Being Vegan – Will Milk Become Irrelevant?
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
Sometimes you see quotes and you think to yourself, “This was an interesting statement.” That is what I was thinking earlier this week when I saw a quote from Tom Gallagher who said, “Milk is going to be an irrelevant beverage at some point.” Now if you just took that at it’s face value, that would be something to hope for. I was kind of curious of who Tom Gallagher was, because I had not heard of him before. He is actually the CEO of Dairy Management, Inc. The full context of his quote I found was actually this: “If we don’t see fundamental changes in the milk business, and I don’t mean incremental changes, milk is going to be an irrelevant beverage at some point.”
That is from a prominent insider’s point of view.
It seems as though milk has been sliding that way for quite sometime. The USDA tells us that the per capita consumption of fluid milk has declined 21.5 percent from 1975-2009 but has been declining at an unprecedented rate the past two years. We are looking at the lowest rates of consumption since 1984. Part of the reasons cited is drinking other beverages, including water which is a good thing, but also because of information that is now readily available for consumers. Many have cited health reasons for no longer drinking milk. PCRM (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) cites a number of health issues related to milk consumption including osteoporosis; fat content and cardiovascular disease; a connection with various cancers including breast, prostrate, and ovarian; acne; obesity; and contaminants including pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Lactose intolerance is also rampant with an estimated 95% of Asian-Americans, 80-100% of Native Americans, 60-80% of African-Americans, 50-80% of Hispanics and 15% of Caucasians.
If that was not bad enough, there is the even more troubling ethical issues in regards to milk and dairy consumption. We are no longer in an era of Old McDonald’s Farm. Things have become automated in the majority of industry production and female cows are subjected to one horrible experience after another. Many are place in stalls where they can barely move. They are artificially inseminated over and over again so that they can give birth and lactate. Their newborns are taken away from them immediately, causing great distress to both the mother and the newborn. The female calves are prepared for the same fate as their mothers while many of the young male calves await slaughter as veal for the meat industry. The milk cows are hooked up to machines which produce an unusually high rate of infection, which finds its way into the milk products. That is one of the reasons why 80% of the antibiotics used in this country are used for animals in the dairy and meat industry to counteract the conditions they are forced to live in. When they are done with the milk cows they slaughter them and find various ways to get their animal products to the consumer. This is just a snapshot of an industry that is disgusting and tragic at every turn.
We cannot ignore the impact that the dairy and meat industry has on the environment as well. For one thing, it is a terribly inefficient use of land, grain, other food, and water. We are literally feeding an industry that is health and ethically challenging while those resources could go towards much better uses. The dairy and meat industry contribute more to air pollution than all of our motor vehicles combined. Besides our air, they are also horrible polluters of our lands and groundwater and has impacted surrounding crops and contributed to various health issues and death. We are also seeing the continual clearing of our rain forests and other areas to make way for agribusiness such as dairy and meat production that is affecting wildlife and further damaging our environment.
Meat consumption is also on the decline along with liquid milk but unfortunately over the same time we have seen an increase in yogurt and cheese consumption. Too many people are not making the connection between milk and the rest of the dairy industry but I think that is going to change. There are so many healthier and sustainable alternatives available now including Soy, Almond, Rice, Coconut, and Hemp. We also have healthier and delicious alternatives in the other areas of non-dairy products including yogurt and cheese and new and improved products are coming out all of the time. The dairy industry is obviously concerned and has started a campaign to discredit alternative milk products instead of dealing with their own potential irrelevance. I, myself, am voting for irrelevance for milk with meat being the next to head toward the Land of the Irrelevant. Humans are the only species to drink the milk of another. Silly and tragic, isn’t it? It has long been time for us to evolve way, way past all of this.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at email@example.com or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.