If you grew up learning about the food pyramid, you probably grew up believing that dairy products are an essential food group to a healthy diet.
The truth is, dairy isn’t as good for you as mainstream media would have you believe. The associated risks can easily outweigh the proposed benefits.
Below are just a few of the most common misconceptions I’ve heard regarding dairy, although there are many more, and exhaustive ethical implications that could be discussed.
- Drinking Milk is Good for your Health
- 3/4 of us lack the enzyme to properly digest cow’s milk, and suffer digestively as a result
- One study removed dairy from the diets of people experiencing regular migraines or asthma, and nearly 75% of participants reported a significant improvement in their condition
- Over 100 studies have noted a significant correlation between Type 1 diabetes and higher amounts of milk consumed by children
- Another study on 7500 men found a link between the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease and drinking 2+ glasses of milk a day
- A Harvard study looking at 100, 000 women aged 26-46 found those with the highest intakes of meat and dairy also had the highest risk of breast cancer
- For men, over 20 studies have discovered significant links between prostate cancer and milk consumption
- You Need Milk to Get Enough Calcium
- Calcium is a mineral in the soil which is absorbed by the roots of the same plants that cows eat, so you’re not receiving a direct source of calcium.
- Dark leafy greens are far superior in obtaining calcium: on average, you absorb 30% of calcium found in milk, yogurt and cheese whereas you receive double that in foods like kale, broccoli, bok choy and spinach
- Milk might actually increase the risk of breaking bones and osteoporosis: a Harvard Nurses study of 77, 000 women over a 12 year time frame found that those who had 2+ glasses of milk a day had a higher risk of breaking a bone
- Cows Need to be Milked Anyway
- Cows are mammals, and just like humans, only produce milk for the purpose of nursing their young. As such, its contents are entirely intended to provide the nutrients for a calf to grow up healthily
- Humans are the only species to drink another species milk
- In order to meet human demands, dairy cows are kept pregnant most of their life through artificial insemination
- A cow nursing her calf naturally will produce roughly 7kg of milk a day, whereas in the dairy industry, they’re forced to produce roughly 27kg a day, often leading to painful conditions such as mastitis
- Cows in the dairy industry are often slaughtered at the age of 4 or 5 if they don’t die of exhaustion or infection first. They’re natural life span is 18-25 years
At the end of the day, extracting milk from cows is a profitable business, so the dairy industry will make sure you believe that it’s good for you. This hardly scratches the surface of the issues prominent within the dairy industry, but I hope it encourages reflection on your own intake.