I’m gonna stick my neck out here. And I’m going to risk your wrath, disapproval and possibly your valued, continuing readership. But what I have to say on this subject is not built on conjecture or speculation. Nor is it part of my cunning plan to turn you into vegans (mainly because that isn’t my plan, and never will be). What I’m about to spill is the truth. And you won’t have to look very far to find evidence a-plenty to back it up.
This is a thoroughly-researched two-parter. So, prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone, dangle the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and cosy up with a nice cuppa. Preferably without milk.
Dairy does no-one any favours. And when you think about where it comes from, it makes total sense. So that primary fact is what I’m focussing on today.
Milk is produced by cows FOR THEIR YOUNG. Just like any mammal, including us, milk has a very specific formula, created by nature for one particular species. And not just for one particular species, but also for a very limited time period, i.e. infancy. There is roughly three times as much protein in cow’s milk than there is in human breast milk. Why? Because calves have a lot more growing to do in a much shorter space of time than us.
Blindingly obvious statement alert: We are not cows. And we are not babies.
From the moment we savour our first mouthful of solids, the human palette is fine-tuned to crave the basic tastes of sugar, salt and fat. So it’s no wonder that the sweet, creaminess of milk and all its related by-products seem like manna from heaven to most of us. If you’re not a fan, consider yourself truly blessed.
Cows have four stomachs for a reason. And likewise, the human race produces an enzyme called lactase for a reason too. This is the enzyme which enables babies to digest their own mother’s milk. So it’s not much of a surprise that, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 75 per cent of the world’s population does not produce this enzyme in adolescence or adulthood. For Native Americans and Asians, the figure is closer to 100 per cent.
In short, even those of us who do not believe we are lactose-intolerant are unable to digest cow’s milk properly, because we no longer possess the chemical tools to do it. And that speaks volumes, surely. Last time I looked, nature knew what it was doing.
But although lactose is the intolerance which most people are aware of, there are many, many other intolerances and reactions which people can experience because of other ingredients in milk, including casein, a type of protein. So the lactose-free stuff won’t necessarily get you off the hook, either.
OK, OK. What about your beloved cheese on toast? And that comforting winter staple, macaroni cheese? I really wish I could enthusiastically steer you down the path of the organic stuff instead. But having asked a few questions of the Soil Association – the principal body in the UK for certifying organic foodstuffs – it would appear that this stuff is only marginally better. Or less bad, I should say.
Why not compromise and give goat’s and sheep’s milk a whirl? Think feta and halloumi (check that both are indeed cow-free as not all brands are). They’re a lot kinder on your system, and, not being produced on the same gigantic scale as mainstream dairy, goats and sheep appear not to be exposed to the same mass-production horrors as our cows. If you’ve ever had mastitis, you’ll at least have some idea of what millions of dairy cows endure every day.
However, I stress that I have not researched goat and sheep milk production in depth. You have to stop somewhere. And stop I shall. But be ready for part two. You’re probably not going to like it, but trust me, you really need to know this.
To be continued…