Are you wondering why vegans don’t eat dairy? Or why is dairy is bad for our health? There are 11 powerful and surprising reasons that will make you want to quit eating dairy products (if you have not already).
It goes without saying that vegans do not consume any land or sea animals, eggs, and even honey. But what about dairy products?
People who have never led a vegan lifestyle in the past may think that it is OK to eat dairy because animals like cattle, sheep, and goats do not have to get killed to produce milk. Therefore, as long as they do not eat the flesh of those animals, it should be fine.
However, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, and arthritis are only a few of the common results from drinking milk from other animal species.
A majority of Americans and even some vegetarians consume substantial amounts of dairy products. Vegans, in particular, do NOT eat any dairy products like cow’s milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and ice cream just to name a few.
There are plenty of reasons why you should avoid dairy products. I am going to explain everything in detail in hopes of helping you understand why vegans choose to opt out of dairy products. The bottom line is: If you have the willpower and are able to cut meat out of your diet, after reading this article, you will be convinced to also stop eating dairy.
Please watch the video below of a speech from Dr. Neal Barnard were he explains the dangers of consuming dairy.
1. Calcium and Bone Health
Calcium is a very important mineral that helps build strong bones, teeth, and maintain bone mass. Throughout life, our bones are constantly being renewed through a process called remodeling, and the process consists of resorption and formation.
During resorption, old bone tissue is broken down and removed by special cells.
During formation, new bone tissue is laid down to replace the old. As a rule of thumb, new bone is added to the skeleton faster than old bone is removed. As a result, bones become larger, denser, and heavier.
Simply put, the body must have enough calcium so that bone density does not decrease in this remodeling process.
It is true that calcium strengthens your bones and insufficient calcium can cause osteopenia (bone loss) and osteoporosis (weak bones), especially in the case of older adults
Calcium is vital for ensuring both health, but consuming more than 600 milligrams or more per day does not improve bone integrity and may lead to nausea, constipation, and kidney stones.
The dairy and bone health link is one of the most pervasive milk myths.
For so many years, diary industry advertisements have convinced a lot of people that cow’s milk is a very important food for overall health and strong bones and a majority of people believe that dairy products are primary source of calcium, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is that dairy products are packed with fat, sodium, and cholesterol and may increase the risk of health problems.
Clinical research shows that dairy products have very little or no benefits for our bones and drinking three or more glasses of milk increases mortality risk by 93%. On top of that, for each glass of milk, risk of dying from all causes increases by 15%.
A new study published in the British Medical Journal discovered that people who consumed the most calcium had higher rates of hip fractures and osteoporosis than those who consumed less.
There is no evidence that drinking milk can prevent bone fractures or osteoporosis. Furthermore, the more milk one consumed as teenagers, the more bone fractures they experience as adults.
There is also another study that found that adolescent girls who consumed the most calcium, mostly in the form of dairy products, were at greater risk for stress fractures than those consuming less calcium.
We can easily get calcium from plant foods like broccoli, kale, beans, and so many other leafy green vegetables. Plus, calcium-fortified products such as organic cereals and orange juice and even soy milk can also provide about the same amount of calcium per serving as milk or other dairy products.
Truth be told, we do not need to get calcium and potassium from dairy products. Instead, we can easily get them by eating plant foods because all minerals are from the ground. Plants are loaded with calcium, zinc, iron, copper, etc., so the more plants you eat, the more minerals you acquire. Plant foods boost our immune systems and help us avoid chronic diseases.
Whole-food, plant-based diets are enough to meet the needs of growing children and adults.
Exercise is considered to be one of the most effective ways to increase bone density and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Doing regular resistance exercises like lifting weights can also improve bone density and may help build new bone.
A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that pumping iron can not only improve one’s ability to perform physical tasks, but also reverse the aging process within the tissue.
2. What About Vitamin D?
There is an array of people drinking milk in hopes of getting enough vitamin D in their diets, but unfortunately, they do not realize that they can actually obtain vitamin D through sunlight. Without vitamin D, only 10 to 15% of dietary calcium is absorbed.
Spending 5 to 15 minutes outside every day can be enough to meet the body’s requirements for vitamin D, but it depends on one’s skin tone. For instance, my skin is a bit darker, so I need to be out in the sun longer to receive enough vitamin D.
During the winter time, the sun may not provide adequate vitamin D, so we need foods that contain vitamin D. However, very few foods have vitamin D and there are absolutely no dairy products that contain vitamin D. Here is the solution: foods like fortified bread, cereals, grains, orange juice, and rice or soy milk are excellent options for providing vitamin D.
And of course, supplements are available as well.
Bottom line: regardless of what dairy marketers would have you believe, vitamin D is definitely not naturally occuring in dairy products.
3. Dairy Products and Saturated Fats
Healthy fats such as seeds, nuts, tahini, and avocados are great for providing our body with energy and other functions. Fat is an integral part of a healthy diet, and it is important to understand how to get the right kinds in the right amounts.
Fats help slow down the absorption of nutrients into your system. Therefore, you can go or push longer without feeling hangry. Furthermore, they help sugar and insulin metabolism, which is good for weight loss.
The fats are considered to be the healthiest are from plants and vegetables and are known as unsaturated. Of all the unsaturated fats, the healthiest is monounsaturated, which can lower your “bad” cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease, and help prevent certain types of cancer like breast and colon cancers.
Moreover, monounsaturated provides important fatty acids for skin health and cellular development. Raw nuts and avocados are one of the excellent sources of monounsaturated fat.
Another fat from the unsaturated family is polyunsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fatty acids play an important role in the treatment and prevention of heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, and cancer. What is more, this wonder fat has been shown to improve depression and symptoms of other mental illnesses. Most nuts and seeds are great sources of polyunsaturated fat.
Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, ice cream, milk, and butter contain cholesterol and saturated fat. Diets that are high in fat and particularly saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke because they raise bad cholesterol levels (LDL or low-density lipoproteins). Not only that, they can also cause a whole lot of serious health problems.
Eating a whole food, low-fat, plant-based diet, in combination with regular exercise, stress management, and smoking cessation can prevent and even reverse heart disease.
Controlled clinical trials have shown that replacing animal products with whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables is effective in lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.
4. Lactose Intolerance
According to a study from National Geographic, humans started drinking milk and eating dairy products when agriculture first developed. During that time, most people had lactose intolerance and they could not digest lactose because their small intestine did not make enough lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose.
Nowadays, only one out of four people can digest lactose. Lactose intolerance is still pretty common among many populations
Lactose is the major sugar in milk and other dairy products. If you consume too many dairy products, you may have symptoms like cramps, bloating, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, and painful gas.
5. Dairy Products and Protein
It is very easy to get enough protein without eating animals and dairy products. However, a lot of doubters always ask the same question: Are plant-based protein sources complete?
If a food supplies all of the essential amino acids in appropriate ratios, it is called a complete protein, the building blocks of protein. If a food source is low or lacking in one or more essential amino acids, it is called an incomplete protein.
There are two general classes of amino acids: essential and nonessential. Essential amino acids can not be manufactured in the body, so they have to be obtained from the food supply. On the other hand, the body can manufacture nonessential amino acids from dietary nitrogen and fragments of carbohydrate and fat.
Yes, the major sources of complete proteins are animal sources, dairy, and meats and legumes and seeds are not. However, we do NOT need every single essential amino acid in every bite of food in everyday meals. All we need is a sufficient amount of each amino acid every day. These essential amino acids are easily obtained by eating a balanced vegan diet.
Plant-based protein sources contain healthy fiber and complex carbohydrates and animal products are high in fat and cholesterol and the consumption of animal protein has been linked to some types of cancer such as pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.
All vegan foods have protein and soybeans, in particular, contain all the essential amino acids. There are so many delicious soy products, including tofu and tempeh, which can accommodate a wide variety of tastes.
As a matter of fact, protein quality improves when incomplete proteins from plant-based foods such as rice and beans are mixed together.
Examples of Complete Protein Vegan Food Sources:
1. Rice and beans
2. Beans and leafy green vegetables
3. Peanut butter on Ezekiel bread
4. Sunflower seeds and peanuts
5. Soy yogurt and granola
6. Oatmeal and soy milk (almond, rice, hemp, or coconut milk)
7. Lentils and Ezekiel bread
8. Hummus (chickpeas and sesame paste) with Ezekiel bread
9. Bean soup with whole-grain crackers
6. More Dairy Products, More Problems
Dairy consumption increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which is known as a cancer promoter.
Prostate, breast, lung, and even ovarian cancers have all been linked to dairy consumption. In addition, dairy may contribute to other health problems like allergies, sinus problems, type 1 diabetes, ear infections, chronic constipation, anemia, and so much more.
A registered dietician from Barnard Medical Center explains that by taking dairy off your plate, you can significantly cut the chances of being diagnosed with certain cancers by more than 70%.
All in all, dairy is hazardous for your health.
7. Health Concerns About Dairy Products
Cow’s milk is ideal for growing baby cows, but it is not a nature’s perfect food for humans. A recent research showed that early introduction of cow’s milk increased susceptibility to type 1 diabetes.
Milk consumption during childhood has been linked to colic (severe pain in the abdomen) and type 1 diabetes. Plus, there is absolutely NO evidence showing that low-fat or even organic milk can prevent childhood obesity. Increasing dairy product intake will not decrease body fat and weight over the long term.
Milk protein, milk sugar, milk fat, and milk saturated fat in dairy products pose a whole bunch of health risks for people such as an increase in the prevalence of multiple sclerosis (abnormal hardening of body tissue) and even recurrent episodes of otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear).
There are a number of reasons why people can not stop eating dairy. One of the main reasons is that people believe in all dairy myths such as milk builds strong bones, helps you lose weight, is nature’s perfect food, makes you super healthy, and other misleading information.
Besides, the U.S government spends at least $140 million helping develop fatty fast food meals and boost the sales of dairy products. When you turn on the TV, surf the web, open up a magazine, or walk down the street, you can see advertising for a lot of unhealthy creations spawned from the government’s partnership with the dairy industry.
Now that we know that the government is pushing it and the dairy industry is working. However, the choice is yours. At the end of the day, your health is your responsibility. Before you make a decision, make sure to arm yourself with all the information you need.
Dairy products are packed with cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium – three nutrients the government-issued Dietary Guidelines recommend we cut back on. Just think about it for a second.
Seriously, we do not need any milk and dairy products to help meet our calcium, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin D requirements.
8. Things you don’t really see while eating or drinking dairy
Milk has contaminants such as hormones and pesticides. Milk itself has hormones and growth factors produced within a cow’s body. Moreover, synthetic hormones are always used in cows to boost the production of milk. Therefore, when we drink milk, these hormones can affect our normal hormonal function.
Dairy is not only linked to a higher risk of chronic diseases but also has microscopic additions you do not really know when drinking or eating these products.
According to a study from the Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, milk undergoes a series of stages between production, storage, and distribution in which it is exposed to a variety of contaminants like pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dioxins.
In addition, heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and lead have also been found in milk, which is pretty shocking.
All of these toxins can ultimately build to harmful levels that will affect the immune, reproductive, and the central nervous systems and what is worse, they will cause cancer.
Mastitis and inflammation are very common conditions found in cows because of dairy product practices that have cows producing more milk than nature intended. In order to treat these conditions, antibiotics must be used and of course traces of the antibiotics have been found in samples of milk and dairy products.
During processing of milk products, other contaminants like melamine are found in plastics, which can severely affect the kidneys and urinary tract because of their high nitrogen content and carcinogenic toxins such as aflatoxins, which can cause liver damage and cancer.
Worst of all, these contaminants can not be destroyed in pasteurization.
9. Ethical issues on the scope
Cows produce milk to nourish their baby calves. The same goes for humans. Moms breastfeed babies. A lot of cows raised for the dairy industry are intensively confined and are treated like milk-producing machines. Numerous cows are impregnated with antibiotics, hormones, and artificial insemination in order to produce more milk.
Baby calves are always torn away from their moms within a day of birth. Petrified, ill, and alone, these poor baby calves often get killed after a few months of life so that their flesh can be sold as veal. At the end, it does not matter whether adult or baby cows are raised for their flesh or milk, they will all end up at a slaughterhouse.
Meanwhile mother cows are hooked up to milking machines many many times a day. Their reproductive systems are utilized through genetic selection, regardless of the negative effects on their health.
Sometimes drugs are even used to mercilessly force mother cows to produce even more milk so that there will be more milk that can be sold to humans.
Cows generally have a lifespan of about 20 years and are able to produce milk for about 8 years. Unfortunately, a majority of cows that are used by the dairy industry are slaughtered after about 5 years or so just because their bodies get so weak from always being pregnant or lactating.
A study from a dairy industry discovered that by the time, those cows are murdered, almost 50% of them are crippled. Why? It is because they have no choice but stand on filthy concrete flooring in a confined space. Sadly, dead cows are usually turned into soup, ground beef, or even foods for pets like dogs and cats.
If you want to save cows from the misery of factory farms, all you need to do is simply stop buying milk and other dairy products. There are plenty of delicious vegan dairy options that are available in grocery and health-food stores.
There are a variety of fortified plant-based milk alternatives that provide calcium, vitamins, iron, zinc, protein, and potassium without health risks posed by dairy milk.
Here is a list of some vegan dairy products on the market:
1. Almond milk (60 calories per cup)
2. Hemp milk (has more calcium than cow’s milk)
3. Soy milk (8 grams of protein per cup)
4. Oat milk (free of cholesterol)
5. Rice milk (free of saturated fat)
10. Unsuspected Environmental Problems
Dairy cows and livestock in general are causing an exploitation of our environment, and even causing pollution. But how is that even possible?
Feeding livestock takes up more than two thirds of the land devoted to producing foods. This enormous amounts of foods are used to raise cattle and make them candidates for dairy production and slaughter.
Instead of being eaten by humans directly, more than half the foods we produce on farms end up being fed to cattle. It is ironic how so many environmental resources are used to fill a single plate of beef with a glass of milk.
Livestock farming has increased the number of cattle so much that they are starting to generate pollution. So, if you think pollution only comes from industries and synthetic chemicals, think twice.
Livestock farming has created such a disruption in the natural equilibrium that, even biological processes from cows are starting to create problems.
Cow’s stomach and intestines must process and digest what they eat and in doing so they create intestinal gasses through bacterial fermentation.
Similar to humans, cattle may also suffer from flatulence. They release methane to the environment in exponentially higher quantity than us.
Livestock ‘digestion’ produces almost 3 billion tons of greenhouse gasses every year. This gas makes up 16% of the greenhouse emissions, and it is even worse than CO2 in terms of its greenhouse effects.
According to studies, cattle releases an alarming amount of methane to the atmosphere, 11% more than researchers’ previously estimated.
Thus, raising cows for dairy production is one unexpected reason of global warming.
11. The Unfulfilled Role Of Politics
After stating these facts, one could reasonably expect some type of policy regarding dairy and meat production.
Dietary guidelines could point out dairy as a preventable cause of chronic disease, advise a low consumption of these products, and even go as far as advising people to completely cut it out from their diet. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
In their 2015 revision, the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans only mentioned that people are eating and drinking dairy “above [their] recommendations”. Sadly, they also do not provide any steps people can take to reduce dairy consumption.
Why would that be, one would ask. The problem lies in how powerful the dairy industry lobby is in congress.
They have so much influence on the US government that even when the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has warned about the health dangers of dairy, these recommendations are not included in the current dietary guidelines.
Is There Any Alternative To Dairy?
Vegans do not eat dairy, and you shouldn’t either. But there are many options to choose from if we want to substitute dairy products.
One of the most popular alternatives to dairy is soy milk, but rice, almond and even coconut milk can also work out. The one alternative with less calories is flaxseed milk, and soy milk has the highest content in protein among all of them.
With this starting point, we can also find –and even create ourselves- milk derivates based on soy, almond or coconut milk. For example, we can have soy or coconut milk yogurt, and there is even cream cheese made out of nut milk.
As for butter, sometimes it can be replaced by vegetable oil blends, but there are also coconut and peanut butter among others.
These dairy alternatives provide a similar texture and taste, and what’s best, they don’t have any of the adverse effects dairy has. They are quite good alternatives to keep our health, they are not related to environmental or ethical issues, and provide a wide range of nutrients.
So, Is It Necessary –or- Healthy To Consume Dairy Products?
Definitely not. First of all, you don’t need to consume dairy to be healthier, have a balanced nutrition, or have stronger bones. That view is not supported by any scientific evidence, only by those who want to make profit out of it. But no ad will ever tell you that consuming dairy increases your likelihood of chronic diseases, cancer, and type 1 diabetes in children. They won’t tell you how many times they have found hormones, heavy metals and pus in milk, either.
Besides your health, there’s ethical and environmental reasons to stop consuming dairy products. These include the mistreatment and murder of livestock, and the dairy industry’s contribution to global warming.
In spite of this, governments have failed to make clear policies against the dairy industry.
So, the decision is not in the hands of governments, but in yours instead. Vegans do not eat dairy, and you shouldn’t, either!
Will you stop being consuming dairy? Why do you think it’s important to stop consuming dairy? Let me know on the comment section below. And don’t forget to share this article in your favorite social media platform!