A large study coming from researchers at the Uppsala University in Sweden found that drinking milk led to an increased mortality rate and actually made bones more prone to fracturing, not less.(1)
The study was recently published in the peer reviewed British Medical Journal, and was specifically conducted to examine whether high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in both men and women.
This is not the only study done regarding the health claims of the food industry, you can read more about it in this article.
Profit Before the Planet
Most people associate New Zealand with a clean, green image of lush rolling hills, hobbits frolicking between spectacular mountain terrain, and bountiful streams meandering through untouched wilderness. Like most Western countries over recent decades, the profit motive has driven farmers toward a commercial model which places the environment, animals, and ecosystems a distant second behind economic interests. A carefully constructed image of contented cows in lush pastures is marketed and promoted to the public, while economic prosperity is touted to the locals who are burdened with debt to fund this commercial destruction of the New Zealand landscape and ecosystems.
Good Marketing Has Helped Create an Illusion
Similar to other countries who market dairy, the packaging promotes lush pastures and contented animals who seem to have not a care in the world and are treated with love, dignity, and respect. Yet when it comes to the commercial reality, things are much different. A recent undercover investigation by Farmwatch and SAFE in New Zealand has raised some serious concerns about how inherently cruel this industry really is, in addition to exposing a shocking level of cruelty to which calves who are only a few days old are subjected. Whether dairy cows are factory farmed or raised out on open pastures, one thing is consistent around the world: they all need to continuously produce babies so we can have milk. (1)
But with issues over the welfare of these gentle animals and controversy surrounding the fate of their calves, there is a dark side to your flat white. As the industry moves more towards large-scale factory-style farming, what is really going on with New Zealand’s nearly seven million dairy cows? The video put together by ‘SAFE For Animals’ is not only disturbing, but shows the harsh reality of what goes on behind closed doors within the industrial agriculture system. While there do exist farmers who do the right thing, this is clearly another example of what happens when society commodifies nature, seeing it nothing more than a resource to be exploited and mistreated.
The Great Con
Like all corporations and organisations trying to weasel cash out of your wallet, the dairy industry has run extensive misinformation and propaganda campaigns for decades, effectively convincing the public that milk is necessary for health and well-being. There are many healthy alternative sources of calcium and other nutrients, most, if not all of which, are found in most leafy greens. According to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, if you are vegetarian, you are no more likely to have an iron deficiency than a meat eater. Iron is found in numerous plant foods, including beans, nuts, whole grains, and leafy vegetables.
Another great con is that milk provides protein and is essential for a well balanced life. Plant sources of protein, however, contain no cholesterol and are low in fat. Most plant protein is high in fibre, which is great for your digestive system. Calcium is the biggest con of them all promoted by the dairy industry and others with self interest in bamboozling the masses. By eating calcium-rich vegetarian foods such as white beans, fortified soymilks and juices, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, including leafy green vegetables such as broccoli and kale, you can obtain all the calcium your body needs. Despite the impression dairy companies would like to give, bone health is actually better in countries with low dairy consumption. Hip fracture rates, for example, tend to be higher in countries with higher dairy intakes, not lower. (2)
On commercial dairy farms calves are always removed from their mothers so that milk can be taken for human consumption. Some calves are kept by the farmer to replace their mothers and some are raised for veal or beef. However there is not a high demand for the meat from dairy calves, so many go straight to slaughter: shockingly, around two million vulnerable animals are killed at around four days of age each year. They are known as ‘bobby calves.’ There are nearly seven million dairy cows in New Zealand (five million milking). Purposely bred to yield unnaturally high volumes of milk, modern dairy cows experience serious stress on their bodies, as well as painful routine manipulations. Perhaps the greatest tragedy for cows is that for the purpose of producing milk, they need to be kept continually pregnant. Once their calves are born, they are removed from their mothers within hours of birth, with the separation being extremely distressing for both mother and calf. (3)
Cows and calves are not the only casualities of dairy farming. Like most Western countries, vast areas of once thriving forests have been cleared to make way for pasture. In New Zealand almost 70% of the natural forests and ecosystems have been decimated in an effort to farm sheep, cattle, and dairy cows. As the recent article ‘A Leading Cause Of Climate Change That No One Is Talking About’ featured on Collective Evolution illustrated, raising animals for food consumption uses 30% of the world’s water, 45% of the world’s land, and is responsible for 91% of the destruction of the rain forest. Among these shocking figures, animal agriculture is also the leading cause of the ocean’s dead zones, the leading cause of habitat destruction, and the leading cause of species extinction.(4)