I was not always vegan, actually I grew up in a pretty “normal” household. My mother ate meat, Dad was a vegetarian back then.
When I was 9 years old I saw liverwurst in our fridge and I started to think about why it was called that way. I was used to eating it, everybody else did after all, right? Well something changed that day. I came to the realisation that liverwurst was made out of the organ of an animal. This idea – eating an animal’s liver – was so disgusting to me that I have never eaten liverwurst again.
This was probably a day that has coined my life. I became vegetarian because I did not want to cause any harm to animals. I guess that’s why most people become vegetarians, isn’t it? They do not want a sentient living being to be killed because of their food choices.
Little did I know dairy involved just as much cruelty. But before we get into it here are a few questions I want you to think about.
- What is milk?
- Why do cows produce milk?
- What is in the milk? Which compounds do we find in it?
- Why do we drink it?
- Are dairy products good for us?
- Do we need to consume them to be healthy?
These are a few questions I really want you to think about for a moment. Take your time and don’t worry if you do not know the answer. I would not have known it myself a few years ago.
After you’ve thought about these questions… Let’s look for the truth together.
What is milk and why do cows produce it?
Cows are mammals, just as humans, dogs, cats, dolphins, zebras, pandas, monkeys etcetera are. Mammals produce milk for their babies. Thus they have to be pregnant in order to produce milk.
Cows are not an exception here. In the dairy industry female cows are artificially inseminated. Their pregnancy lasts 9 months – equal to human pregnancy. After giving birth to their calf mother and child are separated, usually on the first day of the calf’s life. This is a traumatic experience for both of them and the mother cow will often scream for weeks, searching for her baby.
Here’s some footage where you can get an insight into what is happening. I know these pictures are horrific, it hurts me to watch them and you’ll probably find it disturbing too. But do you really want to continue to support an invisible cruel system? I think the least you can do is to inform yourself on what you are supporting every time you chose to drink a glass of milk.
Some facts about dairy are already mentioned in the last video. However I would still like to address them here.
Male calves are a waste product in the dairy industry. Some are shot on the first day of their lives, others might be raised for veal and slaughtered when they are only a few weeks old.
Female calves are raised and will share the same fate as their mothers. They will be repeatedly impregnated, have their calves taken away from them until their bodies are too exhausted or their milk production decreases and thus is no longer profitable.
Would you have known that the natural lifespan of a cow is 20-25 years? In the dairy industry however cows will only get 4-5 years old due to constant exploitation. Ask yourself this: “Is a cow a milk machine or is it a living being?” This is not really a difficult question to answer, I think we can all agree that cows are sentient living beings. In the dairy industry however they are nothing but a machine, a product. And once they stop producing enough milk they will be sent to slaughter.
Maybe you can see now that the dairy and meat industry are not separated. By consuming dairy you’re directly supporting the meat industry and this is why being vegetarian is actually not enough if you do it for animal welfare.
Here’s a five-minute video that sums up the most important aspects. If you only watch one video please watch this one!
What is in the milk? And is it good for us?
Who hasn’t heard the “You need milk for strong bones” myth. The dairy industry’s main argument for promoting milk consumption is that milk contains calcium.
Yes, it does. And milk also contains vitamin D, B2 and B12. However milk is rich in saturated fats, cholesterol, lactose, does not have any fiber and is full of female and growth hormones.
Another argument against milk consumption is that milk is oftentimes contaminated with feces, blood and it does contain pus. Would you have know that in Europe 400.000 somatic cells per ml are legally allowed? In Australia it’s 750.000 cells per ml and in he USA it’s even more that 1 million somatic cells per ml! I’ve referred to the somatic cells as pus because more than 90% of the somatic cells in milk are neutrophil granulocytes which are the main compound in pus. If you want to know more about the pus-in-milk-topic definitely check out How much pus is there in milk.
Furthermore studies have shown that the countries with the highest milk consumption also have the highest rates of osteoporosis. The dairy industries claim that milk consumption supports bone density can’t be true therefore.
Saturated fats and cholesterol are a major risk factor for developing circulatory diseases including CHD, heart attacks, strokes, clogged arteries, and even Alzheimer’s.
Many studies suggest that the hormones in milk – e.g. estrogene, progesterone, prolactin, IGF-1 – are concerning and we should pay more attention to their consumption.
Do not hesitate to ask me about further information and resources and definitely check out Is milk good for our bones?
Why do we drink milk?
Do you know any other mammal that consumes the mother’s milk of another species? And is there any other species that consumes milk in adulthood?
What we are doing – drinking another species’ mother’s milk – is completely unnatural. Milk is literally a growth fluid for baby’s. We have no need to consume it once were no longer toddlers.
However the dairy industry has spent billions and billions of dollars in order to promote milk consumption and make us believe that we need milk for strong bones and to be healthy.
The advertisements and slogans “Got milk?”, “Milk – nature’s perfect food”, “Milk does a body good”, “Milk will help you grow ‘strong'”, etcetera have clearly shown their impact.
Milk has become normal. Not drinking an animals secretions is considered “extreme”. Why is that? If you think about it, isn’t it rather extreme to take away babies from their mothers, send them to slaughter and all of that just because we want to drink their milk which is additionally proven to make us sick?
The dairy industry is one of the richest industries in the world and their impact on nutritional recommendations is undeniable. Isn’t it amazing how an unnatural and unhealthy product has become normality? I think it’s impressive how much influence advertisements have on us.
Do we need to consume dairy product to be healthy?
We have already determined that dairy products do contain calcium which we need for our bone health. Can we get enough calcium without consuming milk?
The answer is yes. Getting enough calcium on a plant-based diet is possible. You might have to pay a little extra attention to it at the beginning but it is not a problem and as long as you eat enough and a variety of plant-based whole foods you will not have a problem to get enough calcium.
The daily recommendation for calcium varies from 700-1000mg. However in Japan people usually eat only 300mg of calcium a day and still have way lower rates of bone fractures than people in Western societies. Here’s a little link with further information on calcium.
The best way to get your calcium from plants is to eat dark leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruit like dates, oranges and figs. Did you know non-dairy milk usually contains just as much calcium as cow’s milk? If you want to upper your calcium intake some more I can highly recommend eating a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses every once in a while.
Not only does it cover a third of your daily calcium needs, it also provides you with 48% of your daily copper needs, 28% of the recommended magnesium intake and is furthermore rich in Vitamin B6, manganese and potassium.
To put in a nutshell, dairy products do contain calcium but might not be the best sources as they are strongly linked to increasing the risk of developing various diseases. Plants do contain plenty of protein and getting adequate calcium on a vegan diet is not only possible, it is actually pretty easy.
I hope this post is helpful and that you like it. Feel free to message me if you’re looking for further information. I’d be more than happy to hear your thoughts on this post, maybe leave a comment?
Thank you so much for reading.
Best wishes & a wonderful sunday,
Niki (from nutriousniki)