In recent years, awareness of the inherent cruelty of the dairy industry is growing, while at the same time many folks have turned to consuming more “niche” animal breast milks. This happens because of the false sense of ethical dairy consumption that the “humane myth” provides us. Whether it’s a goat’s milk or a camel’s milk, there is no ethical way to steal the breast milk, made for their baby, away from a lactating mother.
ABC News AU published a story a few days ago about QCamel, a camel dairy in Queensland, Australia expanding their business into agritourism by doubling their farm as a petting zoo and offering camel rides. As a vegan travel blogger opposed to exploiting animals for entertainment and food, I was disturbed by this story. Owner Lauren Brisbane boasts that the dairy is the only one in the world of its kind to gain organic certification and uses the words “ethical” and “sustainable” to describe their product.
To begin, I want to clarify that there is no such thing as “ethical” or “humane” milk when it comes from a lactating mother, regardless of species, who did not consent to having their milk taken away. It is a violation of their motherhood and bodily autonomy. One detail that the owner of the dairy failed to include in her story was how the female camels become pregnant in the first place.
Artificial insemination is an often-used practice in the dairy industry, a highly-invasive process that is also used on camels. Another standard practice of the dairy industry is slaughtering newborn males who are often seen as “garbage” because they will never be able to produce milk.
This is a question that we should be asking QCamel: Where are the newborn males going in order to preserve your herd size?
As if to applaud their actions, the article says: “Unlike most dairy calves, camel calves are kept with their mothers for up to two years, with the choice of when to wean them left up to the mothers.” It also says that letting the babies nurse off of their mothers while being milked by a machine “encourages the milk to flow.”
Again, what happens to the males after the two years, if they will not be able to produce milk? It seems as if they are kept around to encourage their mother’s milk to flow. Keeping mothers and babies together is not something heroic – it is basic decency.
On the topic of sustainability, Dave Simon reports: “On a planet where water is not only the origin of all life but is also the key to its survival, animal agriculture siphons off a hugely disproportionate share of this increasingly scarce resource.” “The 4,000 gallons required to produce one hamburger is more than the average native of the Congo uses in a year. (6) And the 3 million gallons used to raise a single, half-ton beef steer would comfortably float a battleship. (7)” Livesince.com says that camels can “drink 30 gallons (113 liters) of water in just 13 minutes.”
Consider three things:
1) We do not need the breast milk of other species to survive. As Free From Harm’s website states, “Humans are the only mammals that drink milk, the secretions of the mammary glands, of another animal, though most of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. While chronic diseases remain almost nonexistent in populations that consume little or no meat and dairy, affluent populations commonly have rates of chronic diseases in direct proportion to the extent that they consume these foods.”
2) Animals are not commodities. The article says, “The farm, based in Bells Creek on the Sunshine Coast, has diversified to also offer regular cuddle-a-camel days and camel tours for singles nights.” Not only are the camels being profited off of for their milk, but are also being forced to work in agritourism as well. In our first version of this post, we made the mistake of sharing that QCamel provides camel rides. This is inncorrect. Another farm further north at Scrubby Creek near Gympie, named Camelot Dairies, does camel rides.
3) A major Coronavirus outbreak is linked to camels. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must reflect on how we humans cause our own suffering and death by exploiting animals. On MERS, The WHO states: “The route of transmission from animals to humans is not fully understood, but dromedary camels are the major reservoir host for MERS-CoV and an animal source of infection in humans.”
So, should we really be using this many resources for an unnecessary product, all while exploiting the bodies and motherhood of camels at the same time? I think not.
Email QCamel and ask them to make the compassionate switch, as many other former animal farmers have already done. They can transition to a camel sanctuary where camels are not milked or otherwise used for human profit, and instead produce plant-based milk.