Full story: E-The Environmental Magazine
It turns out that suffering-free cheese is nearly impossible to come by. The problem for sympathetic vegetarians begins with the sourcing of milk. In factory farming dairies, milk cows are typically dosed with bovine growth hormone (BGH) to push milk production to 70 pounds per day or more. BGH promotes mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder. Then there’s routine dosing with antibiotics to compensate for the spread of diseases on giant, crowded feedlots.
The natural life span of dairy cows is 20-25 years but they are slaughtered at four or five years because they are lame from confinement or otherwise “used up.” A spokesperson for organic milk says their milk cows are generally allowed to live a few years longer than those on factory farms but are still slaughtered for beef well before the end of their natural lives.
And there is still the issue of what happens to male calves. Milk cows have to be re-impregnated about once a year to maintain milk production, and only the female calves have value as replacement milk cows. In factory farms, male calves are slated for veal production or castrated without painkillers, fattened to maturity and slaughtered.
This story is sourced from the USA but the issues remain the same: vegetarian rennet or not, have you thought through all your eating choices?