Food Bullying Podcast

Animal welfare, veal, and filtered milk – ask a vet! Episode 73


This episode features a wide-ranging conversation with a veterinarian about how farmers care for their animals, the challenges of being a vet, and the story of Fairlife Milk. 

Dr. Marissa Hake is a veterinarian who specializes in communicating about how our food is raised. Marissa’s background has been in calf health and welfare but recently has transitioned into a new position as the Director of Animal Welfare and Sustainable Farming for Fairlife.

Key points:

What should consumers know about farmers caring for animals?

  • Dr. Hake sees farmers working hard every day and putting animal needs above all else.
  • Consumers tend to personify animals and compare them to children and pets. Farm animals are different.
  • Farmers care deeply for the well-being of their animals, but sometimes that care looks bad from the outside.
  • Dehorning calves, for example, protects other cows from injury.

What do people misunderstand about veal?

  • Baby animals is an emotional topic.  People love cute baby animals.
  • Veal is not a baby cow.  They are harvested when they weigh 500 to 600 pounds
  • Chicken and pork are harvested at younger ages.
  • Housing conditions have changed. It is illegal to tether a calf. 
  • Farmers want happy, healthy cows. Cows are social.

How was Fairlife milk developed?

  • A farmer/veterinarian experimented with filtering milk on his farm to see if it would filter out lactose
  • The result was a lactose-free high-protein milk that appealed to athletes
  • Now there are lots of Fairlife products available in the store
  • Why are people scared of GMOs but not of filtered milk?
  • People have a point of reference for filtering something
  • There is too much heavy-lifting to comprehend the details of bio-engineering

What issues challenge the mental health of veterinarians?

  • In ag and for Vets, what people say matters and affects mental health.  Most people don’t understand what they do.
  • Vets have a high education debt load compared to human doctors – and make less money
  • They deal with end-of-life decisions every day for their patients
  • They get push-back from people who think their services should be free
  • In rural communities, mental health resources are not accessible.

Three tips to overcome food bullying:

  1. Make educated decisions
  2. Ask the source
  3. Do what is best for your family

Links:DVM Marissa Hake

Marissa Hake Website



Food Bullying Podcast’s Facebook Page

Food Bullying: How to Avoid Buying BS by Michele Payn

Embrace your Heart with Eliz Greene

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