A few months ago a friend called me and told me that her friend’s day care center had given her baby the wrong mother’s breast milk. Her friend went to pick up her baby after work as well as the milk bottles she had supplied them with — only one problem, the milk bottles were still full. So either her baby hadn’t had any milk that day or she drank someone else’s milk. The woman working there looked into what could have happened and, low and behold, she drank someone else’s breast milk. Disgusting!!! Can you imagine the precious little light of your life drinking some unknown mother’s breast milk? How freaking gross! Who’s milk was it? What medication is she on? What germs or diseases does she have?? Are they communicable? What kind of lifestyle does she live? Drug user? What can be passed on to my baby?! So the mother, full of rage and disgust, pulled her baby out of that day care (and actually out of day care permanently) and demanded back the money she had paid up front for the entire year. Does that seem like an appropriate response to you? I bet most of you moms and dads out there would have had a very similar reaction if it was your little nugget who downed some stranger’s milk.
Well guess what, you drink and feed your family another mother’s milk every single time you pour them a glass of cow’s milk. But it’s okay cause it’s cow’s milk right? Let’s think about why that’s so okay but drinking another human mother’s breast milk isn’t. Chances are that the human mom had taken a nice long shower that morning. Hell, she probably even spritzed some nice perfume on herself before walking out the door. She might have even had a good healthy breakfast. She’d probably been to the doctor and even the dentist within the last year. So hey, she’s looking better and better. Maybe we should all be drinking some of her milk? Nope, still gross. Even in this best case scenario of an average healthy mom the thought is still pretty disgusting right? If you think about it, aside from cow’s milk or goat’s milk, is there any other milk that you would find acceptable to drink? How about gorilla’s milk? Does that sound yummy? Pour that over some cornflakes maybe? How about elephant’s milk or seal’s milk or even horse’s milk. Any of those tickle your fancy? Probably not. The thought of slugging down a cold glass of chocolate flavored gorilla’s milk probably just doesn’t sit well with you. So why is cow’s milk okay? Have we been brainwashed or is there just something different about a cow or a goat that makes their milk yummy and acceptable?
Let’s go back to our example and compare this average human mom to the average dairy cow. I bet you that human mom doesn’t live covered in her own feces and urine and mud every single day of her life. Probably not. Well the diary cow at a factory farm does. I bet you that human mom wasn’t genetically manipulated and pumped up with bovine growth hormone (BHG) (a hormone allowed in the US but banned in Europe and Canada) so that she can produce 10 times more milk than she would naturally. The dairy cow is. I bet you that mom’s breasts aren’t hooked up to machines every day that tear her skin and cause painful pussing sores. The dairy cow’s is. I bet you that mom gets daily exercise and isn’t confined to a tiny stall all day. I bet you that mom isn’t impregnated over and over again to force her to keep producing milk. I bet you that mom hasn’t been repeatedly ripped of her babies right after they’re born. I bet you that mom’s body isn’t so thoroughly exhausted and abused that she can likely hardly walk by the time she’s shipped off to slaughter. The dairy cow suffers from all of this and more.
But maybe all this is okay with you. After all, we need milk right. I mean, EVERYONE drinks it, it does a body good right? Or do we just think we need it because people who make BILLIONS of dollars from you drinking it everyday have brainwashed you into believing it’s good for you by spending millions of dollars on advertising each year? What may have started as a family-farmed-happy-healthy-hormone-and-anitbiotic-free-non-genetically-mutated-pasture-roaming source of an occasional glass of milk has turned into a milk-does-a-body-good-your-bones-will-fall-to-pieces-and-your-teeth-will-fall-out campaign. Why did this happen? Because we will all die without milk or because corporations figured out a money making equation — convince people that milk must be a part of their everyday diet and we’ll make BILLIONS of dollars so lets cram together millions of cows and make them produce insane quantities of milk by pumping those suckers up with whatever chemicals we can get away with! Have we been so duped? NNAAHH, that logic couldn’t be right. Milk’s gotta be good for you. We’d be way too smart to get brainwashed like that right?? You wish.
I don’t write this to try and convince you to see things my way but more because it’s become so clear to me that people don’t question things enough. I often see children being fed glass after glass of milk “because they need their calcium” and see people scowl at the thought of drinking soy milk “because it’s gross” and I can’t help but wonder how easily manipulated we all have been. We drink cow’s milk not because it’s the healthiest for us or because of any genetic similarities between us and cows but simply because it can be produced in the largest quantity. Because of this we’ve been told that it’s good for us, we need it and it’s totally normal to drink it and everything else is weird. But how could drinking something pumped from a sick chemically injected tortured animal of a totally unrelated species be considered “delicious and healthy” but something from a natural plant source such as soy be considered gross? That’s when I realized, as independently minded as most of us like to think we are, we have been given an agenda. And the people dishing out that agenda are way more concerned about their own profits than our health. Don’t take my word for it but do your own research and decide for yourself what should be considered healthy and delicious and what should be considered gross.
One thing I have realized on my journey to healthy vegan eating is that the way your mind views what you’re putting in your mouth directly correlates with how good you think it tastes. People think soy milk tastes gross because it’s foreign to them. As a child I loved cow’s milk, I couldn’t get enough of it, but now I think tastes and even looks absolutely repulsive because I know all that goes into it. Just watching other people drink it makes my stomach turn. I have undone my previous programming. Your brain is a powerful weapon in your food choices. So use it responsibly and don’t be afraid to challenge the norm.
Here are 5 things you may want to keep in mind when it comes to drinking milk (for me, #5 is the most important):
1. You are not a cow. Stop and take a look in the mirror. What do you see? Chances are you don’t see a baby cow, unless you have some serious self image issues. If you happen to not be a baby cow, why are you drinking it’s mother’s milk? If you really needed milk your entire life and there were no other sources of the vitamins it provides, then why do we only produce it for a very limited amount of time right after we have a baby? Have we strayed so far from common sense to not realize that this might have been nature’s way of telling us that we can actually survive as adults without it? As pointed out in Skinny Bitch (the book that kick started my switch from being a vegetarian to being a vegan), we are the only species on the planet that drinks milk from another species and that drinks milk during our adulthood. Doesn’t that tell us something? As the authors point out, cow’s milk exists to grow a 90 pound calf into a 2,000 pound cow over the course of 2 years and allows calfs to double their birth weight in only 47 days. Do you really think that we were meant to be filling up on that? Maybe if you want to be a 2,000 pound cow I guess. How can it be that something so simple and full of common sense can be so overlooked by the masses? Again, we were given an agenda and we drank it.
2. You can get every vitamin found in milk from these sources. If you are worried about your calcium intake, how about just eating some veggies! You can get everything you need in leafy greens (i.e., broccoli, kale, spinach), nuts, seeds and beans.
3. Dairy cows are pumped with a lot of crap and suffer from a lot of diseases and infections.
Crap: Dairy cows are pumped with growth hormones and antibiotics. How else could they produce so much milk and how else would they stay alive in the deplorable conditions they are subjected to? As documented by the Humane Farming Association, milk from hormone injected cows is likely to contain residues of more than 80 different drugs, many of them antibiotics, which contaminate baby formula, milk, cheese and other dairy products. You are what you eat. You are what you drink.
Cow Diseases and Infections found on Factory Farms: Mastitis (a painful bacterial infection in cow udders that creates puss and bacterial secretions resulting from the affects of growth hormones), Bovine Leukemia Virus, Bovine Immunodeficiency Virus, Johne’s disease, Milk Fever, pneumonia, manure scald, ringworm, pinkeye, parasites, respiratory distress, pussy abscesses, etc., etc.
4. There are so many yummy & healthy non-diary alternatives! There are an abundance of healthy, crap and disease free, natural alternatives — soy milk, almond milk and rice milk are my favorites. If you’re feeling really aggressive, there’s even hemp milk (save this one for the dairy-free pros).
5. Cows suffer unimaginable cruelty. My words would never do justice to the misery that diary cows experience at factory farms. So I will leave you with this video footage. They are disturbing but if you haven’t seen them already I challenge you to watch them from beginning to end because these cows deserve that much from you. They are subjected to a miserable insufferable existence for the few years of life they are given before they are shipped off for slaughter. All this to supply our world with endless amounts of their milk; milk that was meant for their babies, who they never get to be with (most of whom are turned into veal), but who they search, bellow and grieve for as any mother would for their young. So while these videos may make you upset, you should be upset, and you should be educated about the price these cows pay for the milk they supply us with. The abuses documented in the below videos have proven to be the norm NOT the exception for animals at factory farms. Don’t let yourself be brainwashed by greedy corporations with images of happy cows who only care about their profits and who could give a crap about your health or the animals they exploit. You’re way too smart for that right? Prove it.
Instead of contributing to this exploitation, visit a farm sanctuary and see what it’s like for these unique animals to live freely as nature intended.
Some highly recommended resources:
- Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin (& their whole line of Skinny Bitch/Bastard books)
- The Kind Life by Alicia Silverstone
- Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
If you liked this post, you may also like You’re Too Vegan!! You’re Not Vegan Enough!! Ay!!