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What You Drink Impacts Your Diet, Part Five: Milk and the Dairy Industry

Our last few stops on this beverage expedition have been quite pleasant: from water, the "fountain of wellness," to the goats in Africa, exploring that coffee, in general is good, to the legend of the Emperor in China, who gave us tea and its countless health benefits. Now we take a look at a popular liquid choice, used to drink, in recipes, cereal and array of other ways –– milk. Dairy products also include yogurt, cheese, ice cream, butter, and so on. But does "milk do a body good"?  More importantly, what about the dairy cows? Warning: this  "stop and smell the pasture" detour is rather lengthy and disturbing.

Considering I live on the Central Coast of California where cows graze and relax on ranches side by side with horses, only a quarter a mile away –– and all over our counties –– cows have become one of my favorite animals (my first is the Silverback gorilla) and that is one of the reasons I rarely eat beef. The other basis is that beef is high in saturated fat and there are much leaner types of meat to choose from. 

Ironically, as an animal lover and a fitness expert, I'm torn when it comes to consuming animal sources of protein altogether. Protein –– an important component of every cell in the body, is a "macronutrient" and along with carbohydrates and fats, is needed in relatively large amounts. Consuming protein daily is essential to a balanced diet and it can aid in weight loss. Although you can get enough protein in your diet via plant sources like legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, as well as small traces found in fruits and vegetables, you may end up "over-carbing" and missing out on the plusses that animal sources of protein bring to the table, unless of course you are a well-educated and disciplined vegan.

Despite the fact that poultry, beef, eggs, milk, and seafood were never meant to be consumed in excess, our society has turned something good that was intended for life and nutrition into something horrific –– transforming our food industry into a "gluttony and greed machine," at the expense of our innocent animals. It is a travesty that is obvious to those "brave" enough to confront the reality of the on-gong barbaric and disgusting treatment of our animals in the name of food supply.

Unfortunately, dairy cows are not immune from the cruelty our food industry imposes on our animals. According to VegforLife.org (and tons of other advocacy groups, each carrying their own agenda), dairy cows are…

  • Forced to produce ten times more milk than they would in nature, most dairy cows endure an exhausting existence of continuous breeding and milk production. As a result, dairy cows frequently suffer from painful udder infections, lameness and other ailments.
  • In the name of increased milk production and profit, many dairy cows are injected with Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), a genetically engineered hormone known to cause birth defects in calves. The drug, which was approved by the FDA, was banned in Europe and Canada.
  • Although they can live for more than 20 years in a healthy environment, dairy cows are sent to slaughter when their milk production declines at four or five years of age.
  • And so on…

As an author of a diet book, I do recommend consuming protein from lean meats, egg whites, and certain seafood. And dairy products have their place in a healthy and fit diet especially yogurt (sugar-free of course). However, I do advise choosing “free-range” and "organic" –– poultry, eggs, beef, and dairy products, because, for the most part, these animals have better odds of being treated humanely and free-range livestock are allowed to roam freely and feed at will.

About Christine Lakatos

  • Wal Heinrich

    So true, Christine. I am fortunate enough to live near a 50+ mile long island that boasts of its biodynamic free range eggs and its disease free bees. Dairy farms near me cooperatively produce top quality milk and market it as organic. It costs a little more but I think it is worth it. I consider myself to be very lucky to be able to enjoy wholesome foods where so many people, because of ignorance or lack of choice, have to eat the rubbish that the corporate farms serve up.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Thanks for the comment Wal: wish more people had your intelligence and attitude.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “There are alternatives to dairy, like soy products…”

    Yes, but lets’ also be truthful about the possible health concerns & overall lack of nutrition from non-fermented & modern processed edible Soy Isolate Proteins.

    Like all legumes, soy beans are deficient in sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine. In addition, modern processing denatures fragile lysine.

    “In the name of increased milk production and profit, many dairy cows are injected with Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), a genetically engineered hormone known to cause birth defects in calves. The drug, which was approved by the FDA, was banned in Europe and Canada.”

    [The]FDA believes that the Canadian reviewers did not interpret the study results correctly and that there are no new scientific concerns regarding the safety of milk from cows treated with rbGH. The determination that long term studies were not necessary for assessing the safety of rbGH was based on studies which show that: bGH is biologically inactive in humans even if injected, rbGH is orally inactive, and bGH and rbGH are biologically indistinguishable.-Review of the Safety of Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin [updated 2009]

    “eating fewer animal products is better for the environment as are organic farms.”

    In all fairness, NOT breeding would also be kinder. Also, if all people completely switched to a vegetarian diet then wouldn’t that, ultimately, place the burden on a different part of the environment? Seriously, we’re trying to support an estimated 6,884,396,120 global population on one planet! What food source is going to be a complete solution??