It’s a common misconception that since the dairy industry isn’t producing flesh as food, it’s not causing any harm. This idea is just plain wrong.
A cow, in her natural habitat, will live up to 25 years.
A dairy cow, in the dairy industry these days, lives for about 5.
During those 5 or so years of her life, a dairy cow is treated as a machine, not a sentient being. Yes, some small, family-owned dairy farms are still a labour of love and don’t have money placed so far above the well-being of their animals on their priority list that two decades of a cow’s lifespan are simply wiped out, but I digress.
Let’s Go Back a Bit
In WW1 (1914-1918) the United States government sent canned and dried milk overseas to help soldiers not fall victim to malnutrition. During this time, as demand for milk products soared beyond levels seen up to that point in history, farmers all across North America shifted their focus from a variety of different animals and crops to just dairy cows.
This created an enormous surplus of dairy products after the wars ended. Dairy positive propaganda began to be used heavily at this point to really drill it into our heads that dairy products are a perfect food and we should eat as much of them as we can! The National School Lunch Program began in 1946, this program made it mandatory for every school lunch to include a glass of whole milk.
The remaining excess products were then stored in huge underground storage facilities and by the early 80’s, the US government was spending about 1.5 billion dollars a year storing all those dairy products.
Ronald Reagan, President of the United States from 1981 – 1989, attempted to staunch the flow of cash into this storage project during his presidency but the backlash from dairy farmers was (surprise, surprise) extremely strong!
So strong in fact that his attempt failed. Instead, US Congress put in place a program, (initially optional, now no longer optional), called the Dairy Checkoff Program, wherein dairy farmers pay a fee to the government. This fee goes towards ad campaigns touting the consumption of dairy products. Part of the fee also goes to financing partnerships with fast food chain behemoths to run dairy intensive menus at their restaurants. The campaigns are all approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Fun fact: the hugely popular, celebrity endorsed ‘Got Milk?’ ads came from this program.
Neil Barnard states that Wendy’s Cheddar Lover’s Bacon Cheeseburger is one menu item from one restaurant in on this deal. This cheeseburger alone provided to consumers…
- 2.25 million pounds of cheese
- 380 tons of fat
- 1.2 tons of pure cholesterol
The USDA food pyramid includes 3 servings of dairy a day – so the dairy industry has been pushing their backwards agenda on the public for several decades at this point, and uses the Funding Effect to it’s full advantage.
the Funding Effect is a term used to describe the close correlation between the results of a study desired by a study’s funder and the reported results of that study.
Okay, lots of dairy is bad, but a bit is still fine. Right?
No. Not anymore. Not for the planet and not for the animals and no, not for you.
Before the first World War, dairy was a very small part of humankind’s diet. We are actually the only species on the planet that drinks milk past infancy, as milk is a perfect food, FOR BABIES. Human milk has a much lower protein content than cow’s milk, since human milk is meant to slowly grow the baby’s body but quickly grow the baby’s brain. Other the other hoof, cow’s milk is meant to take a 60 pound calf and transform her into a 1000 pound cow within a year.
No wonder humans are getting so fat. Dairy isn’t meant for us!
Dairy only entered our diet about 6000 years ago when humans traveled far enough North that plant products were no longer readily available year round, and meat was scarce. Initially human’s couldn’t digest dairy because of lactose intolerance after infancy.
Then, being the crafty little buggers we are, we figured out how to create cheese! Cheese is much lower in lactose than milk, so it can be more easily digested. We couldn’t have known then the health implications of concentrating all the nutrition (fat included) in milk into a block of cheese.
Fun Facts from Dr. Neil Barnard:
- a typical slice of cheese = 70% fat
- a 2oz serving of Cheddar = 350 mg sodium
- a 2oz serving of Edam = 500 mg sodium
- a 2oz serving of Velveeta = 800mg sodium
- Cheese contains no fibre = no appetite control
Way before the introduction of dairy to the human diet, 1.8 million years to be exact, when humans were getting the majority of their nutrition from plant foods and a tiny percentage of calories from lean meats of the animals roaming the Savannah, the average life expectancy was 72.9 years of age – if they lived past infancy. Today’s life expectancy is 71.5 years.
Let’s Get Back to the Animals
A modern dairy cow has a hellish life. First, she is impregnated while she’s confined in a stanchion, a rack to keep the cows in place – sometimes called a rape rack by city slicker activists. She is pregnant for 9 months and when her baby is born, the mother cow is just as bonded to her offspring as any mother in nature. The baby is taken from her soon afterward. The milk meant for her baby is taken for humans by a milking machine attached to her udder which eventually causes a stretched udder, mastitis and puss and or blood in the milk.
Fun Facts about Puss in Milk:
- 400000 somatic cells are legally allowed per milliliter of milk in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada
- 750000 somatic cells are legally allowed per milliliter of milk in the USA
- 1000000 somatic cells are legally allowed per milliliter of milk in Brazil
If it’s a boy, he is sent to a veal farm, where he’s fed a low iron diet and kept in an extremely small cage so that his muscles stay soft and tender. He is killed for meat within about 4 months.
If it’s a girl, she will spend her first 6 months in a little hut not much bigger than one of those dog igloos, usually in a field with hundreds of other little such huts filled with other calves in the same situation. When she reaches puberty, she will go through the same treatment as her mom and this will continue until the mother is unable to continue bearing calves and producing milk, at which point she will end up on a truck to the slaughterhouse just like beef industry cows.
The dairy industry is horrible to dairy cows and it’s also horrible to the environment, contributing to deforestation because land must be cleared to grow the crops the cows eat, and 29% of the world’s fresh water supply is used by the livestock industry, mainly to water crops eaten by the cows. Methane and other gases from bovine waste are a major contributor to global warming.
As I’ve mentioned, some farms are not the horror show that you can find easily on the internet. But most these days are.
What You Can Do to Change
There are SO MANY plant based alternatives to dairy. Nut milks and cheeses can be made at home, or purchased in stores or online very easily. They don’t include cruelty to animals, are much better for the environment and much better for your health.
It’s a simple change and the choice is yours!