Animal Writes
14 April 1999 Issue
Milk: Not a Natural

Dairy products are considered a dietary staple by many, yet they are neither a
necessary nor a desirable part of a healthy human diet. For those who wish to
avoid meat for ethical and/or health reasons, dairy products are a poor substitute.

Whole cow's milk is suited to the nutritional needs of calves who, unlike human
babies, double their weight in 47 days (as opposed to 180 for humans), grow four
healthy stomachs, and weigh 300 pounds within a year. Cow's milk contains
about three times as much protein as human milk and almost 50 percent more
fat. Despite the clever advertising of the dairy industry, it is not "natural" for
humans to drink cow's milk. No other species drinks milk beyond infancy, and
no other species drinks the milk of another species (except domestic cats and
dogs, who are taught the habit). After four years of age, most people develop
lactose intolerance, the inability to digest the carbohydrate lactose (found in
milk), because they no longer synthesize the digestive enzyme lactase.
Consuming dairy products after early childhood can cause diarrhea, gas, and

Liquid Meat
In addition to being an unnatural food for humans, cow's milk, like other dairy
products, is unhealthful. John A. McDougall, M.D., calls dairy foods "liquid meat"
because their nutritional contents are so similar. Rich in fat and cholesterol, dairy
products, including cheese, milk, butter, cream, yogurt, and whey (found in many
margarines and commercial baked goods), contribute to the development of heart
disease, certain cancers, and stroke - our nation's three deadliest killers - and
even osteoporosis, as studies have repeatedly shown.

Osteoporosis is bone loss due to calcium resorption, which, contrary to the
protestations of the dairy industry, is not halted or prevented by an increase in
the intake of calcium so much as by a drop in protein consumption. High-
protein foods, such as meat, eggs, and dairy products, leach calcium from the
body as excess protein is processed by the liver and passed through the
kidneys, making the kidneys work harder and causing the loss of minerals such
as calcium.(2) Societies with little or no consumption of dairy foods and animal
proteins show low incidences of osteoporosis. Furthermore, Dr. McDougall
notes, "Calcium deficiency caused by an insufficient amount of calcium in the
diet is not known to occur in humans."(3)

Other illnesses are more prevalent among those who consume significant
amounts of dairy products than among vegans. Ninety percent of asthma
patients who were put on a completely vegetarian diet (without meat, eggs, or
dairy products) experienced great improvements in the frequency and severity
of their attacks.(4) Dairy products are also the leading cause of food allergies
and have been implicated in congestive heart failure, neonatal tetany, tonsil
enlargement, ulcerative colitis, Hodgkin's disease, and respiratory, skin,
gastrointestinal, and behavioral problems.(5)

It's a Cow's Life
At least half of the 10 million cows kept for milk in the United States live on
factory farms, in conditions that cause tremendous suffering to the animals.
They do not spend hours grazing in fields but live crowded into concrete-
floored milking pens or barns, where they are milked two or three times a
day by machines.

Milking machines often cause cuts and injuries that would not occur were a
person doing the milking. These injuries abet the development of mastitis, a
bacterial infection common to the dairy industry. In a handbook for dairy farmers,
a photo caption warns that "Increasing severity of mastitis results in progressive
deterioration of milk quality," causing losses of at least half a billion dollars per
year.(6) More than 20 different types of bacteria cause the infection, which is
easily spread from one cow to another and which, if left unchecked, can cause

In some cases, milking machines give cows repeated electrical shocks, causing
them considerable discomfort, fear, and impairment of their immune systems,
sometimes leading to death. A single farm can lose several hundred cows to
uncontrolled electric shocking.(7) However, milking machines are used anyway,
because they save labor, enabling a single farm worker to milk 86 cows in two

The number of cows raised for milk dropped from almost 22 million in 1950 to
10.8 million in 1980, yet the amount of milk produced rose from 116 billion
pounds to 128 billion.(9) As a result, the average cow of the 1980s produced
about twice as much milk as her counterpart of the 1950s. To produce 24 quarts
of milk per day, cows are fed more than 81 pounds of food (including grain, hay,
and silage -- corn, sorghum, grass, and legumes) plus 45 gallons of water every
day.(10) In 1983 the U.S. government stored 17 billion pounds of surplus "milk
equivalent" (milk, cheese, and butter), at a cost to taxpayers of $2.5 billion for
1983.(11) Efforts to prevent farms from going under have cost the U.S. govern-
ment more than a billion dollars a year in price support programs.(12)

Cows of the 1990s live only about four to five years, as opposed to the life
expectancy of 20-25 years enjoyed by cows of an earlier era. To keep the
animals at high levels of productivity, dairy farmers keep them pregnant
constantly through the use of artificial insemination. Farmers also use an
array of drugs, including bovine growth hormone (BGH); prostaglandin, which
is used to bring a cow into heat whenever the farmer wants to have her
inseminated; antibiotics; and even tranquilizers, to influence the productivity
and behavior of the cows.

About 15% of dairy cows are routinely injected with BGH(13), which increases
milk production by up to 20 percent, causing cows' udders to become so heavy
and swollen that they can drag along the ground. A full udder can weigh 60
pounds and hold 50 pounds of milk. (14) The cows' accidental stepping on their
udders causes the teats to become injured and infected, resulting in mastitis.
Fortunately, responding to pressure by groups representing animal rights,
consumer protection, small farms, and environmental interests, five of the largest
supermarket companies in the United States have asked their suppliers not to
ship them milk from cows given the drug.(15) BGH aggravates lameness,
because it causes cows to become so heavy. Cement flooring and the high-
energy diet also contribute to the problems.

What Happens to the Calf?
Perhaps the greatest pain suffered by cows of the dairy industry is the repeated
loss of their young. Female offspring may join the ranks of the milk producers,
but the males are generally taken from their mothers within 24 hours of birth,
before they have drunk any of their mothers' milk, and sold at auction either for
the notorious veal industry or to beef producers. If the calf is killed when young,
his fourth stomach is also used in cheese-making; it contains rennin, an enzyme
used to curdle (or coagulate) milk to turn it into cheese. Rennet, the membrane
of which rennin is an extract, can also be used in this process. It is possible to
make rennetless cheese (available at health food stores), but the close connec-
tion between the dairy, veal, and leather industries makes it cheaper for cheese
producers to use calf parts than a vegetable-derived enzyme.

Within 60 days the cow will be impregnated again. "If a cow hasn't dried up just
before calving, farmers often give her a few days' rest. Some feel that a month or
so rest period is valuable but others see that as a waste of time."(16) For about
seven months of her next nine-month pregnancy, she will continue to be milked
for the fluid meant for her older calf. A typical factory-farmed dairy cow will give
birth three or four times in her short life. When her milk production wanes, she
is sent to slaughter, most likely to be ground up into fast food burgers.(17)

1.McDougall, John A., M.D., and Mary A. McDougall, The McDougall Plan, New Century
Publishers, Inc., pp. 49-51. 2.McDougall, op.cit., p. 100. 3.McDougall, op.cit., p. 52.
4.Robbins, John, Diet for a New America, Stillpoint Publishing, 1987, p. 300.
5.McDougall, op.cit., pp. 49-50. 6.USDA Farmers Bulletin No. 2253, 1973. 7.Anderson,
Jack, and Dale Van Atta, "Stray Voltage Killing U.S. Dairy Cows," The Washington Post,
Aug. 9, 1989. 8.USDA, "People on the Farm: Dairying," 1981, p.1. 9.Ibid, p.4.
10."Dairy Cow Is Nature's Milk Factory," Bristol Herald Courier, July 21, 1983.
11.Time, Nov. 21, 1983. 12."Dairyman's Pail Runneth Over," Insight, Dec. 7, 1987.
13."Business Bulletin," The Wall Street Journal, March 16, 1995, p. A1. 14."Dairy Cow
Is Nature's Milk Factory," op.cit. 15.Day, Kathleen, "Dairy, Consumer Groups Udderly
at Odds on Cow Hormone," The Washington Post, May 2, 1995, p. D1. 16.Dairying,
op.cit., p. 3. 17.Mason, Jim, "And a Cow Jumped Over the Moon," Animals' Voice,
Feb. 1989, p. 46.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

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