Top 9 Lies From The Dairy Industry

Lets look at some of the biggest dairy industry myths
Male calves are a 'by-product' of the dairy industry (Photo: Annie Spratt)

As one of the more powerful lobbies, millions of dollars have been spent by the dairy industry perpetuating the myth that the white stuff is necessary and desirable for humans.

Plant Based News debunks the myths on World Milk Day to bring you dairy’s top 9 lies.

Milk comes from happy cows

There is a recent trend to promote milk as ‘free-range’ or ‘outdoor grazed’. Unfortunately, despite these labels (which critics debunk as cynical marketing ploys), industrial dairy production requires cows to go through endless cycles of giving birth and having their calves taken away from them, as well as early death in a slaughterhouse. 

Happy dairy cows are a myth.

Cows are not killed in the dairy industry

Sadly, this is totally untrue. The life of a dairy cow is incredibly intensive, being repeatedly artificially inseminated and giving birth, lactating and being milked, before going through the cycle again. 

The intensity of this process cuts a dairy cow’s lifespan from up to 20 years to around three-five years. 

In additional, male calves are either killed very soon after birth, or are slaughtered for meat further down the line. 

As abolitionist vegan Gary L. Francione says: “There is probably more suffering in a glass of milk or ice cream cone than there is in a steak."

Cows Explode when you don't milk them

One of the stranger myths around milk - many people still seem to believe that cows need to be milked at all times. Like other mammals, cows only lactate when rearing their young. It is believed to be uncomfortable if the milk builds without cows feeding their calves (or being milked).

Reassuringly though, there are no recorded instances of cows 'exploding' on account of not being milked.
There are no records of 'exploding' cows (Photo: Karsten Wurth)

Milk is the only source of calcium

There numerous sources from which you can get enough calcium, a crucial substance we need – but we don’t need to get it from dairy products. Foods such as broccoli, kale and nuts are a good source of calcium.  Other sources include dried fruits, nuts, particularly almonds and brazil nuts and seeds as well as pulses and tofu.

We need milk to have healthy bones

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest this simply isn’t true. According to Viva!’s White Lies report: “In the UK, a half of all women and one in five men over the age of 50 will suffer a fracture and this level of risk is fairly common in many Western countries. 

"This simple fact destroys the old myth that osteoporosis is caused by calcium deficiency because those nations that consume the most cow’s milk and other dairy products have the highest rates of osteoporosis and hip fracture.”

Cows make milk for humans

This is a truly ludicrous statement. Look at it like this…kittens drink cat’s milk, puppies drink dog’s milk, baby rats drink rat’s milk. 

Human beings are literally the only species on the planet that drinks the milk of another species. 

All mammalian species stop drinking milk once they are weaned. Humans stop drinking human milk – but then move onto cow’s milk. It doesn’t make much sense. Cows make milk for their young – not for human beings.

Milk is incredibly healthy

Milk is pretty healthy – if you’re a baby cow. It is perfectly designed by nature to feed these animals and make them quickly grow. But many doctors believe it is not a good food source for people: many people complain of suffering from lactose intolerance, which can include symptoms like stomach pain, bloating and diarrhea.  

Dr Neal Barnard, founder of the Physicians Committee, thinks milk consumption can be even more dangerous. He says: “Regular consumption of dairy products has also been linked to prostate cancerlung cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.”

Humans are the only species who drink another species' milk after being weaned (Photo: Andrew Branch)

There are no good alternatives to cow’s milk

This is an incredibly lazy lie, but it is one the dairy lobby has tried to spin. 

Earlier this year a number of congressmen wrote to the US Food and Drug Administration [FDA] to try and make it illegal for plant-milk manufacturers to use the word ‘milk’ on their packaging.  

Sounds like a pretty desperate move – and probably because there is a huge range of alternatives to dairy that are tasty, healthy and easily accessible too. Try almond, soya, coconut, hazelnut, hemp and sunflower (just for starters).

Drinking milk can help you lose weight

Milk has regularly been touted as an important part of a weight loss regimen – but there is no evidence to back up this assertion. 

According to Dr Neal Barnard, founder of the Physicians Committee: “Studies consistently show that dairy products offer zero benefits for weight control. One major study even found that dairy products might lead to weight gain.” 

After the committee petitioned the Federal Trade Committee about this issue in 2005, advertisers have not been allowed to claim dairy leads to weight loss. But the idea still lingers in some circles.

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