People in some health circles have long considered cows milk to be unhealthy and detrimental to human health. In recent years, the use of plant milk has increased and become a common sight. But why? Is cows milk really bad for us?
I first began writing this post weeks ago, but decided to delay it, to allow myself time to clarify my thoughts, the sources I would use, and the points I would make.Then I recently watched the popular documentary, Cowspiracy, which highlights various issues surrounding animal husbandry, and specifically, raising animals for food. Everything became clearer to me.
I’ve been ascribing to a vegetarian diet for a few years now, (you can read more about my food journey here), and have been educating myself, regarding food and changing my diet accordingly. So, when I say that everything became clearer to me, I don’t mean that the documentary caught me off-guard and made me rethink my diet, but instead, it just affirmed my decision all the more.
Initially, the former researcher in me wanted to research the topic thoroughly, to provide evidence to those who haven’t yet been informed, or were still undecided. But I realised this: I just needed to use common sense. After watching Cowspiracy, I did of course, Google the topic, and I noticed that the facts and statistics presented in the documentary were being contested, unsurprisingly. We could argue about the stats used, or the general legitimacy of quantitative statistics, or whether the analogies drawn are even really comparable, but those debates that have been around for years.
These are the points I’d like to highlight instead:
- We are not young calves. This may sound funny at first, but we are not young cows. When we were young, many of us were fed the equivalent of what we needed, which is breast-milk. And we were given a mono diet.
- Digestion. Imagine the havoc caused to our systems by digesting not only milk that was designed for a different species, but also by combining it with a number of other food types.
- Lactation and motherhood. In the same way that human mothers lactate when they give birth, cows produce milk after having given birth. It makes sense, but it’s a connection I hadn’t made before watching the documentary. Which means that calves are given a very limited time to suckle their mothers, before being taken away, and that the milk we consume, is intended for calves.
- Cows milk contains antibiotics that are formulated for…cows. The milk we consume contains hormones and antibiotics that are designed to aid the growth and development of cows, not human beings.
I deliberately kept this post brief and succinct, without any connotations or propaganda. There are many other factors to consider, such as the effect animal agriculture has on greenhouse gasses; the relationship between cows’ milk and osteoporosis, prostate cancer, cholesterol, and acne, to name a few. Many studies have been done to support these claims and for further reading, you may want to consult these pages: PETA: 11 reasons to stop drinking milk and Nutrition Studies: 12 frightening facts about milk before doing your own research.