nature and us
Hey, this is Joelle again 🙂 So I’ve been thinking…
I know most people grow up believing that cow’s milk is good for you, that it gives you strong bones and should be part of a healthy diet. If you just nodded and thought “me too, that’s just how it is right!?” please stop for a moment and think about this: Why exactly did you grow up believing that cow’s milk is good for you? Because your parents and everyone else told you so, right? And here’s another question for you: Let’s say that milk from cows is actually good for you, that humans should be consuming dairy products on a daily basis. Why, and this is very important, why do we refer only to cow’s milk when speaking of ‘milk’? Why not dog’s milk, or elephant’s milk, or monkey’s milk? And why are humans the only species that consume the milk of another species? The answer is propaganda. Now before you start shaking your head and write me off as crazy, hear me out. My childhood was a bit different from most. I grew up believing, you could even say knowing, that cow’s milk isn’t made for humans. My mama taught me and my sisters from the start that it’s made for baby cows and baby cows alone, and that we have no right to take their milk from them. That it isn’t healthy for us at all to drink cow’s milk or eat anything that’s made out of it, because, well, it’s for baby cows. And for the longest time, all this made perfect sense to me. I didn’t want to consciously take anything away from someone, and why would i if it’s not even good for me? But as i grew older, i started to bend those beliefs to my convenience. I started eating butter and yogurt as if it was normal, and even cheese sometimes. And while i always had the things that my mother had taught me in the back of my mind, i still started believing what everybody else seems to believe as if it’s a nature’s law or something: That dairy is actually good for you and that it’s perfectly normal to consume it on a daily basis. But why did i start believing that? The answer is simple: I went to school; and with that, i also started watching TV more. I kept seeing other kids drinking milk, eating cheese, ice cream, yogurt and other dairy products and heard them talk about it as if it was perfectly normal to do so. I even started thinking that it wasn’t ‘normal’ for me not to consume dairy, because the other kids kept asking about my ‘weird’ food and were super surprised when i told them i don’t drink milk or eat dairy. I started thinking that it’s not normal the way i eat, that i’m too different from the others because of that. I also didn’t eat wheat and didn’t know/ had never tried most of the (unhealthy) dishes and treats most children grow up with, for example lasagna or Nutella, which made the situation a bit more intense. The reason for this was that my parents wanted to raise us the healthiest way possible, so we grew up eating things like rambutan (some sort of lychee) or jackfruit instead of Pizza or cheesecake. Sounds pretty cool, right? While i now think that it was the best thing for us growing up like this, it felt like the worst thing when i was a kid in school. And when i think about that now, i’m pretty shocked and sad about it. What kind of society do we live in that children grow up believing it’s perfectly normal to eat unhealthy food, and that it’s ‘weird’ to eat healthy food?
In the end, it all comes back to propaganda. I know the word sounds pretty daunting, but just let me explain. Most of us watch TV at least a few times a week and we believe what the ads tell us. Our parents teach us what their parents and society taught them, and we then later give on that knowledge to our own kids. We gossip and believe what the majority believes, ’cause hey, it’s the majority, so it must be true right?! We believe everything the doctor says, ’cause if they don’t know everything about health, then who does? We trust other people’s opinions rather than our own, ’cause their approvement is more important to us than staying true to ourselves and therefore taking the risk of standing alone. But what most people seem to forget is this: People tend to be selfish. It’s sad, but it’s an undeniable truth that there are far too many people in this world who care more about making money and their own benefits than anything else, including the well-being of other humans and animals.
Okay, back to the subject of this post now: Why do i think that consuming dairy is not only bad for you and the environment, but also, and for me that’s what’s most important, unbelievably cruel? Let’s take a look at some facts.
Milk is meant for baby cows.
As already mentioned above, the sole reason for cows to give milk is so they can feed their babies. As kids, i think many of us form that picture in our minds that cows always give milk, that we do them a favor by milking them and that they actually like ‘giving’ their milk for us to drink and use in cooking. However, that’s not true. Like all mammals, cows only produce milk when there is a baby that has to be fed. So as long as they’re not pregnant and don’t have a child that still requires mother’s milk to grow, they won’t produce any of it. And with that knowledge, doesn’t it seem a bit unnatural for us to consume mother’s milk even as grown-ups, and not even our own, but from another species? We wouldn’t drink giraffe’s milk or cat’s milk either, now would we? And that might be the first clue that cow’s milk can’t, in any way, be healthy for humans: We’re not baby cows. Their milk is literally calf growth fluid, meaning it’s supposed to turn them from little babies into really big cows in a few months’ time. There’s just too much in it for us that we don’t need: too much fat, too many hormones like estrogens (remember the milk producing cow is or recently has been pregnant hellooo), and lots of other stuff (if you wanna know more about that, read this article by Dr. M. Klaper, he’s brilliant!) Cow’s milk even has been linked to a highly increased risk of getting cancer and other illnesses. And anyway, how is it possible for us to consume so much cow’s milk without the calves getting much less of it than they normally would? That’s simple. It isn’t.
We not only take their milk; we take their freedom, their joy, and in the end even their lives.
So we’ve already agreed on the fact that milk is meant for baby cows, not humans. But even if that’s true, we still don’t do any harm to the cows by taking their milk, right? They all live on green fields, giving milk all the time anyway, no? No. That’s what the dairy industry wants us to believe. The reality looks a bit different, and it’s actually pretty scary. Here’s a brief description of what happens to a dairy cow in their (significantly shortened) lifetime: They spend nine months in their mother’s womb and are born because their mother was artificially inseminated with bulls sperm, meaning someone shoved their hand up their ass to open up their vagina and insert the sperm with a long stick. Immediately after they’re born, they are taken away from their mother so they cannot drink any of the milk meant for them, cause that would be bad for the farmer (less milk = less profit). But cows have a very strong, instinctive mother/child bond, so both will usually cry for days, missing each other, not knowing why their child/ their mother was taken away from them. Now if the calf is male, it will either be shot in the head (or killed otherwise) by the farmer very soon after birth, or sent to slaughter at just a few days old. This happens because it wouldn’t be profitable enough for the farmer to raise the calf and then sell it for slaughter. If the calf is female on the other hand, it will have the same fate as its mother: She will be raised separately in a crate, getting only a milk substitute, growing up away from her mother. Once she is old enough to carry children, the farmer will start to artificially inseminate her, over and over again. Meaning she will be pregnant for nine months, give birth, her child will be ripped from her, and then it all starts over. And between all this, all the milk she produces will be sucked out of her by machines, every day. This is all she will be doing, or rather experiencing, for the rest of her life. Until she literally collapses to the ground, completely exhausted. This usually happens after 4 or 5 years, while the natural life span of a cow can be up to 20 years. And I’m not even exaggerating. This is exactly what happens in 98% of all dairy farms. And even if you can find a farm where the cows are treated ‘well’ (there aren’t many but they still exist, I know), do you think it’s right for us to enslave them, artificially inseminate them, take away their babies and steal their milk which is making us sick? Another big factor making the lives of dairy cows even more stressful and torturous is that nowadays, all cows have been genetically modified (like most farmed animals) so that they produce a lot more milk than they used to, which is a cause of much more pain for them. Because of the genetic modifications, it’s also become possible for them to become pregnant with their next child while still producing milk for their last one. And while this may seem much more ‘efficient’ to the dairy farmers, it’s definitely not beneficial to the cows’ wellbeing.
I know all this might seem hard to believe, so here are some videos for you that prove that all this is really happening:
It’s not only bad for us, it’s bad for the environment.
So i think we can all agree by now that cow’s milk is neither beneficial for us, nor does it make the cows happy if we take their milk from them (if you’ve actually read this far – wow! thanks for sticking with me!) but there’s one more thing that everyone should know about dairy, and animal products in general: They’re literally destroying our planet. That’s right. Our beautiful, blue and green and colorful, magical planet full of mysteries and miracles. It’s no secret that we’re destroying it with our crappy modern lifestyle, but most people don’t know that animal products are really, really bad for the environment, like, big time. Here are some of the most important facts for you:
The global contribution of animal farming to greenhouse gas emissions is bigger than that of all public transportation combined (including ships and planes). (Mostly due to cows producing methane and all farmed animals producing excrements)
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, desertification, species extinction and air and water pollution.
It takes 9400l water to produce 1l milk, but for example only 180l water for 1kg tomatoes and 250l for 1kg potatoes.
A vegan diet requires about a third of the land required for conventional western diets (with animal products).
There would be more than enough food for everyone on this planet if we didn’t feed so much of it to the animals we’re killing to eat in the western world. (Maybe not an environmental issue, but important nonetheless!)
But here’s the good news: You can do something against that, right now! All you have to do is cut out animal products, meaning especially meat, dairy, and eggs. I’ll be writing posts about all animal products this year, so you’ll be able to read all about meat and eggs (and other animal products) too. In the meantime, if you’re interested in all that and don’t wanna wait, the information is already out there! Just do some research, watch documentaries, watch footage of farms. Educate yourself so you can choose not to do harm, not to you, not to the planet and not to the animals <3
You don’t need to drink cow’s milk to get enough calcium or to be healthy.
I know many people are concerned about getting enough calcium when presented with the idea of cutting out dairy. Here’s what the dairy industry doesn’t want you to know: You don’t need to drink milk to get enough calcium! You can easily get enough of that by eating enough leafy green vegetables or sesame for example. The only reason almost everyone will tell you that you need to drink milk for calcium (especially advertisements) is that the dairy industry wants you to buy as many dairy products as possible so that they make as much money as possible. They don’t care whether you’re healthy or not! In fact, our body can’t even really absorb the calcium found in cow’s milk, because of its composition with other substances in there. So there’s actually no health related reason for us to drink cow’s milk. So why not try cutting out dairy from your diet and see what it does to your health? Many people feel much better and more energized after cutting out dairy (i know i did!)
There are so many plant based alternatives to cow’s milk! And the best? No one gets tortured or killed in the process, and they’re not harming the planet!
There are so so so many options nowadays of dairy free products. Seriously. Contrary to common belief, you don’t really have to say goodbye to anything when giving up dairy. There are tons of plant based milks like oat milk, soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, hemp milk, rice milk and cashew milk to name but a few. Just try them out and see which you like best! You can even make them yourself! If you wanna learn more about different plant based milks and their benefits, or about a vegan lifestyle in general, you should definitely check out my friend Tully’s blog 🙂 (check it out!)
There’s also plant based yogurt, ice cream, chocolate, vegan butter, and even vegan mayo. You can enjoy all the cake you want cause there’s a vegan version of every thinkable recipe out there. You don’t have to restrict yourself in anything. I’m not saying that dairy ‘substitutes’ are necessarily good for you, as many of them do contain unnecessary stuff like sugar or oil. My point is, by cutting out dairy, you’re definitely making a choice that’s good for your health as you’re eliminating something that’s doing damage to your body. Now if you wanna make even more amazing choices for your body, try looking at ingredients or even making as much as possible yourself (check out the recipe section; plus there are so many amazing blogs and books out there to find inspiration!)
So the only thing that will change when cutting out dairy is you and your impact on the world. You won’t be harming animals, you’ll be doing something very good for the planet, and you most likely will be happier and healthier. So why not give it a try?
I could go on and on here, but I think the most important things have been said. Here are my main sources: doctorklaper.com and vegansociety.com. I could give you so many documentaries and videos to watch and articles to read here, but i’ll just leave you with one for now: Watch Cowspiracy on Netflix. It’s one of the best documentaries i’ve ever seen.
So do you think you would like to cut out dairy in the future? Did you already know some of these things or did you learn something knew? I hope this post was helpful for you! Oh and in case you were wondering, you can buy that awesome ‘post milk generation’ tee on the Oatly website!