Why Vegans say NO to Dairy
A vegetarian’s diet excludes the eating of meat, chicken and fish. Vegetarians do; however, eat dairy products and eggs. Their diet defines their vegetarianism and like veganism, some abstain from meat because of health reasons and some have decided to leave meat off of their plates because they care about the animals.
Veganism is often thought to be a diet too, but it is clearly much more. Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as is reasonably possible, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to animals for food, clothing, entertainment and experimentation. It is a deep commitment to responsible and compassionate living; compassion for our bodies, for our environment and a deep compassion for the animals with whom we share the earth.
Many believe that not eating meat, but eating dairy, falls within this compassion. Here, I will shine a spotlight on the truth about dairy. I have done extensive research and learned things I could never imagine as being true…things about dairy and our health, our environment and what these animals endure so that we can consume dairy products. I spent months visiting a young calf in a “veal crate” on the side of the road at a dairy farm near my home. I saw firsthand the process of dairy farming and it completely shattered my bucolic illusions of cows living happily in the fields and willingly producing milk for humans to enjoy. I fell in love with that neglected little dairy calf and decided I had to try to make a better life for her if I could. I documented this calf’s rescue, which you can watch and listen to at (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMfn6QkDdAw&feature=youtu.be)
I encourage you to research further, because only you can decide what to do upon learning the facts and the truth. Here are some questions, asked and answered, about dairy.
- Don’t dairy cows continually produce milk and wouldn’t they die if we didn’t milk them? A female cow only produces milk when she is pregnant and lactating. Her milk is meant for her baby, just like a human mother’s milk is intended for hers. The dairy farmers artificially inseminate the young female cows by restraining them. The gestation period is the same as a human (nine months) but unlike a human mother, the female cow does not get to bond with and nurture her baby. As soon as the baby is born (or shortly after) he or she is taken away and placed in a separate area or crate. The milk intended for that calf will be extracted and processed by the dairy farmer and sent to market. Mother cows and their calves have been known to wale in grief for one another…sometimes for weeks. The cows are hooked up to metal machines or pumping equipment that extract their milk two or three times per day. Many dairy cows suffer from a condition called Mastitis, an infection of their udders from the equipment that is attached to them. Once their milk production starts to subside, they are impregnated again, and the cycle is repeated. This process continues for about four years, until the cow becomes too stressed to produce milk, at which time, she is considered “spent” and is sent to slaughter to become our fast food “meat.” The natural life span of a cow is twenty to thirty years.
- So what happens to the calves? If the cow’s baby is a female, she will be raised to go back into the milking system when she is about 12-15 months old, as her mother was. A male calf in the dairy industry is deemed useless (except for the few they keep to use for artificial insemination,) so the male calves are sold for slaughter at just a few weeks old and become what we know of as veal.
- Isn’t dairy healthy and necessary for our bones? We’ve been told all our lives that milk builds strong bones. But, dairy actually contributes to osteoporosis! How could that be? Here’s how; Milk acidifies the body’s pH levels. Calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer and the biggest storage of calcium in the body is in the bones. So the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is utilized to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body via the urine, and the net result after this is an actual calcium deficit. (http://saveourbones.com/osteoporosis-milk-myth/) Now I know why I developed osteoporosis at such a young age. When the milk you drink is pasteurized, the calcium is of very little use to the body anyway, because of the heating process. We’d be better off getting our calcium intake from sources like broccoli, spinach, sweet potato, soybeans, kidney beans and almonds. If you still believe you must drink milk to make your bones strong, here’s an interesting fact: The five highest dairy-consuming countries (Finland, Sweden, U.S., U.K. and Israel) also have the five highest rates of hip fracture — a sign of osteoporosis.
- What is casein and why is it so unhealthy? Cows milk is intended to grow a 65 pound calf into a 650 pound cow in less than a year. There are specific proteins in specific amounts that are biologically engineered to do this perfectly. Humans are the only species on the planet that drink the milk of another species…and long after weaning has taken place. It’s no wonder that approximately 75% of the adult population is lactose intolerant. Our bodies do not optimally digest the proteins in cow’s milk because we are not cows! There are two types of protein found in dairy products: casein and whey. Most of the protein in milk and dairy is casein. In “The China Study,” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study) T. Colin Campbell directly links the occurrence of cancer to the consumption of casein. He noted that casein, which is 85 percent of the protein in dairy, promotes the growth of cancer cells. High levels of casein have also been linked to kidney damage, obesity (reread the first sentence of this paragraph) and diabetes.
- Why is it so hard to give up cheese? Because cheese is physically addictive! The best way to sum up the dangers of ingesting casein in cheese is to use a passage from “Main Street Vegan,” written by my teacher, Victoria Moran. In her eye-opening book she tells us that “Casein, one of the proteins in milk, crosses the blood-brain barrier and becomes something called casomorphins. Yes’m, that sounds a lot like morphine—because casomorphin is also an opiod. Nature designed it that way so young mammals would enjoy nursing, come back for more, and live to reproduce themselves.” “Human milk has only 2.7 grams of casein per liter. Cow’s milk has 26. And because it takes, on average, ten pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese or ice cream, you’re looking at a lot of casein and resultant casomorphin.” Dairy is a major opiate addiction that can cause people to have serious withdrawal symptoms. That must be why one of the first things my clients ask me is…”but how will I ever be able to give up cheese?” Trust me, it can be done. It is cheese… not oxygen.
- Is there an environmental impact from the dairy industry? Cows produce Methane and Nitrous Oxide in their digestive systems. These are greenhouse gasses that are about 21 and 296 times as strong as that of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) respectively. Because of these emissions, the dairy industry alone contributes 3% to global greenhouse gas emissions. Cows also produce a lot of manure, which pollutes water and soil. A 2,000-cow dairy generates more than 240,000 pounds of manure daily or nearly 90 million pounds a year. (http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/ag101/printdairy.html#impact) Dairy production uses massive amounts of water and the production of their feed also takes up a lot of water and land. The production of cattle feed is a major reason for deforestation and is putting enormous pressure on nature.
With the increasing popularity of plant-based diets, there are numerous substitutions for cow’s milk, cheese and ice cream. They are just as tasty and satisfying. They are also healthier, cruelty-free and environmentally responsible. Wishing you good health and a full glass of awakened compassion.
For meat, egg and dairy substitutes, visit: http://veganoutreach.org/meat-egg-and-dairy-alternatives/