Let’s talk about dairy, before we even get into what a dairy alternative is. As you may or may not have heard lately, dairy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s really no friend of mine but before we get into that let’s break down exactly what dairy is.
So what does that look like? Basically anything that is made from animal milk: cheese, ice cream, sour cream, butter (although it’s a fat it’s made from milk so it’s dairy) yogurt, anything containing whey, any baked goods containing milk or milk products- you get the idea.
I know what you’re thinking. “But why, Stacey? I really love cheese, why do I have to stop eating it? WHY?!” I feel your pain, friends. I too am a lover of cheese. But the negatives of eating it far outweigh the momentary happiness you get from a gooey bite of pizza.
What’s the problem with dairy?
Well, for starters, you don’t need it. Say what? Its true, folks.
It actually tends to cause more harm than good. But what about the food pyramid? What about all those “Milk does a body good” commercials? Don’t I need to drink it to get my calcium?
Fun fact: countries with the lowest levels of dairy consumption have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. What does that mean? It means that you can get everything you need to give you strong bones from sources other than dairy like dark green leafy veggies, almonds, sesame seeds, seafood or white beans.
Here’s a little secret – the people who wrote the food pyramid guidelines work for the dairy industry. Seems like a bit of a conflict of interest if you ask me. I’ve written to Health Canada to see if I can get a detailed list of the individuals and industries that create it. I’m still waiting on a response but I’ll let you know when I get one!
Your body doesn’t want it
It’s estimated that 75% of the population can’t stomach dairy. It makes them gassy, gives them cramps and is all around uncomfortable. I know when I have dairy the next morning is not a fun time for me. Or anyone I live with. Gross.
You’re not a cow or a horse or a dog
It’s made for baby cows, not for you. Are you going to drink horse milk? What about the milk from your dog? Why not? There is really no difference between those animals and cows.
The dairy we consume is chock full of hormones and antibiotics.
In a nutshell this is what happens: a mama cow is impregnated, once she delivers the baby calf is stolen from her and machines are hooked up to her teats. She is milked constantly and then impregnated again. At this time she’s also given hormones to keep producing milk. While she’s being milked her utters begin to crack and bleed and pus. Can you guess where all that blood and pus goes? You guessed it: into her milk. She’s then given antibiotics to try and stave off infection and keep her producing as much milk as possible. The milk is pasteurized which means it’s heated up to kill any bacteria. Mmmm, warm pus. This goes on for about 2 years and then the cow is slaughtered for meat.
It causes allergies
Dairy and allergies often go hand in hand. They can manifest in the form of stomach upset and lactose intolerance and often in my practice I see dairy issues show themselves through the skin. When I gave up dairy the ever-present dry patches on my arms and head went away. If you’re struggling with a skin issue you might want to consider giving up dairy for 6-weeks and see if it helps.
It’s a cruel world
PETA put out a video called “The dairy industry in 60 seconds.” If you can make it to the end well then hats off to you. The way we get our milk and dairy is a terribly cruel and inhumane practice and the more people are aware of it then the more changes will be made.
This is a great video by Dr. Mark Hyman that explains more about why you should avoid dairy. He explains it far better than I.
And if I’ve more than convinced you and now you’re wondering how to make the transition, Go Dairy Free is a great website dedicated to just that!
Luckily we live in a world that is full of awesome dairy free alternatives that are not only better for your body but taste good too! Here’s the thing: the alternatives are not going to taste exactly like what you’re substituting it for, they just won’t. But if you except that and appreciate them for what they are then you can really start to expand your palette and feel good about your choices!
Glad you asked!