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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

you love yogurt & cheese?! this is a post for you!

happy tuesday!
can we talk about yogurt for a minute?
maybe you are thinking : diana, aren't you vegan?
yep. i am. i have been vegan for almost 4 years now. so, i dont eat yogurt. [actually, i am super intolerant to dairy & choose not to eat eggs // meat because of animal welfare issues]

i think vegans as a whole get a bad wrap, at times. people think we are preachy. rude. too in your face. douche-y, if you will. some people see vegans as paint-slinging, tree-hugging hippies that are out of touch.
if you know me in real life ; its true that i have a lot of opinions ; but i wouldn't say that i am a pretentious ass. ;)
actually, when it comes to topics like factory farming, i dont post much, because people [on both sides!] get so defensive & its not my place to judge what YOU [or anybody else] are consuming.
so listen, i am not writing this to judge you. or to call you names. or to guilt you into eating the way that i do.
my post today has one main theme : KNOW YOUR FARMER!

if you have been following me on twitter, you may have noticed that i have been going back & forth with a huge yogurt company for the past week. i am not trying to pick on anybody, i just want some answers about ethical practices.

i dont know how much you know about the factory farm dairy industry, but its worth doing a bit of research. i could tell you horrific stories & show you really awful images, but thats not really my style.

i will tell you that in most factory farm operations [we are talking large farms with thousands of cows!] ; the ethical standards are pretty low.
dairy cows [females] are treated pretty rough. they are kept pregnant [by artificial insemination] almost non-stop for a few years. [the only way a cow can produce milk, is if she has given birth] well, the dairy industry wants the milk, not the newborn calf. once that calf is born, it is taken from its mother, fed a crappy powder milk-substitute & is [more than likely!] sold for veal.

if a dairy cow is living a good life [grass, cow-friends, a place to roam], she can live for about 20+ years. most dairy cows on factory farms live less than 5 years [usually around 3-4 years]. their bodies are so damaged and broken from the constant strain of birthing and milking that they are sent to the slaughterhouse.

so, what am i saying here?
i am saying that it is SO important to demand answers from your favorite company. ask them a series of questions [i have some listed at the end of this post!] if they cant // wont answer, that is a red flag.

imagine your sister // best friend getting pregnant, so we can all benefit from her milk. once she gives birth, all she wants to do is bond with her baby, but we dont care about the baby. we are here for the milk! so, we rip the baby from her arms & pump your best friend until her body goes out. and once that  happens, we do it all again. and again. and again.
[its disgusting, right? its sick & heartbreaking]
cows bond with their calves the same way human mothers bond with their newborns. we both feel love, affection & fear.

here is the good news : there are farms that are doing it right! 
farms that are treating their cows like the intelligent beings that they are. they are giving them time to bond with their calves for 3-5 months. [and the calf is able to drink moms milk & stay with her]. letting them roam on large areas of land, eating organic grains and // or grass. giving them time between pregnancies.
if dairy is important to you [i am not judging!] ; there are ways to support the 'little guys' that are treating the animals well.

if you live in a large city, head to your local co-op, whole foods and/or farmers market. ask questions. dont take a BS stock answer ; you deserve an answer & a company worth supporting will give you that!
if you dont live in a large city, do a simple internet search for 'ethical dairy farms + your state'.
find a few & send them emails. tour the farms, if you can.

this is YOUR food! you have every right to know where it comes from!

great dairy farms in minnesota // iowa // wisconsin :
cedar summit // fruitful seasons // pastureland // zweber family farms // organic valley // castle rock farms

questions to ask : 
what are the cows fed?
how much time passes between pregnancies?
how long are the  calves with the mothers? what are the calves fed ; mothers milk or a powder substitute?
what happens to the calves once they are weaned from their mother?
what happens when the dairy cows stop producing milk?

id love to hear your opinions on this?
do you eat dairy? do you know where it comes from?
do you have a favorite farm? [if so, list it & i will add it to the post!]