This is a guest post from Courtney Carver at bemorewithless.com.
Milk and most other dairy products are considered part of a vegetarian diet, but it’s a fine line. I stopped eating all meat except for seafood in October of 2006, and dropped seafood in October of 2009. Prior to becoming a vegetarian, I only ate raw foods for 30 days to curb my meat cravings, and more easily adapt to a vegetarian lifestyle.
My body feels best without any dairy products. The only reason that I still consume dairy products is because they taste good. Even though I don’t eat it daily, I love variety and flavor of cheese and the creamy, sweetness of ice cream. I don’t drink milk, but have justified my cheese and ice cream addictions, by only eating them “once in a while”.
I stopped drinking milk several years ago, when I started to understand that the purpose of cow’s milk is to promote growth. A baby cow goes from 90 pounds to 2000 pounds in less than 2 years. Trust me when I say, I do not want to consume anything that promotes growth.
I used to drink milk because…
- I thought it was the best way to get calcium
- It was inexpensive
- It was convenient
- I believed it would help me lose weight
- I never considered the options
It’s not surprising if, like me, you thought milk was the only way to go. The National Dairy Council spent 190 million dollars on their Got Milk campaign to convince you that you need 3 glasses of milk a day to stay healthy. Those celebrities wearing milk mustaches are cute but they don’t tell you about the ugly side of milk and other dairy products.
Gotmilk.com tells you that drinking three glasses of milk a day may reduce your risk of bone disease and fractures. According to their study sourced, principal influences on bone mass are genetics, hormonal structure, mechanical loading and calcium intake. That means the only factor you have control over is calcium intake. They want you to believe that the best way to get calcium is by drinking milk, but there are better ways. Based on absorption, calorie for calorie, kale, bok choy and broccoli are all better sources of calcium than milk. Other veggies that contain high levels of calcium include kidney beans, black beans, arugula and spinach. And of course, you can always supplement (though with calcium, it’s probably not needed).
Interestingly enough, hip fractures and osteoporosis are much more common in populations with high dairy consumption. American women consume 32 times the amount of cows milk as women in New Guinea, but suffer 47 times the number of broken hips. (The China Study has a great chart on page 209 showing the association of rates of hip fractures with calcium intake for different countries.)
Top 6 Reasons to Drop the Dairy (Especially Milk)
Cruel to calves – Cows produce milk to nourish their young, but calves on dairy farms are taken away from their mothers when they are just 1 day old. They are fed milk substitutes (including cattle blood-ugh) so that their mothers’ milk can be sold to humans.
Cruel to cows – Cows have a natural lifespan of about 25 years and can produce milk for eight or nine years. However, the stress caused by the conditions on factory farms leads to disease, lameness, and reproductive problems that render cows worthless to the dairy industry by the time that they’re 4 or 5 years old, at which time they are sent to be slaughtered.
Cows are also fed unnatural, high-protein diets, which include dead chickens, pigs, and other animals, because their natural diet of grass would not provide the nutrients that they need to produce such massive amounts of milk.
Cruel to kids – Cow’s milk is the number one cause of food allergies among infants and children, according to the American Gastroenterological Association.
Cruel to adults – A U.K. study showed that people who suffered from irregular heartbeats, asthma, headaches, fatigue, and digestive problems showed marked and often complete improvements in their health after cutting milk from their diets. This is especially true for people living with inflammatory conditions and auto-immune diseases.
Cruel to the earth – In California, America’s top milk-producing state, manure from dairy farms has poisoned hundreds of square miles of groundwater, rivers, and streams. Each of the more than 1 million cows on the state’s dairy farms excretes 18 gallons of manure daily.
It’s just weird – Besides humans (and companion animals who are fed by humans), no species drinks milk beyond infancy or drinks the milk of another species.
If you are considering a vegetarian diet or dumping the dairy, I highly recommend reading The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone and Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. There are many more great books, but these really made a difference in what I decided to put in my body.
If you’re not convinced, here are a few more reasons to give up dairy…
- “When you consume dairy products, you are ingesting the same antibiotics, pesticides, steroids and hormones you would if you ate meat directly.”- The Skinny Bitch
- The biggest factors in breast cancer include fat, excess estrogen and animal protein. Milk delivers all three. Cows injected with bovine growth hormone have higher levels of IGF-1, which is connected to tumor growth. (Yep – Cancer)
- Cows are milked by machine, metal clamps are attached to the cows’ sensitive udders. The udders become sore and infected. But the machines keep on milking, sucking the dead white blood cells into the milk” – Skinny Bitch
- Records from the Food and Drug Administration show that “virtually 100% of the cheese products produced and sold in the U.S. has detectable pesticide residues.” – Skinny Bitch
40 Day Dairy-Free Challenge
- Stop consuming all dairy products for 40 days
- Avoid dairy free cheese until you kill your cheese cravings (read ingredients – many dairy free cheese products contain milk proteins)
- Add non dairy sources of calcium to your diet. Include leafy greens, soy, sea vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts.
- Experiment with other types of milk, like soy, almond or hemp.
- Bonus challenge: Drop eggs too. Eggs are not technically dairy, but the incredible, edible egg is really just a chicken period, and that is kind of gross.
Here are a few of the perks you can expect from a dairy free diet:
- weight loss
- calm belly
- better sleep
- less anxiety
Please let me know if you are up for the challenge, and how long it takes to start feeling the results of a dairy free lifestyle. I’ll post challenge updates on Twitter and weigh in, literally, at the end of my 40 days and tell you how I did.