A Plea To Feminists Who Are Vegetarian But Who Still Consume Dairy or Eggs
Dairy products represent a fundamental violation of the rights of nonhumans. Dairy is not morally distinguishable from meat.
Indeed, dairy represents a violation of rights that should be of great concern to feminists:
Cows are repeatedly and forcibly impregnated using a device called the “rape rack.”
Their babies are taken from them immediately after birth (and a day or two or three later in “happy” farms) to stop the calves from taking milk. Male calves are sold for veal. Females become part of the dairy industry. Cows are wonderful mothers who grieve the loss of their babies. Anyone who has observed the separation of cows from their calves knows that it involves horrible, prolonged suffering on the part of mother and baby.
Cows routinely suffer mastitis (inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue), a very painful condition, from repeated contact with the milking machine.
Dairy cows end up in the same slaughterhouses as their “meat” counterparts.
Dairy represents a commodification of the reproductive process of the cow and her relationship with her baby. It represents violence that should be of concern to us all, including, and particularly, those who claim to be feminists.
Eggs raise a similar concern in that hens, who are wonderful mothers, never get to see or to interact with their chicks.
Breeders are confined in automated sheds where males and females mate although artificial insemination of poultry is also used. Eggs are collected and sent to hatcheries, where males, who cannot lay eggs and are not suitable for meat, are killed by being ground up, gassed, or suffocated as soon as they are sexed.
The females are sent at a day or two of age to grow-out farms where they are raised in cages or in a floored rearing facility. They never interact with their mothers.
Egg-laying hens spent no more than two years in the hell of a battery (conventional or “enriched”), or of a “cage-free” or “free-range” barn, until they are “spent” and slaughtered. They are periodically starved to maximize production. They are debeaked and declawed.
Again, the female’s reproductive system is commodified and manipulated, and her relationship with her chicks is destroyed.
If you are feminist vegetarian but you are still consuming dairy or eating eggs, you are drawing an arbitrary line between humans and nonhumans.
And this is precisely what speciesism is.
If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.
If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option — it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.
Embracing veganism as a moral imperative and advocating for veganism as a moral imperative are, along with caring for nonhuman refugees, the most important acts of activism that you can undertake.
Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.
Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University
©2016 Gary L. Francione
When you look into the eyes
Of a fellow being
Is the reflection the
Best or worst of you
Are you seeing?
Karen Lyons Kalmenson