Most of us will have childhood memories of being told to drink our milk to “grow big and strong” and gave ourselves milky mustaches dreaming of growing 6 foot tall with iron like bones.
However, modern dairy farming is out of control and has fast become an area of intense animal cruelty, greed and product modification.
If you’re sat there reading this thinking “but I only drink organic milk, surely I’m being healthy?” read on, because all of the points below apply to the dangers of organic cows milk and inorganic cows milk.
1. Cancer Growing Hormones
Cow’s milk is designed by nature to provide essential nutrition for her calf and as such includes a cocktail of many hormones and growth factors. In an adult human there is no longer a need for growth hormones, which leaves only the encouragement of growth of malignant cells. In particular IGF-1, which is not killed by pasteurisation, mimics oestrogen and insulin and even small amounts can increase the risks of lung, colon, prostrate, breast and other cancers.
2. Infectious Pus
Owing to the relentless schedule of milking, mastitis (inflammation of the mammary gland) is very common. This condition is very painful for the cow and also infects her milk, prompting her body to produce white blood cells as antibodies. These excess white blood cells, waste products of the mastitis infection and dead cells all end up in your glass of milk. These cells are known as Somatic cells and are commonly known as Pus. The appearance of mastitis also impacts the quality of the milk by lowering the levels of protein and fat. It is almost impossible to know exactly how many cows suffer with mastitis, but in the UK alone it is thought to be as many as 34-73 of every 100 cows. It is legal to sell milk in the EU that has as many as 400,000 cells of pus per ml.
3. Milk Depletes Your Calcium
Although cow’s milk contains around 300mg calcium per cup, it actually lowers thecalcium levels stored in our bones. Milk has an acidic effect on the human body and our most efficient way to neutralize this PH imbalance is to take calcium from our bones to bring us back to a more alkaline state. Once our body has corrected the negative effect of the cow’s milk, the calcium is excreted in our urine, so we end with less calcium than before we drank the milk. Many scientific studies have shown that drinking cow’s milk actually increases the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. This is the case even if the milk is not homogenized and is taken raw. Even cows get all their calcium needs from plant sources after weaning.
4. Milk is Used Beyond it’s Natural Purpose
There is no denying that all animal milks provide excellent nutrition, enabling their young to grow at incredible rates, fight infections by sharing their mothers’ immunity and live without other food sources. But no other mammalian species ever drink their mothers milk once they have been weaned. Nor do they drink the milk of other species.
5. Incorrect Proteins
Calves grow at an incredible rate and therefore they need a much higher amount of proteins than human children and adults. Human babies need lower levels of protein and higher levels of fat than calves. Cow’s milk can be broken down into two types of protein – casein and whey. Casein protein has been linked with an increase in type 1 Diabetes, can be very hard to digest, are allergenic and are so tough they have been known to be used as a base for certain glues. The ratio of casein to whey in cows milk is 80:20 but in human milk it is 40:60, further proving it’s unsuitability for human nutrition. The cow’s milk protein also contributes to the bone weakening acidic effects detailed above in point three.
6. Environmental Deterioration
The post war boom in cow farming has grown to such an extent that cows now account for over 18% of all carbon dioxide contributions meaning that cows emit more greenhouse gases than planes, cars and all transport means combined. More than 60% of thedestroyed amazon rainforest is being used for cattle. Even a small farm of 200 cows will produce more nitrogen sewage than a community of 10,000 people.
7. Milk leads to obesity
It has been proven that having 3 or more servings of cow’s milk daily can increaseunhealthy weight gain by 35% in a study of more than 12,000 children. Because of the previously mentioned acidic effect of casein proteins and lactose sugars on our system, the body will hold onto fat to protect the organs and sustain life. Cow’s milk cannot rival the “good fats” found in vegetable oils which are essential for our health. In fact, it is very low in these beneficial types of fats and instead has high levels of saturated “bad fats” that are known to block arteries and cause heart disease.
8. Animal Farming Contributes to World Famine
People are starving all around the world because the land they could be using to grow nutritious plant food for human consumption is instead being used to grow grain to feed cattle in richer countries. For example, in the US 157 million tons of edible plant crops are grown to feed and produce just 28 million tons of animal protein. If we were to eat more of the grains, vegetables and legumes we grew there would be more food to share globally and more land to be used for human consumption. An acre of beans and legumes produces 10 times more protein than an acre used for animal production. If we ate more vegetable products we could literally end all famine. The simple fact is there is enoughfood to feed the world, we’ve just been feeding it to cattle instead of humans.
9. The Dairy Industry is Incredibly Cruel
Many cows are forced to suffer the terror and indignity of the modern dairy industry every day. It is now common for cows to be kept inside for 12 months of the year, never getting the opportunity to graze on fresh grass, bathe in the sun or socialize with each other. Their babies are taken from them shortly after their birth and their sore udders, heavy with milk destined for their young are hooked up to machines and relentlessly pumped out for greedy human demand. Left to roam in nature, cows would have a lifespan of 18 or 19 years, but after a life of hard labor they are exhausted, considered “useless” and are slaughtered. Male dairy cows are being shot at birth at a rate of about 2,000 per week with only a few being spared and those that are will be raised for veal. Once they are ready for slaughter, cows endure a terrifying ordeal that often includes being stunned and then dismembered whilst still alive.
10. There are Great Alternatives to Dairy
You can achieve all the nutrition needs your body desires from a plant based diet rich in green leafy vegetables, beans, legumes and protein high grains and seeds such as quinoa. Milk alternatives such as almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk and my personal favourite – organic oat milk are perfect for drinking and baking. Great sources of calcium can be found in kale, tofu and soybeans. Mushrooms are very high in vitamin D and you can find complete proteins in soy, quinoa, amaranth, spirulina and hemp seeds.
If you simply can’t live without dairy, then check out Cow Nation, an amazing company that provides cows with the opportunity to live out their natural lives in sanctuaries after their dairy producing time. Their milk is also organic and free range, so if milk is staying on your menu at least you can feel happy in the knowledge that you’re choosing the highest welfare produce available.
I also sometimes buy raw milk from Hook and Son at the Chiswick Farmers Market on a Sunday (my partner is a chef and has a food stall there called Breadren, so if you make it to the market, pop by to say hello!). They also sell their milk in other markets, in some shops and deliver. They are super passionate about the welfare of their herd and the subsequent quality of the milk they produce. Check them out and let me know what you think 🙂