Cruelty-Free Milk: Is Ethical Milk Possible?

Cruelty-free milk is probably the milk with the highest level of dispute. While many people think it’s illogical and unachievable, others strongly believe that it exists and is achievable.

In recent years, the world has seen a lot of agitation for ethical food production methods. Some are in a bid to make the environment safe and conducive for humans while others are all about the safety and feelings of the animals.

The growing need for cruelty-free milk is a perfect example. To perfectly understand this method of milk production and its possibility, there are some things that you should know. Continue reading to learn all you need to.

What is cruelty-free milk?

Cruelty milk is a type of milk obtained through ethical methods. Cruelty-free milk should be sourced from cattle that were taken care of in the most humane ways possible.

Before milk receives a gluten-free certification, it must go through a verification and approval by AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) to ensure that the animals were truly raised on a range and were at liberty to live as they would in their natural habitat.

Furthermore, a third-party organization needs to confirm that the animals were well fed, lived healthily, were handled carefully, and weren’t subject to restrictive movement.

This is a summary of the five freedoms of animal welfare which are standards to receive the Animal Humane certification.

The five freedoms of animal welfare are:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury, or disease
  • Freedom from fear and distress
  • Freedom to express normal behaviors

Types of cruelty-free milk

There are two types of cruelty-free dairy farming. They are:

Slaughter-free milk

Slaughter-free milk is gotten from cattle that are not sent to slaughter.

Dairy farms that uphold this practice are bound by certain regulations that make sure that the farm operations are suitable and humane enough for the cattle.

However, there are still arguments that this type of milk is not 100% cruelty-free.

There are reports that farms that claimed to operate with humane regulations were caught doing otherwise to the animals.

Plant-based milk

Plant-based milk has a greater guarantee as cruelty-free. They are of plant origin and do not involve the exploitation or inhumane treatment of any animal.

Moreover, they are healthy and a better fit for people with dairy allergies or lactose intolerance.

Examples of plant-based milk include soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, flaxseed milk, coconut milk, oat milk, hemp milk, and rice milk.

SEE: Find Out If Milk Is A Food Or Drink

Can the dairy industry be cruelty-free?

Transforming the dairy industry into a cruelty-free milk production body is indeed daring. With the modalities involved in raising cattle for cruelty-free milk, it seems impossible to make this change to the dairy industry.

Is organic dairy farming a solution to unethical practices?

No, it is not. Organic dairy farming is not cruelty-free except the farm owners make it so. Instead, it is a way of raising cattle without pesticides, antibiotics, and synthetic fertilizers.

Organic farming can be a solution to the unethical practice if dairy farmers will adhere to the rules and regulations that will give earn them the Animal Humane certification.

Is cruelty-free milk the same as vegan milk?

Yes and no. How? All vegan kinds of milk are cruelty-free milk but not every cruelty-free milk is vegan because some of them are of animal origin.

SEE: Get a Chance to Win a $500 Gift Card When You Visit the Fresh Market

Is there cruelty-free lactose-free milk?

Yes, there is. Cruelty-free, lactose-free milk is plant-based cruelty-free milk. These types of milk are not of animal origin; therefore, they do not contain the milk sugar – lactose.  

SEE: Here’s Why Lactose-Free Milk Still Makes You Sick

What brands sell cruelty-free milk?

Hart Dairy

Hart Dairy produces 100% cruelty-free milk. The cattle are raised on a free range and are fed with healthy, green grass.

The brand is Animal Welfare Approved and earth friendly. Moreover, it is creamy milk that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which makes it healthy.

Mother Cow Dairy

Mother Cow Dairy is 100% cruelty-free and slaughter-free.

Plus, the animals are free-range livestock.

In addition, the cows raised on the farm do not undergo insemination. So, they get pregnant naturally and get to spend adequate time with their young calves.

Organic Pastures

This brand is certified humane. Organic Pastures run an animal-friendly farm whereby the animals stroll around the farm.

They are also at liberty to walk into the barn for milking and leave when the farmworkers are through with them. According to their website, their goal is to raise happy cows.

Is dairy farming crueler than beef farming?

Sadly, yes, it is.

If you compare the journeys of these two cows before they are slaughtered, you’ll see that the beef cattle are luckier. Beef cattle are slaughtered earlier than dairy cattle.

Beef cattle are raised and live for 1 to 3 years before they are slaughtered to provide beef. Moreover, they do not give birth to young ones, so they do not know the pain of parting with their calves.

On the other hand, dairy cattle part ways with their calves within 24 hours of birth.

The dairy farmers need all the milk they can get and won’t lose it to a calf. But they need the cows to get pregnant, so there can be a continuous milk supply.

Dairy cows are inseminated yearly so they can get pregnant and produce milk. After some years, when the cow can no longer produce milk, it is slaughtered for beef.

SEE: How Many Glasses Of Milk Should You Drink Per Day?

machine milking - cheffist


Which milk is most ethical?

Plant-based types of milk are the most ethical milk when compared to cow’s milk. Although, among these vegan milk, some of them are more environment-friendly than others.

For instance, almond milk produces the lowest greenhouse gas emissions while rice milk produces the highest.

Can milk truly be cruelty-free?

Yes, it can be.

Plant-based and slaughter-free milk are types of cruelty-free milk. Moreover, some people believe that machine milking is a more ethical method of getting milk from dairy cattle.

Does milking hurt cows?

Milking a cow should not hurt if there is no infection on the udder. A cow’s udder becomes infected if does not nurse its calf and if it is not milked quickly.

The only pain a cow may feel will be during the first days of separation from its calf. And this pain is emotional or psychological.


If you are keen on ethical food choices, you are definitely for cruelty-free milk.

You can either get this type of milk from plants or slaughter-free animals. While this practice doesn’t seem achievable to some, it certainly is if you’re sticking with plant-based milk.

Cruelty-free milk is achievable as long as you put ethical methods in place when milking a cow. But if you wouldn’t have any of that, stick with plant-based milk. Moreover, this type of milk is perfect for dairy allergies.

Thanks for reading.

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