Some people who don’t consume meat for ethical reasons have turned to “slighter-free” milk, produced on farms that don’t kill dairy cows or their offspring.
It’s a logical extension to the philosophy of those who find the pain most farm animals endure hard to swallow (no pun intended). But while slaughter-free milk is good for cows, it may not be good for the environment.
A new report from Grist highlights the environmental impact of a large cow population. Cows are the single largest producers of methane – a greenhouse gas – in the U.S. A single cow’s guts can, err, emit enough methane to match the average car’s carbon emissions.
The more milk producers become slaughter free, the more methane-producing cows. As far back as 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that the world’s bovine population accounted for 18 percent of total greenhouse-gas emissions.
Consequently, the only solution that can satisfy both animal-rights and environmental concerns may be to simply consume less milk, but is a change in eating habits that large even possible?