Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Skip the milk

I thought I had posted about the many reasons that you should find alternatives to drinking cows milk, but it seems that I have not yet posted about this. There are many reasons not to drink milk. There are also many alternatives. I'll talk about both.

First, drinking cow's milk is just plain weird. That's right. Weird. It would be less weird if we drank human milk, but we don't and we even find that to be pretty disgusting (outside of feeding babies). I don't know why we don't think it is just as disgusting to drink cows milk. Even so, we really shouldn't drink human milk either. I just wanted to make a point. Cow's milk is for baby cows. Human milk is for human babies. What if I offered you some dog's milk to drink? I bet you'd think that was pretty weird and you'd probably say no. Most animals (including most of us) become lactose intolerant as we grow out of babyhood because we don't need to keep drinking milk after this point. "Human beings are the only species (other than house cats) to consume milk past childhood." [1]

Cows are killed to make that gallon of milk for you. A lot a vegetarians think it is ok to drink milk because "no animal gets hurt". This is just not true. Cows do not miraculously generate milk. They have to be regularly impregnated to produce milk (just like humans). Dairy cows are forced have a calf about 2x a year to produce this milk. These calves are IMMEDIATELY separated from their mothers (and the mother cows get very upset by this). If the calf is female she will be raised to replace aging dairy cows. If male, they will either be raised for beef, killed immediately for dog food, or sent to be shackled in a small crate for veal. Dairy cows, who would normally live to be about 20 years old, are sent to slaughter after about 3-5 years when their production wanes. They are killed for a hamburger. [2]

Dairy cows do not live an idyllic life in a nice green pasture. The cows you generally see in fields are usually beef cows. Dairy cows are forcibly impregnated and kept pregnant to produce over 100 pounds of milk a day[2]. They have been genetically modified to produce this much milk. This is stressful and they have a lot of mastitis infections, which causes all that pus in the milk that I posted about a few weeks ago. Dairy cows have a hard miserable life.

Oh, and they won't explode if you don't milk them. I don't know where this weird notion comes from.

Milk does not do a body good. Milk isn't very good for you. You can get calcium from other sources. Dairy consumption has been linked to numerous diseases including [1]: ovarian cancer, diabetes, prostate cancer [3], obesity, heart disease.

Alternatives - Any of these alternatives can be used in cereal, or used interchangeably in reciples that call for milk or you can just drink them. Experiment and see which one you like and see if you can remove milk from your diet:

Soy Milk
Rice Milk (tastes like skim milk)
Almond Milk
Oat Milk

Soy Creamer for coffee (Silk or Wildwood)

Other sources of calcium: broccoli, dark leafy greens (such as kale), firm tofu, soy milk, fortified cereals, blackstrap molasses, soy beans, white beans, cow beans (I think these are black-eye peas), sweet potatoes, bok choy, oranges, pears, raisins, dates, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, filberts, sesame seeds, tahini (sesame seed paste), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peas, amaranth, quinoa, oats and barley... [4]

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  1. I'm showing my DH this tonight. Maybe now he will understand why he needs to drink soy milk (I already do). He seems to thinks it's ok because (and I quote him) "I've never heard of a dairy cow being slaughtered". Keep up the good work, Kristin :)

  2. Thanks.

    One more thing that I didn't say which might help... I believe that even if dairy cows weren't sent to slaughter that we really should avoid dairy products because dairy cows have such hard lives that anything we can do to reduce the suffering that other animals endure is a good thing. We don't need milk. They shouldn't have to suffer at all.

  3. Lactose tolerance may be "weird", but it was a huge survival advantage in its time. Evolution produces all sorts of strange things like consciousness, sexual reproduction, and Televangelists. When these unexpected (and possibly questionable!) adaptions increase survivability, they tend to spread rapidly. Even if weird.

    Of course, whether or not this particular adaption is relevant anymore is open to debate.

    Making the rounds in the news lately (

    Dr Thomas said: "To go from lactose tolerance being rare or absent seven to eight thousand years ago to the commonality we see today in central and northern Europeans just cannot be explained by anything except strong natural selection. Our study confirms that the variant of the lactase gene appeared very recently in evolutionary terms and that it became common because it gave its carriers a massive survival advantage. Scientists have inferred this already through analysis of genes in today's population but we've confirmed it by going back and looking at ancient DNA."

  4. Hey there. I didn't know you knew about this blog. :)

    It is interesting and I could see how it would have helped people survive, but we no longer need it to survive. We have such a wealth of variety of foods available to us now that we don't need to cause other animals such pain and suffering.