Little Known Facts About the Dairy Industry

Heifers hooked up to the milking machines in a factory farm.

Dairy products are some of the most widely consumed food products in America. After delving deeper into researching various factory farming practices, I’ve learned more about dairy farming and have realized the mainstream media doesn’t make an effort to educate the general public about the truths and research done on the topic. Most people are not even aware that studies have shown milk to be not as good as originally claimed (this is mainly due to government propaganda in favor of dairy milk, such as the “Got Milk?” campaign). The dairy industry also promotes the veal industry, which is the practice of taking and killing newborn male calves and slaughtering them after a few months. More people should know about the truth behind dairy, because there are major potential risks to be faced if someone’s dairy consumption is higher than average.

According to the 2016 official dietary guidelines updated by the federal government, everyone should be drinking at least 3 8-oz. servings of dairy milk a day. This is taught to young children in elementary schools as a part of the government’s “Choose My Plate” initiative (which is the new “food pyramid”). Despite these efforts by the government to influence Americans’ daily diets, researchers still look into whether or not dairy is actually beneficial for human consumption. A short summary of most information I have come across on this topic is just this: consuming milk has more negative impacts on humans than positive ones. Most people, about three quarters of people in the world, are lactose intolerant. Meaning they lack lactase, the necessary chemical needed to break down the protein lactose which is present in cow’s milk. Beyond this instance most people easily push out of their minds, lies the truth that the calcium in milk actually is not as absorbed into our bones as we have all been told. Instead, milk has a sort of calcium-leaching effect that can lead to more serious health problems down the line. Women in particular are the most susceptible to the harmful effects of drinking milk, as proven by a study in which they drank the recommended amounts of milk per day and also had higher rates of fractures — mostly occurring in the hips. There have also been studies on larger groups of people in countries where consumption of milk is higher, but so are the rates of fractures and fragile bones. That could arguably be a coincidence, though the study on rates of fractures seem to back the probability up. Milk has also been tied to a significantly increased risk of developing certain cancers such as ovarian and prostate. Is milk really all it’s cracked up to be?

Veal is considered a delicacy to most people who eat meat, but how and why is it farmed? First off, let me explain that veal only exists because dairy farming exists. Cows must birth a calf once a year in order to produce the milk sold at the store. Half of the calves born are male, and since they are unable to later produce milk, they are killed very soon after being born. Living conditions for these calves normally consist of crates so small they can barely stand correctly with heavy chains around their necks to stunt any sort of hyperactivity these baby cows may have, and on top of that, most male calves are underfed and forced to be anemic in order to make the meat paler and more tender. Water is typically the only drink these calves get and they are also given a cheap grain mix that acts as their only sustenance while they are alive. Most calves in the veal industry live to be 18–20 weeks old before slaughter. The government has no sort of regulations on the welfare of the animals in the food industry before they are slaughtered, so who knows what really goes on in those facilities.

After learning about the truth behind the dairy sector of factory farming, it is shocking to me that most people don’t look into the facts. The dairy industry isn’t going anywhere for a while, but with more studies on the effects of dairy on humans and better education on dairy to the consumers who buy the stuff, hopefully everyone can find a good middle ground to begin fixing the system we currently have. Should we continue to support the industries that cause such devastating practices to be considered “normal”?