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What’s wrong with Dairy?

Written by Jacky Sutton

Welcome to Veggie Bytes, addressing questions that vegans are often asked. Some of these questions are made in good faith.  “Milk is good for you, so why are you against it?”  There are two issues here: human health and animal welfare.

naturalfeedingHuman health

Humans are the only species on the planet that regularly drink the milk of other mammals beyond infanthood. Cow milk, like human milk or camel milk or cat milk or possum milk or any other milk produced by a mammal mother for her mammal baby, has evolved to provide species-specific nutrients to very young beings.

Polar bear milk makes baby polar bears really fat in about two weeks because polar bears live in cold places where a thin cub would die. Gazelle milk enables baby gazelles to develop the capacity to run really fast in a couple of hours – while cheetah milk enables cheetah cubs to run even faster in about six months, thus giving baby gazelles the chance to develop other capacities to ward off their predators and stay alive.

Cows’ milk is rich in lactose, a sugar that is digested in the intestinal tract of, er, cows. Humans do not have the ability to digest lactose, and often suffer from bowel cramping, diarrhoea, bloating, eczema, vomiting and inflamed mucous membranes when they drink cows’ milk. There is a healthy pharmaceutical industry response to this in the form of antacids, anti-diarrheals, laxatives, skin lotions and other responses to the physiological rejection of a non-food food.

This of course is not part of the dairy industry advertisements, which feature healthy children developing strong bones and teeth from a diet rich in milk, cream and sugary ice-cream. This “Western diet” has contributed to a global crisis of obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer – to which the pharmaceutical industry has a healthy response in the forms of diet formula, chemical alternatives to food and expensive calcium supplements.

Lactose intolerance is one of the most commonly reported food allergies globally. Ironically,
pasteurisation – boiling milk at very high temperature to destroy TB bacteria – also makes milk harder for humans to digest.

One of the many myths about cows’ milk is that it is good for human bones and therefore essential for growing children and women. This is not true – cow’s milk contains excess quantities of methionine, an amino acid found in mammals that helps in digestion by dissolving food in an acid bath. The acidity of the cows’ milk methionine is fine for calves but too acidic for humans. Cows digest their food by regurgitating it and swilling it in strong acid; humans do not. When humans drink cows’ milk their bodies compensate for the high proportion of methionine by leaching calcium from the skeleton, thus increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

Another thing to think about while reaching for your icecream or daily glass of milk is the fact that cows are fed a toxic diet of hormones, mainly oestrogen, to make them produce more milk. They are also almost always pregnant while being milked, adding to the hormone-load which has been linked to early onset puberty in human children and to hormone-dependent cancers such as testicular, prostate and breast.


Animal welfare

Like humans, cows produce milk when there is a sufficient hormone load to indicate pregnancy. But milk cows are not always pregnant when they lactate; instead they are injected with excessive quantities of oestrogen (which gets passed on to humans through the milk). However the majority are artificially inseminated on a regular basis so that their natural hormones kick in as well as the artificial ones.

Cows, like humans, bear live babies so their pregnancy is also a period of hormonal changes aimed at producing a bond between mother and child. Like women, cows experience mood changes and are hard-wired to learn to love their baby before it is born. Unlike women, cows are never allowed to.

Vegan ACT Survey Results 2014

Written by Rowena, Online Facilitator

On 21 March, we opened up a survey to get some information to better know you, your thoughts and wishes. A big thank you to the 65 people who responded! 39 of these were vegan, 25 vegetarian and one omnivore. 31 out of the 65 were current members (2 concession, 18 single and 11 family members). 18 were lapsed members and 16 had never joined. 18 of the 31 members were vegan. 8 were on the south side of Canberra, 8 were outside Canberra and the rest were on the north side.

 Here follows the collated responses to the open ended questions.

 1) What made you choose your current diet/lifestyle? Continue reading

An introduction to yoga in relation to adopting a plant-based diet

Written By Nicole Neveu for VeganACT

Early definitions of yoga describe it as the union of the individual soul with the Universal Soul. In the West yoga has become synonymous with asana (seat/posture) and has been appropriated and commodified by the fitness industry. For this reason the focus here will be yoga’s moral precepts rather than physical performance.

Within the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali we find the self-contained ‘eightfold path of yoga’ which some scholars consider a subsequent insertion to the text. The eightfold path of yoga has eight petals often referred to as limbs or steps. Yama (restraint) is the first limb. Ahimsa (non-violence/non-harming) is the first of five moral precepts that constitute yama.

For most Westerners ahimsa is the most obvious starting point when considering yoga in relation to adopting a plant-based diet because of the direct relevance of non-violence or non-harming.

The majority of us will happily vow to live a life of non-violence, but what actually constitutes violence or harm? Jean Kilbourne in Killing Us Softly says, “In any situation, the objectification of humans is the first step towards violence”.  Many consider this to be the case with non-human animals as well.

Animal sentience is widely accepted yet we persist in negating this and the intrinsic value of animals’ lives. Under the guise of human speciesism we objectify non-human animals and their natural environment. Furthermore, we take ownership of and reduce animals and their environment to product.

The objectification of animals and the environment combined with materialism results in ‘product objectification’. This seemingly absurd notion of objectifying objects becomes clear when our desire to possess an object overrides other considerations, such as the origin of materials, working conditions and environmental impact in the manufacture and disposal of an object.

Objectification instills and maintains a facade that grants us permission to do whatever we wish without regard to dignity or impact. Objectification allows us to force upon non-human animals all the atrocities we commit against other humans including violation of rights, slavery, physical, sexual and psychological abuse, rape, pornography, prostitution, incarceration, torture, mass murder and more.

If we accept objectification theory, we can deduce that by treating a sentient being like an object we are causing harm.  Due to the inherent objectification of animals and the extensive harm and violence perpetrated by the dairy and egg industries, vegetarianism does not go far enough. To truly practise ahimsa one must adopt a purely plant-based diet.

In this light ahimsa is not merely an act of exercising one’s will power over eating habits, it is an internal shift away from objectification towards empathy and compassion. B.K.S. Iyengar in Light on Yoga writes, “The word ahimsa is made up of the particle ‘a’ meaning ‘not’ and the noun himsa meaning killing or violence. It is more than a negative command not to kill, for it has a wider positive meaning, love. This love embraces all creation…”

“Where do you get your protein and calcium?”

Some beansBy Jacky Sutton, Vegan ACT

If I had a dollar for every time I have been asked that I would be a wealthy woman.  The idea that human mammals have to rely on the baby food of non-human animals well beyond their natural weaning for calcium has been drummed into our heads by the dairy industry lobbies for over a century.

Cows, as mammals, also require protein – as do apes, giraffes, elephants, buffalo and dozens of other herbivorous species. Plants also contain calcium, without any of the harmful side effects of cows’ milk, which also contains pus, antibiotics, bio-engineered hormones, pesticides and acids, which leach calcium from human bones.

The idea that only meat contains protein has been a central meme of the meat lobby and has been around since the discovery of protein in 1839. The relationship between animal protein and cancers is often explained in terms of cholesterol and saturated fat but little research is funded into the composition of animal protein, which is the ‘sacred cow’ of the agro-industry.

Like milk, meat also contains antibiotics, bio-engineered hormones, pesticides and micro-proteins derived from meat. Cattle are herbivores, but have also been fed meat-based proteins (ground up cows) in the mistaken idea that this would enhance their growth. In the 1980s it took the deaths of almost 200 people in the UK from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, before the barbaric practice of feeding cows other dead cows was made public.

Lack of calcium and protein are two myths that are explored in this light- hearted song by Jonathon and Ivory:

Below are 10 vegan sources of protein that are cruelty-free and won’t make you sick (100g = 3.5 ounces):

1. Green vegetables: One cup of cooked spinach (226g) has about seven grams of protein. The same serving of French beans has about 13 grams. Two cups of cooked kale has 5 grams and one cup of boiled peas has 9 grams. One hard-boiled egg has about 6 grams of protein, most red meat has about 7 grams an ounce.

2. Almond milk: One cup of almond milk can pack about 7–9 grams of protein. Eat it with some fortified cereal and you’ve got a totally vegan-friendly breakfast.

3. Prunes and raisins: One cup of these fruits will give about 4–5 grams of protein.

4. Nut Butter: Eat up your peanut butter, almond butter and cashew butter. A couple of tablespoons of any one of these will get you 8 grams of protein.

5. Quinoa: This versatile, delicious grain contains about 9 grams of protein per cup.

6. Tofu: Four ounces of tofu will get you about 9 grams of protein.

7. Lentils: One cup cooked delivers 18 grams of protein.

8. Beans: One cup of pinto, kidney or black beans, you’ll get about 13–15 grams of protein.

9. Tempeh: One cup of tempeh packs about 30 grams of protein! That’s more than five eggs or a regular hamburger patty.

10. Sprouted-grain bread: Pack a sandwich with vegan sprouted-grain bread and you’ll get about 10 grams of protein in the bread alone.Kale

Milking dry the Murray-Darling

Article by Canberra Vegan

Did you know that the dairy industry is the second largest single user of irrigation water (just edged out by the cotton industry)? It is also the biggest single user of irrigated land in Australia. This is shown in a report sponsored by the dairy industry itself. They estimate that the average dairy farm uses 800 litres of fresh water per litre of milk produced.  Read more…

Eggs are unhealthy for you, painful for chickens

Article by Canberra Vegan

A recent study found that men who consumed more than 2.5 eggs per week had 81% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer compared to men who consumed less than 0.5 eggs per week [1]. This isn’t an isolated finding. Looking to the medical journals, eggs have often turned up as a risk factor in cancer development [2,3,4,5] , including (ironically) ovarian cancer [6].  Read more…