The Chilling Reality of Cheese: Adirondack Farms
March 27, 2012 6 Comments
Advocates for ethical veganism are routinely asked about dairy products. “I could easily give up meat,” people will say. That’d be easy.” But “cheese,” they exclaim. “I just can’t part with cheese.” This reaction reflects not only genuine affection for a familiar and comforting taste and texture. It also reflects the implicit idea that an animal didn’t have to be directly killed to make it. This comment is the cue, of course, to note–loosely paraphrasing Gary Francione–that this opinion is dead wrong, and that there’s more suffering in a pound of cheese than a pound of beef. I have the speech down pat.
But it’s always sad to deliver. It’s amazing how few of even the most highly educated consumers simply don’t know (or don’t want to know?) the details–a true testament to the power of producers to keep their work out of sight. After all, here is what the world’s cheesemongers–“artisan” or otherwise–don’t what consumers to have on their minds: female cows are repeatedly sent to the “rape rack” to be artificially inseminated, all calves are immediately torn away from their mothers, male calves are summarily killed or crated to become veal, and mothers are milked by machines, re-impregnated, and exploited with ruthless efficiency until their productivity wanes. When that happens, they are shipped to the slaughterhouse. This scenario plays out on small organic dairy farms as surely as it does on large factory farms. No society should tolerate it.
On factory farms these disturbing practices are enjoined by a host of additional horrors. Sick animals go untreated, diseases are rampant, calves’ horn buds are burned off without anesthesia, and disgruntled workers jab, mutilate, and burn cows for kicks (or out of psychological despair). According to PETA’s recent expose of Adirondack Farms (where I actually once visited), “workers routinely jabbed and struck cows with a pole and cane, on the face, udder, and hindquarters when leading them into a room to be milked.” Another cow was repeatedly shoved in the ribs with a screwdriver and referred to as “a dumb bitch.”
These details only scratch the surface of what we’re not supposed to see. After a while, one hopes, they start to make that slice of cheese seem a bit less appealing.