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Sadly, I am not a fan of the USDA. Somehow I believe their interests are neither for us nor for the animals. Case in point -- touting the fallacy that milk is necessary for good health. I am glad that Tom Philpot of Mother Jones addressed this subject today. I was unable to print his worthwhile post so that I could refer to it, but thankfully- I found a whole page of links regarding dairy not being beneficial for our health on the internet. There I found a title which caught my attention. It read -"Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It At All Costs, Or Why Following The USDA Food Pyramid Guidelines Is Bad for your Health."
As an ethical vegan who is more concerned about cow suffering than my health, I have had no dairy for the past 32 years. I am also glad to report that thus far I have had no serious health problems -so I take exception to this government entity and its Food Pyramid telling us that in order to be healthy we need to include dairy in our diets.
As some writers have noted - their recommendation seems more concerned for dairy interests than about our health. I find this shameful but not necessarily surprising. Take a good look at our country, our leaders, and our legislators. Sadly, you will probably find, as I have, that we are not nearly as perfect or as caring a nation as some may think we are, or should be. And here, of course, is an example where dairy interests come before the health and well-being of all of us. Conspicuously lacking in the Food Guidelines is truth and science.
Thankfully, there are people like Mark Hyman, MD who are willing to tackle these short-comings. He notes that "It is often said that Dairy is nature's perfect food". But he also observes that this only applies if you are a calf. In his practice he typically tells his patients to avoid dairy completely--noting that he likes ice cream as much as anyone--but as a scientist, he knows he has to look honestly at the documented ill-effects of dairy, and in doing so, he gave us six reasons why we should avoid dairy.
He also notes that some of the "experts" who help create the food pyramid work for the dairy industry, thereby not reflecting either science or our best interests. But their erroneous findings have not escaped the eyes of Walter Willet, M.D., Ph.D. who is the second-most cited scientist in all of clinical medicine and the head of nutrition at Harvard's School of Public Health. And what does this expert say about the USDA food pyramid guidelines? He calls them "utterly ridiculous."
Here are some of Dr. Willet's observations in his "Truth about Dairy:"
1. Milk doesn't reduce fractures. In fact, according to the Nurses' Health Study, dairy may increase the risk of fractures by 50 per cent.
2. Less dairy, makes better bones. Countries with the lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption, like in countries in Africa and Asia, they have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
3. Calcium isn't as bone-protective as we thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefits in reducing fracture risk. Vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.
4. Calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man's risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent.
5. Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn't. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
6. Not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75 percent of the world's population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products -- a problem called "lactose intolerance".
Dr. Willet has much more to say about why we don't need milk in our diet. If interested, please look him up on the internet or check out Tom Philpot's article on this subject in Mother Jones.
But for me and other ethical vegans, the biggest blessing we derive from not eating dairy is the knowledge that hopefully one day there will be a lot more of us so that those poor dairy cows can finally be let out of the cruel and dark factory farms, and the never-ending milking lines.
Most dairy cows know no other life but to be milked 2 or more times a day. They can't ever walk in the meadows accompanied by their new born calves that have been insensitively removed from them shortly after birth. Mothers above all should recognize this cruel suffering of their being separated from their new born calves, but it seems to me that many are not, as they continue to buy dairy despite the cows' sufferings. Surely they must be aware of this cruelty by now.