When I was growing up, one of the most common sights on our street and around the neighbourhood was the milkman. A cheerful fella in gloves that had the finger tips missing so he could grip the bottles, driving his float around the town shortly after, sometimes even before dawn.
He was an everyday sight and was well known to most of the residents. A few of my friends even had a job with him at various times as the “milk boy”.
I can’t remember exactly when the milkman stopped being a thing; I seem to remember less and less people got their milk delivered until I guess it became uneconomic and the “dairy”, which was on the high street, shut down.
I mention this with some nostalgia, not because I was ever a customer of his, just because it reminds me of my youth, living with my brother and sisters, at home with my parents.
As a child (albeit a vegan child) I never really understood the misery imposed on the animals that provide us with milk. As an adult and a vegan activist I am fully aware of the horrors associated with it. Most though it appears are not. Milk is in so many of the foods that we eat even though it is entirely unnecessary.
None of us could ever imagine being eaten and the stories of cannibalistic tribes, deep in the jungle, are the thing of childhood nightmares. Neither though could any of us imagine a life of extreme torture and torment, of incarceration, heartbreak and agony, and then being eaten. This though is the difference between an animal raised for meat and one raised for milk. Drinking milk is in every way as bad as eating meat and when you really think about it, it’s far worse.
Gone are the days when vegetarians got a pass because they “only drink milk and eat cheese” and we can debate all we like about how a vegetarians footprint on the world of animal suffering is smaller than a carnivore, it’s simply not. Vegetarianism was fine in the past as we were waking up to the horrors of animal agriculture, now our eyes are fully open, veganism has to be the baseline.
I don’t have a problem with reminiscing about my youth, the cheerful milkman plying his trade of a morning, whistling a happy tune as he went, but those days are gone. We have no need to forcefully impregnate cows and to separate mothers from their children; we have no need for their milk.