Optimistic Vegan

The Truth about Milk

When we refer to “milk” we refer to cow’s milk, without thinking about the connection from “cow” to “glass of milk.” Something that Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (my hero) is fond of pointing out is that we are perfectly fine with drinking cow’s milk, but the idea of drinking human milk is disgusting. When you think about it, how odd is that! We would rather drink the milk of another species before we would drink that of our own.

Besides the fact that we are drinking cow secretions, how milk is obtained is another interesting topic. What most people don’t think about (or know) is that cows only produce milk when they are pregnant or when they have a baby. Why? To support their babies. So to efficiently gather milk from cows (in factory farms) cows are impregnated, and then once their babies are born, they are taken away. The baby boy cows are sent to become veal and the baby girl cows are raised to be dairy cows like their moms.

On a side note, how are the cows impregnated? Well factory farms need to obtain bull (boy cow) semen, so they have specific people who collect” the semen from  the bulls so they can artificially inseminate the cows. I’m not lying. Can you imagine explaining to someone what you do for a living? Yikes!

Colleen and Cow

My hero ^ Colleen Patrick-Goudreau at Farm Sanctuary


Why do we drink so much milk? Well besides “it tastes good” some would say it’s where we get our calcium. Where do the cows get the calcium? Well calcium is a mineral, and minerals come from the ground, and then cows eat the grass that grows in the ground. Cows get calcium from plants! Unfortunately, dairy cows don’t eat grass. Dairy cows are too busy being hooked up to milking machines to go outside and eat some grass. To make sure their milk has calcium, factory farmers supplement their feed with calcium. Wait. Why can’t we just supplement our diet with calcium? Or better yet, eat the veggies that have it! (Spinach, artichokes, green beans, bok choy, swiss chard, collards, dandelion greens, kale, cucumbers, soybeans, turnip greens, and wasabi all have ridiculously high amounts)

Factory Farmed Cow

The life of a dairy cow.


Naturally a cow would produce about 1,000 liters of milk, but in the dairy industry a cow could produce between 6,000 and 12,000 liters, in 10 months. These cows are bred to produce a lot of milk, in addition to a growth hormone that is given to them. Mastitis, a painful inflammation of the utters, and is known to happen between 30 and 60% of all dairy cows.

This is just about cow’s milk, but sheep and goats are also raised for their milk. Humans are the only species that drinks the milk of others, and though it may seem like an efficient way to get your calcium, it isn’t natural and comes at a high cost.


4 Comments so far
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Also, as far as milk as a source of calcium goes, the protein in milk tends to bind to much of the calcium, preventing it from being absorbed by your bones and teeth, making the “milk is a great source of calcium!” argument mostly bunk.

Comment by Keelor

Ah yes Keelor! I actually learned about this! Sodium and protein leech calcium from bones, making the milk counterproductive. Osteoporosis is caused by a calcium deficiency and while the way to prevent it may seem to be by drinking milk (thank you, dairy industry!) it may be causing more harm than good.

Comment by krazykaitie

Kudos to you Kaitie 🙂 I really appreciate having people like you in my life.
You make a good point. And even though I dont have I choice whether or not I get to drink cows milk or not, this makes me confident that if I did have a choice or not, I would choose not to. It is kind of odd that we think of human milk as icky, even though we were literally raised on it for the first year of our life. That seems pretty natural to me; drinking milk you are provided by your own species, and what is most natural and similar to your body. And we all should realise that natural foods are just plainly better for you body than anything processed.

Comment by Kristin

Haha woo!
That will be the day when everyone eats the most natural foods 🙂

Comment by krazykaitie

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