.
The backlash against milk products started with the the low-fat movement in the 1970s. Then came the age of intolerance and the adverse health effects. Now animal welfare and the environmental impacts are being seen and understood.
Thankfully, consumption of dairy in the UK has dropped by 30% over the last 20 years, with soy, rice and nut milks showing a surge in popularity for the good of our health and the planet.
But beyond the over-arching environmental argument, the suffering of the 265 dairy cows around the world are an emotive reason to remove fairy from our diets.
To maintain a perpetually profitable cycle of production, dairy cows are forced to remain constantly and interminably pregnant. To do so, they are artificially inseminated on a rigorous cycle.
The females give birth but continue to lactate for 10 months after. During which time they stand in the smallest space possible, on concrete floors, rigged up to automatic milking machines.
Litres per day?
In the wild, cows would produce 3-4 liters a day for its calf
In the 1950s and the advent of a global society, this increased to around 10 litres a day
Today cows are forced to produce up to 25 litres in England, more like 30 litres in the US (the second largest cow industry after EU)
The mother is fed an inappropriate diet for their type of digestive system, high in protein and low in fibre, so that it may produce high yields of milk.
This leads to over acidity in stomach that can lead to acidosis and painful lameness from laminitis.
It also produces pus residule. Which often ends up in the milk.
Compassionate mothers, cows naturally form close bonds with their babies. But systemic to the milk and meat industry, animals' babies are taken forcibly from their protective care within 24 hours.
This situation destresses both calf and caring mother unequivocally. The mother will call after its baby for days in anguish.
Mahatma Gandhi described a cow
as “a poem of compassion.”
If the calf is male, it will produce a lower quality meat. And so may be killed early to go into burgers, baby food etc. Or it may be shipped to the continent to be fed a weird diet in tiny, dark huts ready to be slaughtered after a matter of months - so consumers can enjoy veal.
Over 450,000 male calves are killed as waste products at birth in the UK, so that their mothers can continue to produce milk for us.
And due to increasing economic pressure on farmers, this is costly to do ethically, and so can be brutal.
Lameness and fatigue caused by this perpetual insemination renders dairy cows surplus to milk acquisition after 4-5 years, at which point they are slaughtered.
Dairy cows are kept outside on pasture from mid-spring to mid-autumn, but for six months of the year they are kept indoors.
Housing typically consists of concrete cubicles which build up slurry around a central communal area throughout the day.
Around 10% of dairy cows in the UK are now being housed all year round in ‘zero-grazing’ units.