Do dairy and eggs result in animal suffering?

The following is an excerpt from our book “Say No to Meat“, a book to guide the new vegetarian on ditching meat and going veg! Written in question and answer format, it addresses key issues along with practical and social aspects of being a vegetarian.

Will consuming eggs and dairy still result in animal suffering?

Those who have cut out meat but still consume eggs and dairy products because they do not directly kill the animal are well intentioned. At one time, it was not that hard on an animal to supply eggs or milk, but with factory farming that is no longer the case. Unfortunately these days, dairy and egg production cause a lot of animal suffering. The objective of a dairy or egg farmer is to produce as much milk or as many eggs as possible for the least possible cost, so farmers give very little thought to caring for the animals, except to ensure that they continue to produce. Dairy cows and egg-laying chickens have miserable lives and end up in the slaughterhouse just like their meat-producing relatives.

In order to keep producing milk, dairy cows are forced to give birth as frequently as possible, but their calves are taken away from them shortly after birth, so that the milk they produce is available for human use. Often they are injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which is designed to produce an abnormally high volume of milk. Many develop mastitis, a painful infection of the udders, and lameness. When their milk production wanes after about three or four years, they are sent to slaughter.

The baby calves produced in this process are either raised to produce milk themselves if they are female, or sometimes raised for veal if they are male. These poor animals are deliberately fed a diet that puts them in danger of becoming anemic and kept in small crates to prevent their muscles developing. This creates the kind of pale, soft meat prized as veal.

So the lives of dairy- and egg-producing animals are full of suffering and end in slaughter, in much the same way as those of the meat-producing animals. With so many delicious alternatives available, causing this much pain to animals is just not necessary.