“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” -Voltaire

Voltaire may have lived in the 17th and 18th centuries, but his words are still true today. Consider, for example, the dairy industry. Through a series of events (wars, industrialization, the Great Depression), the U.S. government took on a major role in regulating the dairy industry and even marketing milk.

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We’ve all seen the ads, “Milk. It does a body good,” “3-A-Day,” and “Got Milk” claiming milk will strengthen our bones, prevent osteoporosis and aid in weight loss; yet, the actual data tells us otherwise. So, what gives?

In an LA Times article, “Bad government programs watch: Promoting milk as health food,” the author mentions “check off” programs (“through which the government extracts mandatory payments from dairy producers and transforms them into advertising like the ubiquitous ‘Got Milk’ campaign.”) as being a big part of the problem. Meanwhile, doctors in a number of specialities are finding milk and health don't add up.

Doctor Daniel Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital found: “Humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk, an evolutionary recent addition to diet…Indeed, the recommended levels of calcium in the United States…likely overestimate actual requirements and greatly exceed recommended intakes in the United Kingdom. Throughout the world, bone fracture rates tend to be lower in countries that do not consume milk compared with those that do. Moreover, milk consumption does not protect against fracture in adults, according to a recent meta-analysis.”

Dr. Kim Allan Williams, the chief of Cardiology at Rush University and thePresident of the American College of Cardiology, in 2015 said: “There are two kinds of Cardiologists: vegans and those who haven’t read the data.”

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, and project director of the China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project, as well as a best-selling author, wrote: “Cows’ milk protein may be the single most significant chemical carcinogen to which humans are exposed.”

And while we are told how milk does a body good, doctors like Amy Lanou, Ph.D, are saying, “Besides prostate cancer, milk has been linked to asthma, anemia, allergies, juvenile-onset diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and ovarian and breast cancer."

Knowing all this, we still drink milk and eat cheese and yogurt while paying others to commit atrocities for us. 

Atrocities are so prevalent in the dairy industry that it’s hard to know where to begin. But let’s start with life expectancy. Typically, a cow could live 25-30 years in natural conditions, but on a factory farm that’s reduced to 4-5 years. 

Then there’s the rape. Cows are inseminated while held in “rape racks” as the “farmer” shoves his arm into the cow’s anus. There’s also the whole dirty business of how they get the sperm from the bulls. (We won’t get into it, but feel free to check out this video.)

Once the cow is raped, she obviously produces a calf, but being that humans want to drink the milk, that means the calf needs to beat it. Baby male calves are taken away from their mothers to become veal (yes, a direct by-product of the dairy industry). They’re confined in small crates that prevent any movement. They stand until they collapse from weakened muscles, ensuring tender meat. 

As for mom, she’s repeatedly raped and each time given a growth hormone to keep her milk production up. The constant pregnancies, followed by over-production of milk, leads to mastitis or infections in her udders, which is responsible for 1 in 6 cow deaths on U.S. dairy farms.

Cows, like any living being with a central nervous system, and much like your cat or dog, have individual personalities. They experience joy, pain, fear, friendship, stress and love. Unfortunately, most studies conducted to figure this out, are to decide which cows to clone based on temperament.

For example, a study from the University of Groningen found: “From a young age, dairy cows react differently from each other to stimuli from their surroundings. An animal’s temperament determines how it reacts in stressful situations, but may also influence its general health. In the future, temperament could be bred as a selective trait to improve the robustness and well-being of dairy cows.”

Researchers from Northhamptonshire wanted to find out if cows get lonely and discovered that, like humans, cows have preferred partners and when they’re around them, “their stress levels, in terms of their heart rates, are reduced compared with if they were with a random individual.”

Other studies have found that cows have best friends and a desire to make connections with others. When they’re with their besties, they’re not only calmer but smarter and perform better on cognitive tasks.

We have so much information telling us how amazing these animals are, much like our domestic best friends, but we choose to turn a blind eye — we believe the absurdities. And in so doing, we encourage atrocities against our own well being, against the environment and against amazing creatures that we treat as slaves. 

Now, more than ever, humans need to look at the role that we play in life, humanity and history. As individuals, our power is greater than many of us realize. Our money is our vote and it’s powerful. 

Let’s make Voltaire proud and heed his wise words. Let’s not fall prey. Let’s be the voice for the voiceless.

Much love,
Maria