Most of us will have grown up drinking cow’s milk. My diet as a child consisted largely of milk and many dairy-based snacks. Cheese strings, Dairylea Lunchables and Dairylea dunkers had a special place in my lunchbox and still do in my heart, but not in my stomach.
When I grew up, I ditched the dairy lunchbox snacks but continued to drink cow’s milk. Why not? Right? I figured I was too old to keep eating miniature dairy treats, but should still consume cow’s milk for its nutritional benefits. Plus, milk is ‘naturally’ paired with many adult treats too, like tea, coffee and of course chocolate. Drinking milk was and still is considered normal. But how normal is it?
We live in a consumerist society whereby our diet is controlled by what is fed to us through various channels of media and advertising. Advertisements have depicted milk as nutritious, necessary and even sexy!
Cows are milked for production and we just drink it. No questions asked. Granted, cow’s milk does taste good, but is that enough reason to drink it? Perhaps human milk tastes nice. Would you drink human milk?
Picture this, a factory brimming with nursing women, compacted into filthy cubicles, milking pumps suctioned to their bleeding breasts. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Ironically, this makes more sense than what actually happens in milking factories.
Cow’s milk is for baby cows. Not baby humans, adult humans, or even adult cows! If that isn’t enough reason for you to stop drinking baby cow’s milk, then read on.
1. Think of the cows!
Okay, I am not vegetarian, or even vegan, but I do know a thing or two about being a decent human being. Dairy cows are not always treated well, and neither are their calves. Calves are sometimes taken from their mothers as soon as 2 hours after birth. There two main reasons for this.
Separating calf from maternal cow prevents the pair from forming an attachment, which then makes it easier for the two to be separated. Why are they separated? Well, dairy cow’s milk is primarily for humans- not for calves. For this reason, calves are weaned off their mother’s milk. Weaning calves allows more milk to be produced for human consumption. Instead of natural growth fluid, calves, like some babies are fed formula as a substitute for milk. It is important to note that again, as with humans, lack of nutrient intake in early development could lead to a lack of growth and potential weakness in adult life.
The second reason for taking calves away from their mothers can be found in the words of the Journal of Dairy Science. They claim that calves who remain with their mothers are ‘more likely to be infected’ with diseases that are spread throughout cow’s pens. This is indicative of the poor conditions in which dairy cows are kept, and thus the milk we consume.
Cows are said to be generally sickly. Whether this is due to the bad conditions in which they are kept, or the insufficient nutrient intake in early life is hard to say. What is known, is that cows were not always raised in what could be deemed as an inhuman manner.
2. Milk is not as nutritious as you think
It is a myth that ‘milk makes your bones strong’ and there is evidence against this claim. Research suggests that osteopathic bone fractures are more common in countries that consume high amounts of dairy. A Swedish medical study established that the more milk participants consumed, the more likely they were to suffer bone fractures and were more likely to die younger!
Dairy does contribute towards the daily intake of nutrients for most of us in the UK. This is not because dairy is the only source of such nutrients, but because not everyone is nutritionally savvy, so would not know how to compensate for the lack of dairy in their diets. Whilst there are some nutrients in cow’s milk, these are not specifically for human bodies- it’s to nourish calves.
When cows first lactate, the milk they produce is unfit for human consumption. Cow’s milk contains large amounts of pus and other things that calve’s quite like but humans can’t drink. These impurities are supposedly removed through the process of pasteurisation which is meant to clean the milk and make it safe to drink. However, outbreaks of salmonella and other diseases caused by consuming dairy suggest this process is not faultless.
Did I mention the presence of saturated fats and lactose? Low fat, nutritious milk substitutes are widely available. Calcium can be found in foods other than milk.
3. Drinking cow’s milk can be harmful!
There are harmful chemicals in dairy. The risks of consuming dairy foods include; protein-induced calciuria, unnecessary ingestion of hormones and steroids AND increased risk of prostate cancer.
Recombinant bovine growth hormone (RBGH) is a synthetic hormone that is injected into dairy cows to encourage them to produce more milk. Using RBGH, means that farmers use fewer cows to produce higher quantities of milk. Medical experts have declared this hormone unsafe and have linked it with various types of cancer, including prostate and breast cancer. RBGH is banned in the EU, however, this hormone is still in use in the US.
Many studies have linked the consumption of milk with the manifestation of acne. Milk also contains the natural growth hormone IGF-1, which helps calves develop into fully grown cows. The effect is not the same for humans who experience skin inflammation when ingesting this hormone. Dairy also causes spikes in insulin levels which lead to even more acne.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, diary increases sebum (oil) production, leading to blocked pores and yes, EVEN MORE acne. This effect is called the ‘milk and acne effect’ and has been well documented. If you do suffer from acne, then it is a very wise idea to stop drinking cow’s milk. Just saying!
If this has not convinced you, listen to this humorous video of a doctor who does not recommend dairy.