02 April 2012

Got Milk?: The demise of the dairy cow

Over the past couple of years, the demise of the dairy cow has come to the attention of the general public, a time in which the milk industry has fought against the trend, squirting out advertisements one after the other about the benefits of drinking milk.

 One of the more recent attempts to persuade consumers to drink milk comes from The California Milk Processor Board, coining the phrase “real milk comes from real cows.” PETA has combatted the slogan with one of their own, “‘Real Milk’ Comes from Real Sick Cows.” The ad goes on to say, “Drink Soy Milk,” and informs consumers that up to 50 percent of cows on dairy farms have infected udders.

According to PETA’s official website, the organization has offered to pay to replace an ad on milkman Jimmy Pastor’s truck, which delivers to the town of San Clemente, Calif., where CMPB is based. PETA President and Co-Founder Ingrid Newkirk explained in a recent Huffington Post article that up to half of all dairy cows are plagued by mastitis and another 50 percent are believed to be lame from harsh living conditions that include being kept on the floor in filthy environments.

There are a vast amount of studies out there that have further provided reasons to reach for a glass of soy milk instead of cow’s milk. It is not only better for the cows, but could be better for humans as well.

According to a recent study on active adolescent girls aged 9 to 15 by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, there was no correlation between stress fractures and calcium or dairy intake. Based on the results of the study Vitamin D, however, was associated with a lower stress fracture risk. Vitamin D, along with calcium and protein, can be found in fortified plant-based milks, which do not include the cholesterol, lactose or hormones found in cow’s milk.

 In an industrial world full of advertising where companies are willing to sell anything to consumers, it is important to know all the facts before falling prey to what’s on the label. In an effort to regain its stamina, the Milk Processor Education Program released a new campaign entitled “My After,” which will feature professional athletes, like basketball star Carmelo Anthony and Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, explaining the positive effects of drinking chocolate milk post-workout.

The ad is based on a study from three universities published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, which found that participants who drank fat-free chocolate milk after a hard run were able to run 23 percent longer than participants who drank sports drinks. As a vegan, I may be a bit biased, but there is hard evidence that cows are suffering to produce a beverage that is not even good for us. If not for yourself, consider substituting plant-based milks for the cows. In the end, you’ll both feel better.

Samantha Wood | @bostonu14 | Blog
Boston, MA Samantha is a journalism student at Boston University who hopes to pursue a career in the health magazine field. She is interested in both nutrition and cooking, especially vegan cooking. She became a vegan while in college and has remained that way ever since. She created a blog to document her efforts and it has become a collection of vegan recipes, restaurants and nutrition information. Samantha hopes to develop her photography skills as well so she can take appetizing photos of all her recipes. She loves chocolate (the vegan kind of course) and dogs, as well as California, where she hopes to live someday.

Photo credit: PETA