By Natasha Kyssa
We’ve all seen the ad campaigns on television, billboards and in magazines. In fact, just about every editorial publication has an entire page dedicated to celebrities wearing the white moustache and endorsing cow’s milk as the “perfect food” for humans. The dairy industry is spending billions of dollars on marketing campaigns to coerce the public into believing that “milk does a body good.” This dedicated advertising campaign has been so successful that most people view milk commercials as more of a public service announcement than a shrewd attempt for corporate profit.
Milk’s main selling point is calcium, and North Americans are encouraged to drink several glasses of milk every day in order to prevent osteoporosis. No wonder we are such a dairy obsessed culture! We consume the highest amount of dairy products worldwide – ingesting the creamy white stuff multiple times a day – on its own, with cereal, cookies, in coffee, milkshakes – we even warm it up in order to get a good night’s sleep! But did you know that North America also has the highest incidence of osteoporosis?
The truth is, contrary to what the glossy ads proclaim, there are many studies indicating that drinking cow’s milk actually increases the risk osteoporosis. “Dairy products contain sodium and animal protein, both of which encourage calcium losses.” writes Dr. Neal Barnard, MD, and President of The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.All animal products create an acidic environment in the body. Your body must neutralize this acid by leaching calcium – an alkaline mineral – from the bones. Eventually, this calcium is flushed from the body, which, over years, can result in osteoporosis. “It’s time [milk] ads stop pretending there are no health risks from drinking milk,” Dr. Bernard goes on to say.
What the ad campaign conveniently fails to tell us is that all dairy products (including organic milk, yogurt and kefir!) are loaded with high levels of cholesterol, and “skim” or not, saturated fat – contributing significantly to cardiovascular disease. Studies are also linking the consumption of casein – a protein present in dairy – to allergies, asthma, bloating, IBS, stomach pain, migraines, tumors, as well as breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers.
As if this isn’t bad enough, cows are injected with artificial growth hormones and forced to produce many more times the milk than they would naturally. Hooked to electronic milking machines by their udders, the cows suffer electronic shocks, painful lesions and mastitis – a condition which can increase the amount of pus, for which the cows are given antibiotics. And where do you think these hormones, antibiotics, and pus subsequently end up? Yes — in that thick glass of milk.
So how do you get your calcium fill without consuming milk and dairy products? From the same place cows do! Yes, dark leafy greens – the vegetables mom used to make us eat: collard greens, broccoli, bok choy, and kale are all excellent sources of calcium. Sea vegetables, sesame seeds, tahini, chia, and figs are also high quality, calcium-rich foods.
Non-dairy “milk” alternatives such as soy, rice, hemp, coconut, oat and almond milks are a great way of providing the body with wholesome nutrition. Although they are much healthier options to dairy, keep in mind that they are still processed with additives, and create acid in the body. Remember, fresh is always best!
At our home, we prepare a large jug of (nut) mylk, and keep it in the fridge to add to smoothies or cereal. Nut and seed mylks are surprisingly easy to make. They are loaded with good-for-you nutrition without the cholesterol, hormones, fat, and mucus. Plus, they’re delicious too! Try the following recipe and leave the milk for the calves!
INSTANT HEMP MYLK (makes 2-3 servings)
* 4 cups water
* 1 cup hemp seed
* a few dates, or maple syrup (or a few drops of stevia)
* 1 TBSP alcohol-free vanilla extract
* Blend all of the ingredients until creamy and smooth. Refrigerate.
Natasha Kyssa is the author of The SimplyRaw Living Foods Detox Manual, as well as the founder of SimplyRaw. She has been living a raw vegan lifestyle for 20 years. www.simplyraw.ca