Peter Hamilton: Every drop of milk is not so delicious

By Peter Hamilton

The multibillion-dollar dairy industry tells everyone that milk and dairy products are good for you. It does not tell you about the plight of animals used for dairy products and the associated human health risks.

One major target is schoolchildren, through organizations such as the B.C. Dairy Foundation. It is “dedicated to increasing consumption of milk in BC”. Slick contests, games, and “health” programs are the lure. Kid-oriented products and packaging ploys are similar to the tobacco industry’s flavoured kid-pack cigarettes.

Island Farms’ “Every drop delicious” promotion has a costumed person as a mascot cow named “Daisy”. They promote dairy products as coming from happy animals that live idyllic lives. The public is not shown the inhumane living conditions provided by the dairy industry: animals crammed into transport trucks, auction abuses, and the cruel slaughter.

Calves are taken from their moms within two days after birth. They are often kept in single pens and tied with three-foot chains around their necks for months. Once fattened, most of the males are slaughtered and the females are turned into milking machines. The females must have calf after calf to produce the milk. Most will be confined in free or tie stalls with little or no access to pasture.

Male “bob veal” calves are sent to auctions right after birth for slaughter. Other “veal” calves are often isolated and chained for 16 weeks. Rennet used in cheese production is often rennet from the stomachs of calves from the veal industry.

There are cruelty laws against confining and chaining dogs, so why does the dairy industry get away with this cruelty? There are 72,000 dairy cows in B.C. alone. Approximately one million calves are born annually in Canada. There is an approximate 10-percent mortality rate within 24 hours; these are generalized as “stillbirths”. That leaves a lot of animals who are living a life of hell.

No other species drinks milk beyond infancy, and no other species naturally drinks the milk of another species.

Health officials warn that dairy products have four major drawbacks. Milk and cheese (1) are loaded with fat and cholesterol; (2) are frequently contaminated with pesticides, dioxins, and drugs; (3) are linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, including prostate cancer and breast cancer; and (4) may even cause osteoporosis—the very disease that the dairy industry loves to use as a selling point in its ads—because the excess protein in dairy products leaches calcium from the bones.

The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, America’s leading authority on childcare, spoke out against feeding cow’s milk to children. He stated that it can cause anemia, allergies, and insulin-dependent diabetes, and in the long term will set kids up for obesity and heart disease.

A dairy cow filters blood through her udder each day and uses dead white blood cells (somatic cells) to manufacture her milk. These dead cells are also called pus cells. When cows are infected with mastitis the udders bleed then discharge pus, including bacteria and blood, into the milk. An allowable level of blood and pus is permitted in milk products. That level is 500,000 somatic cells per millilitre in Canada.

Every milk drop is not so delicious. The way that animals are inhumanely raised makes dairy products a source of shame, not pride. We at Lifeforce urge all to protect themselves, animals, and the environment by using healthy non-dairy products. This includes soy milk, vegan ice cream, soy cheese, and a variety of non-meat veggie products.

These products are getting more and more convenient to find in grocery stories. Adopting vegan lifestyles can provide healthier lives and reduce the number of animals abused by the dairy and meat industries. So, please make it your choice to live healthy and cruelty-free.

Peter Hamilton is the founding director of Lifeforce.




Jun 5, 2009 at 11:27am

This is a fantastic post. I never felt better than when I dropped dairy from my diet five years ago (my skin cleared up and I lost ten pounds) and now I get all my calcium from beans, nuts, and leafy greens. Since osteoporosis runs in my family, I want to be extra careful that I rely on healthy sources of calcium, and not dairy.

And I have a soy allergy, so I can't eat soy ice creams...but I LOVE Rice Divine Ice Cream and the coconut milk ice creams/ice cream bars from So Delicious. When it comes to just plain milk, I stick to rice or almond. (There's also hemp milk but I'm not sure I like it yet.)

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Jun 5, 2009 at 12:18pm

I love this article! I am ashamed to say I once "worked" on a diary farm but it opened my eyes up to the industy. The cows can't even go to the bathroom in peace; they have electrodes hanging over their back which forces them to back up to defecate into grates on the floor outside of their milking stalls. Calves a day old, torn away from their mothers were kicked at to get up on their unsteady new found feet to be shipped off to to either a veal farm or slaughter house. Even if you don't eat veal you are still supporting the industry by drinking/eating milk products.

Has anyone noticed how disturbing the milk commercials have gotten lately??

Keep up the effort Peter! Eventually the ugly truth has to come out.

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Jun 5, 2009 at 2:43pm

There is a significant amount of cruelty in the dairy industry- and indeed all large-scale animal industries, and something must be done to increase regulation and ensure proper treatment of these animals. That said, comparing milk campaigns to tobacco companies targeting children is not only distasteful and crass, it's also not very persuasive to your argument as it makes it clear you are more willing to make sensationalist claims and comparisons instead of using supportive facts.

Further, the myth of pus in milk has been around for many years, and was summarily disproven (

I'd also like to point out that 8 out of the 10 highest milk consuming countries in the world (Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Australia and Canada) are all in the top 20 UN countries for life expectancy.


Jun 5, 2009 at 3:48pm

There is nothing sensational about claiming that milk is being advertised to kids to make it appealing in the same way that cigarettes were to children. The adds for children suggest that they should drink milk to make them stronger (like the one where all the kids are turning into strong animals and then one turns into a hamster and says "should have drunk more milk"). The commercial asserts that the child is week and should drink milk to make them strong; where children thought smoking was "cool" and wanted to pretend to smoke with gum....milk makes you strong and smoking is cool. I don't think the milk industry is marketing to a broad audience there.

And white blood cells make up puss...well at least that what comes out of zits...we can play semantics but it is still just puss.

Also the highest milk consuming countries have the highest occurrences of osteoporosis. So you can live longer but with brittle bones...hmmm


Jun 5, 2009 at 5:52pm

I wonder, are standards better for organic milk products?


Jun 5, 2009 at 7:27pm

Oh shoot, I thought I read last month that milk was good for you. Must have been propaganda, put out by the dairy industry. What food is good for you?? Who does not have other motives in telling you what to do?? Isn't Peter Hamilton trying to raise cash to promote his view of the world? Is he right and everyone one else wrong. Or do we all just have differing points of view.

I don't know, thats what I know!!

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Jun 6, 2009 at 8:41am

Yet another animal-rights-fueled article, using the "hazards" and "cruelty" of milk to further an animal-rights cause. Yawn. Sorry, this ploy hasn't worked before, still won't work now.

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Jun 7, 2009 at 10:39am

Thanks for this article. Dairy, it turned out, was the culprit in my skin problems. As a young adult, I'd started being plagued with bad skin that came out of nowhere (or so it seemed). I'd gone to spas and doctors, including dermatologists, and got only drugs and pats on the head. Nothing worked. Some people had the gall to blame it on stress (which I wasn't under, except for finding out what was wrong with my skin). Other assholes told me I wasn't washing my face properly! Would you believe it was a hairdresser who finally declared the problem. He suddenly pointed to my skin and said, "Oh, you have a dairy rash." From that day on, I kicked dairy out of my diet and, you guessed it, my skin cleared up. You know what? Nobody believes me! And my family still rolls their eyes when I politely refuse creamy desserts and sauces. They try to talk me into having just a bit. They think I'm a drama queen. How little they, and so many others, know about this very real link between dairy and bad health and bad other things. Wake up, people!