Last week, award-winning actor and former Vermonter James Cromwell sent a letter on PETA's behalf to Vermont’s governor, Peter Shumlin, asking him to consider changing the state beverage from dairy milk to apple cider.

As the Big Hero 6 and American Horror Story star notes in his letter, apple cider supports one of Vermont’s top agricultural products — and it’s far kinder than subjecting animals to a lifetime of deprivation and abuse in the dairy industry.

“I love the beautiful state of Vermont, and I’m proud to have attended Middlebury College,” wrote Cromwell. "I’m writing to express my concern that the state beverage is still dairy milk, despite its well-documented link to environmental degradation and some of the nation’s largest health crises. With this in mind, PETA and I hope you will work with the General Assembly to follow New Hampshire’s example by changing the state beverage to apple cider as a way of promoting the official state fruit and encouraging healthier, more eco-friendly choices among your citizens.

“An increasing number of Vermonters are replacing dairy milk with healthier, more environmentally friendly beverages, a trend aligned with recent research showing that the global dairy-alternative beverage market will in all likelihood continue to grow over the next few years. Dairy farms along with other forms of animal agriculture contribute to more than half of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions as well as to putrid accumulations of animal feces that often seep into drinking water sources. Apple cider, on the other hand, is energy efficient, sustainable, supportive of one of Vermont’s top agricultural products, and a contributing factor in the success of the state’s growing tourism industry. Cider also contains fiber and vitamin C and is free of the saturated fat and cholesterol found in dairy products — making it a far healthier choice as the state beverage than dairy milk, which plays a role in the nation’s struggles with cancer and diabetes. We must also remember the many Vermonters who forgo dairy milk in order to protest the dairy industry, which cruelly separates calves from their mothers at birth and forces cows to produce milk until they become completely exhausted, at which point they are sent to the slaughterhouse.

“I hope you will consider changing the state beverage to apple cider. This move would make Vermont a trendsetter in environmental, health, and ethical reform. Thank you very much for your time and attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.”

PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat … or abuse in any other way” — offers tips for going dairy-free on its website.

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