The Dirty Truth That Changed My Mind About Dairy

I am (was) an ice cream connoisseur — or better yet, an addict. That old saying, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream” adequately describes my obsession with the creamy cold stuff. I have always wondered about, but never really investigated the vegan trend as far as it goes with dairy. In another article, I discuss my journey to a meat-free diet, but I never excluded dairy. A girl’s gotta have something to live for, and coffee flavored ice cream rocks my world. Besides, I’m no fanatic. Rigid food rules suck the fun out of meal time, and shouldn’t we enjoy what we eat?

Those were my thoughts, but at the same time I have this deep desire to do right by my body and consume healthy food without doing harm. For me, food is fuel, and what I eat should nourish me physically and spiritually. Sadly, dairy doesn’t do it for me anymore. Here’s the truth that has changed my mind — trigger warning: it’s a bit disturbing.

The Dirty Truth That Changed My Mind About Dairy(it’s why I won’t be screaming for ice cream anymore)…

Hormones

You probably already know that animals are pumped with hormones and antibiotics for the sake of food production. Dairy cows are no different. A 2015 research paper appearing on the NCBI website (National Center for Biotechnology Information) states the presence of steroid hormones in dairy products could be counted as an important risk factor for various cancers in humans. And that’s just one of the countless risks linked to hormones in our food sources. So no, dairy is not so healthy, despite what the Got Milk campaigners want you to think. There are tons of other ways to get calcium and protein in your diet.

Bonus fact: If you thought organic was the way to go (I know I did), think again. While organic milk might not contain synthetic hormones, such as rBST, it is still swimming with sex hormones passed on from the pregnant cows. I don’t know about you, but I have enough of my own hormones, thanks. I’ll pass on the excess progesterone.

Cruelty

As a Wisconsin native, I’ve accepted, even embraced, the “cheese head” reference. But that doesn’t mean I’ve ever milked a cow or know anything at all about how milk production works — I’m from Milwaukee, people. It’s not so rural. So here’s a fun fact I learned recently: cows only produce milk while lactating. Don’t say duh. A lot of people believe cows just walk around with the stuff, and that milking cows relieves the pressure pent up in their udders. I am one gullible fool for thinking that.

So here’s how the industry brings you your dairy. First, they artificially and forcibly inseminate female cows. They pump them full of hormones so they produce massive amounts of milk. After laboring to bring its calf into the world, a mama cow has her newborn yanked from her, which causes stress and suffering as it would for any mother. This cycle of pregnancy and labor is repeated until mama cow is no longer able to produce milk. And while a female cow might naturally live about 20 years, chronic stress often leads to disease and other complications that render her useless for milk making. In many cases, dairy cows are slaughtered by around age 5. Let’s not forget that those are miserable years spent in confinement, with a tethered neck and no quality of life. Given the chance, cows would nurture their young, and bond with one another. Because they have emotions just like we do, and personalities too.

I don’t know how you feel about all this, but I am disgusted, enraged, and strangely compelled to throw rotten tomatoes at the next ice cream truck I see. I no longer imagine plump cows grazing in open pastures. I think of the undeserved suffering, emotional trauma, and physical discomfort no female should endure — whether human or creature.

No, I don’t think my decision to drop dairy is going to change the world. But this small tweak to my diet sits right with my spirit. And that’s what I call “comfort food.” 

For more dirty dairy facts, read this.

20 Comments
  • Anna Palmer
    May 11, 2016

    When we lived in Vermont we only drank raw milk from Marilyn…a dairy cow that my friend Adam loved like a pet. Now in Denver we are back to glass bottled organic. At least my kids haven’t hit puberty early.

    • Rica Lewis
      May 11, 2016

      lol I’ve heard about the “man boob” side effect from excess hormones, so watch out for that one, too. Thanks for reading, Anna.

  • Elizabeth (Plant Based Bride)
    May 11, 2016

    Congratulations on going vegan, Rica! It really is wonderful to know you aren’t contributing to the suffering of emotional, sentient beings. It’s also so much better for your health (reducing animal protein, saturated fat, and cholesterol) and the environment! Thank you for spreading the message and doing your best to educate others on the reality of the dairy industry 🙂

    All the best,

    Elizabeth

    • Rica Lewis
      May 11, 2016

      Thanks so much for reading, Elizabeth. I definitely think diet is a personal decision, and we should eat what feels right for us. All the best to you as well!

  • Susannah
    May 11, 2016

    My son just got diagnosed with an extreme milk protein allergy so I’m pretty much anti milk right now! There’s so much grossness that goes into getting our milk!

    • Rica Lewis
      May 11, 2016

      Dairy allergies are so common! I hope he enjoys soy or almond milk. My son happens to love it! Thanks for stopping by, Susannah!

  • Sherry Nappa
    May 11, 2016

    The thought of those extra hormones in food! I try to avoid it if at all possible.

  • Anvita Bhatnagar Mistry
    May 11, 2016

    So informative. Pinning this one for sure.

    • Rica Lewis
      May 11, 2016

      Thank you, Anvita! I appreciate the pin love 🙂

  • Kelsie
    May 13, 2016

    I quit dairy too!! My friend told me about this and I all but lost my lunch….so sad. The biggest way to show what you support is where you spend your cash! Thanks for sharing, stumbling this one!!

    -Kelsie
    http://www.DesignLifeDiaries.com

    • Rica Lewis
      May 13, 2016

      I love what you said about where our cash goes. What we spend both time and money on definitely indicates what we’re passionate about. Thanks so much for reading and stumbling, Kelsie!

  • Rosemond
    May 13, 2016

    Rica, thank you for sharing this. I was a vegeterian for a long time but recently went vegan when, like you, I learned the horrors of the dairy industry. I too thought it was a pretty little life until you learn about the fate of these animals.

    Eating this way helps me feel more compassionate towards our world. My food choice is a statement of my beliefs.

    I believe that within 5 years the vegan trend will explode as more become aware of the suffering.

    -Thanks!
    Rosemond

    • Rica Lewis
      May 13, 2016

      That’s, awesome, Rosemond. I agree that our food choices do speak volumes about what we believe. That’s the reason I began eating healthy in the first place. I honor and respect my body, which came after many years of starvation and body shame. And now, my diet has evolved further to express compassion for the earth and animals. It’s been an amazing process. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  • Christina
    May 17, 2016

    Reading this I’d like to think I’m a responsible person that will do the right thing, as you so eloquently describe. However I know I won’t because, ice cream.

    • Rica Lewis
      May 17, 2016

      Coconut milk ice cream has kept me from ending my life over this whole dairy-free debacle. Lol. I don’t want to live in a world without it (or coffee). I couldn’t live without coffee either Thanks for reading, Plagued Parent!

  • Liv
    May 17, 2016

    I can’t give up ice cream and cheese cake. I really tried to read this one, I did. But cheesecake. Sorry. I don’t want to know about pickles or hot dogs either.

    • Rica Lewis
      May 18, 2016

      I think pickles are safe! And there are some good alternatives to dairy ice cream and cheesecake. Believe me, I needed them! I can’t do life without some form of ice cream! Thanks for reading.

  • Carol Cassara
    May 26, 2016

    We are cruel to those who provide our food. We are. The stark truth is unbearable, isn’t it?

    • Rica Lewis
      May 26, 2016

      Absolutely! I watched a video recently, about the dairy industry, and the harsh reality left me in tears. My guy tells me I’m eliminating so many foods that eventually I will not be eating at all. But I have to stay true to what feels right for me. Thanks for stopping in Carol!

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