dairy industry, animal-based dairying, colonial food ontology, food norms, cultural studies, plant-based milks, colonial production, animal agriculture, legal ontology, consumption habits

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It is widely accepted that we are living in the Anthropocene: the age in which human activity has fundamentally altered earth systems and processes. Decolonial scholars have argued that colonialism’s shaping of the earth’s ecologies and severing of Indigenous relations to animals have provided the conditions of possibility for the Anthropocene. With this, colonialism has irreversibly altered diets on a global scale. I argue that dairy in the settler contexts of Canada and the United States remains possible because of colonialism’s severing of Indigenous relations of interrelatedness with the more-than-human world. I discuss how colonialism—which has included the institution of dairy—requires and authorizes relations that at their core seek to domesticate those imagined as wild, including humans, animals, and land. With this in mind, I then analyze recent and current dairy lawsuits as well as proposed legislation seeking to maintain legislated definitions of milk as exclusively animal-based. I argue that instances of mobilizing law to secure dairy as exclusively animal-based are attempts to re-secure settler colonial ontologies of life along a “real food” versus “fake food” dichotomy in which plant-based foods are positioned as substitutes for animal products. However, these pro-dairy lawsuits are often unsuccessful. Thus, dairy law is one arena in which settler colonialism’s orderings of life and relations are being challenged and re-made. In the context of the Anthropocene, the role of legal ontologies in shaping our consumption habits and relationships with animals remain all the more urgent.