Thanks to my cousin Gabriel Chan for the link above. What interested me more was not the article itself but rather the comments that followed it. I find it rather ironic that the majority of the emotional reactions come from dairy consumers who accuse the non dairy consumer of making an emotional appeal.
I say this because the majority of people are meat consumers. The majority of milk drinkers are dairy consumers. It means very little in the grand scheme of things for a vegan to advocate the consumption of non dairy milk and to state the ethical issues facing the dairy industry. Granted, a number of meat and dairy consumers do not like being accused of being unethical for what they eat. I believe there is no imminent fear of the meat and dairy industry being demolished due to some admonishments from a minority group. But one cannot deny that there are abuses being carried out in the meat and dairy industry.
Granted also, that one cannot completely eradicate abuses in any given system. The article in question is also based in Australia, and most evidence of abuse in the industry come from elsewhere.
However, our knowledge operates on the evidence of negative empiricism. Since one cannot ignore the evidence of animal abuse prevalent in the industry, then the meat or dairy consumers who take offense at being accused of being unethical have the responsibility to know and provide evidence that animal abuse within the industry is not prevalent.
Then we can argue on the finer points of what defines abuse. Taking calves away from the mother cow? What is to be done to the calf? Obviously with regard to the former paragraph, obvious abuse would mean unnecessarily injuring the cows/calves, beatings, tail breaking etc.
And for that select group of people who insist that animals perceive pain differently, then I agree. Animals that we consume have the same central nervous system structure as we do. Albeit with a less developed frontal cortex, which makes it possible for us to modulate pain. We can thus experience pain more, or less, or even enjoy it to a certain extent. I believe animals experience pain more purely than we do. Perhaps this is all conjecture. But the basic precept is that animals do perceive pain with the same nervous system as us.
I also say that if one is willing to justify the argument that human pain is more valid than one from a lower being with the same structure of the nervous system, it does not take a much farther leap to state that more intelligent humans are more valuable and precious than less intelligent ones. And the saddest part of this is that we actually do operate on this standard on a systemic level.