Every year, the dairy industry spends massive amounts of money pushing its products. According to a survey, the industry spent a staggering $1.73 million in 2021 and $2.58 million in 2020 on advertising in the United States alone.
The dairy industry has reason to be scared. The plant-based dairy market is predicted to reach $123.20 billion by 2029, growing globally by 15.5% each year. Reasons for this incredible rise include concerns over animal cruelty and dairy’s impact on the environment, lactose intolerance, and the abundance of delicious and accessible plant-based options.
While consumers are growing more aware of the issues surrounding dairy, the industry has managed to keep many disturbing facts hidden. Here are four unpleasant things many don’t know can be found in cow’s milk:
According to a nationwide survey of U.S. dairies, clinical mastitis is prevalent in 25% of cows. This translates to billions of individual animals each year suffering from painful inflammation of their mammary glands and udder tissue. This infection generates pus, which gets into the milk.
At modern dairy farms, cows are subjected to intensive genetic manipulation and produce abnormally large quantities of milk. This unnatural production, combined with physical damage from milking equipment, causes mastitis. The amount of pus allowed in milk is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and based on guidelines established by the International Dairy Federation.
The USDA also allows a certain amount of blood in milk, which can result from mastitis or injury to the udder. Bright red milk typically means a large blood vessel has burst from trauma, while dark brown milk indicates mastitis. Both represent pain and suffering for cows, who endure a constant cycle of pregnancy, birth, and milking until their bodies are spent.
Drinking raw, unpasteurized milk is incredibly dangerous and can lead to diarrhea, stomach cramping, vomiting, and even severe or life-threatening diseases. This is because dairy milk can be contaminated by animal feces, animal skin, milking equipment, mastitis, rodents, and insects.
While pasteurizing milk—heating it to a temperature high enough to kill harmful germs—reduces the chance of illness, cases show that milk can be contaminated after it has been pasteurized with germs that make people sick.
4. Growth Hormones
IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) is a commonly used growth hormone given to cows to increase their milk production. This hormone easily passes from dairy milk to humans and has been linked to increased cancer risk, specifically prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers.
According to UCLA Health senior dietitian Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, “there’s really no downside to drinking plant-based milk instead of cow’s milk.” She explained:
Although milk is only one small part of a person’s diet, plant-based milk along with a plant-forward diet offers many benefits for your health and the environment.
Besides the health and environmental benefits, it’s a kinder choice for animals. Start enjoying more plant-based beverages and foods today by downloading Mercy For Animals’ FREE How to Eat Veg guide.