It’s nearly October, and that means that National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is almost upon us in the United States. The month is dedicated to raising awareness about the type of cancer that claims the lives of tens of thousands of women every year in the U.S. alone. During October, countless amounts of businesses within the nation participate by either sharing information or contributing to organizations that further breast cancer research or support diagnosed men and women. This year, one of those business is Agri-Plastics, a manufacturer of “dairy calf housing solutions.”
These housing solutions that Agri-Plastics build are called calf hutches, and they are “designed to help protect dairy calves from disease and the elements, and keep them safe, healthy and comfortable at each stage of their development,” according to Hutches for Hope. The two businesses are partnering up to sell pink calf hutches in order to donate money to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) at a maximum donation of $ 30,000 through the month of October. In an attempt to distract people from the irony of this gesture, Agri-Plastics is also trying to blur the lines drawn between the dairy industry and cancer.
The first issue that many have pointed out is that this gesture, which is inherently pro-women, is ironic because of the dairy industry’s treatment of female cows. While many believe that it is only the meat industry that has been found to engage in animal cruelty, it’s actually well-known amongst animal rights advocates that the dairy industry not only mistreats their cows but also feeds directly into the dairy industry.
These agribusinesses start off by artificially inseminating their female cows with what’s self-described as a “rape rack” in the industry and then cruelly take the newborn calves away from their mothers on the same day they are born. This action is a central part of the dairy industry, as female cows will only produce milk for about a year after giving birth and the industry doesn’t want to waste any of that milk on feeding the newborn, though the milk was actually intended for that baby. They place these babies in calf hutches, often by themselves, and their fate depends on what sex they are. If they are male, they are kept alive in these hutches for about 2 months, then shipped to a slaughterhouse to become veal. If they are female, they will be raised into adulthood and repeatedly raped, inseminated, and milked until they are no longer useful, then shipped to a slaughterhouse. Not exactly “pro-women.”
An even bigger connection that people are making hits much closer to home because the vast majority of people consume dairy and also because 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. The connection is something that is still in development but has come to light in recent years, despite being called “inconclusive.” According to recent scientific studies, the consumption of dairy could increase a person’s risk of developing cancer, specifically prostate, ovarian, testicular, and breast cancer. Not only could it increase the risk but it could also increase a person’s likelihood of dying from breast cancer. More studies need to be conducted to improve upon this hypothesis, but the negative relationship between dairy that wasn’t made to be consumed by humans in the first place and the cancer that humans get is palpable.
It’s likely that you personally are not a dairy farmer, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help put an end to dairy and the causal relationship it has with cancer. As a consumer, you can make choices that limit the amount of dairy you consume and lessen the amount of cows being killed for food while also reducing your risk of developing cancer. It’s never too late to make dietary changes that affect your health.