The True Costa Dairy
Read about the investigation here.
Read The Independent exclusive now.
A massive thank you to everybody who took part in our Costa Days of Action!
You organised almost 100 events across the entirety of the UK to expose the horrors of the dairy industry. Some of the brilliant photographs of your events are included below.
Together we have made a huge impact on the general public up and down the country. Thousands of people stopped to talk to us, saw our placards, tried our delicious dairy-free food samples, engaged on social media or read about us in dozens of local news outlets.
Thank you to everybody who distributed our door-dropper leaflets and participated in the Twitter storm as well.
You can read more about the campaign below.
Viva! Campaigns uncovered rampant cruelty at Kent’s Home Farm dairy and we enlisted your help to expose the abhorrent reality of dairy farming to the British public.
You may not have heard of Home Farm, but you have heard of Costa Coffee. Home Farm supplies Freshways, who provide milk to Costa Coffee, one of the nation’s largest coffee shop chains.
Viva! Campaigns investigated Home Farm in Kent after a tip-off. We were horrified by what we found there – but what happens here happens on thousands of farms across the UK, every single day. We found cows that were emaciated, lame and struggling to walk, others manhandled, slapped and shoved, and yet more visibly injured or in shackles.
This is modern dairy farming! It’s unacceptable that animals are treated like this in 21st century Britain. Read on to find out what we found and how we fought it!
Cows don’t produce milk unless they have recently given birth – so all dairy cows are mothers. Despite this, they are not afforded any love, care or respect.
Often as a result of hard floors, poor-quality housing, infection and malnutrition, dairy mothers frequently suffer from lameness; up to a quarter of dairy cows at any given time cannot walk without difficulty.
Things were no different at Home Farm, despite the big brands it supplies.
In fact, workers at Home Farm were filmed slapping and kicking severely lame cows. These cows often have their hind legs shackled together in order to prevent them from doing the ‘splits’ – a result of nerve damage, physical weakness and slippery, faeces-soaked flooring.
Many of the cows suffer from excruciating mastitis, too, an infection resulting from dirty sheds, unnatural living conditions and frequent milking.
To produce milk, cows are made pregnant and forced to give birth every year. Within hours their calves are snatched from them.
In the dairy industry, male calves are usually killed within days or sold for beef or veal.
We found a dead calf dumped in a bin at the back of the farm, with his legs still tied up with rope.
But don’t assume that the female calves who survive their first few days get off lightly. They are to spend the next few months in individual hutches, crying out for their mothers, treated like products rather than the sentient beings they are.
Anybody can see how emotionally traumatised these young calves are as they desperately suckle the fingers of the investigators, each instinctively longing for their mother’s teat.
Shockingly, Defra allow farmers to dump their calves in wheelie bins, so long as the body is then disposed of “without undue delay”. We have no way of knowing how long that calf had been in the bin.
Unfortunately, however, this baby’s body was not the only carcass Viva! Campaigns’ investigators found on-site. An adult cow, likely having come to the end of her profitable life for the farmer, was found, dead, with a gaping wound in her face. She had been shot in the head with a bolt gun and left where she lay.
This is a blatant violation not only of the cow herself but also of UK regulations that dictate that farmers cannot leave the dead bodies of their animals out where scavengers can find them.
Costa Coffee has been made aware of Viva!’s footage, however they have confirmed that they will continue to buy their milk from Freshways. In their response to Viva! they stated that they have “carried out an investigation with our supplier. You will be aware that the farm has since been audited a number of times by independent bodies. We have received assurance from all of them that the farm demonstrated that it complied with Red Tractor standards and has a long-term record of compliance.”
This doesn’t deny the cruel treatment towards cows that Viva! Campaigns documented – rather it gives further evidence that these conditions are the reality of what ‘high animal welfare’ looks like in the UK and is a damning reflection of the true Red Tractor standards.
The only way to avoid contributing to the cruelty of dairy farming is to go vegan and ask for plant-based milk in your coffee.
Find out more about Viva!’s nationwide Days of Action outside Costa Coffee
On 28 January and again on 11 March 2023, Viva! supporters joined in across the nation. Viva! received an incredible response from the general public.
When: Saturday, 28 January and Saturday, 11 March 2023
Where: Nationwide outside Costa Coffee branches
Viva!’s two True Costa Dairy Days of Action have reached thousands upon thousands of people, encouraging many to make more ethical choices and go vegan. This time, situated outside Costa Coffees across the country, from the largest cities to the smallest towns, we hoped to change the way every single Costa Coffee customer and passer-by thought about dairy.
After all, it is no longer just an innocent little dash of milk when it dashes the innocence of a little calf against the hopeless iron bars of Home Farm.
The Costa Days of Action are now complete, but please sign up to our Campaigns newsletter to learn about future campaigns as soon as they happen.
By becoming a monthly donor, you will automatically become a Viva! Supporter and receive a subscription to Viva! Life magazine and a supporter welcome pack.We have lots of other welcome goodies available to our supporters, such as our fantastic range of discounts in our Supporter Discount Scheme.