Are Cows Killed for Cheese? Here’s the Biggest Misconception About Dairy

True or false: Cows are killed for cheese. If you think the dairy industry is any less deadly than the meat industry, you’re in for a rude awakening.

If you buy cheese, you’re paying someone to kill cows.

Eating cheese is no less cruel than eating meat: After cows used for dairy production spend their entire lives being forcibly separated from their beloved babies and being treated as milk machines, they’re slaughtered for burgers and other meat.

Here’s something for vegetarians to consider: Is eating cheese even worse than eating meat?

The difference between the meat industry and the dairy industry isn’t that animals are killed for one and not the other—it’s that cows killed for beef are typically slaughtered when they’re roughly 18 months old, while cows killed for cheese and other dairy “products” are slaughtered after four to five miserable years (once their bodies have become worn out from constantly being pregnant or lactating). Their pre-slaughter living nightmares include being denied care, like this cow at Reitz Dairy Farm who was left to suffer with a painful grapefruit-size mass that oozed blood and pus …

… or this cow, named Caroline by our undercover investigator, who developed painful lameness and favored one of her hooves. She was found dead in a barn stall after Reitz Dairy’s farm manager failed to provide her with any care:

Our investigator also observed cows limping along gingerly on floors slick with waste, including in the very room where the milk that they had produced for their calves was taken from them to be sold and made into cheese.

At Reitz Dairy, one cow became trapped in a stall after being milked. Rather than helping to free her, a worker hit her on the hindquarters, legs, and udder nearly 60 times with a hard cane—deliberately targeting her sensitive udder:

He also kicked her over and over again:

When not being milked, artificially inseminated, or—worst of all—deprived of their babies, cows at Reitz Dairy tried to rest in these cramped, barren stalls.

These cows are milked for the National Farmers Organization, which says that it ships most of its Pennsylvania dairy suppliers’ milk to a company that makes cheese. And our Reitz Dairy Farm exposé spotlights just one farm and reveals only some of the routine cruelty in the dairy industry. So the next time you reach for dairy cheesestop! Instead, think of the bond that mother cows and their babies share, which is particularly strong—there are countless reports of mother cows who’ve continued to call and search frantically for their calves after they’d been taken away and sold to veal or beef farms. Or think of Caroline, left to die in the same feces- and urine-covered environment where she was forced to spend all her time.

For Cows’ Sake, Opt for Delicious Vegan Cheese

By supporting the dairy industry, you’re also supporting the meat industry—the only way around it is to go vegan and support neither. And with so many delicious vegan cheese options available in stores and even online, there’s no excuse for not ditching dairy cruelty.

Everything You Need to Know About Vegan Cheese

If you want to do more to help cows suffering for dairy, please click on the button below to urge the National Farmers Organization to reconsider its affiliation with suffering and filth such as that documented at Reitz Dairy Farm.

National Farmers Organization: Do the Right Thing

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind