The dairy industry may seem to many to be this gigantic, imposing and important cornerstone of both daily nutrition and local, regional economies. For many of us it is or was a daily presence in our lives, with milk, cheese and butter being crucial aspects of breakfast, lunch and dinner. All through out my childhood and teenage years I went along with their message, dairy does the body good, calcium for strong bones, whey protein and casein for muscle growth and on and on. For many people both eating the current 'standard' diet or a vegetarian diet dairy is a part of their daily consumption they claim they 'could not live without'. But when you start to look closer behind the images of smiling farmers next to cows in their fields, or cartoon laughing cows what is the real truth behind dairy. Where does it come from, how is it made, and is it really good for us?
Lets start with where it comes from. Dairy as everyone should know refers to products made from cows milk, this includes milk, cheese, butter, cream and whey. The story I was always told as a kid was that cows make milk because they ate grass, and the farmer milks the cow to prevent them getting sore udders and we then can buy it an eat it or drink it. As an adult I still believed this story as true for a long time, and even though I was both old and wise enough to have ascertained the truth behind this story, through cognitive dissonance I chose to ignore it. The truth however is much different. Yes cows eat grass, and yes they produce milk, but they, like all mammals only produce milk when they are pregnant / have just recently given birth. They are breast feeding mothers, just like humans. They carry their babies for 9 months and then when the baby is born they produce milk to nurture their babies. However we have industrialized this beautiful and natural process. Now milk is no longer for baby calves, it is for humans. On the dairy farm female cows are valuable, they of course are the breast feeding mothers and so produce milk. Every year from the time they are mature enough to get pregnant and give birth they are impregnated by machine or by a gloved hand with bull semen, after a 9 month pregnancy they give birth to a beautiful baby cow. Within hours of giving birth mother and baby will be forcibly separated, because there would be no milk to sell if we let baby drink it. Mother will then be hooked up twice daily to the milking apparatus which drains her stores of milk dry increasing natural milk production and ensuring lots of milk and lots of profit for the farmers.
Meanwhile baby cow will be bottle fed soy milk until they are old enough to be weaned onto grass, hay or feed. At this stage the female calves will either rejoin the herd or form a new herd with the other female babies born that year. Once she is old enough to be impregnated then the process will repeat itself again. For her this will be her life until she dies, forcibly impregnated, pregnant for 9 months, baby taken away, milked, repeat, until she is 'spent'. This is the term the industry uses to describe mother cows that no longer can produce the high levels of milk demanded by the industry. This usually occurs at the age of 4-6 years old, at this stage she will have given birth to 3-5 babies and watched them all be taken away, and now that she is useless as far as profits go, she will be sent to the slaughter house to try to make any last profit that can be made from her. Had she not been in the dairy industry she could live to 20-25 years old.
Meanwhile, the male babies have another terrible fate. Almost all of the male calves born are considered useless to the dairy industry as they cannot produce milk. They will be taken from their mothers and like the baby girls will be fed soy milk and feed. They however will be placed in crates, cages or containers just large enough for them to stand in, with no room to turn their heads or move. This is to ensure their muscles do not develop or get to strong to ensure a softer and more tender meat. Once they are considered large enough they will be sent to slaughter for Veal, all will be less than 1 year old.
The extreme minority that will not be sold for veal will become the replacement bull that will be endlessly forced to produce semen to impregnate the females of the herd. And this is not any better a life than the veal industry. He will have a ring put through his nostrils which will be tied to a post in a large metal container. This is to cause pain is he attempts to flee or move during the process. He will then be electrocuted in his anus repeatedly to cause him to ejaculate and his sperm will be collected and used to impregnate the female cows. Almost all farms will not allow him to actually mate with the females in case of injury to a prized female or failed pregnancy meaning no milk production and reduced profits.
His sperm will then be taken and the females will be tied and placed into the industry termed 'Rape Rack' and be impregnated using this collected sperm.
The following excerpt was taken from an article entitled “How to Artificially Inseminate Cows and Heifers” explaining the procedure by which dairy cows are forcibly impregnated year after year.
Move the tail so it’s on top of your left forearm or tie it up so it will not interfere with the AI (artificial insemination) process. Raise the tail with one hand (preferably the right) and with the other (which should be gloved and lubricated), gently reach inside the cow to clean out any feces that may interfere with the process of feeling for and inserting the AI gun into the cow’s vagina.
Clean the vulva with a clean paper towel or rag to remove excess manure and debris.
Take the gun out of your jacket or overalls, unwrap it, then insert it at a 30 degree angle into the cow’s vulva. This is so that you avoid going into the urethral opening into the bladder.
With your left hand in the rectum of the cow (which should have been there to begin with), feel with your finger tips through the wall of the rectum and vagina the location of the end of the AI gun until you reach the cervix.
Grasp the cervix with the hand in the rectum of the cow (like you would hold a bar that is below your hand) and hold it steady while you thread the rod into and through the cow’s cervix.
When the rod is all the way through the cervix, check the location with your index finger. The rod should be only 1/2 to 1/4 of an inch into the uterus.
Slowly depress the plunger at the end where your right hand is so that 1/2 is deposited.
Recheck the location of the semen to make sure you are in the cow’s uterus and not in any of her “blind spots” (see tips below), and deposit the other half of the straw’s contents.
Slowly remove the AI gun, your hand and arm from inside the cow. Check for any blood, infection or semen “feedback” from inside the sheath.
Recheck the straw to see if you used the right bull semen for the cow.
Dispose the straw, glove, and towels in the proper place.
Clean the AI gun if necessary.
Record breeding information on any record keeping system you have on hand.
Release the cow (if necessary, depending on the breeding set-up you have) and restrain the next one to be inseminated
This process will be repeated almost every year with females giving birth roughly every 12-13 months. With the high milk yield being around 10 months long this means that almost every year she will be raped and have her new born calf taken away. And just so that no information is not included you should know that they do not use health females to teach new farm hands to use the AI 'gun' but will use spent cows going to slaughter. This ensures that none of the prized animals are injured or harmed by inexperienced hands. However it also means that many females who go to slaughter are pregnant some at a rather late stage depending on time between the AI training and slaughter.
Right now I would like to take a second to jump in on this rather blunt and robotic article and add some emotion and humanity. I think all of us an see just how traumatic all of this would be not just for the mothers but the babies as well. Imagine placing a human in this situation, a young mother gives birth, and within hours that baby is ripped from her arms whilst she is hooked up to milking apparatus twice daily for 10 months, and only 5 months after giving birth she is artificially impregnated against her will. With all her daughters suffering the same fate and her sons killed at less than 1 year old. And imagine the trauma for the babies, ripped from their mothers within hours of birth and isolated and fed by plastic bottle with no attachment or bonding. Losing all emotional connection with their mother, and lacking any understanding or reasoning as to why this is happening to them. And the male babies sent to be slaughtered when they are not even 1 year old. It is said that the mother cows can be heard bellowing for days after their babies are taken and that some even try to hide or conceal their babies to protect them. This industry is beyond cruel, it is abusing and tormenting the most vulnerable to make money through essentially rape, violence and child abuse.
But surely there must be a reason we are doing this. This heartbreaking act must be for a greater purpose, dairy must be good for us and we must need it to survive. Sadly, I am here to tell you it is not.
Not only is dairy linked strongly breast and prostate cancer but it has be shown to cause ovarian and lung cancers as well. Dairy consumption has also been shown to be a major cause of heart disease, diabetes and even Crohns, Colitis and other auto-immune diseases.
Lets talk more about cancer first. Cancer is one of the scariest and most feared illnesses around today. It is the hidden killer, the cause of heart ache and misery for millions of families across the world, and yet we seek the cure instead of removing the causes. Dairy products contain casein, a type of protein found in cows milk, according to Dr T. Colin Campbell a prominent researcher and author of the largest cancer and population study ever carried out (The CHina study) - "Casein is the most relevant chemical carcinogen ever identified.” A carcinogen is the term used to refer to a cancer causing agent or chemical. Casein was found to have such strong links to cancer cell growth and production that scientists could literally turn on and off cancer growth by manipulating levels of casein in the diets of lab animals. Another huge factor is the high levels of IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor 1) in dairy. This growth hormone is highly present in all forms of dairy products and is totally natural. It is also present in human breast milk, but as you all know no-one is still drinking human breast milk as an adult. It's purpose is to help the baby grow and develop rapidly, in the case of dairy it is there to help the young calf grow in the space of a year from a small baby into an almost fully grown 1000+ pound adult. When we combine IGF-1 with an already established cancer growth it accelerates the tumor growth increasing the risk of death significantly. According to Dr Greggor of nutritionfacts.org "Having low levels of IGF-1 as an adult will improve the chances of a cancer-free life." Also dairy contains high levels of estrogen, the female sex hormone, estrogen is a protein structure and being mammalian estrogen it reacts similarly with our bodies as it would with the baby cows. This reaction can increase the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers in women, it can also lead to sleep issues and other hormonal imbalances. In men increased estrogen levels act as a signal to reduce testosterone levels with excess testosterone levels being converted to estrogen under normal circumstances. But with the presence of estrogen in the dairy products the signal is given early and testosterone levels drop unnecessarily. A drop in testosterone in men can lead to sleep issues, reduced sperm cell count and other hormonal issues. However if it were plant based estrogen the protein structure is significantly different and so it does not cause any reaction.
Another prominent health concern surrounding dairy is that Dairy is the number one source of artery clogging saturated fat in the western diet, and with coronary heart disease being the largest preventable cause of death in the Western world, surely this reason alone should be enough to get us to ditch dairy for good. Dairy is also one of the largest sources of cholesterol in the western diet which again has been shown to cause heart disease and other circularity illnesses including strokes. Dairy has also been found to contain high levels of pesticide residue, fecal matter and Pus which can form around infections on the cows udders caused by the intensive miking process which in turn it is sucked out along with the cows breast milk during milking. Now of course it goes through pasteurization, but this does not remove the pus fecal matter or high levels of pesticides, antibiotics or hormones the cows milk contains, it only sanitizes them, which is why there is legally allowed to be up to 400 million pus cells per litre of cows milk, the term pus wont be on any trade journal but they use the term Somatic Cell Count in its place.
And as for the calcium and strong bones argument, Europe and North America consume the largest amount of dairy and yet have the highest rates of osteoporosis across the world. Calcium is also found in many, many foods including beans, green veggies, whole grains like oats and wheat, citrus fruits, tofu, pumpkins, chia seeds, snap peas, sweet potato, carrots and almost every plant based milk is fortified with added calcium. And speaking of plant based milks there are so many flavours, textures and kinds ranging from soya, oat, almond, cashew, hazelnut, coconut, hemp to barista style milks for coffees and of course many variations of chocolate milk. All with no saturated fat and no pus. There are also many brands which have dairy free yogurts, cheeses, ice cream, sauces, creams, protein powders and anything else that you think would contain dairy. And the best news is that they are all easy to find, in 2018 all major supermarkets across Europe and North America have a wide range of dairy free or vegan options and brands like Oatly and Alpro have extensive online ranges that can be delivered straight to your door.
In closing it only seems clear from all of the information above that not only should we ditch dairy products for our own health and well being, but also to spare the millions of animals world wide who suffer behind closed doors to produce a product that harms all involved in its production and consumption. Be kind to them and kind to yourself, Say no to dairy.
Want to learn more?
What the Dairy Industry Doesn't Want You to Know - Neal Barnard MD - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3c_D0s391Q
The best speech you will ever hear - Gary Yourofsky -
Does Dairy really cause cancer - Dr Michael Klapper -
Land of hope and glory
What the health
Forks over knives
Proteinaholic - Dr Garth Davies
How not to Die - Dr Michael Greggor
Animal Liberation - Peter Singer