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10 Reasons to Get Your Milk From Nuts Instead of Cows

USDA
USDA

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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41 Comments

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  1. Love, love, love this post. I didn’t come around to this until my early twenties! If I had EVER come into contact with the points you presented here, especially (3) and (8), I would have been off of the dairy bandwagon so much sooner. I truly only had to read one time that it makes zero sense to drink the milk of another species, for it to resonate with me and change my life. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I really appreciate what you have put together here, and I hope that it reaches many people who can benefit from its message!

    • Sadly, it was my early 20’s before I came across these points as well — I wish I’d known this info 20 years before that… :). Thanks so much for the kind words, Shannon!

  2. Great post! I gave up dairy products about a year ago completely (after weaning off of dairy in general… cheese was the hardest) and I can’t believe the difference I feel in my health and energy! I’d encourage everyone to at least try going dairy free for a week or two to just see the difference! [Also, it helps force you to eat healthier when you’re eating out as almost everything is covered in cheese haha]

    • Thank you, Sophia! Totally, it only takes a few weeks to convince people that they feel better and for them to realize that they really aren’t missing dairy as much as they expected.

  3. SO, so incredibly happy to have given up dairy! I cannot tell you how much better I feel b/c I did. It was probably the best thing I ever did for myself. I don’t miss it a bit now. I did miss it a lot soon after I gave it up, but, not at all now. There are so many delicious, satisfying foods (foods that I never, even tried when I was eating a SAD diet) to eat that I just simply have no reason to add dairy back into my life. My only hope is that more people will start to see the light about consuming this highly dangerous food and that they, too, will consider eliminating it. It makes me so sad what people’s appetites for this food is doing to our Mother Earth!

    • High five, Lisa! 🙂 I totally concur about it being one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I remember going lacto-ovo vegetarian first and it wasn’t two months before I *had* to cut out dairy and I’ve never looked back in nearly 6 years.

  4. What a great article. My family is very concerned (with a history of osteoporosis) about my decision to not eat dairy, and the consequences on calcium levels. I have been worrying about it and wishing I knew where to read good research on the subject. Thank you for providing this information. If there is even more that you know of (on the calcium subject), I would love to know about it as well. I didn’t know a lot of the other information and it is kind of appalling! I love your website. It is my favorite. Thank you for all you do. It makes a difference for me and my little family. I am checking all the time to see the latest and greatest here, and then incorporate it into my family’s menus. I can’t thank you enough.

  5. I have given up dairy almost entirely after doing an 40+ day elimination cleanse earlier this year. One of the many benefits I attribute to the cleanse is the lifting of a fog. Colors are brighter & crisper and food tastes better. I have the occasional cheese but I am a huge fan of almond milk, cashew cheese/cream, and making cream sauces from nuts.

  6. I love the video of the cows <3 If I owned some land I would totally have a pet cow (or 10)

    I can't stand the taste of milk now. My current favourite is almond+coconut milk.

  7. After suffering daily headaches every single day since he was a teen, my husband (now 35) took a blood test that revealed a severe intolerance to casein, the protein in dairy. After eliminating all dairy for only 3 days the headaches were gone! We removed dairy from our 11 and 9 year olds and their frequent headaches and stomachaches disappeared. We saw a Nuritional Counselor (Ph.D) who advised we take our younger 2 children off dairy as well.
    All in all everyone feels much better!

  8. So well said. I wish EVERYONE would read this. Since being off any kind of dairy over a year ago, I have never looked back. Once you realize how bad dairy is for us and the animals and the environment, its pretty easy to get over those cheese cravings. Just because we want it, doesn’t mean we should have it. Its a lose-lose-lose situation. So satisfied being cheese free and putting almond milk in coffee and smoothies. Thank you for writing this Andrew!

    • Absolutely, Karolyn!! I’ve actually never had any kind of cheese cravings since giving it up. I think people often overestimate how hard it will be, when in fact, it’s pretty easy.

  9. I discovered I was extremely lactose intolerant as a young teeneager and was initially really bummed out. Then, at 16, I started working at a health food store and there learned all about dairy alternatives as well as the humane reason for switching to them. I tried so many products and loved so many products that I really never missed dairy. All these dairy-free years later, I’m much healthier and better off 🙂
    BTW, almond cheese is the bomb!

  10. Great article Andrew! Dairy is indeed an industry that needs to cease and desist; it’s not healthy (for us or the animals or the environment), it’s cruel, and it’s unnecessary. Would you be interested in also doing a similar article about eggs?

    I’m going to share a rather long story. Many moons ago I was a live-in nanny with a family who owned a dairy farm. I would go out to talk with the cows and they were such sweet sentient creatures. I would love how they would nuzzle my back as I walked away.

    One night I couldn’t sleep because of all the bellowing coming from the barn. In the morning I asked why the cows had been so noisy and was told it was because some calves had been born. In my ignorance I thought it was a Bessy Cow Baby Party. I imagined all the lady cows congratulating each other on their new babies and chatting late into the night about the plans for their children. I hurried through breakfast and rushed out to the barn to meet the new calves.

    It was then and there that my ignorance was illuminated and I chose to up my vegetarianism to veganism. I saw that the babies were in a different part of the barn, in ridiculously tight cages to restrict their movements, and the mama’s were wailing for their babies. Other cows who didn’t have calves were also crying out. My heart broke and my resolve was set. No more dairy for me. No thanks.

    • Sabine, that’s such a beautiful / heartbreaking story. Thank you for sharing… can we just pretend it was the Baby Party?

      I love the idea of doing a similar post about eggs – that industry is just as bad and the reasons are even more compelling than dairy. Look for that in the next few weeks 😉

  11. i first gave up milk because of vocal training. the benefits are many, such as less symptoms experienced from catching colds, less colds being caught and less thick mucus in my lungs in general. the best for me has been that i was born diagnosed with asthma suffering much as a child, now with no dairy i experience no symptoms of it and only used the puff spray once in my life. humans where not designed to need milk past infancy, so why do we promote it as if the world was never able to exist without it?

    • Hi Ann, that’s great to hear! In my case, it was after giving up dairy that I began to feel like I could literally run forever. My endurance was off the charts and I think a lot of that has to do with less mucus buildup in my lungs. I totally agree – how we (adult humans) stumbled upon the idea of consuming milk is beyond me… 🙂

  12. I would love to share this since it is great info but a lot of the links to your sources don’t work and I know people will use that as an easy target to say none of this is true. Can you fix your links so I can share?

  13. After a completely unforeseen turn of events, I ended up going mostly vegan a few months ago. I say mostly, because on the rare occasion that someone else cooks for me I will eat almost anything they prepare.

    The funny thing is that I used to tell my husband that if we ever divorced I was going to marry cheese. I just loved it that much. Fast forward a couple of months into my vegan conversion, and I really don’t even miss it. On the rare occasion that I do eat dairy, I can definitely tell that I feel a little, or sometimes a lot, off. If you would have told me that I’d feel so indifferent to cheese a few months ago, I would have thought you were crazy. I would have thought I would be feeling deprived and irritable. Instead, I am enjoying saving money by not buying dairy or meat, and I have this new-found fascination with touching my face. It sounds weird, but I can’t believe my skin is so smooth and soft now. I’ve never had horrible acne, but I feel totally comfortable not wearing foundation now.

    You mentioned another benefit, too. You said that you feel like you can run forever now. Ditto. It’s like my airway is able to open up completely now.

    I had hoped that giving up dairy would make my seasonal allergies a thing of the past since others have enjoyed that benefit, but that hasn’t happened for me. I had also hoped to lose some weight, and that hasn’t happened either. I don’t even know how that’s possible considering how much of it I consumed. Maybe those things will come in time. Even so, I don’t see me going back to dairy or meat.

    • This is amazing, Miss B! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m totally saving this and forwarding it to anyone who tells me that they can’t give up cheese. 🙂 Honestly, I had the same experience. I used to eat tons of cheese and literally didn’t miss it at all after the first month. Now, the idea of cheese just seems bizarre. Thank you again! This is such a great story.

  14. I went from vegetarian to vegan 2 months ago and have lost 20 lbs. I have so much energy and the difference in my body is astounding. My husband wanted to make it easier on me and he went vegan for this month, he lost 30 lbs in one month! He was a huge meat water and constantly drank milk. He now prefers rice milk. He said he will mostly still to it forever but might have somethings occasionally if eating out. We realized not only do you not need dairy or meat but your way better off without it! Loved the article than you.

  15. Good post. There are many articles about giving up dairy. This combines the best of the health posts and compassion posts

  16. After finding out that my cholesterol is sky high, I HAD to cut down on dairy! I do still drink skim milk, but only one cup in the am. I have discovered almond milk, which is SO much better for you, and delicious as well! I do still eat fat free yogurt also, but considering cutting out milk altogether. I’ve always been a huge milk drinker, and I love dairy! but my health is important and I also am a big animal lover, including cows! Definitely some great things to read and consider here!

  17. I grew up in the central valley, and we knew several dairy farming families. We drank milk at every meal, had cheese and butter throughout the day and would have never given it up had I not nursed 2 boys who had severe dairy allergies. One of the toughest things I’ve ever done has been to give it up at the age of 29, but I have more energy, it’s cleared up my eczema, and I’ve been able to lose weight. While I still crave brie and havarti cheese, and rocky road from time to time, I don’t feel like I need it anymore. I’m actually grateful my boys can’t eat dairy, because I know they’ll be healthier in the long run.

    • Interestingly, I actually have relatives who are dairy farmers in the central valley. I haven’t been there in many years, however. If I went back now, I would probably try to set all the cows free 🙂 Thank you for sharing those comments Stacy – I’m so glad to hear about your results!

  18. I actually disagree. Dairy can be good for you and can be an important part of your diet. You make several good points in your above post, but you forget that drinking organic dairy from hormone-free cows avoids many of the issues you bring up.

  19. I stopped drinking milk quite a long time ago to improve my acne problem, and because my stomach didn’t seen to like milk that much. I now drink soy milk instead, which is healthier and tastes better. 😀

  20. As a non-vegan who doesn’t mind the occasional vegan diet, I don’t really agree with the article. I definitely agree that we shouldn’t rely on only animals to survive when we have other options. Though I would never become a full vegan just because I don’t want to, I think humans should at least consume less animal products for health reasons as well as for sustainability. People today are wasteful and unlike the native peoples who hunt and use up all they can, many people end up discarding the undesired parts of the products they do eat.

  21. I’ve sought lots of help for my acne.. all the rx products were of no help, even made it worse.. One day I decided to stop drinking milk because I read of the hormone issue and ever since then my acne has been tamed. Fully support you on switching from milk…

  22. Whatever the harmful issues that you said are mainly due the A1 milk(Milk of few hybrid cows) , The A2 milk(Organic Milk or Milk of Native breed of cow like Gir, Kankreg, Kangeyam, Umbalacheri etc) is a medicine.

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