Q. If vegans object to eating or drinking dairy products from cows, do they have an objection to babies consuming human breast milk?
A. “Of course not,” says Jennifer Greene, 48, of Bellport, founder of the Vegan Long Island Meetup group, a community for anyone who is vegan or moving in the direction of a plant-based diet. Vegans, like vegetarians, avoid eating meat, but in addition choose not to eat eggs or dairy products. Greene’s been a vegan for 15 years, yet she breast-fed her own son.
It’s not the cow’s milk product itself that vegans object to, Greene explains. They don’t drink milk as a protest of what vegans consider the exploitation of the dairy cows. “For them to keep lactating, they have to keep having babies,” Greene says. Their male offspring become sold for meat, and when the dairy cows stop being profitable, they will also be sold, she says. “There’s harm inherent in the dairy business,” she argues. (That’s the same reason they object to eating eggs — because of the treatment of the hens, she says.)
Also, the milk being produced by the cows isn’t being used to nourish their own offspring; it’s being consumed by humans, she says.
When a human mother breast-feeds, the mother is consenting; she isn’t being used for a profit, and the milk is being used for its natural intended purpose, Greene says. “By definition, human milk is meant for human babies,” she says. “There are only benefits from breast-feeding your baby. ”