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August 14, 2018

Tell Me What Mother Doesn’t Grieve For Her Child?

by Anne Paddock

Earlier this month a story was circulating about an orca whale who gave birth to a calf only to have it die about 30 minutes later. The mother whale carried the baby calf on her nose for weeks while she swam miles and miles along the Pacific Ocean off the northwest coast of Canada in what most animal behaviorists say was a form of grieving. That the calf was the first one born since 2015 (the whales have been tracked because of their dwindling population) makes the loss more heartbreaking for environmentalists who are trying to save the mammals from extinction by repopulating the seas, which have been depleted, with salmon.

As we go about our daily lives, we often don’t give a thought to another species’ grief. If you’ve ever seen a calf separated from a cow, and then heard the cries that go on for days, your heart would break. Is that glass of milk or slice of cheese or scoop of ice cream really worth it? What about that veal scallopine or veal parmesan entrée (baby calves are slaughtered at 18-20 weeks for veal)?

The answer is no, it’s not but the dairy industry has done such a great job of hiding the cruel realities and hyping the benefits of milk and calcium while downplaying the effects of dairy on our health, that most of us don’t give dairy products a second thought. But, here’s the thing:  in order for you to drink that milk, eat that cheese, and enjoy that ice cream, the milk meant for a calf had to be taken and to do that, the cow and calf had to be separated. It’s that simple and that cruel.

Know this:  humans can get enough calcium from grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. And, there are many fortified foods including nut milks.  We don’t need to take the breast milk from a cow whose milk is meant for her baby calf.  Think of a man or a woman sucking on the utter of a female cow and you realize how utterly ridiculous it is that humans are taking another mammal’s milk for themselves.

Take it from me – a person who loved cheese and couldn’t imagine not having milk in her coffee every morning – you will be forever grossed out by the thought of consuming cow milk once you’ve been off cow milk for a few weeks and then wonder “what was I thinking?”  And, then you will start to think about the mother cow and her baby calf. It’s natural for them to be together; it’s not natural to take a baby calf from its mother so that another mammal can drink her milk. Cows grieve. Whales grieve. We’re not all that different.

Photo Credit:  PETA

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