If you’re like most Americans, you’ve grown up thinking you need to consume dairy to stay healthy. You subscribe to the idea that dairy does a body good because that’s what dietary guidelines tell you. Plus, you need milk, cheese, and other dairy products to build strong bones, right? But now more people are asking: Is dairy bad for you? When it comes to our need for calcium, vitamins, and protein in milk, we have been misled about dairy. The positive messaging surrounding dairy is both industry and government-backed.
1. Increased Risk of Heart Disease - Milk is one of the top sources of saturated fat in the American diet. Dairy products are high in fat and loaded with cholesterol, and studies have shown that diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in the US. For example, An 8-ounce glass of whole milk contains 150 calories and 8 grams of fat, 5 of which are saturated, and 24 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol. Saturated fat is known to raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association
Increased cancer risk. Dairy has also been linked to breast and other cancers, especially those considered “hormonal” A recent study in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that women who drank just two to three glasses of full-fat cow’s milk a day increased their risk of breast cancer by up to 80 percent.
One culprit driving these cancers is estrogen. While milk has always contained estrogen, it’s higher now, as modern dairies milk cows into pregnancy. Estrogen gets passed through the dairy to humans, which is why so many studies are emerging about the link between full-fat dairy and hormonal cancers. Dairy contains an insulin-like growth factor called IGF-1, which causes your body to ramp up the production of IGF-1, a growth hormone, which is beneficial if you’re a baby cow, but not for us humans.
Ethical/ Environmental concerns:
1. It is incredibly cruel to animals.
Like all mammals, cows produce milk to nourish their young. This means that for a cow to produce milk, she is repeatedly impregnated, separated from her newborn calves within just 24 hours of giving birth, which causes extreme distress, and forced to produce more than 20,000 pounds of milk each year.
The baby cows are either raised then slaughtered for veal within a month of being born or turned into dairy cows who live a horrible life. Dairy cows could live up to 25 years but are usually slaughtered at about five, since their bodies wear out from constantly being pregnant or lactating, and they can no longer produce milk.
2. Dairy farming has a devastating effect on the planet.
According to the WWF, there are approximately 270 million dairy cows worldwide – and the average dairy cow uses about 4,954 gallons of water per day. This heavily contributes to the depletion of natural resources.
Cows also produce substantial amounts of greenhouse gas, which has a considerable effect on global warming. Dairy operations also often degrade local water resources through poor handling of fertilizers and manure, which can lead to the destruction of ecologically important areas like wetlands, forests, and prairies.