Why Do People Ditch Dairy?
Why can’t I consume dairy products?
When I initially went vegan, I was totally bargaining with what I could keep in my diet.
Cheese was a massive one that I thought I could never part with.
Since I’m lactose intolerant, milk & ice-cream had long been cut out of my diet and I was fine with that.
I was tired of stomach aches, amongst other side effects from them, so it became a no-brainer.
But, cheese, no way. I didn’t care if it made my stomach hurt; the taste was way too good to give up.
A great cheese platter.
A grilled cheese.
Macaroni and cheese.
Come on, no way could I give that up!
“Why do people give up dairy?” I googled.
YouTube video after YouTube video, I ended up deep down the rabbit hole of hearing what’s so bad about dairy for my body, for the animals, and for the planet.
Once I knew…there was no going back.
Why is dairy that bad for humans?
Milk is a by-product of pregnancy in mammals. Whether it comes from a cow, sheep, goat, or human, milk is created to feed a baby mammal that’s recently been born.
Only until 10,000 years ago did humans start consuming the milk of other species.
And recently, people have started to realize the negative impact of its consumption.
You may think that drinking milk from another species is normal because you’ve done it all your life, but the truth is…it’s 100% not natural.
Your body is not designed to consume another animal’s milk.
Plus, in order to actually steal milk from a cow, it has to be pregnant.
To make this happen, cows are forcefully impregnated (yes, raped), in order for it to have a baby calf, and thus, produce milk.
On dairy farms, baby calves are taken away from their mothers (both demonstrating obvious signs of trauma from this separation) within hours or days of being born. The baby calves are then usually bottle fed some lesser form of milk so that we humans can drink that milk that was intended for said baby cows.
Dairy cows can get infections in their udders (which sometimes puts blood and puss in their milk) and become weak from constant impregnation.
They are pumped with antibiotics and other medications to keep them “healthy” and alive.
Those things then filter into the milk humans drink, which has shown a profound effect on the human body.
Dairy cows have a natural lifespan of 20 years or so. In the dairy industry; they’re usually killed around four years old when they can no longer produce offspring because they’re so overused.
Lastly, cows produce a tremendous amount of CO2 that filters into the environment. The more cows are bred into existence, the higher the levels of CO2 go into the environment, and the quicker we speed up global warming (which is destroying our planet if you didn’t already know).
So, there are downfalls of consuming dairy that include animal suffering, negative health implications, and an environmental impact.
If that’s not enough for you, keep reading.
Myths About Dairy
Milk makes your bones stronger
“Milk makes your bones strong!” “More calcium = stronger bones.” “You’ll grow big and strong when you drink milk.”
Ever hear some of those things growing up? Yeah, me too.
The truth is, those ideas were instigated by the dairy industry to push their products…and, based on my childhood, it worked pretty well.
Here’s a dose of reality.
Milk and dairy products aren’t actually building your bones stronger. In fact, they’re robbing your bones of their calcium levels.
When dairy products (and animal products in general) are consumed and broken down, they produce acid in your body.
In order to counteract that acid, your body will actually use its calcium stores to flush your system of the unnatural levels of acid.
SO, dairy is actually stealing calcium from your body instead of building it up.
It’s all been a big lie!
You’re actually more likely to develop osteoporosis when you drink milk than if you didn’t.
2. Only some people are lactose intolerant
While many people don’t demonstrate negative symptoms immediately after they consume dairy products, the impact that they may have can present in other ways later in life.
(By the way, over 75% of the world lacks the enzyme to digest cow’s milk, which means they have some form of lactose intolerance.)
Brittle bones, prostate cancer, high cholesterol, acne, eczema, ovarian cancer, increased allergies, antibiotic resistance, and weight gain have been strongly linked to dairy consumption. Source.
Babies often experience gut symptoms like colic, constipation, and diarrhea from non-human milk consumption.
If cows are already making milk, what’s so bad about us taking it from them?
If you don’t already know, dairy cows aren’t just constant milk producers.
I know I used to think they were, but that’s incorrect.
As I mentioned previously, milk will only begin to be produced when a calf is being born.
Just like humans.
Stealing from cows and their babies is wrong and it has become normalized in our society.
Besides all of the gross things that end up in milk, humans have actually made it acceptable to breed animals into existence just to steal from them for our own taste buds.
The dairy industry is powerful, which is why this is probably a shock to you.
Their budget for advertising and marketing is massive, so they can influence huge amounts of people into believing their products are good for you.
Newborn calves are separated from their mothers just shortly after they’re born to ensure the dairy industry continues to tick along.
This has a profound effect on the mental wellbeing of a cow and the calf.
Did you know that mother cows will chase after their calves when they’re taken away?
Did you know they moo loudly in obvious pain for days on end after their babies are gone?
How about the fact that cows are social animals and when calves grow up without their mothers, they show signs of higher levels of stress, increased social incompetence, and a lesser ability to handle stress… just like humans.
Where else can I get calcium if not from dairy?
So maybe now you’re thinking, “Okay, if I give up dairy to help the cows and the planet, am I going to get the nutrients that I need?”
The honest answer is YES!
You can get ALL the nutrients your body needs from plants.
Think about it, where do cows get their calcium from?
If we cut out animal products and incorporate more plants into our diets, we’re actually going straight to the source.
Here are a few things you can get calcium from without harming animals:
Fortified soy milk
Where else can I get vitamin D if not from milk?
Now that we’ve got calcium covered, you may be wondering about vitamin D.
For many people, vitamin D can be consumed simply by exposing yourself to sunlight.
If you live somewhere that has shortened daylight hours, though, or you have trouble absorbing vitamin D from the sun’s rays, you can get it in other ways.
Some people turn to milk, but a startling fact is that vitamin D doesn’t naturally occur in significant levels in milk. It’s actually added in along the way!
Not to worry, you can also get vitamin D from other fortified sources, such as:
Vitamin D supplements
Why shouldn’t I eat cheese?
This was one of my most profound conflicts when I went vegan, because I LOVED CHEESE.
How many times have you heard yourself say, “I could never give up cheese, I love it too much”?
Yeah, me too…like a million times before I went vegan.
This may be hard to hear, but there’s some crappy truth to loving cheese made from dairy.
Here it is…
You, my friend, are physically addicted to it.
Yes, like cigarettes and alcohol, you can become physically addicted to cheese.
When a mother cow is producing milk, which then gets turned into cheese, she is injecting her own levels of adrenaline into the milk.
She does this because she wants to make her udder addictive to her calf so it keeps coming back for more.
If mama cow can get baby cow to keep sucking on her udder, s/he will grow big and strong very quickly, which is a mother cow’s role in nature.
So, when we humans eat that cheese that’s got a mother cow’s adrenaline in it, we actually get a rush, too, and want to keep going back for more.
HOW CRAZY IS THAT!?
Now, coming from a former cheese-lover, I thought I could never give it up. Ever.
But after I learned all that I learned, I stopped eating it entirely and started using vegan cheeses and I no longer feel addicted.
Truthfully, I feel just as satisfied when I eat something cheesy now as much as I did in the past, but this time I know it’s better for me, animals, and the planet.
If I can do it, you can do it.
What are some dairy alternatives?
The biggest thing I’ve learned since going vegan is that it’s not about deprivation at all.
I don’t miss anything that I once used to eat that had dairy/animal products in it.
When I wondered about why a certain animal product was so bad to eat, I’d educate myself on its production, impact, and health implications.
Then, I’d never want to eat it again.
Knowledge is power, my friend, and the truth is crucial to living a conscious life.
In order to live your life just as you used to, all you have to do is learn about replacing your dairy products with non-dairy products.
There are plant-based options out there for everything these days; some of which are:
Vegan cream cheese
Vegan cheddar cheese
Vegan sour cream
Vegan milks & creams
I could keep going, but the point is, you won’t die without cheese or dairy even if you think life won’t be the same.
Once you make the connection between your taste buds and the treatment of a cow/animal, you’ll hopefully begin to make more conscious decisions with what you buy and consume.