Like humans and all mammals, cows need to be impregnated to produce milk. Cows are therefore repeatedly inseminated, either artificially or by a bull. Cows would normally live about 20 years, but due to the economics of the milk industry, they are usually slaughtered after about 5 years when they lose the ability to generate sufficient quantities of milk. During this short 5-year life, they spend around a third of the time pregnant and give birth to several calves. At birth male calves are forcibly taken from their mothers – who will grieve intensely – and sold to the veal industry. The female calves end up as dairy cows to eventually replace their mothers and grandmothers. Although some dairy cows are permitted to graze outside during part of the year, many cows never see the light of day until they are transported to slaughter. The same fate awaits cows that are certified organic, Freedom Food, or Red Tractor, as well as other mammals that are used for milk production, including goats and sheep.
There is no way to consume animal milk that does not cause enormous suffering to animals. In fact, 80% of beef in the European Union comes from the dairy industry. Fortunately, there are many cruelty-free, delicious and healthy plant-based alternatives available nowadays.