When I got dairy out of my diet, it made the biggest difference in how I felt. At twenty my joints hurt, and my knees in particular were so stiff some days that it hurt to sit and stand. My digestion was sluggish, and my body felt ‘slow’. In my twenties. That’s pretty darn young to feel slow and uncomfortable. When I got dairy out of my diet, I felt profoundly better. It didn’t happen overnight for me, because some things were hard to ‘ditch’ (like cheese). As you will soon see, I later learned that was because of the highly addictive quality of cheese. But, once the dairy products were gone for good – my body felt renewed.
I talk about dairy far more than any other animal ‘food’. I think we consume so much of it without even realizing, and unlike meat products which we know we should reduce or eliminate… most of us truly believe that dairy is good for us. I want to change that. Last year I created a list of 12 reasons to dump the dairy, many very important issues summarized in one post. I’ve updated it this year, and of course, added another VERY good reason, so here you have it folks…
13 Reasons to Ditch Dairy in 2013
13. There have never been more – or better – dairy alternatives. I became vegan almost 20 years ago. Our alternatives for non-dairy milks were: bad-tasting soy milk and bad-tasting rice milk. That was it. Vegan cheeses? Forget it! Vegan ice creams? Uh, if you want to call a rice-based icy concoction with a weird oily aftertaste ‘ice cream’, I guess it counts – I just never ate it. And, that was a big deal for this ice-cream loving vegan! Now? You are spoiled, people! 😉 Have a look at just some of the dairy-free options available:
Milks: Coconut milks, Almond Milks, Rice Milks, Soy milks (always organic, please), Hemp, Flax, Oat, and blends like Almond-Coconut. Really – there isn’t ONE option in all of these that is at least as good as – or better than – cow milk?
Cheeses: Daiya shreds and Daiya wedges probably earn top spot here for commercial cheeses. But, there are many more recipes available too. Try my two vegan parmesan alternatives, my ‘Truffled Cashew Cheese’ (pictured below, from LTEV, and recipe coming soon). And, have you seen Miyoko Schinner’s new Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook? WOW!
Ice Creams: Oh, you guys are lucky! Coconut ice creams from Coconut Bliss (my FAVE!) and So Delicious, Rice ice creams by Good Karma, soy ice creams, and then many nut and seed based ice creams like almond creams, hemp, and cashew. Or, make your own with my “Dreena Dazs” recipes!
Seriously, I haven’t even exhausted all the brands and options here – we are lucky to have so many delicious options – no excuses.
12. Cancer Prevention. Prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers have been linked to dairy consumption. And, if you’ve read The China Study, you’re aware of the link between casein (the main protein in milk) and cancer. If not, READ it! Dr. T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University and author of The China Study, says casein is one of the most significant cancer promoters ever discovered. Think about how often children are pushed to eat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Childhood diets rich in dairy products are associated with cancer in adulthood. For more, watch this video from Dr. Colin Campbell.
11. Cheese is addictive. That’s why it’s so darn hard to stop eating the stuff. But, as you’ll learn in Julieanna’s brief video (and through this list), it’s best to kick the cheese (and dairy) habit.
10. Osteoporosis. Seems counterintuitive. We’re supposed to drink milk to protect against osteoporosis, right? So why do the countries that guzzle the most dairy have the highest osteoporosis rates? We now know that it’s not just calcium intake, but absorption and loss. When we eat diets high in animal protein (milk included), our bodies become acidic and calcium is drawn from our bones to neutralize that acidic environment – cheese is particularly acidic. Ditch the dairy (and the meat) to help maintain a more alkaline state in your body.
9. Plant-Based Calcium. Last year, the “Healthy Eating Plate” food guide pushed dairy off the plate, based on Harvard’s assessment that high intake can increase the risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer, and also suggesting that foods like collards, bok choy, and baked beans are safer choices than dairy for obtaining calcium. Speaking of calcium sources and absorption, did you know that kale contains more calcium per calorie than milk (90 grams per serving) and is also better absorbed by the body than dairy? And that’s just ONE plant food you can eat. Other plant-foods boosting calcium include: beans, nuts like almonds and seeds like sesame, broccoli, collards, whole-grains, and tofu. (And if you think eating leafy greens is hard, I have a leafy-greens post coming up, stay tuned!)
8. Heart Disease. All that cheese and milk (and other dairy products) pack a wallop of cholesterol and saturated fat to one’s diet. A low-fat plant-based diet has been shown not only to prevent heart disease, but also reverse it. And, before you think low-fat dairy is okay, it has been linked not only to increases in allergies, but also type 1 (childhood-onset) diabetes.
7. Constipation. Milk and cheese have no fiber. (Neither does meat.) Dairy is constipating for children. Our children have never been constipated, yet I have heard parents talk about poo problems over and over. And, grownups, if the kiddos get constipated from dairy, you will too (maybe you are right now). There’s no need for laxatives. Eat a plant-based diet (rich in whole foods), and you’ll poop easy. There, I said it.
6. It stinks. Okay, there is nothing scientifically or even ethically sound about this argument. But, have you ever just smelled milk? Put aside the fact that you’ve been drinking it since your wee years. Take a glass and smell it. It has a stink. I guarantee that if you grew up drinking almond or coconut milk and you tasted COW milk, you would immediately say “peeU”! It is what we are conditioned to drink, and cow milk is – well – stinky… and, that’s even before it goes sour.
5. Antibiotics and hormones. The mass production of milk requires cows being stressed to unnatural levels. This stress results in mastitis in the cows, which requires antibiotics, which make their way into the milk in our markets. As well, synthetic hormones such as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) are commonly used in dairy cows to increase the production of milk. Do you want to drink growth hormones and antibiotics? Do you want your children to? You may bypass this one point by choosing organic milk products – but that doesn’t change the composition of milk…
4. Saturated Fats, Cholesterol, and Hormones. Skim milk is marketed for lower fat content, yet a 2011 Harvard study of 12,829 children showed that the milk sugar in skim milk may make you fatter than whole milk. And, all milk products (as with ALL animal products) contain cholesterol. And, we have been sold the line that “organic” milk is the solution. But as explained in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition “just because you pay more for the ‘organic’ label doesn’t mean you’re getting a safe, toin-free product. Milk products are inundated with steroids and hormones (both naturally occurring and production-induced… and microbiological contaminants (think bacteria, viruses, parasites and mycotoxins) can also find their way into your dairy products.”
3. Animal cruelty. Dairy production might be the most offensive and heinous of all animal farming. Baby calves are pulled from their mothers at birth. Mother cows will bellow and search after being separated from their young. While female calves are slaughtered or kept alive to produce milk, male calves are taken, chained in tiny stalls and raised for veal. And, since is unprofitable to keep dairy cows alive once their milk production declines, they are usually killed at 5 to 6 years of age (though their normal life span exceeds 20).
2. Lactose Intolerance. I would guess that if any of us were tested, we would be deemed ‘lactose intolerant’. It is estimated that about 75 percent of the world’s population are ‘lactose intolerant’, and those that aren’t (primarily Caucasians) tolerate milk sugar because of an inherited genetic mutation. That’s because the milk is meant for cows, not people…
1. It’s COW milk. Again: milk. from. a. cow! Why are we all drinking milk from a cow when we wouldn’t drink the milk from our lactating dog or cat… or milk from a horse, pig, or racoon?!
We are the ONLY species that drinks the milk of another species, consuming it long after weaning. Would you go out into a field and suckle from a cow?! I don’t think so. Think about that connection. Just think about it.
Have you already given up dairy? If so, what have you noticed? (Please share your experiences for other readers.)
If not, what is YOUR reason to dump dairy in 2013?