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)…
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.
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.