13 Aug. 2008
Last week was National Healthy Bones Week, a joint initiative between Dairy Australia and Osteoporosis Australia, highlighting the 'important role of dairy in the development and maintenance of healthy bones and prevention of osteoporosis'.
From the time we are old enough to look at picture books we are taught that cows 'give' us milk. The accompanying illustrations of contented mamma cow and calf in a grassy meadow helps reinforce the idea that, for dairy cows, life is a near idyllic existence.
As we grow older we may be told that the farmer is doing the cow a service by relieving her of her surplus milk.
By the time we reach adulthood dairy products have well and truly become ingrained in our diet, and to keep us 'on track' we are often reminded, via dairy industry advertisements of the necessity for consuming cows milk in order to maintain healthy bones.
Consequently, it's understandable that most of us continue throughout life, believing that the dairy industry is totally benign and that consuming cows milk is necessary.
So, is life for a dairy cow really idyllic? Far from it. Life for dairy cows is fraught with stress and suffering. Bovines don't naturally produce copious amounts of milk. Under normal circumstances, as with all mammals, they produce sufficient to feed their new-born. It's only because they are forced to continuously give birth and their calves are continuously removed from them that they have so much.
In addition to this, they have been bred to produce 10 times more milk than their bodies are meant to. This results in bulging udders that may weigh up to 50 kilograms, making walking difficult and causing lameness.
Cows are very maternally minded, thus, the continual loss of their calves, when only a few day old, causes extreme distress and the frantic new mothers will search and bellow for their babies for days.
And what happens to the calf? Although some may be retained for herd replacements, one million of these tiny 'bobby calves' are heartlessly slaughtered each year in Australia.
These innocent little babies are disposed of like worthless trash and regarded by the industry as nothing more than useless 'by-products'.
They are deliberately brought into the world and killed for nothing more than profit.
The mother cow too, when her milk supply falls, will also be deemed useless, and thanklessly trucked off to the slaughterhouse.
And is cows milk really necessary for strong bones? The answer is a resounding no. Research has shown that the countries that consume the most cow's milk have the highest fracture rates and the worst bone health in the world. In Asian countries, where dairy intake is low, people suffer far fewer broken bones.
It has also been suggested that dairy foods and meat can promote a leaching of calcium from the bones. According to Colin Campbell, of the department of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, these foods contain good amounts of animal protein, which makes blood more acidic; the body tries to neutralize this by drawing calcium from the bones.
Clearly the dairy advertisements are nothing but clever marketing. We have no more need of cows milk than dog's or rat's milk. Not even cows drink it! What's more, humans are the only species to drink milk after infancy and the only species to drink the milk of a totally different animal.
The entire dairy industry is based on cruelty and deceit. Dairy is bad for our health, it cruelly exploits animals and it has recently become evident that it is a huge water waster too.
The industry even tells us on their website that they use "almost 40 % of the water utilized in food production across the nation.'. To put this into perspective, cotton rates at 15.5% total usage, and fruit is just 4.4%. The most alarming figure is that it takes 4000 glasses of water to produce just one glass of milk!
Isn't it time for a re-think on milk?