Watching the Oscars on Feb. 9, 2020, my love and respect doubled for award-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix, when I heard his award acceptance speech addressing social justice issues like gender inequality, racism, queer rights, women's rights and animal rights. It was inspiring and beautiful. His way of using his fame as a platform to shine light on systemic animal abuse in the dairy industry is admirable.
He said, “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk that's intended for her calf and put it in our coffee and our cereal."
Most people believe that cows are born to give us milk. In reality, cows just don't give milk, they give milk because they are mothers. Dairy farmers artificially inseminate cows, mainly because natural mating is time consuming and costs a lot of money. In a way that is morally questionable, even little children are taught this process. For example, a Family Day Event that is hosted by University of Florida's Dairy Unit let little children practice the artificial insemination technique on a large replica of a cow that is anatomically correct.
Cows give birth after nine months of pregnancy. The newborn calves are raised in isolation, chained in small hutches. Cows, like other mammals, form strong bonds with their newborn babies. They bellow for days after separation. Due to back-to-back pregnancies and births with the help of drugs and genetic manipulation, they produce abnormally large quantities of milk. Meanwhile, it destroys their reproductive system at a very young age. They are then sent to a slaughterhouse.
More than half of the world's human population cannot digest dairy milk because they are lactose intolerant. Cows produce milk for newborn calves to help them grow into 600-pound cows in just a few months. Despite this fact, every single elementary school in Rock Springs encourages children to drink milk during their meals at school.
Additionally, methane gas and manure created at dairy farms cause air and water pollution problems.
The main reason this disease causing, environment destroying, animal exploiting dairy industry still exists, is because of its ties with some powerful people in institutions. For example, Trump gave $28 billion of taxpayer's money as a bailout to dairy farmers. Also, the former agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, is a Joe Biden surrogate and is also the president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Ben Cohen, who is one of Bernie Sander's co-chairs, is also a co-founder of the Vermont ice cream company Ben and Jerry's. Elizabeth Warren co-sponsored the bad Dairy Pride Act.
Living in a powerful corrupt system that systemically abuses animals and destroys our environment with taxpayer's dollars, there is still some hope, when famous people like Joaquin Phoenix expose the dirty dairy industry in front of millions of people, then you can't love people like him more than you already do.