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Research Shows That We Do Not Need Animal Milk Or Dairy Products To Be Healthy

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Have you ever noticed that it’s only humans who consume dairy? No other animal continues to drink milk into adulthood, much less the milk of an entirely different species. Numerous studies state that milk shows little to no effect on bone health. And there are reports linking milk to gastric issues, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, acne and even bone breakage. Commercially produced milk contains hormones and antibiotics. So is drinking milk actually healthy for us?

Common Knowledge

Did you know that milk by itself only has trace amounts of Vitamin D? Nearly all commercially produced, pasteurized milk in the U.S is fortified. This is especially the case with ‘skimmed milk’ and ‘low-fat’ milk, because Vitamin D is fat soluble. This means that the small amount of the vitamin is mostly lost when the milk fat is removed.

Does milk protect your bones? A study by the Channing Laboratory in Boston, Massachusetts says otherwise. Researchers compared women who drank two or more glasses of milk a day to women who consumed one glass or less per week. The report concluded that they found no evidence that higher intakes of milk reduce bone fractures. Another study found that drinking milk may even increase osteoporosis in women!

‘The China Study’ is an interesting book that elaborates the possible ill-effects of milk and other animal-derived foods. It examines the relationship between the consumption of animal products (including dairy) and chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and bowel cancer. The study concluded that individuals who maintained diets with a high amount of animal-foods were likely to have higher death rates from these diseases.

The same author analysed the relationship between milk consumption in China and the rate of osteoporosis within Chinese families. Osteoporosis is uncommon in China as the milk consumption in China is less. In India milk consumption is high yet we have more cases of osteoporosis than the Chinese do. And though USA is one of the highest consumers of milk and dairy products in the world, they have the most cases of osteoporosis in the world! It’s estimated that 1 in 4 American men are expected to encounter osteoporosis in their lives.

Amy Lanou, the nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, states here that, “The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets. The connection between calcium and bone health is very weak and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost non-existent.


Image Source: John McDougall, M.D

Lactose Intolerance

Nearly 65% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. This means they do not have the necessary enzymes required to digest the sugar in milk called lactose. Researchers at Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences conducted a study on lactose intolerance in India and found out that 74% were lactose malabsorbers.

Oestrogen in Milk

The modern dairy farmer repeatedly impregnates a female cow throughout her life to maximize his profits. Did you know that more than 75% of the commercially produced milk in India comes from pregnant cows? Pregnancy is a time when the oestrogen levels of cows increase significantly and these hormones can be traced to cow’s milk. The milk, along with its high oestrogen content intended for the growth of the baby in the womb and the baby calf. But this milk gets diverted to us humans instead. This has adverse effects on both men and women.

Calves are separated from their mothers so that humans can drink her milk.

In men, consuming dairy products has been linked to a decrease in testosterone secretion, as well as a decline in semen quality. It has also been connected to prostate cancer.

Excessive oestrogen is problematic for both young girls and older women. It can bring about early puberty, as well as prolong the start of menopause. Both these situations reportedly lead to the growth of cancer cells in the reproductive organs.

So it seems that nutritionally, dairy products may not be useful, or even healthy, for the average Indian. To make matters worse, there are also an alarming number of bad practices that plague the dairy industry.

Antibiotics

“Two out of three Indians drink milk laced with detergent, caustic soda, urea, and paint. Over 68% of the milk sold did not conform to standards laid down by India’s food regulator FSSAI, quoting figures from a nationwide survey conducted by the agency in 2011.”
– Union minister Harsh Vardhan


Dairy farmer preparing a dose of antibiotics.

The National Dairy Research Institute in Haryana conducted a study in which they found antibiotic residues in milk. Animal Equality’s comprehensive study on Indian dairies indicates that antibiotic use in Indian dairies is widespread, specifically. The consumption of such milk can lead to antibiotic resistance, allergic reactions, toxicity, etc.

Oxytocin And Early Puberty

Animal Equality’s study also documented the widespread use of the illegal hormone, ‘oxytocin’. This is done despite the prohibition on the use of oxytocin for dairy animals. Considering the cruelty and harmful effects of it on humans, the government prohibited oxytocin under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and it allows the sale of it to registered veterinary practitioners only.

Cheap oxytocin shots sold in disguise as sweets.

Oxytocin is known to disturb the reproductive cycle of female animals thereby reducing their life expectancy. The consumption of oxytocin laden milk is known to cause severe hormonal imbalances among its consumers.

Milk And Tea

Did you know that animal milk can actively reduce the health benefits of tea? Several studies show that the casein present in cow’s milk drastically reduces tea’s antioxidant properties. This is why green tea and black tea are considered far healthier. Ardent milk-tea lovers who want to avoid casein can find a wide variety of non-dairy milks available today. These milks are made from cashews, almonds, rice, peanuts and other foods that are casein free.

Hygiene Issues

Dairy farms are one of the filthiest farms in India. The floors of the dairies are perpetually filled with dung and urine. The stench from the dairies is usually unbearable. Dead bodies of animals, some of which are diseased are left to rot next to the living animals. The milk is derived and stored in this unhygienic atmosphere.

The Solution

“Basing your diet on plant foods is a great first step to eating well and reducing your cancer risk.” – The World Cancer Research Fund

“Three out of four Indians have no milk tolerance.” – Dr. Uday C. Ghoshal

Research shows that we do not need animal milk or dairy products to be healthy. A well balanced vegan diet can provide the sufficient amounts of calcium vitamins and other important nutrients. Additionally, there are many tasty vegan milks, cheeses, butters and spreads available in the market.

Vegan milk is becoming increasingly popular all over the world. It’s created from coconuts, cashew nuts, peanuts, almonds, soya beans, etc. Vegan milk doesn’t have any of the harmful hormones and antibiotics present in animal milk. It’s also suitable for the lactose intolerant. Plus, they are very easy to make at home.

There is an ever-growing list of vegan athletes, such as Mac Danzig, Patrik Baboumian and the record-breaking KJ Joseph. Many healthcare professionals are also becoming increasingly vocal about the benefits of a vegan diet.


Visit www.loveveg.com for tasty recipes, diet tips and more. You can also download a free copy of our vegan guide here. And to learn more about dairy-free diet, click here.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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