The Globe and Mail published an article last week titled Soy, coconut, almond or rice: How do non-dairy ‘milks’ stack up nutritionally? While that’s a great question if someone is looking for an alternative to milk as they try to give up dairy completely, they are comparing how the alternatives stack up against milk. My recent article Let’s Reduce Meat Consumption is based upon going meatless (and thereby dairyless) to reverse the wholesale destruction of the planet caused by factory farming. If we want to stop factory farming then we must stop eating dairy: all dairy, including milk, cream, ice cream, cheese, yogurt and all of the rest.
We don’t require milk. Most of the world’s population never drinks milk again after weaning. In North America and in some other areas of the world we have been scammed, lied to and cheated by the milk producers, their lobbyists and their cohorts in government. Twenty five years ago they launched their intensive “Milk Moustache” and “Got Milk” campaign and convinced us of our need to consume milk to be beautiful, cool, powerful or adorable. It did work but as people have looked for healthier lifestyles and developed concern for the wellbeing of our planet, worldwide demand has decreased by some 33%, they have changed their emphasis to promoting alternative milk products such as Chocolate Milk Energy Drink FairLife from Coca-Cola. They know no shame.
In a MacLeans magazine article Alissa Hamilton author of Got Milked? insists that “consumers have bought into “false notions of [milk’s] goodness,” overlooking its sugar, calories and cholesterol, Hamilton writes; cow’s milk has come to be seen as the natural extension of mother’s milk, even though humans are the only species to drink the milk of another. She contends that non-animal sources of calcium—leafy greens, nuts, dried basil—are both healthier and more easily absorbed.
The Harvard University School of Public Health “Healthy Eating Plate” provides detailed guidance, in a simple format, to help people make the best eating choices. Although Harvard doesn’t show dairy as a requirement on their plate they appear to bend to the forces that have lobbied for decades to be included and recommend to skip sugary drinks, limit milk and dairy products to one to two servings per day.
The USDA completely caves to the powerful milk lobby and shows dairy as a food group on their ChooseMyPlate requirements. They preach, in spite of definite proof to the contrary, that we need “in general, 1 cup of milk, yogurt, or soymilk (soy beverage), 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese can be considered as 1 cup from the Dairy Group.”
The China Study is a book by Cornell University biochemist Colin Campbell and his physician son, Thomas Campbell, which looks at the relationship between the consumption of animal products (including dairy) and chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and bowel cancer. The authors conclude that people who eat a predominantly whole-food, plant-based diet—avoiding animal products as a main source of nutrition, including beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, and milk, and reducing their intake of processed foods and refined carbohydrates—will escape, reduce, or reverse the development of numerous diseases.
Everyone agrees we need calcium in our diet. Once again we look to the Harvard University School of Public Health and ask “Should You Get Calcium from Milk?”. Their answer is: not necessarily. “Calcium can also be found in dark green, leafy vegetables, such as kale and collard greens, as well as in dried beans and legumes. Calcium can also be ingested as a supplement, and if you do go the supplement route, it’s best to choose one that includes some vitamin D”.
So, the fact is, we do not require dairy products. Most of the world does quite well without. If the whole point of this article was eliminating the harmful effect on the planet of factory farming, I believe that having made my point I could stop now.
There are however a couple of other facts about dairy farming than need to be presented. In a paper entitled “The Psychology of Cows” by Lori Marino and Kristin Allen published in Animal Behavior and Cognition (November 2017) we are shown that cows are far more sophisticated and sensitive than the simple grazers that we have perceived them to be. Their research has found that cows are able to make judgements regarding people or other cows that have been kind or abusive towards them. The possess complex emotions and show an apparent emotional reaction to learning, have distinct personalities and exhibit traits of social complexity, including social learning.
In a paper by the Humane Society of Canada “Fast Facts on Veal Crates in Canada“, we learn about the brutal reality of Dairy farming. To ensure that cows constantly give milk, they are artificially impregnated every year. After a nine-month gestation, the calves are removed from their mothers immediately after birth. Female calves will be pushed into the role of dairy cattle while male calves head to auction to be raised and slaughtered at about five months of age as veal. Cows are social and affectionate animals and the separation of mothers and newborn calves is shown to cause significant stress for both.
Healthy Eating Plate Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, www.thenutritionsource.org, and Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu