If I could recommend just one step towards eating a healthier diet, what would it be?

Ditch dairy.

From a health perspective, I would almost rather eat meat and eggs than cow’s milk. With the sex hormones and saturated fat and pus and nearly indigestible lactose from these diseased and heartbroken cows, there’s really nothing good to say about dairy.

Here are the top 10 reasons to wean yourself off the udders and start getting your milk from soybeans and nuts and seeds instead:

1. Hormones

As with most other mammals, cows only lactate when pregnant, and are thus kept pregnant nearly constantly. This leads to incredible levels of estrogen. On top of that, they are also injected with even more hormones to produce much more milk than they ever could naturally. Where are all these hormones going? The milk, of course! And we consume that milk. Excessive intake of these hormones (particularly estrogen and insulin-like growth factor 1) are very closely tied to cancers in the parts of our body that are influenced most strongly by sex hormones (source) – breasts, ovaries, and prostates – which result in a combined 500,000 cancer diagnoses each year. It is no surprise, then, that men who consume more dairy products are 30% more likely to develop prostate cancer than those who consume little or no dairy (source).

2. Saturated Fat

Dairy products might be linked to the #2 cause of death (cancer) but what about our #1 killer, heart disease? It turns out that dairy is the single largest source of saturated fat in our diet (source). At least one third of all saturated fat consumed in America comes from cheese, butter, milk, and other dairy-based products. Given that saturated fat is a primary cause of heart disease and obesity, it doesn’t seem so smart to chug glass after glass of this “liquid meat” as Rip Esselstyn likes to call it.

3. Humans Are Lactose Intolerant

In addition to being a driver of the #1 and #2 causes of death (heart disease and cancer), drinking milk doesn’t make a lot of sense anyways. Humans were not designed to suck on the udders of bovine creatures. We’re not even designed to ingest the milk of our own species after the first few years of life. This is likely why the majority of humans (over 60%) are incapable of fully digesting lactose (source), the main sugar found in milk. We simply never evolved the ability to properly digest the secretions of another animal, and why would we?

4. Acne

Acne is now an epidemic disease in Western countries, yet it is essentially non-existent in populations who do not consume dairy products. This attracted the interest of scientists, and study after study has confirmed that dairy consumption is a direct cause of acne, with one paper actually concluding: “restriction of milk consumption … will have an enormous impact on the prevention of epidemic western diseases like obesity, diabetes mellitus, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and acne.”

5. Incredible Waste & Environmental Costs

Dairy cows produce a mind-boggling amount of waste. To quote a PETA report: “In the Central Valley of California, the cows produce as much excrement as a city of 21 million people, and even a smallish farm of 200 cows will produce as much nitrogen as in the sewage from a community of 5,000 to 10,000 people, according to a U.S. Senate report on animal waste.”

Confining so many of these animals into large factory farms has serious environmental risks. As the US Environmetal Protection Agency says, “Improperly managed manure has caused acute and chronic water quality problems and is a significant component of water body impairments. Manure and wastewater from CAFOs can contribute pollutants such as excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus, organic matter, sediments, pathogens, heavy metals, hormones, and antibiotics to the environment.” As bad as milk is for us, it might be even worse for the environment.

6. The Calves

Think about what’s happening with dairy cows… they get pregnant and their bodies begin making milk for their calf (so far so good). But once the calf is born, of course it cannot drink the milk because that would defeat the whole purpose of creating profit with these beautiful commodities. So what happens? The baby calf is immediately stripped away from the mother, never to see each other again (moms, imagine that). These mamas are often heard mooing hopelessly into the night in hopes of hearing back from their babies. But it gets worse. The farmers realized that the calves are worth money too – if you lock them in a crate for the first few months of their lives, then slaughter them, you can sell veal in addition to milk.

7. Cows Are Happier When Free

This may not be a shocker, but cows don’t exactly enjoy spending their whole lives in cages, stripped from their calves and depleted like an old machine. Watch what happens when these dairy cows are finally set free in a pasture to enjoy the rest of their lives. I dare you not to cry.

8. Milk Isn’t Even the Best Source of Calcium!

Even if a person knows nothing about nutrition, they will know one thing – milk is a good source of calcium and it keeps your bones strong! The Dairy Council might have worked hard to convince us that we’ll simply wither into a pile of mush without cow’s milk, but this is completely bogus. From steamed greens to black eyed peas to tofu to molasses, there are dozens of plant-based sources of calcium equal to or better than dairy. As the Harvard School of Public Health says, “Calcium is important. But milk isn’t the only, or even best, source.”

9. Pus.

Yes, pus. Remember, these cows are shot up with hormones and milked constantly, which regularly leads to infections in the udders. The result? Pus. Lots of it. One liter of milk often contains hundreds of millions of pus cells. But don’t worry, the USDA has our back. They closely monitor the pus content of milk to make sure it never rises above 750 MILLION pus cells per liter. Thanks, USDA…

10. There Are Alternatives

Perhaps the most compelling reason of all to avoid milk and dairy products is that they are completely unnecessary. Despite the incredible marketing powers of the Dairy Council, milk offers our bodies nothing that we can’t get from natural, plant-based sources. Milks made from almonds, creams made from cashews, delicious lattes, cheeses, cream sauces, and even yogurt can all be easily prepared at home or purchased in any grocery store.

In my own experience, weaning myself off of milk was one of the best decisions I ever made. There is an initial detox period as the mucus and pus and fat that dairy products store in our bodies is removed, but after that, I began to feel better, cleaner, and fresher than ever. I’d love to hear your experiences with dairy – do you drink it? Did you give it up? The comments are open.

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