Not your milk, not your mom

Nikki Schaffer
Features Editor

Got milk? We are all familiar with this famous milk moustache campaign. Advertisers like California Dairy lead us to believe that cows live idyllic lives in large pastures with green grass and rolling hills. California cows are “happy cows.”

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth for most cows who are raised in intensive production systems. In the dairy industry, female cows are utilized as milk-making machines. From about age 2, dairy cows are artificially inseminated. Upon giving birth, their young are typically torn away from them after only a few short hours.

cowInstead of being able to nourish their young, their milk is taken from them to be consumed by humans. Female calves are raised to have the same fate as their mother, while male offspring are typically held captive in a confining crate and slaughtered for veal.

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Mother cows share a bond with their young that is not unlike a human mother’s bond. The event of losing her young is very emotional and often the cows will let out cries for hours over the loss of one another. Dairy cows also suffer from numerous health problems.

In 1994, the American milk industry introduced artificial hormones which were believed to increase milk yields in cows. For the past 19 years, America’s milk has been produced alongside this hormone which goes by two interchangeable names: recombinant bovine somatropie (rBST) and recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH).

This hormone acts by mimicking a hormone that is naturally produced in a cow’s pituitary gland. These unnatural injections result in many cases of lameness and Mastitis, a painful type of udder infection that causes cows to pump out bacteria and pus along with milk. To treat mastitis, antibiotics are used. Yes, every glass of cow’s milk that you drink has the potential to contain blood, antibiotics and pus.

These cows are also fed an unnatural high-grain feed which can be irritating and stressful to their digestive tract. According to Science Daily, grain-based diets can promote Escherichia coli (E. coli) within the digestive tract of cattle. It has been shown by USDA scientists that cattle switched from grain-based diets to hay were less likely to shed harmful E. coli in their feces.

After several rounds of being impregnated the average dairy cow is sent off to be slaughtered by the age of 5 despite being able to live for another 15 years. Here, she will hear the screams of her friends as she waits for her own limbs to be torn from her body in a state of half-consciousness, soon to become cheap beef (i.e; your McDonald’s Burger). The plight of a dairy cow is one to be taken seriously. Can we really justify our actions?

In fact, humans are the only mammal that drinks the milk of another species. What would you say if I offered you a nice glass of rat’s milk? What, this doesn’t sound appealing? It is also the milk of another species, so why we have decided that cow’s milk is king? The dairy industry would like us to believe that milk builds strong bones.

pusThis is false. When looking at epidemiological studies from around the world, it has been found that countries in which people who consume the least amount of dairy (like Asia and South Pacific countries, Mexico and parts of Africa) have significantly fewer cases of osteoporosis. The greater exposure one has to the western diet, the higher the risk of degenerative diseases. An article by Organic Authority sites a study that reveals milk’s contribution to osteoporosis, “High acid foods—like dairy and meat—actually contribute to the leaching of calcium. A 1997 study found that of the nearly 80,000 participants, women who drank more than a glass of milk per day had a 45 percent higher risk of hip fractures than the women who drank less or no milk.”

Although this information may come as a shock as you have likely been brainwashed and following the good old American Food Pyramid all of these years, know that thankfully there are a wide variety of dairy alternatives that exist without tears, pus, blood or disease.

Almond, Coconut, Soy and Rice are just a few of the many delicious options. So don’t ditch the milk, just ditch the dairy. Both you and the cows will be happy for it.