A vegetarians now has a modern challenge of finding milk and eggs that are compatible with an ethical vegetarian philosophy. The other two common reasons for being a vegetarian– environmental and health impacts. A vegetarian diet eschews food that requires killing for food, especially sentient beings. If we are to be ethically consistent, then we should find out how our dairy is being produced:
From an ethical standpoint,
What happens to the excess calves? What happens to old cows?
What is the quality of life for the cows? Are the in tiny pens or fields?
Do the cows eat their normal diet they would eat were they wild?
From an environmental stand point,
Does it require feeding large amounts of pesticide treated food to the cows?
How much pollution is created in creating and shipping milk?
And from a health standpoint,
What are the scientific facts about rBST?
Milk has always been a tricky product to get from cow to table without bacterial contamination: who performs best– organic, small, medium or large dairies?
Organic: This means the cow ate organic food. The could could have been raised in inhumane conditions or fed grain, which isn’t what makes for healthy happy cows.
rBST Free: This is a very limited filter and means that the cow didn’t get hormones to increase milk production.
Local: Food shouldn’t be shipped from far away. Often local also means “small farms” and “traditional farming methods” as opposed to factory farming, but not necessarily.
Vegan: This is something of an animal liberation ideology– that animals shouldn’t be part of the human economy.
Family Owned Farm: May mean that the farm is able to take in consideration non-market criteria in choice about production, where as a share holder owned farm is likely to choose inhumane farming techniques as long as it cuts costs, raises output more than any expected losses in sales from customer outrage.
Grass Fed. Cows don’t like eating grain. It’s bad for their health and makes them get fat rapidly.
Certified Humane. This program looks new. At the store I’ve only seen certified humane eggs, nothing for milk yet.