Many people, specifically vegetarians, like to pretend consuming animal products is okay, while consuming an animal is cruel. But the truth is, the two are inextricably linked, and dairy cows have it the worst.
Dairy cows can become so over-milked over the years that they undergo calcium depletion and are barely able to stand properly (or at all) on their weak bones.
These cows are bought for slaughter at around 1/10th the price of a healthy cow, and make up 17% of slaughterhouse meat.
Typically, they have often been milked for several years, leaving their bodies without the muscle, fat and calcium of grazing, well-fed beef cattle. Some dairy cows appear emaciated when they are sold to slaughter plants, their hides stretched tight over their hindquarters and ribs.
Dairy cows can also carry some common maladies, including mastitis, a bacterial infection of the udder; foot rot, which they can develop from standing for long periods in manure, mud and damp straw; and Johne's (pronounced yo-neez) disease, a wasting illness.
Scientists believe these diseases are not carried into the human food chain, with one possible exception: Health and animal scientists are currently debating whether the traits of Johne's are responsible for Crohn's disease in humans. Crohn's disease is an intestinal disorder that can cause inflammation of the colon, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and weight loss.