However, people are starting to do their own research and look past clever marketing ploys to discover the truth about dairy. Here, we’ve debunked some of the myths surround dairy.
Myth #1: Milk, even when organic, doesn’t contain synthetic hormones or chemicals.
The sad truth is that even milk that says it’s ‘organic’ is still full of artificial chemicals and hormones. Even if extra chemicals aren’t added to the milk in organic milk, chemicals are still given to the cow. The reason for this is simple- only pregnant cows produce milk for their young, just like only pregnant women produce milk for their children. In order to milk the cows 365 days a year, they must be artificially inseminated. This means that the cows are constantly pregnant and constantly lactating while they are constantly given pregnancy hormones. This is terrible for the cow and also for the human who is drinking the cow’s milk. Humans are always taking in female sex hormones when they have dairy. This leads to much lower testosterone levels in men as well as increased risk of cancer in both men and women. Of course the dairy industry wants to keep it quiet that dairy increases your risk of cancer, therefore we rarely hear about it.
Myth #2: Milk is healthy for you.
It’s simple. People have been consuming copious amounts of dairy for years because they truly believe that it’s good for them, that it gives them health benefits, and that it’s part of a balanced diet. However, milk and dairy have far more health risks than they do benefits. As stated above, milk can cause cancer and increases the risk of cancer in both men and women. There are many other negative health risks involved though. One of the most common problems is that most people lack the enzyme to even process dairy. This doesn’t just mean people who are ‘lactose intolerant’, it means that 75% of us suffer internally through our digestive systems as our bodies fight to try and process dairy. We might not realize this until we stop consuming dairy, and then we find that we have less bloating, less headaches, less asthma and clearer skin. On the more serious side, dairy has also been proven to show a connection with Type 1 diabetes for those who consume it, especially at a younger age.
Myth #3: Cows need to be milked, whether we drink their milk or not.
As noted before, cows only produce milk when they are pregnant, in order to provide for their young. However, a naturally pregnant cow would only produce about 7 kg of milk a day as opposed to the 27 kg of milk a day that we force out of them for our consumption. Also, a cow absolutely should not be pregnant all of the time, but only in the rare times when they naturally get pregnant. Because they are constantly being impregnated and milked, they often develop mastitis, a painful infection from nursing. The infected milk still goes onto shelves; it’s just covered with more chemicals to keep it ‘safer’ for humans. Cows usually die around 4 years old from being exhausted, or if they are unable to keep up with milk production, they are slaughtered.
Myth #4: Dairy cows get to live. I am not eating or hurting the animal, only eating its byproduct.
Sadly, dairy cows are just next in line to the slaughterhouse. Male cows are slaughtered as soon as they stop being young enough to produce veal. However, our regular cow meat comes from the same cows that we have milked dry. As soon as they stop producing enough milk or their bodies give out, they are slaughtered. This is usually at around 4 years old, although a typical cow lives around 20 years old. Many people don’t understand how these cows can go through such animal cruelty, but The Animal Welfare Act completely exempts farm animals from animal abuse, meaning that their care is barely regulated.
Myth #5: Cows don’t know any other way, so they are not unhappy at their treatment.
This little myth is a lie we tell ourselves to justify eating dairy and meat and still feel good about it. The life of a domesticated cow is a sad one. They live to be only about a 1/8th of what their lifespan should be, and their life is one of forced servitude and death. Cows would naturally nurse their babies for 6-9 months, and then their calf stays with them for life. However, because we’ve decided to use a cow’s milk for our consumption, there is not ‘enough’ for their babies. A baby calf is separated from its mother at birth so that humans can keep the milk meant for the baby. The mother cow often cries for weeks on end for its baby, sometimes even breaking through fences or barns in an attempt to find its calf. These are intelligent creatures that experience great pain at the hands of humans. Cows are emotional and smart animals that feel pain, love, hold grudges at other cows, and will even seek out human help with anticipating a difficult birth.
Myth #6: Drinking or eating organic and local dairy is better for both the cow and me.
Sadly, eating organic and local dairy is almost exactly the same as eating or drinking regular dairy. The main difference for an organic, locally raised cow is that they are allowed to graze in a field in the summer and exercise twice a week. Although these are slightly better living conditions, organic cows are still artificially inseminated, they still suffer premature death at the exact same rate, and their milk contains the same ingredients as regular milk. When their productivity decreases, they are still slaughtered for their meat.
Myth #7: You need to drink milk to get enough calcium in your diet.
The idea that milk is the best or only source of calcium is absolutely ridiculous, but is still widely accepted. Better sources of calcium can be found in almonds, broccoli, kale, soybeans, mustard greens, collard greens, and so much more. With dairy products, we are only able to absorb about 30% of the calcium. With dark, leafy greens, that number doubles to about 60% of the calcium being absorbed. That’s truly impressive marketing that people believe dairy is the best source of calcium around.
Like anything else that you get used to, the public has gotten used to eating and drinking dairy products regularly. We do it because “that’s just how things are”. It’s absolutely normal to have dairy, because we’ve made it that way as a culture. We’ve bought dairy products for years because we’ve believed all of the marketing that has been pounded into our heads. There is nothing natural about drinking the milk of another species. Humans are the ONLY creatures to do so and it’s caused us tons of health issues as well as drastically negatively affecting our Earth through animal agriculture. So, do you want to make a change or do you really just not care about the Earth, our fellow animals, or yourself? Think about it.