Ditching the Dairy? Diverse views on America’s cultural obsession with bovine secretions.

     According to a recent article in the Atlantic, the market for dairy consumption in the United States has not only remained “healthy” (not a very appropriate word to use in this context, I suppose), but apparently, a significant portion of the American population has increased their cheese consumption from the level we were at in the 1970’s to a mark that is currently three times higher, at an estimated 23 pounds. The author of the piece, James Hamblin, makes a brief mention of the Michael Moss book, Salt, Sugar, Fat,  referencing the disturbing reality that the USDA, which is (in part) supposed to take an interest in guiding Americans towards better health, is effectively toothless in comparison to the Dairy Management section of the Department of Agriculture, which has a budget of $140 million dollars and has worked with America’s restaurants in an effort to create more cheese laden menu items, despite dairy being conclusively linked to Alzheimer’s, acne, constipation, Type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and symptoms of autism. 

     This article seems to be in contrast to the recent article in the WSJ, detailing how the dairy industry is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the problem of sharply declining sales, including “reformulating” milk to include more protein (aimed at fitness enthusiasts) and repackaging milk into more kid-friendly cartons. A VegNews piece from the July+August edition highlights some of the reasons for this decline, including but not limited to consumer awareness of the tremendous health costs, the horrific conditions of cows on factory farms, and the fact that plant-based milks are increasing in abundance as well possessing some rather attractive health benefits, such as omega-3’s, healthy protein, and lower calorie counts per serving than dairy milk. 

     John Robbins (author of No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution, among other influential books on our industrial food system) has highlighted the daily torture that dairy cows experience, beginning with being forcibly impregnated, having their children ripped away from them to be killed for veal, and being forced to produce a terrifyingly large amount of milk, which leads to fatigue and stress that causes them to lose productivity after a few short years, at which point they’re sent to the same slaughterhouses as their children. This reason alone should help consumers abandon the carcinogenic dairy milks and make the healthy and compassionate switch to either hemp, oat, almond, coconut, soy, or any of the other plant-based options that continue to proliferate the marketplace. 

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