by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY
An update on the progress of the UK's Ahimsa Milk and their efforts to produce milk while ensuring that no cows or bulls are harmed in the process, for the natural life of the animal: Now Londoners can begin having Ahimsa's slaughter-free milk home delivered.
The Independent reports that 50 families have signed up so far. The £2.25/L ($14.02/G) price tag is divided up as £1 for production of the milk, £0.65 towards a pension fund for the cows (to pay for their upkeep and vet bills once they reach old age), and £0.60 for administration and overhead costs. Delivery is an additional 15p.
While that price is well over double what most people are currently paying for milk, what really sets Ahimsa Milk apart is how well the animals are cared for.
All are retired after their last calf (usually around 13 years) and then cared for for the rest of their natural lives; all cows are bred to have only five calves in their lives, every two years; male calves are reared to work the land on the farm, rather than being sold off and eventually killed.
The price may be higher for slaughter-free milk, but if this was the norm the price very well come down and/or everyone's expectation would adjust accordingly. Plus, if it costs double to produce milk while not just treating cows and bulls solely as machines that humans can do whatever they like with, and ensuring that they live out their natural lives in healthy conditions, then that seems like a very fair trade off to me.
Obviously if you're a vegan and believe that no animals should be involved in agriculture (which I'm not sure is an ecologically tenable position, as Sami has pointed out), then even these steps are likely to be unpersuasive.
And if your only concern is the price tag, not concerning yourself with externalized costs either to the animals involved or the environment more broadly, then vegetarian or omnivore alike a doubling in price is probably too much to bear.
But, in case it's unclear from my tone, from this vegetarian's perspective Ahimsa Milk is very much on the right track here.
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