Salt & Straw - Go Vegan
To the owners & employees of Salt & Straw,
I would first like to start by introducing myself and the non-profit organization presenting you with this letter. My name is Cheyanne Holliday, and I am the President & Founder of PEACE: Promoting Equality, Acceptance & Compassion Everywhere. We are a Portland-based group with an abolitionist stance on the enslavement, oppression and exploitation of all beings. We would like to commend this company for their remarkable advocacy of social justice and workplace equality. In addition, we are grateful for the increasing number of vegan flavors offered at your locations.
PEACE would like to encourage Salt & Straw to expand their advocacy program to encompass all aspects of social justice. In order to do this, we would like to explain how serving animal-based products is harmful to the environment, workers, animals, and the customers consuming these products. Salt & Straw’s primary contribution to the animal agriculture industry is intertwined with the serving of dairy-based ice cream. Due to this, this letter’s central focus will be on the dairy industry.
Years of deceptive advertising has the general public believing that all dairy cows live on a green pasture with their calves and live out a happy life until they naturally pass away. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Dairy cows are typically brought into this world via artificial insemination. Farmers will restrain female cows before sticking one of their hands into her anus to locate her cervix. The farmer will then insert the insemination rod filled with bull semen into her vagina and forcibly impregnate her. If the process was successful, then the mother cow will have a nine month pregnancy before giving birth to her calf. A majority of calves in the dairy industry are taken from their mothers less than 24 hours after birth. The purpose of this is so that the mother cow’s baby doesn’t drink the milk that the farmer intends to sell.
Males have virtually no economic value in the dairy industry unless they are chosen as breeders. Due to this, male calves are often killed immediately after birth. Their bodies will sometimes be sold as dog food. If they are not killed instantly, then it is most likely because they are being raised for veal or beef. In both scenarios, they will live a short life that will end in a horrific and brutal death. 21 million calves in the dairy industry are slaughtered for veal or cheap beef each and every year.
Exploitation of the female reproductive system is the entire basis of the dairy industry, and females are essential for this process. Females in the dairy industry will often be taken from their mothers shortly after birth and taken to a calf-raising facility. In these facilities, calves will be raised for the first 2-3 months of their lives in small hutches, while being fed a milk replacement as humans drink the milk intended for them. The calf will soon be moved to join a herd of cows until when at the age of two, she will be impregnated and further the intergenerational trauma that dairy cows are forced into. Once she has given birth, her baby will be stolen from her and the cycle I just described will repeat again.
Due to selective breeding and genetic manipulation, a single cow can now produce the quantity of milk that only ten cows could several years ago. This milk will be taken from her by machine, 2-3 times a day, every day. To ensure a steady milk supply, she will be impregnated every year until she is deemed unprofitable. Dairy cows have a natural lifespan of 20-25 years. In the dairy industry, where they are treated as machines, they are often considered “spent” at around 4-5 years of age and then sent to slaughter.
While non-human animals are clearly exploited in this aggressive industry, human-rights violations occur on a day-to-day basis on typical dairy farms. Dairy workers are injured at a significantly high rate: Between 2004 and 2007, a recorded 7 out of 100 dairy workers were injured annually on average. In addition to working with heavy machinery and tormented animals, they also breathe in air laced with bacteria and manure dust, which puts them at risk for long-term respiratory disease.
High Country News collected data showing that between the years of 2003-2009, at least 18 people died in Western dairies. Their cause of death ranged from tractor accidents to being crushed by charging bulls, to asphyxiation by gases from manure lagoons and corn silage. Many others survived with lost limbs, brain injuries and mountains of hospital bills. These statistics, however frightening, don’t display the entirety of the situation. Dairy workers are often undocumented immigrants. The terrifying threat of deportation and the possible loss of their job, silences them. Despite often working 10-12 hour shifts with little to no breaks, these workers are often paid minimum wage and have virtually no workers rights or labor unions.
In addition to workers rights, the effects on human rights in regards to environmental destruction and resource consumption is enormous. Dairy cows release tremendous quantities of greenhouse gases such as methane (which has adverse effects that are 23 times higher than that of CO2), directly into the atmosphere. This is one of the leading causes of climate change, which has already been displaying deadly effects, particularly in vulnerable regions with populations primarily consisting of people of color, women and children.
Furthermore, dairy farms often lead to the destruction of natural habitats, the degradation of soil quality and the loss of native species. For example, over 3/4ths of the rainforests cleared in the Amazon is due to animal agriculture, particularly cattle ranching. Dairy farms’ destruction continues to increase, as frequently poor managed manure and animal feed leads to water pollution, which can have deadly effects for the locals as well as many of the surrounding wildlife species.
“There’s strong evidence that large scale industrial livestock confinement operations can generate dangerous amounts of air contamination that’s harmful to public health and air quality.”
– attorney Lauren Goldberg, regarding the threat of methane and ammonia
Water pollution further increases the chances of water wars that are already beginning to stir in middle eastern regions and war-torn nation states. With that in mind, the following statements must be considered mindfully and taken with utmost seriousness:
On average, a single pound of beef takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce when all factors are considered. With approximately 9 million dairy cows in the U.S. alone, each drinking about 12,000 gallons of water annually (this is a very low estimate that does not including water used for feed, cleaning, transportation, etc.) Approximately 108 billion gallons of water are consumed by cows used in the dairy industry every year. Worldwide, there are about 264 million dairy cows at any given moment. Every year, these cows directly drink over 3 trillion gallons of water.
In comparison, when considering the same factors, one human will consume about 365 gallons of water a year (high estimate). Right now, about 844 million people worldwide do not have access to clean drinking water. Annually, over 308 billion gallons of drinking water are not accessible to those who need them. Next to many of these areas facing water insecurity are dairy farms in which cows will never face the worry of not having enough food or water for the duration of their enslavement. If we were to stop forcibly breeding dairy cows into existence and wasting over 3 trillion gallons of water every year just for their consumption, we could drastically change the climate regarding water insecurity.
According to the non-profit organization, Climate Healers, year zero will be in 2026: just 7 years away. Following simple calculations referencing wild species loss within the past 50 years, scientists have calculated that by 2026, there will be no wild animals left on Earth. Furthering this terrifying announcement, the United Nations recently announced a report saying that we have 12 years to change our behavior before irreversible climate genocide takes place. In this scenario, humans are likely to be wiped out along with all of the other species we have slaughtered with our ignorant, arrogant, and destructive consumption patterns.
Moreover, even if these disheartening studies didn’t exist, humans are NOT baby cows, and therefore have no need to consume their milk. Cows are gentle, loving and affectionate individuals with complex emotions. They are intelligent, have the ability to think critically, and they deeply love their babies. Cows have no desire to be owned and controlled by us, nor do they wish to have their children stolen from them. In addition to all of this, drinking cow’s milk has a multitude of destructive effects on the human body. Despite years of false advertising, drinking dairy does not reduce bone fracture or prevent osteoporosis. In fact, according to the Large Nurses’ Health Study, it may increase the risk of bone fracture by up to 50%.
Adding to this study, reviews of countries with the lowest dairy consumption have also shown the lowest rates of osteoporosis. Dairy consumption has also been correlated with the increased production of Insulin Growth Factor 1, which is a known cancer promoter. A majority of the world, about 75%, is lactose intolerant, meaning that they cannot properly digest milk not from their own species. Simply put, we have no need whatsoever to consume another species’ milk.
As your vegan flavors have displayed, dairy is not necessary in order to produce delicious and nutritious ice cream that customers love. As a company and as individuals, you have the power to change the world and step into the forefront of social and climate advocacy. We would like to urge you to ditch dairy and switch to 100% vegan ice creams while promoting a peaceful future for all.
Thank you for your time,
We encourage you to embrace your power to change the world,
President & Founder of PEACE
The first PEACE demonstration at Salt & Straw in Portland, Oregon.