Help end animal cruelty one glass at a time
A Meat and Dairy Industries Article from


lauren Ornelas, FEP Food Empowerment Project / Appetite for Justice
June 2018

The dairy trade, which hides behind the beautiful big brown eyes of cows and fake health claims, exposes itself for the corrupt industry they are — selling their product at the expense of human and non-human animals, the environment, and workers - peddling it to people of color, who they know will get sick from it....

Drinking animal milk comes with cholesterol and colonization!


As June is National Dairy Month, initially conceived by the International Dairy Foods Association in 1937 to promote drinking milk, I want to try to dissect the dreaded dairy industry from the times of colonization to today by looking at the vast amount of cruelty that takes place day in and day out, harming human and non-humans alike.

Food Empowerment Project’s newest effort, Eliminate animal suffering, one glass at a time, strives to address these issues for all to understand.


As a very proud Xicanx, I will start where it began for my indigenous ancestors. Simply put, Columbus’ second voyage brought cows, goats, and other animals to our lands, as he thought our foods were inferior.


Just like humans, mother cows are pregnant for nine months, and just like human mothers, they produce milk for their babies. It may seem surprising to some, but, yes, cows’ milk is really for their babies — newborn calves. Mom and baby, who want to be together, are separated so that humans can drink their milk (or eat it via cheese, yogurt, etc.). When you really think about, it just seems so strange how common a practice this is today. And nearly every farm, large or small, takes the babies away from their moms.

I have investigated many dairy farms, and what I witnessed broke my heart. While the animal movement was talking about “veal” calves (the male calves who are of no use in the dairy industry, as they do not produce milk), it was the female calves in crates I saw by the hundreds in California. I videotaped calves in the hot sun of the Central Valley who were chained by the neck, others who had kicked their water over and had died from exposure. In Georgia, I videotaped a baby crying to her mama. You could hear them painfully bellowing back and forth.

Their pain is real; it’s as simple as that.

Then, when the cows aren’t producing enough milk to be profitable, they are sent off to be killed.

Dairy dooms environment and workers

As an organization that recognizes how so many issues of oppression are connected, it is not shocking to us that the dairy industry’s despicable reach goes even further.

Environmental impact & environmental racism

A single cow in the dairy industry produces 120 pounds of wet manure per day, so a farm with an average of 200 cows produces 24,000 pounds of manure a day! It is important to remember that there is no waste treatment plant for these farms — big or small. Many farms will put the wet manure in what are called manure pits (or so-called “manure lagoons”), and as you can imagine, there are no words to do the stench they emit justice. In fact, here in Sonoma County, home to numerous large dairies, the odor gets so bad that there are days when we all go inside to hide from the “Sonoma Aroma.”

Approximately 91 percent of the cows used in California’s dairy industry and more than 80 percent of dairies in the state are in the Central Valley, which is made up of predominately Latinx communities. As of 2012, one in six children living in the San Joaquin Valley had asthma, and according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Fresno County is the most challenging place to live in California for those who suffer with asthma. “Dairy farm waste, soil blown from farmlands, pesticides, industrial emissions, vehicle exhaust and dust particles kicked up by cars…have made this one of the smoggiest places in the nation,” reports Discover magazine. It is therefore not surprising that these factory farms are located in the vicinity of a large number of communities of color living in poverty. According to a recent report by the Central Policy Health Institute: “In 2005, seven of the eight San Joaquin Valley counties had a higher percentage of Latino residents than the state as a whole (35.9%).” The report adds that the San Joaquin Valley is “one of the least affluent areas of California…and poverty, in both urban and rural areas, is a significant problem.”


The dairy industry’s disgusting disregard for non-human animals extends to human animals as well. Half of all workers on U.S. dairy farms are immigrants who are forced to work long hours. Those who have homes live in overcrowded conditions, and many are vulnerable to workplace deaths, such as being electrocuted, crushed by tractors, kicked by a cow, or being injured by an agitated “bull.”

In addition to this, many workers are overcome by noxious fumes of manure pits and fall in, to be literally suffocated by cow manure.

Got lactose normal?

That’s okay — you are completely fine! It makes sense to me that you don’t digest cows’ milk! But, alas, as many POC don’t digest the milk of another species, some would have us believe there is something wrong with us — but there isn’t!

Drinking animal milk comes with cholesterol and colonization!

Drinking planted-based milk, such as coconut milk, is nothing new. It is what Pacific Islanders have always done.

Plus, milks that don’t have to be refrigerated have a longer shelf life!

All of this makes the dairy industry even more insidious when you consider how they target communities of color. I was horrified when I saw the dairy industry using La Llorona, a Latinx legend about a woman who killed her children, to sell milk to our communities. According to the Los Angeles Times, they spent $2 million in advertising.

The dairy trade, which hides behind the beautiful big brown eyes of cows and fake health claims, exposes itself for the corrupt industry they are — selling their product at the expense of human and non-human animals, the environment, and workers — peddling it to people of color, who they know will get sick from it.

And there’s also the more deceitful sides of dairy, such as the role colonization has played in how the dairy industry seeks to target people of color.

For all of these reasons and more, let’s gently remind people of the reality of the dreaded dairy industry and encourage them to help end the suffering, one glass at a time. And, if they have access to healthy foods, let’s encourage them to go vegan.

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