For starters, animal products that lacto-ovo vegetarians eat (cow’s milk and eggs) have a strong relationship to DEATH because cow’s milk and chicken eggs are only produced by females. The male has no value in the production system, thus he is often killed. Baby chicks who are unlucky enough to be born male are often gassed, suffocated, or crushed. Male calves are often confined in small crates and slaughtered at a young age to become “veal.”
Next, most milk and eggs come from factory environments, which means that the females who are kept alive to produce milk or eggs suffer tremendously. The cows are often pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, confined to small spaces and fed corn or soy unnaturally, overused and abused, and lastly, they are slaughtered at a fraction of of their lifespan (around 4 years of age when they can live into their teens). The chickens are often crammed into cages or barns, and like cows they’re given hormones and antibiotics, overused and abused.
Granted, the relationship to animal suffering through lacto-ovo vegetarianism is not as direct as is the relationship between animal suffering and meat consumption, but the relationship still exists, in almost all cases. Granted, the lacto-ovo vegetarian is eating a diet that is less cruel than the meat-eater’s diet, but the diet is still unnecessarily cruel.
But more than suffering, there is a separate issue. There is the problem of treating another living being as a commodity, specifically, treating another living, sentient being who not only has a will to live, but also a will to love. There is the problem of treating animals as commodities, the problem of the property status of animals. That’s a HUGE ethical problem.
If you care about animals, you want what’s best for them. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply ask and they could simply tell? Well, in some ways we can tell what’s best for them. We can understand the basics: cow’s milk is for baby cows, not us. Swathes of unfertilized chicken’s eggs are not common, nor are they natural. Only an UNNATURAL environment, an environment without a rooster, would produce unfertilized chicken’s eggs.
And just to quell the standard farmer’s response that “cows need to be milked”: Cows don’t need to be milked any more than humans need to be milked. Mammals create milk for their babies, yes. And if their babies die or are removed/killed by a farmer, they continue to produce milk for a while, yes. And that excess milk can be painful, yes. But does that mean humans should take it and drink it? No. Cow’s milk does not belong to humans.
And just to quell the response that “eggs are nature’s bounty”: chicken’s eggs are no more a natural human food than are fingernail clippings, placentas, or cloned meat. Chickens, hens specifically, produce unfertilized eggs, yes. And if the rooster dies or is removed/ killed, the hens continue to produce eggs, yes. And those eggs remain unfertilized, yes. But does that mean humans should take them and eat them? No. Neither chickens nor their eggs belong to humans.
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