Up until last year, I would have told you how great milk is. I’d say “mmm we need it for calcium, healthy teeth and strong bones!” without much more knowledge, and recommend trying almond too because it tastes better. Growing up, we’re pretty much bombarded with advertisement from the dairy industry, on television, billboards, radio, bus stops - they spend a lot of money telling us how great the product is.
It’s true, milk is one of the best, most nourishing and natural resources, helping us grow and develop. From the day we’re born until we are weaned off it it serves as the perfect source of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients - and the same goes for animals. Cows give milk to their calves, goats to their kids, cats for kittens, and so forth. Just like other mammals, we are designed to drink our mothers milk as infants, and then we no longer need it ever again. However we’ve been brought up to believe that we then need to take it from another species, drinking the milk of another animal whose milk was produced for and supposed to go to the mouth of it’s baby, but instead was stolen for our consumption.
There is so much that goes on within the dairy industry that sadly, we never hear about. Female cows are forcibly inseminated with sperm to be kept continuously pregnant and fed growth hormones to increase milk production. Then, after birth, the calves are immediately removed from their mothers so as not to ‘waste’ the precious milk (i.e. money). The dairy cows are kept inside, chained by their necks, often all day long. They often receive shocks when arching their backs, forcing them to drop urine and manure into a gutter. Cow pregnancies last the same as humans’, nine months, yet they are milked approximately 305 days every year. Sure, some mothers choose to have four or five kids, but imagine having to give birth every single year - without your consent - only to have those babies snatched away and have the process begin again. Rather than living, breathing, feeling creatures and earthlings, cows are viewed as little more than money making machines. The average modern dairy cow will produce about 45 litres of milk per day, which is 10 times more than it would naturally produce. Normally cows can live an average of 25 years, while dairy cows are slaughtered and made into ground beef after about 3-4 years.
Is dairy healthy?
Definitely! It is very healthy food for the calves whose tiny bodies need to grow into big cows. Just like the breast milk from any other mammal, it is especially formulated for the babies for whom it is intended. Dairy is high in fat, protein and cholesterol. It is low in carbohydrates and contains no fibre. Should humans be consuming it? Absolutely not! There is no need at all for humans to be consuming the breast milk from another species. The best food for human babies is human breast milk. After a baby is done nursing, there is no need to switch to the breast milk from a cow. In humans, dairy products contribute to heart disease, cancer, digestive and sinus issues, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and other serious health complications.
What about the environment?
The dairy industry is an extension of the beef industry (used-up dairy cows are sent to the slaughterhouse after an average of four years, one-fifth their normal life expectancy) which means it plays a major role in creating climate change. Here’s the equation: The dairy industry uses cows before passing them on to be slaughtered by the beef industry which is now recognised as an environmental nightmare. “According to a UN report,” writes Brian Merchant, “cows are leading contributors to climate change … Accounting for putting out 18% of the world’s carbon dioxide, cows emit more greenhouse gases than cars, planes, and all other forms of transportation combined.”
Great resources to learn more:
Marketing milk and disease
Why milk is bad for you
Sources of calcium
The dairy industry
Eating for your health
Dangers of meat and dairy
The cruelty behind egg and milk production
8 reasons you should stop drinking milk NOW
The best speech you will ever hear