Why Animal Products Harm – Dairy

Cow’s milk and dairy products are not natural foods for people – we are best suited to drinking breastmilk as babies only. Consuming dairy products made from the milk of a different species is not just unnatural, it’s also unnecessary and may harm your heath.

Milk drinking and lactose intolerance

Not everyone can digest milk because it contains the sugar lactose and most people gradually lose the ability to digest it during childhood. Globally, about 70 per cent of adults are lactose-intolerant but in Uganda, it may be as many as 87 per cent of the population. The fact that some people can digest lactose in adulthood is the result of genetic mutations that occurred in Europe, Asia and Africa several thousand years ago and spread among the populations.

It means that many people with European heritage, including white populations in North America and Australia, some people with African heritage and certain Asian populations can digest lactose (milk and all dairy products) but most people from Asia, South America, Australia and Africa cannot – consuming it causes great digestive discomfort and various health issues. Nature simply never intended for adults to need breastmilk so being unable to digest lactose in adulthood is perfectly normal.

Even as babies, we only need human breastmilk – cow’s milk is very different from human milk and that’s why we mustn’t give ordinary off-the-shelf cow’s milk, condensed milk, dried or evaporated milk to a child under the age of one. Their immature kidneys, for example, can’t cope with it. While human breastmilk is the perfect food for babies, cow’s (or any other animal’s) milk is not and may harm them.

Hormones in cow’s milk

Cows are not just milked after giving birth but often during pregnancy too. To keep her milk supply up, she may be inseminated again and so the cycle continues. It means her milk is full of natural hormones.

In a typical glass of milk or bite of cheese, there are 35 hormones. These include sex and growth hormones driving a calf’s development but in adult humans, they have been linked to the development of cancer.

Drinking cow’s milk not only delivers growth hormones into your body, it also increases your own body’s production of these. A recent study investigated milk intake in adults and how it affects one of these hormones (IGF-1) and it found that milk-drinking significantly increases its levels in the body.


Mastitis is a painful bacterial infection of the udder. When a cow is suffering from mastitis, her body produces large numbers of white blood cells which fight the infection in the affected tissues. Many of these cells, together with damaged and dead cells from the udder, then become a part of her milk – they are called somatic cells. The greater the infection, the higher the number of these somatic cells in the milk. If these cells weren’t mixed into milk, they would have the appearance of pus, which is essentially what they are.

Dairy and acne

Scientific studies show that milk and dairy product consumption greatly increases the likelihood of acne. One study revealed that having a glass of milk daily increased the risk by 41 per cent.

Bodybuilders and athletes who use whey (milk) protein powders and supplements tend to suffer from acne. When they stop using whey powders, acne either disappears or is much more treatable.

According to research, milk consumption increases the levels of several hormones in the body and their higher levels are likely to cause acne by overstimulating the skin.

Milk allergy

Not to be confused with lactose intolerance, cow’s milk allergy is an immune reaction to the proteins found in cow’s milk and dairy products. Cow’s milk allergy usually first develops in babies and small children. Symptoms include a runny nose, coughing, blocked ears, excessive mucus in the airways, itchy eyes, rash, vomiting or bloating. More serious symptoms include blood in stools, stomach pain, colic, diarrhoea, eczema or asthma. Children who have cow’s milk allergy are more likely to suffer from asthma than others. They may not have other allergic symptoms and may even ‘grow out’ of cow’s milk allergy but continue to suffer from asthma. Avoiding milk and dairy products can certainly help improve their health.

Milk and bone health

Milk is absolutely not necessary for healthy bones. A vegan diet can produce healthy, strong bones because it naturally contains nutrients essential for bone health – protein, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, K and folate. On top of that, everyone (regardless of diet) should take a vitamin D supplement unless they get regular sun exposure all year round. It’s another nutrient vital for bones yet many people get too little.

According to a major review by the US National Osteoporosis Foundation, bones need a good protein supply and plant protein does the job better than animal protein, which produces more acid in the body. The authors also concluded that fruit and vegetables have a positive effect on the bones, while carbonated (fizzy) drinks may have a negative effect. Lastly, they highlighted how important physical activity is for bone health, growth and development – bones need to be stimulated to grow and become stronger!


Milk and dairy products may increase your risk of cancer, in particular prostate, ovarian and breast cancer.

A study by Harvard University scientists examined dairy intake and the risk of dying from cancer among more than 200,000 people. They found that every half-serving of whole milk increased the risk by 11 per cent. This relationship was strongest between whole milk and ovarian and prostate cancer. They also looked at swapping other foods for dairy and discovered that eating nuts, pulses or wholegrains instead lowers the risk, while red and processed meat increases it.

Many other studies found a link between dairy and prostate cancer, so a scientific team decided to investigate the relationship. The scientists came to the conclusion that milk drinking increases the levels of IGF-1 (growth factor) in your body and these higher levels of IFG-1 then act on prostate cells and increase the risk of cancerous growth.

Milk consumption also increased the risk of breast cancer, ovarian and uterine cancer in other studies – all these are hormone-sensitive cancers. Milk contains IGF-1 and oestrogens and scientists suggest that these may trigger cancerous changes in the breast or promote the growth of existing breast cancer cells. One of the studies estimated that drinking soya milk instead of dairy milk could slash the risk of breast cancer by 32 per cent.

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a debilitating, chronic inflammation of the digestive system that is incurable. Once it develops, it requires a very specific diet and can cause many complications.

It’s linked to dairy foods through the MAP (Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis) bacterium that causes Johne’s disease in cattle and other ruminants. MAP infection is widespread among cattle and is found in commercial cow’s milk (it survives pasteurisation) and goat’s milk. That means you can get infected by consuming milk or various dairy products but also by inhaling MAP in fine water spray from rivers contaminated with cow manure. The infection doesn’t cause Crohn’s in everyone but if you have a certain genetic makeup that makes you susceptible, MAP may trigger the disease.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is when the body produces too little or no insulin and usually develops in childhood. Insulin is a hormone which makes it possible for cells to absorb glucose (sugar) from the blood and make energy. Without it, blood sugar levels rise and cells don’t have enough energy to function. Diabetes can lead to heart disease, nerve damage, kidney failure and blindness.

When young children with a certain genetic makeup drink cow’s milk, it may trigger an autoimmune reaction which accidentally destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. That means the immune system launches an attack against the milk proteins but in doing so it also destroys the pancreas cells. Recently, it’s been suggested that it’s not just milk proteins that the body attacks but also the bacteria in milk – the MAP that causes Johne’s disease in cattle and has been linked to Crohn’s disease in people is present in pasteurised milk. The immune system starts attacking these foreign molecules but because the insulin-producing cells share a similarity with them, they are destroyed too.

It doesn’t happen in everyone but if the child has genes making them more susceptible to this reaction, there’s a risk of type 1 diabetes developing as a result.

Dairy and food poisoning

Soft cheese, such as Brie, Camembert or blue cheese, and unpasteurised milk and cheese made from it can contain Listeria – bacteria causing food poisoning. The infection can become so serious that pregnant women are advised to avoid these products completely.

Heart Disease

The term heart disease is often used instead of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and describes a chronic disease of the heart and blood vessels. The disease usually reduces blood flow to the heart, brain or body because of fat layers clogging the inside of your arteries (blood vessels), hardening and narrowing them (atherosclerosis). High cholesterol levels in your blood are the main problem, contributing building material for these fat layers, also called cholesterol plaques. Narrower arteries also mean higher blood pressure – that’s often the first sign that something’s wrong.

Butter, ghee, cream, whole milk, high-fat cheese, dairy desserts, as well as all meat, contain high amounts of saturated fat which raises cholesterol levels in the blood. If you eat these foods daily, you’re making your body produce much more cholesterol than it needs. 

Studies found that replacing dairy fat in the diet with vegetable fats can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.

On top of that, animal protein as such – whether from dairy, meat or eggs – has also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

Dairy farming and the Environment

Dairy farming has a dramatic impact on the environment. It’s because we grow vast amounts of crops to feed millions of dairy cows and only a small part of it actually turns into dairy foods. If we ate the crops ourselves, we’d need to grow less and use fewer resources. Dairy farming also uses huge amounts of water, pollutes the air with greenhouse gases and the infamous slurry lagoons so common at dairy farms often leak ammonia into water and pollute the air too.

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