Is Veganism An Act Of Feminism?
Start writing a post

Is Veganism An Act Of Feminism?

We do not own cows or their udders.

Is Veganism An Act Of Feminism?

"Why dairy? It doesn't kill the cow."

This is an argument posed to me frequently, often in casual conversation by new acquaintances. Most people can theoretically grasp the idea of vegetarianism: steak is literally a piece of a dead animal, and nobody would deny that fact. However, dairy consumption does not directly require slaughter, so where's the harm?

First of all, the idea that it doesn't kill them is questionable: the modern dairy cow lives an average of about five years, compared to her natural lifespan of twenty years. After several years of constant impregnation, their bodies become economically useless and are slaughtered. Is this really better than what beef cattle experience?

One "humane" farm enthusiast visited an Organic Valley farmer and found out that this farmer milked his cows twice a day--compared to the usual three on most factory farms--and that this resulted in the cows living twice as long, around 10-12 years.

While she celebrates this improvement, the contrast demonstrates just how detrimental the milking process is to the life of a dairy cow. The less the cow is milked by machines, the closer the cow gets to the natural 20 years. Imagine if the only thing taking her milk was the calf it was made for.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//" expand=1]

For dairy products in particular, it isn't the slaughter that upsets me. In fact, compared to what industrial dairy cows experience during their living days, slaughter almost seems like an escape.

Indeed, if you explore the so-called justification of the dairy or meat industry, you will often find statements similar to those used to rationalize slavery, colonization, systemic racism, transphophia, homophobia, sexism, and others. The main idea is this: We are the chosen one, you are different, and we own you.

As a feminist, I do not condone the exploitation of dairy cows. I do not care that they are not human, for I do not believe that humans are so fantastic that they should be given the freedom to oppress anything and everything within their grasp.

You can apply almost any feminist argument to the dairy industry. For example, let's look at some popular feminist quotes.


“Woman's degradation is in man's idea of his sexual rights. Our religion, laws, customs, are all founded on the belief that woman was made for man.” ― Elizabeth Cady Stanton

I do not believe cow's milk is meant for humans to take just because they want to, just as I do not think a woman's sexuality is meant for a man to take just because he wants to. Cow's milk is for cows.

The standards of treatment for dairy cows in the United States connotes ownership and profit in every line. Veterinarian care is used to ensure maximum production (more milk is more money), and illnesses are treated to reduce economic loss (a diseased cow is an unprofitable cow). Cows are treated as machines to keep functioning, not animals deserving of comfortable and dignified lives.

And organic ain't much better. The Stonyfield website lists the organic standards for the treatment of dairy cows, which was amusingly on a page entitled 'Your Dairy Meditation.' Okay.

The standards list warm, fuzzy rules such as having access to sunlight, a pasture, and clean bedding. However, the list makes no mention of the actual act of milking, assuming that milking cows for human consumption is just a natural, harmless process that needs no questioning. Humane standards, in this case, appear as a cryptic handbook of how to keep a cow alive and disease-free long enough to exploit her.

Imagine if humans published a list of standards for how to abuse a woman without killing her. Is abuse humane if the abuser takes her to the doctor afterwards to treat her injuries? Is it humane if the abuser takes her outside for some fresh air afterwards? As long as he keeps her alive, can it be considered humane abuse?

These standards do little to address the fact that we are taking something that doesn't belong to us, and that we don't need at all.


“No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body.” ― Margaret Sanger

When we say things like, "But animals were put on this earth for us to use," I think of all the women who have been "used" by men for sex, for power, and for control. Men throughout history (and even some oh-so-delightful fellas today) have said almost the exact same things about women, believing it was the women's responsibility in life to pleasure them, take care of them, have babies for them, and look pretty for them.

Thus, I cannot rationalize the practice of forcing cows into pregnancy, out of motherhood, and into the production of an unnecessary substance for an entirely different species. This is not what they were made for. We are not the owners of them or their udders.


“Do you really believe ... that everything historians tell us about men – or about women – is actually true? You ought to consider the fact that these histories have been written by men, who never tell the truth except by accident.” ― Moderata Fonte

When we rationalize our consumption of dairy (or meat), whose voice is being heard?

Humans decide whether animals are worthy of respect. Humans choose which animals to love (pets), and which to destroy (farm animals). Humans establish, organize, and maintain power over animals, and dairy cows have zero say in the matter.

Throughout history, women were considered "naturally inferior" to men. This was explained by things like smaller brains or less physical strength. Because of this designated inferiority, wives were considered material possessions of the man, and all of her possessions belonged to her husband upon marriage. In the event of abuse, women were not legally allowed to sue their husbands. After divorce, all property and children belonged to the man. This was justified by men, who decided on women's behalf that they did not deserve to live full lives.

Cows can't speak English, but is it that hard to tell what they want? It's not like they're marching up the machines themselves and eagerly hooking themselves up.

Dairy cows speak to us through the evidence that we have cut their lifespan in half (or thirds, depending on the farm's practices). They speak to us through the fact that they must be prodded forcefully just to be hooked up for milking. They speak to us through the mastitis they develop from the machines that dry them up. They speak to us by the way they panic at the sight of their calf being plucked from their side.

But humans decided that the cow's actions are irrelevant because they are an inferior species, designed for our exploitation. How else would the amazing and powerful human get to enjoy his ever-important ice cream cone?

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

21 EDM Songs for a Non-EDM Listener

Ever wanted to check out EDM music, but didn't know where to start? Look no further! Start here.

21 EDM Songs for a Non-EDM Listener

If you have been following me for a long time, then you know I write about two main things: relateable articles and communication media based articles. Now, it is time for me to combine the two. For those of you that don't know, I am a radio DJ at IUP, and I DJ for a show called BPM (Beats Per Minute). It is an EDM, or electronic dance music, based show and I absolutely love it.

Keep Reading...Show less
A man with a white beard and mustache wearing a hat

As any other person on this planet, it sometimes can be hard to find the good in things. However, as I have always tried my hardest to find happiness in any and every moment and just generally always try to find the best in every situation, I have realized that your own happiness is much more important than people often think. Finding the good in any situation can help you to find happiness in some of the simplest and unexpected places.

Keep Reading...Show less

6 Things Owning A Cat Has Taught Me

This one's for you, Spock.

6 Things Owning A Cat Has Taught Me
Liz Abere

Owning a pet can get difficult and expensive. Sometimes, their vet bills cost hundreds of dollars just for one visit. On top of that, pets also need food, a wee wee pad for a dog, a litter box with litter for a cat, toys, and treats. Besides having to spend hundreds of dollars on them, they provide a great companion and are almost always there when you need to talk to someone. For the past six years, I have been the proud owner of my purebred Bengal cat named Spock. Although he's only seven years and four months old, he's taught me so much. Here's a few of the things that he has taught me.

Keep Reading...Show less

Kinder Self - Eyes

You're Your Own Best Friend

Kinder Self - Eyes

It's fun to see all of the selfies on social media, they are everywhere. I see pictures with pouty lips, duck lips and pucker lips. I see smokey eyes, huge fake lashes and nicely done nose jobs, boob jobs and butt lifts. Women working out in spandex, tiny tops and flip flops. I see tight abs and firm butts, manicured nails and toes, up dos and flowing hair. "Wow", I think to myself," I could apply tons of make-up, spend an hour on my hair, pose all day and not look like that. Maybe I need a longer stick!"

Keep Reading...Show less

Rap Songs With A Deeper Meaning

Rap is more than the F-bomb and a beat. Read what artists like Fetty, Schoolboy Q, Drake, and 2Pac can teach you.

Rap artist delivers performance on stage
Photo by Chase Fade on Unsplash

On the surface, rap songs may carry a surface perception of negativity. However, exploring their lyrics reveals profound hidden depth.Despite occasional profanity, it's crucial to look beyond it. Rap transcends mere wordplay; these 25 song lyrics impart valuable life lessons, offering insights that extend beyond the conventional perception of rap music.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments