"​It's Not YOUR Milk Just Because You Buy It"

Animal Rights Lawyer Ambika Nijjar on why she's a vegan...

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"Almost every day I get asked questions like "Why are you vegan?",  "Are you doing it to lose weight?", "How do you survive? "No wonder you're so thin!", "Are you sick all the time?" "But you aren't really hurting the cow, we're doing the cow a favor. I mean, if we don't drink the milk the cow will be killed immediately", "Isn't milk good for you?" When I hear these questions, I really think it's time people took a look at what the dairy industry is like, and honestly evaluate if milk is needed to be healthy—and then take a call.

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The smell is so nauseating, you have to cover your nose and it takes all the will power in the world to not gag. It smells of dung and urine that has not been cleaned for a long time. There are swarms of mosquitoes all over the place. In a line are 50 buffaloes tied with a short chain to a wall. They cannot stand and lie down. Walking is a luxury that comes to these animals two times in their life. The first, when they were tied there and the second a few years later when their tired bodies can no longer produce milk and they are taken to the slaughterhouse. A welcome death after a painful life. The area outside the tabela had one of the most pitiable sights; day-old calves tied to short leashes, no shelter, no food and no mother's love. Just scavengers waiting for them to die. No, this isn't a scene from a horror story, but findings from a study conducted by the Animal Welfare Board of India of the dairies in the capital.

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India is the world's largest milk producer, with 16 percent of global production. Data from the National Dairy Development Board shows that India produces 146.3 million tonnes of milk on an annual basis. According to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, India is one of the world's largest beef exporters. "The animals that are used for dairy are more often than not when they can no longer give milk sent for slaughter. India is the world's largest milk consumer, and the world's largest beef exporter. The link is there. These animals aren't just vanishing into thin air. There is a link with meat, leather and the milk industry. Any person who is holding a glass of milk is equally responsible as the person who consumes or wears the animals in one form or another." says N.G. Jayasinha Managing Director of Humane Society India.  

Oddly, a lot of people seem to think that cows and buffaloes give milk all the time, but cows and buffaloes like human beings only give milk when they give birth. The difference, however, is that a human mother keeps and cherishes her child and celebrates their bond—a dairy cow/buffalo, on the other hand, must give her child up almost as soon as (if not a few days after) they are born. Male calves have no value in the dairy industry. They are put to two uses.  They are either sold to butchers or the bodies of some calves after they have languished to death are used to create stuffed props which is taken to the buffalo for releasing milk in absence of the calf. It costs a precious INR 100 to buy a prop like this. The government's report details how investigators saw these props being sold openly.

Human beings are the only mammals who consume milk after their childhood. We don't only consume milk in adulthood, but it's the milk of a different species and no matter how much we convince ourselves it isn't healthy for us. A speed reading of the China Study by T. Colin Campbell and his son Thomas M. Campbell I will show you the link between cancer and dairy and put you off it forever.

The animals in dairies are rarely fed grass. The government's report also shows that they were fed damp, old and moldy bread. They were given water two times a day and health care was a far cry. There were no medical records and dairy owners injected animals with whatever drugs they thought necessary. The Zonal Veterinary Officer of the Masoodpur Dairy reported a high number of cases with the infected tails of animals, which have to eventually be amputated to stop further damage to the body. The cause of this was traced to the housing of animals where their tails were found to be floating in slurry. The animals are tied in a way that their tails end up floating in the drain filled with slurry causing these avoidable diseases.

"In order to force cows and buffaloes to continue producing milk, dairy farmers typically impregnate them using often crude and painful artificial insemination every year. Calves are generally torn away from their mothers within a day of birth, which causes them both extreme distress. Mother cows can be heard calling for their calves for days. Male calves are starved to death or destined for the slaughterhouse, and females are sentenced to the same sad fate as their mothers. Cows and buffalo on dairy factory farms spend most of their days confined to tiny stalls. Many farmers inject them with the drug oxytocin, believing that it will boost milk production. Animals injected with oxytocin often suffer from severe abdominal cramps that are similar to labour pains. Calves on dairy factory farms are either abandoned or sent to slaughter so that the milk meant for them can be sold to humans. And because there are no cattle bred specifically for beef or veal (meat from baby cattle) in India, the dairy industry is a major supplier of cattle to the beef industry, making India the world's number one beef exporter. India exported 2.4 million tones of beef and veal in financial year 2015. It's vital for people who love cows and other animals to understand that in the dairy industry the animals suffer and that they also supports the beef and veal industry in the country. Caring people can celebrate their love for cows by refusing to support the dairy industry's cruelty." explains Dr Manilal Valliyate, Director of Veterinary Affairs, PETA India and Co-opted Member, Animal Welfare Board of India.

Over the past ten years of first being a vegetarian and then a vegan, I've weighed 55 kgs on average and I am almost 5 feet 6 inches tall. Acne is a thing of the past and like most people I take a multi-vitamin a day. I've probably not seen the inside of a gym more than a couple of dozen times. Instead of dairy cream, I use coconut cream, instead of cow/buffalo milk I drink almond or soy milk and I make my own soya dahi. Even my chocolate mousse is made of avocados instead of eggs, (a great recipe I read on the Jamie Oliver website). I am healthy and happy that I try my very best to cause as little impact on the planet as I can. That no innocent living being is in misery because of my desire for something that is meant for their child. Why don't you give it a shot?"

What do you think?

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