Milk Sucks, or Bossie's Revenge

by Gene Franks

Editor's Note: This article appeared originally in the July/Sept.1991 issue of the Pure Water Gazette. Since then, it has become popular to trash milk, although it still surprises us to learn that some people still drink it and seem to really believe that it's "good for you."

The amazingly successful and expensive advertising campaigns of the dairy industry not only got our mothers to feed us formula instead of breast milk, but seem to have convinced us that it is "natural" for people to drink cows' milk. Nothing could be less natural. No species drinks milk beyond infancy and none consumes the milk of other species. --Neal Barnard, M.D.

When I was young, they packed me off to school,
And taught me how not to play the game.
- Jethro Tull.

Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity.--George Bernard Shaw.

It's hard to give up the myths we grew up with. My mother taught me that cold, white cows' milk was pure and wholesome and good for me. She learned that from those she trusted:  her mom, the schools, the doctor, Good Housekeeping. In every issue of Good Housekeeping, tucked neatly among the chocolate cake mix ads and the casserole recipes, was a doctor-approved weight-loss diet that let you start the new day with half a slice of enriched-bread toast, half a cup of stewed prunes, half a pat of butter, a poached egg, and some skim milk--the "Basic Four" foods that God intended us to eat.

When I drank cold, white milk as a child, I always imagined I was ingesting pure, healthful calcium and that it was solidifying right away into strong white bones and teeth. It would have been more realistic to imagine I was drinking glassfuls of chilled snot, because I've since learned, from research and from experience, that the bovine glandular secretion that we commonly call "milk" is a far more dependable source of mucous than of usable calcium.

The selling of milk is one of the great advertising coups. It has been so successful that almost no one objects that our taxes lavish subsidies on a fat-laden dairy industry whose cynicism and destructiveness equal the tobacco industry's. Not long ago seven large milk companies quietly agreed to repay Texas schools over $15 million to settle charges of overcharging through bid-rigging and price-fixing conspiracies. It hardly made the papers that Borden's, Cabell's, Oak Farm and others were picking our pockets while their ads were telling us how much they loved our kids. Health writer Victoria Moran says, "Milk is so sacred in this country that living without it is a personal affair that should not be shared with everyone." A Milwaukee school, she explains, reprimanded her for failing to include milk in her daughter's lunch. thus denying her child one of the "basic 4." Beware of the Milk Police.

Here are several things about milk that the ads don't tell you:

1. Milk is "a natural" only for baby calves. Calves have fours stomachs and double their body weight in 47 days. Human babies have only one stomach and a much slower rate of growth. It takes human babies 180 days or so to double their weight, so they don't need nearly as much protein as calves. Cows' milk is 15% protein (it has 15% of its calories as protein); human breast milk is 5 % protein. Much of the rationale for believing that cows' milk is an ideal food for human babies was based on research done with rats early in this century. The milk of mother rats is 49% protein and baby rats double their weight in just 4 days. This is yet another example of the difficulties we create for ourselves by trying to imitate rats.

2. Continuing to drink milk into adulthood is unnatural to all species. Only man could rationalize such weird behavior and learn to view it as "natural." "Custom," Shaw said, "will reconcile people to any atrocity. "

3. Decades of meat and dairy propaganda have made Americans the world's most outrageous protein gluttons. The most frequent question vegetarians hear is, "Where do you get your protein?" The answer is, "Where do horses, cows, gorillas, elephants, and giraffes get their protein?" Corpse-milk-egg protein is secondhand protein, inferior in quality to plant protein. And all plants, even lettuce, have protein. Here again is George Bernard Shaw: "Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into a giant oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay! "

4. Although the officially recommended daily requirement for protein is probably more than double what we really need, government and university experts regularly advise that we take in an extra 30% or so just to be safe. More is better. When asked who needs this extra 30%, Dr. David Reuben, who popularized the importance of dietary fiber, replied:

The people who sell meat, fish, cheese, eggs, chicken, and all the other high prestige and expensive sources of protein. Raising the amount of protein you eat by 30% raises their income by 30%. It also increases the amount of protein in the sewers and septic tanks of your neighborhood 30% as you merrily urinate away everything that you can't use that very _ day. It also deprives the starving children of the world of the protein that would save their lives. Incidentally, it makes you pay 30% of your already bloated food bill for protein you will never use [and] puts another $36 billion a year into the pockets of the protein producers. 

5. Question: Where do people who don't drink milk get their calcium?

Answer: Where do cows get their calcium?

6. Question: Who needs the excess calcium that experts recommend?

Answer: The people who sell milk, cheese, and other high prestige and expensive sources of calcium. Raising the amount of calcium you eat by X amount raises their income by X amount.

7. Nutrition writer Frieda Kabelac says:

We have been thoroughly mis-educated about calcium and proteins, thanks to the dairy and meat interests, which have penetrated the school systems with their propaganda. So ingrained is the idea that we need milk after the weaning period for calcium that people doubt that we can get enough calcium from plant foods.

8. Calcium deficiency usually does not arise from too little calcium but from too much protein. Dr. John Scharffenberg writes:

A very high calcium intake is necessary in the United States diet because a high-protein diet increases  excretion of calcium. In one study, men 18-20 years of age were given protein ranging from 48-141 gm. daily. The higher levels of protein doubled the urinary excretion of calcium when both calcium and phosphorus intake were held constant.... A diet high in meat with its high protein content will therefore increase urinary excretion of calcium.... Vegetarians have significantly greater bone density than omnivores; thus vegetarians appear to be less prone to osteoporosis.

9, The dairy industry has spent millions funding a variety of research schemes aimed at proving that milk is good for us. Meanwhile, what is probably the most extensive epidemiological study ever undertaken in the field of nutrition found, decisively, that the opposite is true.

In 1983 a joint British-Chinese-American study known as the "Study of Diet, Nutrition and Disease in the People's Republic of China" was begun for the purpose of studying the relationship between selenium and other nutrients and death rates from all forms of cancer. Because of its scope and the unique opportunity it offered, the study was expanded to examine many other health issues. It took exhaustive data--367 items per person were followed--on the lifestyle nutritional intake, and health status of 6,500 adults, half men, half women, spread throughout mainland China, over a six-year period.  I want to emphasize that this was not an American-style survey in which "researchers" phoned a lot of people and asked them  what they had for supper last night. It involved urine  and blood analyses, extensive questionnaires, measurements of foods consumed, and detailed examination of a broad spectrum of data that would have been impossible before the age of computers. 

Although it will be years before all the China study information is analyzed and available, the earliest reports have been shocking, although not unexpected by many. Dr. T. Colin Campbell of Cornell University, who directed the massive study, told Jane Brody in a New York Times interview (May 8, 1990) that the study affirms that "we're basically a vegetarian species and should be eating a wide variety of plant foods and  minimizing our intake of animal foods." On the question of osteoporosis, Dr. Campbell said:

"Ironically, osteoporosis tends to occur in countries where calcium intake is highest and most of it comes from

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 protein-rich dairy products. The Chinese data indicate that people need less calcium than we think and can get adequate amounts from vegetables."

Specifically, Dr. Campbell told the Times that the Chinese study found an average daily calcium intake of  of 544 mg. in China, almost  none of this from animal products, and "there was basically no osteoporosis in China." In the U. S., by contrast, where there is an average calcium intake of 1,143 mg per day, mostly from dairy products, "osteoporosis is a major public health problem."

The most interesting findings of the China study, however. surface in the area of dietary fat and cholesterol and their relation to disease. U. S. studies have always failed to ask the real questions about animal vs. non-animal diets. Typically, they compare lean meat vs. choice cuts, or skim milk vs. whole milk, so the results fail to address the real impact of animal foods on humans. The China study takes a much broader view and allows comparison of a large base of plant eaters vs. animal eaters. The clear-cut conclusion is that for real-world human beings the greatest single influence on degenerative diseases such as cancer. diabetes. and coronary heart disease seems to be the amount of protein. particularly animal protein. in the diet. Here are some eye-opening facts from the China study as explained by Registered Dietician and nutrition writer Bob LeRoy-SiBrava:

The range of plasma cholesterol values found in U.S. populations is said to be 155-274 mg/dl (though a group of U. S. vegans, if identified, should show lower figures than this). Almost all of the China-group values,  88-165 mg/dl, are lower than the lowest in the U.S. range. Thus all of China equals or improves upon what would be an ideal target cholesterol level for just about any person in the U.S.

You might expect that cholesterol is therefore irrelevant in this study, and that every Chinese group would have the same monotonously low rate of heart disease, right? Wrong. [According to Dr. Campbell,] "Coronary heart disease risk in China continues to decline to an almost negligible level when plasma cholesterol levels are low."  Colon cancer risk correlates in exactly the same way.

Likewise, the percentage of animal protein in the total protein consumed ranges from 0 percent to 20 percent among the Chinese groups, compared to an average of  70 percent in the U.S.  Even though the Chinese eat only a fraction of the animal protein eaten by Americans, the study found less risk for disease among those Chinese who eat the least amount of animal protein.

In other words, there is no "safe" amount of animal protein, and the more you eat the greater the risk. Remember, too, that from a nutritional standpoint, as Dr. John McDougall (The McDougall Plan) likes to say, "Milk is just liquid meat."

10. If you plan to "cut down" on the fat overdose by drinking "low fat" milk, consider Bob LeRoySiBrava's advice: "Healthwise, shifting from fattier meats to 'leaner' meats, cutting skin off poultry, reducing the number of times per week you eat egg yolks, and substituting 1% milk products for most whole milk products, is comparable to cutting smoking down to one pack per day."

11. If cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis aren't enough, here are a few more health problems that have been associated in medical literature with milk and excessive calcium:  kidney stones, gallstones aging and wrinkling of the skin, "frozen shoulder," tendonitis, bursitis, heel spurs, otosclerosis ( which leads to deafness), bloating, cramping, diarrhea (of various types), colic, runny nose, bronchitis, asthma, inflammatory arthritis, eczema, ulcerative colitis, lymphatic leukemia, Hodgkins disease, multiple sclerosis, iron deficiency (due to milk-induced gastrointestinal bleeding), and even crime. [An article in the Journal of Orthomological Psychiatry  (8:149, 1979)  reported that the juvenile offenders studied drank twice as much milk as the control group.]

I'll end this by adding the Gazette's support to three very worthy boycott appeals that are outlined in a recent issue of the  Bunny Huggers' Gazette. You can support all three of these boycotts simply by ignoring the dairy section at the supermarket as you would ignore other junk food sections.

One is a Greenpeace boycott of milk in cartons because of the presence of dioxin in cartons and the dioxin pollution caused by the manufacturing process. Dioxin in cartons is only one of many environmental concerns connected with dairy farming. Cows, according to John Robbins' Diet for a New America, emit excrement in our country alone at the rate of 250,000 pounds per second, and a full 90% of our harmful waste water pollution is directly attributable to cattle. U. S. Water News reports frequently upon dairy-related water pollution. Two recent articles have described the "brown ice" problem in Vermont, a state that is home for more cows than people. In the winter of 1989, for example, the ice of Lake Champlain,, drinking water source of the Vergennes-Panton water district, turned "a distinct shade of brown" because of runoff from dairies. U. S. Water News explains Vermont's problem:

All of the runoff contaminants, manure, commercial fertilizers, milkhouse wastes, pesticides, are defined as non-point-source pollutants because they enter watersheds through natural channels instead of pipes. This natural seepage makes control difficult [and] the prime agricultural land is located in close proximity to Vermont's most valuable rivers and streams. 

A single farm discussed in the article produces 20,000 pounds of manure each day. That's 7,300,000 every year, and 7,320,000 every Leap Year!

There's another milk boycott sponsored by Farm Sanctuary of Watkins Glen, NY because of the widespread use by milk producers of BST, or Bovine Somatotrophin, a growth hormone used on dairy cows to increase milk production. Although there is a record surplus of milk and our tax dollars are being outrageously wasted to buy surplus milk, producers are milking cows for all they are worth by pumping them with health-endangering drugs and hormones. We also pay for pointless and cruel research in quest of genetically altered "super cows" to push surpluses even higher. Few people know that the greatest concentrations of pesticides in the human diet are from meat products, not fruits and vegetables. John Robbins' figures for percentages of pesticides in the U. S. diet are 1% from grains, 4% from fruits, 6% from vegetables, 23% from dairy products, and 55% from animal flesh. It shows you how effective propaganda can be when you consider that most of us think of pesticides as something you try to scrub off of broccoli and apples!

A third boycott of milk products is sponsored by the Disabled and Incurably Ill for Alternatives to Animal Research (DIIAAR), Dona Spring of DIIAAR says the boycott is imposed because of "the suffering inflicted on dairy cows and the resulting veal industry. Their plight is worse than 'beef' cows."

Some drink milk who do not eat animals, considering milk production less cruel because "they don't have to kill the animal." There was a time when that argument had validity, but today's factory dairy farmers have equaled or surpassed the refined cruelties of factory meat farms. The image of Old Bossie the milk cow grazing in pastoral peace at Sunny Acres Farm, visited now and again by some amorous Ferdinand and surrounded by frolicking offspring, is a cruel fiction. Today's factory-farmed Bossie knows Ferdinand only through artificial insemination,  and her many calves are taken from her at birth. Her relatively short life (most dairy cows become fast-food burgers as soon as their production drops) is spent in the confines of a metal and cement stall. Drugged, dehorned, and degraded, she is treated like a machine rather than a sentient creature. Her female calves follow in her footsteps, and their brothers are less fortunate. Except for the few who are designated to be "milked" for semen in their own chamber of horrors, male calves become the raw material of the veal factory. Their lives are, mercifully, short--about 14 weeks. They are kept in painful confinement and fed an antibiotic-rich, iron-deficient " milk replacer" designed to produce the pale, anemic flesh that sophisticated eaters crave.

Veal is a by-product of the dairy farm. The only effective way to protest the cruelties of veal farming is to wean oneself from the bizarre and unnatural practice of cross-species milk consumption.

 What Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson Said about All This

Abraham Lincoln said: "I do not care much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."

Gandhi said: "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way it treats its animals." 

Thomas Jefferson said: "I tremble for my species when I reflect that God is just."

The Pure Water Gazette says: It is time that people of good faith stop deluding ourselves with the self-serving nonsense about having "dominion" over the other animals. We also claim "dominion"--whatever that means--over our children, but, except for an occasional primitive throwback practice like circumcision, we do not assume the right to lop off parts of their bodies to suit our convenience, dissect them, fry them, or imprison them for fourteen weeks in cages so narrow they can't lie down. We must also rid ourselves of the great falsehood that Descartes imposed upon us. It has clouded our thinking since his time. This is the notion that animals--except humans, of course--are merely instinct-driven machines that have no feelings. Anyone who has heard the heart-rending bawling of cows whose young are being trucked away to slaughter knows in his heart that Descartes was a liar or a fool.

Bossie's Revenge

Like Thomas Jefferson, I believe that God is just. By that I mean I believe that there is an inexorable law of the universe that says that sooner or later the fiddler has to be paid. Call it the Law of Karma, reaping what you sow, " what goes around, comes around," or whatever you like. .

We jokingly call the unpleasant "turista" ailment we suffer in Mexico "Moctezuma's Revenge," acknowledging our sins against the native Mexicans. It would be more  fitting to lump most of our great health problems together under the single heading of "Bossie's Revenge."  Heart disease, cancers, kidney stones, ear infections, osteoporosis, asthma--all merely symptoms of "Bossie's Revenge."

Our sins against Bossie are many. The perfect model of passive resistance to evil, Bossie patiently chews her cud, as we dig our graves with our teeth. Bossie does not get mad. She gets even.

 

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