For decades milk in the U.S has held an exalted status, praised as not just good for us, but downright crucial. From a young age, we were told to believe our bones would crumble if we did not force down those 3 big cups a day. But what if that were not the case?
Milk contains eighteen out of twenty two essential nutrients, and contains more calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and protein per calorie than any other food in a typical diet. Among other things, dairy and milk assist in teeth development, heart health, and obesity prevention. These are the facts we have been told for decades, however, as more light begins to be shed upon the milk industry, new studies have also come out discussing the negative side effects of what once was referred to as a daily staple in our meals.
“Cow’s milk has a lot of different hormones in extreme amounts than our bodies are use to,“ said senior Dillon Stave. “Especially with things we are not used to which can cause a lot of inflammation and body issues and even things like acne. Think about the process of the animals before they are harvested – it is often really dirty, usually the cows are infected”
But don’t just trust the opinions of some passionate students. A study done by the American Academy of Dermatology concluded that the amount of milk consumed by participants with acne was higher than those with no acne. The digestion of dairy can stimulate the release of insulin, leading to aforementioned acne problems and a higher risk of prostate cancer in some studies. In addition, cow’s milk is the number one cause of food allergies among infants and children, according to the American Gastroenterological Association. Among these health concerns is also the underlying claim that drinking milk does not in fact assist in healthy bone structure. Numerous medical studies have found that people who consume a lot of cow’s milk have significantly higher fracture rates than those who drink little to no milk. What happens is that animal proteins produce acid when they are broken down and calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer, meaning that in order to neutralize and flush out the acids, our bodies have to use the calcium that the milk contains – as well as our own.
“The government subsidizes a lot of the dairy industry, making it one of the main reasons why it stays afloat. Really, if you look at the world as a whole the United States is way less lactose intolerant as a whole because as humans we are not supposed to have milk beyond our developing years, “ said senior Alex Fell. “The composition of cow’s milk is different than we need, it contains more protein than what we need and as we’re developing it’s not meant for us it is meant for a cow.”
At around the age of two, most people begin to produce less lactase, the enzyme that helps with the digestion. This reduction can lead to lactose intolerance. Millions of Americans are lactose intolerant, and an estimated 90 percent of Asian-Americans and 75 percent of Native- and African-Americans suffer from the condition, which can cause bloating, gas, cramps, vomiting, headaches, rashes, and asthma. Many products may produce health issues, however, there does seem to be protection against colorectal cancer, which is a plus.
Cows are also subjugated to a life of torture while living their life on the conveyor belt. Similar to humans, cows only produce milk when they are pregnant or have just had a calf, often resulting in separation between mother and child and early, forced pregnancies. Many people point towards the meat industry and claim it to be harsher, however in either industry, the cows are eventually killed, and cows are still subjected to torture and pain, whether it be electrocution in order to lactate, or being pumped with hormones to grow thick.
“A lot of people don’t realize that cows are supposed to live 25 years so a lot of people say that the milk industry is treating the cows better than the meat industry because they are not being killed, but they actually only live 5 years in the dairy industry,” said senior Bailey Steelman. “And I think there is a conspiracy, and they are trying to make money by saying that milk has a lot of calcium and is good for you, but in reality milk depletes your calcium and its not good for you. After all, if it’s not from your mom it’s not your milk.”
After all of this, what do you do if you want a nice bowl of cereal or a creamer in your coffee? Cow’s milk is not the only option, and certainly not the best.
“There are a lot of alternative good milks such as oat milk or nut milk that you can buy or make and they’re about the same price as cow milk and are a lot healthier and taste better,” said both Dillon and Alex. “Milk alternatives are the way to go.”
So next time you go grocery shopping, be sure to keep an eye out for those milk alternatives, and enjoy your new life as an educated consumer.