An Open Letter to Keventers from Environmentalists and Animal Activists

Dear Sohrab Sitaram (and the Keventers Team),

Congratulations on heading towards making a 100-crore business. You come across as a good person, your entrepreneurial journey is commendable, and Keventers is an inspiration to a lot of brands and people.

Here’s the problem though. Your business is based on a product which is not fit for humans, animals or the environment (details at the end of this writing). You’ve been asked questions by animal activists and environmentalists independently in Pune and Chandigarh (and Chandigarh is a small city with less than 500 vegans). These questions are only going to increase in frequency. 338 Wisconsin (which produces more dairy than any other state in America) Dairy Farms have closed down this year, amid rise of vegan options.

But there’s a solution: Introduce at least one vegan milkshake to acknowledge the problem above, and take a responsible step in this direction. There’s a diverse set to choose from: Soy, coconut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, walnut, etc. A majority people don’t even find a difference in the taste in the final flavoured product.

Why can Keventers do it?

Your scale, your economics, your operations make it easier for you to adopt this solution. Keventers spends time, money and effort into researching indigenous solutions which save energy. You like to do your bit for the environment - glass bottles instead of plastic and paper straws instead of plastic. This is a huge step in that direction, and without the need of a huge investment. Don’t wait for the big brands like Amul, Mother Dairy, Hatsun Agro or Kwality to take a step. They’re wrong, doesn’t mean you have to be too. 

It’s possible and it’s happening:

  • IKEA to increase vegan options with dairy-free soft-serve ice cream.
  • Elmhurst, a mega dairy company, has completely changed its course by ditching dairy entirely.
  • Danone, a food company most famous for its yogurt, is investing up to $60 million in a plant-based beverage facility in Mount Crawford, Virginia.
  • Campbell’s decided to join the Plant Based Foods Association, a vegan lobbying group.
  • Unilever invested in a study on plant-based meats earlier this year, and the corporation owns Ben & Jerry’s, which has launched vegan versions of its popular ice cream flavors.
  • Tyson invested in the plant-based company Beyond Meat and launched a $150 million venture capital fund to invest in startups that develop meat substitutes.

One vegan product cannot be the justification of all the non-vegan products that you have, but it is a start. It shows the will to do something. It gives the hope that maybe someday, more people opt for vegan alternatives. We are, we know and we promote entrepreneurs, and we know that this is a big step. But the intent can take you a long way - Starbucks has committed to end all plastic straws by 2020 and that's 1 billion straws each year. It's not easy but it's also not impossible.

We would look forward to your actions. 

Regards,

The Earthr.org Team

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The Problem with Dairy in Detail

Besides humans (and companion animals who are fed by humans), no species drinks milk beyond their natural age of weaning or drinks the milk of another species. Cow’s milk is suited to the nutritional needs of calves, who have four stomachs and gain hundreds of pounds in a matter of months—sometimes weighing more than 1,000 pounds before they’re 2 years old. Cow’s milk does not suit the nutritional needs of humans, so it’s no wonder that consuming it and its derivatives causes us so many problems.

Human Health:

  • Everything in a cow’s milk - the hormones, the proteins, the lipids, the growth factors, the IgF - is for transforming a 65-pound calf into a 400-pound cow. It’s 'baby calf growth fluid’, it’s not meant for humans or our pets.
  • Milk actually depletes calcium from our bones and increases fracture risk, which is why the countries with the highest rate of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk!
  • Dairy consumption may lead to breast lumps, bigger uteruses, getting fibroids and may also give guys man-boobs.
  • After babies are weaned from breast milk or formula, they do not need any type of milk to be healthy.
  • Milk and cheese have been linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
  • The lactose in cow’s milk can be difficult for people to digest, resulting in nausea, cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhoea.
  • The consumption of all types of dairy products has been linked to an increased prevalence and severity of acne in both boys and girls.
  • A single serving of milk can contain as much as 24 mg of heart-harming cholesterol.
  • Cows are often pumped full of antibiotics to keep them alive and producing milk in filthy factory farm conditions. When humans are infected by these superbugs, antibiotics at best have decreased effectiveness and at worst are powerless.
  • A single serving of whole milk can contain more than 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance of artery-clogging saturated fat. 

Cruelty

  • Most cows raised for the dairy industry are intensively confined, leaving them unable to fulfill their most basic desires, such as nursing their calves, even for a single day. 
  • The stress caused by poor conditions on factory farms leads to lameness, disease, and reproductive problems rendering them useless at just 4-5 years old (their natural lifespan is 25 years) at which time they are sent to slaughter.
  • Calves are taken away from their mothers within hours of being born where they are fed milk substitutes and often sold as veal calves after spending months chained at the neck unable to walk, stretch their legs, and even turn around.
  • They are treated like milk-producing machines and are genetically manipulated and may be pumped full of antibiotics and hormones in order to produce more milk. 
  • Cows only produce milk to feed their young. To keep cows lactating, farmers impregnate them through artificial insemination once a year. This traumatic process is carried out by constraining cows in what is known by the industry as a “rape rack.”
  • No cow happily gives us their milk, we steal it. Mother cows are also forced to endure needless suffering and cruelty.
  • Painful inflammation of the mammary glands, or mastitis, is common among cows raised for their milk, and it is one of dairy farms’ most frequently cited reasons for sending cows to slaughter.
  • In addition to suffering from diarrhoea, pneumonia, and lameness, calves raised for veal are terrified and desperate for their mothers.

Environment: 

  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency reports that agricultural runoff is the primary cause of polluted lakes, streams, and rivers.
  • Producing just a single gallon of milk takes 1,000 gallons of water, the vast majority of which is used to grow crops to feed the cows. The global water footprint of animal agriculture is 2,422 billion cubic meters of water (one-fourth of the total global water footprint), 19% of which is related to dairy cattle.
  • Milk is about 87% water, so a cow that is constantly producing milk needs to sufficiently hydrated. A cow can drink 23 gallons of water a day, so given a facility with 700 cows, 16,100 gallons of water would be used every day for the cow’s drinking water.
  • Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Around 52% of the greenhouse gases produced by dairy is methane. It is estimated that cows produce between 250 and 500 litres of methane a day.
  • Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.
  • Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land.
  • A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people.
  • The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feedcrops. Up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction.
  • Worldwide, at least 50% of grain is fed to livestock.

Truth is: if she’s not your mom, it’s not your milk.

About Earthr.org

Earthr.org is a nonprofit foundation, trying to bring sustainability problems, solutions and entrepreneurs on a common platform through crowdsourcing in order to resolve crucial issues like Climate Change, Plastic Waste, Energy Crisis, Peace Conflicts among others. Learn about Earthr.org in less than 90 seconds.

References:

  • cowspiracy.com
  • theguardian.com
  • peta.org
  • sustainablefoodtrust.org
  • socialworkhelper.com