Is ‘Cruelty-Free Cheese’ an Oxymoron?
by Sarah S. Mosko, PhD
- E-Magazine as “The Cheese Challenge: Ethical Cheese is Hard to Come By,” Sept/Oct 2011
- Surf City Voice, 03 Mar 2011
Attitudes about animal rights and welfare often shape dietary choices.
At one end of the spectrum are strict vegans who eschew foods containing any animal products. At the other end are unapologetic meat-eaters who flinch not even at the prospect of eating veal from calves separated from their mothers at birth, confined for months within tiny crates designed to prevent all exercise and foster tender “gourmet” meat, and fed an iron-deficient milk substitute to induce anemia and pale-looking flesh. In the middle perhaps are ovo-lacto vegetarians who allow eggs, cheese and other milk products, but no meat.
Vegetarianism is on the rise in America. According to a 2008 survey published by Vegetarian Times magazine, 3.2 percent of adults follow a vegetarian diet and another 10 percent follow a vegetarian-inclined diet. Even among meat-eaters, five percent said they were “definitely interested” in switching to a vegetarian diet in the future.
Of the reasons vegetarians gave for their choice of diet, animal welfare was mentioned most often, so it’s a safe assumption that vegetarians are often compelled by a belief that no animals suffered or died for the animal products they consume. But is this really possible?