Advanced search

to think consuming dairy but refusing to eat beef on animal welfare grounds is illogical...

(25 Posts)
lurcherlover Mon 22-Nov-10 13:18:33

Just something I was pondering this morning. This does not apply to people who don't eat beef for health reasons, or because they are concerned about the effect of beef production on the planet's resources. But it occurred to me that I know a lot of people who are vegetarians for animal welfare reasons, but still drink milk, eat cheese and yoghurt etc. It seems to me that this shows a lack of logic, for these reasons:
- dairy cows are slaughtered at the end of their useful productive lives in exactly the same way as beef cows. You might not eat the meat but that doesn't mean the cow whose milk you're drinking won't end up in the abbatoir.
- beef cows live a nicer life (in this country at least) than dairy cows. They get to spend more time outdoors, eating grass, and don't have the tremendous demands made on their bodies that dairy cows do in order to produce the huge volumes of milk required of them.
- Beef calves get to stay with their mothers for months, unlike dairy calves which are removed from their mothers shortly after birth - very traumatic for both cow and baby.
- The dairy industry directly contributes to the food industry anyway, in that worn-out dairy cows become meat pies and frozen beef dinners, and male dairy calves become veal. Just because you don't eat them doesn't stop it happening - the demand for milk ensures this will continue.

I understand a lot of people choose not to eat meat for animal welfare reasons and feel better for having made that choice. But surely, in the light of these points, it's an illogical choice? The only real way to avoid being involved in the meat industry is to be vegan?

(I am not vegan or veggie BTW - I eat meat, just not as often and I buy humanely reared meat from a local butcher. That to me is fine).

FindingMyMojo Mon 22-Nov-10 13:22:55

YANBU - the 'politics' & behind the scenes truths of mass producing milk is not a pretty story.

thisisyesterday Mon 22-Nov-10 13:23:29

i think that people do what they can.

no-one can single-handedly save the planet. we do small things that we can do, that we are willing to do.

example: i recycle all the household waste that can be taken in our red-top bin

there are things that can be recycled that my council will not take. I could take these items somewhere else to be recycled. but I don't

I don't think that lessens the importance of me recycling everything else tho.

likewise, people who choose to be vegetarian for animal welfare reasons have nothing to feel bad about by drinking milk. they are doing what they feel is reasonable for them. and the fact that other bad stuff happens doesn't negate the good parts.

FindingMyMojo Mon 22-Nov-10 13:24:08

it's a great reason to switch to organic dairy if nothing else as organic farms do have higher animal welfare standards and the costs are too huge. Still not all green pastures & content cows though.

thisisyesterday Mon 22-Nov-10 13:24:22

fwiw i am vegan, but i don't have anything against people who chose to eat dairy products

samay Mon 22-Nov-10 13:26:25

Message withdrawn

GetOrfMoiLand Mon 22-Nov-10 13:27:59

I agree with you. I too think it is utterly illogical to be a non-eat meater, whilst quite happy to eat dairy products.

You can't be all holier than thou about cutting out meat for animal welfare reasons when you still eat dairy. So I agree that the only way is to be a vegan.

'I think people do what they can'.

My stepson is a strict vegan on animal wlfare grounds. It is a nightmare buying food for him. So I actually think people do what they can be arsed to do, as full on veganism is very tricky. Which is fine. But just don't come round my house for dinner, turn up your nose at chicken because you are a vegetarian and farms are so cruel, yet happily eat camembert <not bitter reallY>

SuePurblybiltByElves Mon 22-Nov-10 13:31:03

YANBU. But every little helps grin. We're all hypocrites on some level.

ArentFanny Mon 22-Nov-10 13:32:59

Totally with you, people still won't eat veal even though now it is produced under very hidh welfare standards as set out by the RSPCA, as they think it is cruel to eat calves, even though the veal calves are older than lambs when they finally go, better to go for food than to be shot at a week old and dumped in a pit somwehere.

lurcherlover Mon 22-Nov-10 13:34:26

Same goes for eggs really - even if you buy free-range ones (which obviously everybody should), those hens aren't going to be allowed to carry on pecking around in the field once their production has slowed down...into chicken pies they go.

samay - I know a lot of people who make the anti-veal arguments too. I completely agree with not eating veal that has come from Europe, where it's reared in crates in unspeakable conditions. But people need to be encouraged to eat British veal, which is reared much more humanely. The alternatives for male dairy calves are being shot at birth or exported to Europe to be reared for veal there. It's a shame that most people here don't realise the difference between European and British veal rearing methods and tar all veal with the same brush - if more people ate the British stuff the supermarkets would want to sell it, and it would stop so many of our poor calves enduring those awful journeys to the continent and a miserable life once they get there.

lurcherlover Mon 22-Nov-10 13:36:05

SupPurblybiltByElves - but how does "every little help" though? I'm not picking an argument, I just genuinely don't see the logic. OK, if you don't buy fillet steak you reduce the demand for beef production. I get that. But how can veggies really justify drinking milk?

samay Mon 22-Nov-10 13:41:32

Message withdrawn

samay Mon 22-Nov-10 13:42:22

Message withdrawn

bumperella Mon 22-Nov-10 13:43:21

I agree with you. Although, as people aren't perfect and real life gets in the way, being vegan is a huge "goal" or objective or wahtever, whereas being veggie is nowhere near as tough. Obviously it's up to the individual where they draw a moral boundary, am not questioning that: but like the OP I don't see the difference between direct slaughter of animals for meat eating and indirect slaughter for milk/eggs/etc.
As an aside re the eggs, it's not just the hens being despatched when no longer in their prime. There are as many male chicks as female chicks (sorry, stating the obvious I know ). The males are despatched at a day or so old: the egg-laying breeds don't make for good meat production.
I sound like a vegan here, but am definitely a meat eater. I do go for higher-welfare products and spin them out with non-animal products to make them go a bit further.

faverolles Mon 22-Nov-10 13:45:53

Unfortunately, most of todays purebred dairy bull calves will be shot at birth, as the holstein friesian isn't suitable to rear as veal.

Lurcher - don't be so sure that buying free range eggs means that the chickens have been scratching round in a field. Sadly, they often have less room than their battery farmed contemporaries, and hen:hen bullying is horrible.
I've re-homed chickens from battery systems and free range, and more often than not, I've found the battery hens to be healthier.

It's quite easy to buy beef (and other meats) that have been reared in very good conditions, but less so for milk.
Organic dairy cows have very similar welfare standards to non-organic, the main difference is the food they eat, and the way that food has been prepared.

thisisyesterday Mon 22-Nov-10 13:47:54

every little helps because it's a spectrum surely?

at one end are the people who eat the cheapest meat possible. and lots of it.

at the other end are the vegans who contribute nothing to animal suffering

and in the middle are the vast, vast majority of people who go to different lengths to reduce the suffering of animals in ways they feel comfortable with

so the veggies don't contribute to animals being killed for meat, but do contribute to those who become by-products of the dairy/egg industry.

those who eat only chicken are another step behind them..... and so on

somewhere in there are of course the meat eaters who ensure that they get their meat and dairy produce from places where the animals are well kept

TrailMix Mon 22-Nov-10 13:48:50

Both the dairy and beef industries result in dead or inhumanely kept cows. A good point. But to suggest that people who do something about one, but not the other, would be better off doing nothing about either... that's just ILLOGICAL.

You see the animal welfare problems with both industries, yet do little about either one. That's not logically consistent either (I see a problem, but choose not to act because... I don't want to).

You could argue that if people want to give something up for animal welfare, they would be better off giving up dairy and eating meat. I see that point, and some people do. They just don't get the 'press' that the veggies do.

The argument about 'humanely reared beef' tends to ignore the part where the cow is quite inhumanely killed.

Vegetarians generally have a range of reasons why they don't eat meat. Animal welfare is almost always a reason, but rarely the only one. At base, most simply don't want to consume a dead animal.

samay Mon 22-Nov-10 13:53:06

Message withdrawn

SuePurblybiltByElves Mon 22-Nov-10 14:03:54

Every little helps because every decision made on ethical grounds is important. Because some people may not be able to give up everything for whatever reason but have made one decision on welfare grounds. Which is important. It may not greatly affect the overall production of meat/milk - so not eating beef may not "save" cows as the mothers have to calve to produce the milk anyway. But it is important, it sends a message to food producers and it often leads to more changes I've found.

grumpypumpkin Mon 22-Nov-10 15:21:19

Very interesting topic. I do think that if the general public knew what goes on behind the scenes there would be more action. I would be a vegan from a principles point of view, but it is so difficult to maintain that absolute standard. Like many vegetarians I do my best to reduce the amount of animal produce I eat and accept there will be occasions when I do have eggs and dairy in order to lead a fairly normal life.

beijingaling Mon 22-Nov-10 15:31:04

Vegetarians who wear leather always make me go hmm especially as I'm quite aware of how inhumanly some animal products from this part of the world are produced.

I do my best with animal welfare. If given the choice I'll always choose organic but we don't always get that choice here and the organic 'certificates' aren't always worth the paper they're printed on.

ArentFanny Mon 22-Nov-10 15:34:28

faverolles - close friends are doing quite well at rearing holstein/fresian bull calves for veal.

What I do dislike though is that every farmer gets tarnished by the few who really do practise crap and inhumane farming practises.

By the way if you drink M&S mikl then 40% comes from us and others in our co-op.

nickypomtimes Mon 22-Nov-10 15:34:42


I am veggie aand well aware that I am deluding myself...

thisisyesterday makes a great point about the spectrum though.

kenobi Mon 22-Nov-10 15:56:17

There is a famous journalist --Liz Jones-- who talks about being a vegan as if it is a religion that sanctifies her, yet in another feature moans because she couldn't get decent scrambled eggs in her hotel.

Also, 'ethical' vegetarians who wear leather also confound me.

kenobi Mon 22-Nov-10 15:56:45

Damnation how do you get crossing outs?!

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: