The Dirty "D" Dairy
The more I learn about the dairy industry and the health effects associated with the consumption of dairy; it forces me to make a conscious effort to avoid it. I am going to focus on 3 main areas - animal rights and welfare, health concerns related to dairy and the environmental impact of dairy agriculture. I am going to post some articles and research that corresponds with the topics and so you can read and form an opinion for yourself.
Animal Rights and Welfare:
I just recently found out the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle. These are guidelines set by the National Farm Animal Care Council of Canada. Shortly after the calves are born they are separated from their mothers, usually within the first couple of days. NFACC, states that the early separation of calves from their mothers is less traumatic than waiting to do it later. ( http://www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/dairy-cattle/code) However, in a natural setting, a calf will nurse for nearly a year and they are found to develop strong relationships with their mother and will remain close to them for most of their life. (https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/animals-used-food-factsheets/veal-byproduct-cruel-dairy-industry/) As a mother, I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it would be to be separated from your baby. Usually, the female calves are kept and used as dairy cattle and males are sold to veal farms where they are chained in small stalls and slaughtered around 5-7 months. The Canadian guidelines for the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle, are not very well regulated or enforced, so at the end of the day, it is the farmer's decision to do what is ethical or most profitable.
Health Concerns Related to Dairy Consumption:
As time and research have proven, we don’t need dairy in our diets. Here is a list of health concerns associated with dairy consumption:
Lactose intolerance - is very common among the masses. Meaning a person doesn’t have the enzyme lactase needed to break milk sugars.²
Osteoporosis - If you are like me you probably grew up hearing milk builds strong bones, that has been proven to be false¹. Areas where milk consumption was high, people had a higher risk of osteoporosis.² ³
Cancer - dairy has been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, like breast, prostate, and ovarian.²
Diabetes - Studies found that babies with a genetic risk of developing type 1 diabetes were more likely to develop diabetes when introduced early to cow’s milk.²
Cardiovascular Disease - dairy is high in saturated fat and cholesterol which can cause cardiovascular disease.²
Obesity - milk and milk products continue to be a leading contributor to obesity in children. Studies found children drinking 1% or skim milk were not less likely to be obese than children consuming whole milk.²
Colic - cow’s milk is linked to colic in babies. Even with breastfed babies, the cow’s milk is passed to the baby in the breast milk.²
Hormonal Imbalances - Milk is a fluid hormone. From the hormones that the cows are injected with to the ones that they naturally produce. When we consume dairy products we ingest these hormones and they can interfere with our own hormonal functions and cause acne and early onset puberty.² ⁴
Environmental Toxins and Pesticides - when a cow ingests toxins from the environment they become stored and concentrated in the fat cells and are eventually passed on to us when we consume them. We do not easily eliminate these toxins and with enough of a build up over time they can affect our immune systems, reproductive and central nervous systems. Toxins like PCB’s and dioxins are linked to cancers as well.² ⁶
Chemicals - chemicals that are introduced during the processing of milk do not become destroyed during pasteurization. They can be damaging to the kidneys and urinary tract and some are carcinogens.²
Constipation - cow’s milk has been proven to cause constipation in children.⁵
Autoimmune Disease - there have been studies linking dairy and other animal products to rheumatoid arthritis. Children who consumed cow's milk also had an increased risk for developing allergies and asthma.² ⁷
The environmental effects caused by the meat and dairy industry have been documented for quite some time. I remember reading the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer many years ago which brought to light these issues.
The current water crisis that is happening around the world is very alarming. Fresh drinking water is disappearing. South Africa is in the middle of a water shortage and California is getting close. I predict that in the near future water is going to be the number one natural resource countries will be fighting over. Due to the fact, that water is essential to human survival we can only go a few days without it before we die. I grew up on well water so we always had to be conscious of our water usage and that is something I am still careful of. However, now the greatest impact I have on water conservation is by not consuming animal products. Even just simply by reducing the amount for animal products a person consumes will make a difference. ⁹
¹Barnard, N. White Lies? Five Milk Myths Debunked. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Retrieved from: https://www.pcrm.org/nbBlog/white-lies-five-milk-myths-debunked
² Barnard, N. Health Concerns about Dairy Products. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Retrieved from: http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/health-concerns-about-dairy-products
³ Barnard, N. Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Retrieved from: https://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/preventing-and-reversing-osteoporosis
⁴ Greger, M. Dairy. NutritionFacts.org Retrieved from https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/
⁵ Greger, M. Childhood Constipation and Cow’s Milk. NutritionFacts.org Retrieved from: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/childhood-constipation-and-cows-milk/
⁶ Greger, M. California Children Are Contaminated. NutritionFacts.org Retrieved from: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/california-children-are-contaminated/
⁷ Host A. Frequency of cow’s milk allergy in childhood. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002;89(6 Suppl 1):33–37.
⁸ Andersen K. Kuhn K. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. Retrieved from: http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/
⁹ Leahy S. The World's Water Crisis Explained on World Water Day. The National Geographic. Retrieved from: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/world-water-day-water-crisis-explained/