You Will Never Look at Dairy in the Same Way Again | Rutgers University | Eye-Opening Speech
Dairy cows and mammals who like humans only produce milk to feed their children And so what this means is that every single year, year in, year out Farmers will forcibly impregnate the dairy cows to ensure they're continuously producing a profitable supply of milk And so the farmer restrains the dairy cow and forces semen inside of her cervix To tell you about the next part of dairy farming I want to tell you about a personal experience I had, something that happened to me back in 2017 it was the first time I'd ever visited a dairy farm and
So myself and several others, we kind of just wandered into the farm With the objective of filming, taking pictures and raising awareness and trying to show people what happens in the dairy industry Now the farmer who saw us and he wasn't particularly bothered by our presence and so he allowed us to wander around and as we were wandering around he came across a pen and in this pen was a mother cow and her baby
And her baby had just been born. In fact, her baby was still so newborn, the mother was cleaning her after the birth And so the farmer came over to us and he told us he was going to separate the baby from their mother Now all dairy calves are taken away from their mothers normally within the first 24 hours of life so the farmer can take as much milk as possible and make as much money from the dairy cow's body as they possibly can
And so we filmed We filmed as the farmer brought in the trolley and he put the trolley next to the calf he picks the calf up and he threw the calf into the trolley and then began to wheel the calf away. I ended up stood next to the mother and I walked alongside her for as far as we could because then the farmer closed the gate on both of us
And so I looked at that mother, and I watched her as she watched her baby being taken further and further and further and further And further and further and further away from her And that was the last time she ever saw her child
As well as I was looking at this dairy cow this mother She looked at me and in that moment our eyes made contact And I saw everything I expected to see, I saw pain, I saw fear, I saw anguish but I saw something else I saw confusion and this is what I hurt me the most
Because I realized in that moment that the animals have no comprehension of why we do these things to them. They don't understand they don't know and I thought about all the pigs in the gas chambers and all the animals who are exploited or the vary in insidious industries of animal exploitation and I thought about the fact that they had no idea why any of these things were being performed and done to them?
And I thought about all the times I had been most scared in my life and how often fear was coupled with confusion and ambiguity about the situation, a lack of comprehension about why these things were happening and when they were going to stop And I thought about how confusion often amplifies the experience of terror, an experience of fear But of course we can't explain these things to animals.
They don't speak our language. And nor do we speak theirs What if we could? What if we could communicate with them and talk to them and have a dialogue with them and tell them why we're doing these things to them What would we say? What would you say?
What would you say to that dairy cow in that moment as her baby is being taken away from her would you say "I know that you're grieving and another loss your child will cause you pain and that you wish to act out your maternal drive to be a mother and to raise your baby but what you've got to understand
Is that I love the taste of your lactations in my cup of coffee and congealed into a block called cheese that I grate on my pasta" Do you say "I know you don't want to be forcibly impregnated. I know that's a horrible experience for you But it's quite inconvenient for me to buy oat milk" What would we say to the pigs in the gas chambers? Would we say "I hear you screaming
And I can see you thrashing and I acknowledge that you're suffering but please can you just understand that I love the taste of your flesh in between two pieces of bread that I call a sandwich?" Would we say to the animals "I know you have a desire to life and that you do not wish to be exploited but going vegan is a bit extreme. And anyway it's my personal choice, so can you please respect that?"
Because really what else could we say to them? What else could we say to them? We couldn't say, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry God, I'm so sorry, but what you have to understand is this is a necessity and this has to be done
And I wish it didn't but it absolutely does for my survival and a survival of my species Because that's not true And that would be a lie We do not do these things to animals because we have to we do them because we want to Or more importantly because we enjoy the product that comes as a consequence of the things that we do to animals
We do it because we enjoy the taste of their flesh and their secretions But in reality our body needs cow flesh, chicken flesh, lamb flesh or pig flesh as much as it needs labrador flesh or poodle flesh or cat flesh Our body needs cow's milk as much as it needs dolphin milk or giraffe milk or rat milk it just doesn't and so the question then becomes well "what has higher value?"
Taste or life our taste buds or the life of an animal Do we really value the 15 minutes of sensory pleasure that we get from consuming their bodies as being worth more than their entire existence and can we really justify what we do to animals by saying "it's our personal choice"
And should someone's choice automatically be respected simply because they've personally chosen to enact that choice? I mean every choice that we make is a personal choice regardless of whether that choice would be deemed moral or immoral And when we cite personal choice as a justifier for what we do to animals whose choice are we considering other than our own?
Do we factor in the choice of the trillions of animals? And it is trillions. The trillions of animals who are killed every single year Do we factor in their desire for life and the desire to live without exploitation and suffering? or do we unconsciously buy these products simply because we always have and because our peers around us do so and because society tells us it's ok
But how do we morally justify this? What moral justification do we have to excuse the exploitation of animals? And so I want to go back to the dairy industry for just a moment because in the UK a survey was conducted by the British Cattle Veterinary Association and the survey revealed that about 150,000 cows are sent to the slaughterhouse each year whilst pregnant and it revealed about 40,000 of these cows are in the late stages of pregnancy
Theoretically meaning that the baby inside of them could be capable of independent life Now there are no legal guidelines to protect unborn animals within the industry but the RSPCA which is Britain's leading welfare organization has a set of guidelines that advises that a slaughterhouse should follow in the event of a pregnant cow being brought to their facility And so this guideline state the cow should be killed in the normal way So a bolt in the head and a knife across their throat
But they're supposed to hang on the bleeding line for at least five minutes To try and provide enough time for the baby inside of the mother to die as well Now an ex-vet who used to work in UK abbatoirs had this to say about her experience of seing pregnant cows being slaughtered. She said: Sometimes when the animals are hanging on the bleeding line, you can see their unborn calves kicking inside their mothers wombs I as a vet, I'm not expected to do anything
Unborn animals don't exist according to the regulations. I'm supposed to stand there, do nothing. Stay quiet It broke my heart. I felt like a criminal But the survey from the British Castle Veterinary Association went on to reveal that over 75% of the pregnant cows sent to slaughter
Was sent by farmers who didn't think the cows were pregnant or simply did not know Which means that around 3/4 of the pregnant cows are sent to the slaughterhouse without the slaughterhouse be made prior aware that they're pregnant And so the cow comes into the the stun box the bolt goes against her head She's hung on the bleeding line and her throat is cut
But then she's not left there for a minimum of five minutes. She's taken to the next phase of the slaughter Which is when she's cut open But because the baby inside takes longer to die what can happen as the mother can be cut open? And the baby can fall out alive
Conscious sentient gasping for air and breathing and now the RSPCA which stands for the Royal Society for the *Prevention of Cruelty* to Animals states that if you cut out a baby from their dead mother and that baby is alive
You shoot them with a bolt or you hit them over the head with a blunt instrument Their first and last experiences of life are on the floor of a slaughterhouse Now we've all been raised with a set of values dictated to us by the cultures that we were raised in values passed down to us by the families who brought us up and values that we assigned to ourself for all of those cognitive biases that exist within us all
The society has always progressed precisely because it dared to challenge these dominant paradigms The stagnation of progress comes from the refusal to challenge what it is that we have always done But as Aristotle once said the roots of education are bitter But the fruit is sweet We can no longer bury our heads in the sand.
It is time to take our heads out of the sand and no longer ignore something, the objectivity of something simply because it makes us feel uncomfortable or contradicts the values and lifestyles that we have always adopted And so I left that farm that dairy farm
And I left that mother there and I left her newborn baby in the solitary confinement pen that the farmer had thrown them into I left But they did not Their life and their fate had been decided for them before they were even conceived
And so when I went back to my life which was a life where I could do what I want, spend time my friends, spend time with my family, do things that made me happy and fundamentally live a life that was not dictated for me. I made a vow to myself and I vowed that I would never again
Allow the suffering of animals to fall far from my mind and I would certainly never again claim that their suffering does not exist because even if we refuse it with our thoughts, with our eyes and with our ears the suffering the animals are forced to injure is an objective reality that exists even if we claim that it does not Can we honestly still cling on to the idea that what happens to animals is isolated and a rarity
Or is it time for us to acknowledge that the abuse and suffering that we inflict upon animals is systemic and ubiquitous and exists because the purchases that we make and therefore the blood is on our hands collectively as a species but also as individuals as well One of the defining characteristics of our species is our ability to evolve and adapt
To learn from our mistakes and then change accordingly Morality has always changed and so as our understanding and knowledge about the complexity and wonder of life continues to change so too should our tolerance our attitude and our empathy
Towards those non-human animals who exist on this planet with us and not for us In our authoritarian ways we arbitrarily point the finger and decide that certain species of animals deserve different fates to other species of animals For those cows in that farm indeed for every animal that exists on every farm around the world there is a life of exploitation and then death in a slaughterhouse
And yet for other animals who are identical in every single way that matters, it's a life of love, the companionship, in our homes and in our families and so, of course as humans, we are very different to the other beings on this planet But what we share in common is what is paramount We are all alive
We are conscious, we are sentient, our experience of life is shown to us by the subjective and individualistic perceptions that we see through the life that we all live Intrinsically, we all want to live a life free from exploitation, from suffering and from harm a life of peace
Of tranquillity full of happiness and so is it time for us to consider all animals in our circle of moral consideration? To understand that it's not the *way* that we exploit them that matters but the fact that we *exploit* them in the first place the mentality that allows us
To exploit them in the first place Is it time for us to make a change? Is it time for us to go vegan? for ourselves for our own health, for our planet
But also for them The other beings who may not walk like us, talk like us or look like us but who definitely deserve a life of freedom Just like us.
Thank you so much for listening