Thinking of Drinking Cow’s Milk? Think Again!

Dr. Will Tuttle, Ph.D.

The production and consumption of dairy products is remarkably destructive to the earth, to our health, and to animals. One main problem is that dairy products—like meat—use and waste large amounts of plant matter. For example, researchers estimate that 2.5 acres of land can meet the food energy needs of 20 people eating potatoes, cabbage, or corn, but of only 2 people eating dairy products or chicken. Thus, 10 times as much plant material must be grown to eat dairy products, and this means much more pollution of streams from fertilizer and pesticide runoff than if people ate vegetables and grains directly. It also means that land is cleared of forests for growing grain to feed to dairy cattle, and for grazing. Forests provide wildlife habitat, build soil, and naturally purify streams. By reducing and eliminating dairy consumption, we could reforest large areas of land, purifying our air and water, and increasing habitat for birds, fish and other animals.

Cheese is especially destructive because it requires from 30 to 60 litres of milk to make just 1 kilo of cheese. The other high-fat products such as butter, cream, and ice cream also require enormous amounts of land, water, and fossil fuels, because so much grain is required for their production. This grain, and the land and resources used to grow it, could go instead to feeding hungry and starving people. Thus, eating milk products contributes to the shortage of food our world is experiencing, and the conflicts that this causes.

Dairy products also contribute significantly to global warming because the millions of cows imprisoned for milk production convert grass and grain into methane gas, which retains atmospheric heat even more efficiently than carbon dioxide. Milk products also require especially large amounts of petroleum as well, to run farm machinery needed for growing grains and grass to feed the cows, for housing and heating the animals, processing the milk, and keeping it refrigerated. These factors contribute to global warming and resource depletion.

Besides the obvious and unavoidable waste of land, petroleum, and grain, and the ecological devastation this causes, dairy operations produce products never intended by nature to be consumed by humans. Cows’ milk is intended for infant herd animals that weigh 150 kilograms in just 14 weeks! It is highly toxic to humans for many reasons, especially the fact that we have no rennin hormone like calves do to break down the casein protein in milk. Milk products have thus been linked with allergies, eczema, asthma, ear infections, sinus infections, diarrhoea, anaemia, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disease, multiple sclerosis, bronchitis, arthritis, leukaemia, and dental decay, as well as diabetes, arteriosclerosis, obesity, and other diseases of excess fat and protein.

Huge quantities of toxic pharmaceuticals are swallowed and injected to fight these diseases, and these toxins, once excreted, end up polluting the water. This is a serious source of water pollution surrounding urban centres.

Finally, there is the suffering of the cows, who are pushed to give more milk than they would naturally, and are forcibly inseminated (raped) against their will, with their beloved new-born babies being stolen from them so that we can steal their milk. All this misery pollutes the milk and our mental atmosphere, and gentle cows, who normally live 25 years, are worn out and sent to slaughter after only 4 to 5 years, to be replaced by their unfortunate daughters.

Will Tuttle, Ph.D., composer, pianist, Zen priest, and author of The World Peace Diet, is cofounder of Karuna Music & Art and of the Prayer Circle for Animals and Circle of Compassion ministry.

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