May 9, 2010

Milk or no milk?

It is impossible to read health columns of newspapers or dedicated health magazines or websites without coming across some food item we consume on a daily basis criticised for its harmful effects on human health. If one were to list out all of them, even ignoring the fringe ones, and strictly follow the ban list, it would be hard to eat anything save a few that we surely don't want to eat.

But it does not pay to simply ignore these warnings and just carry on because sometimes they are true and sometimes we realise too late.

Like in all other matters, it is better to exercise discretion and have a healthy level of skepticism without being cynical or without becoming too naive and sway with every passing wind.

I was quite impressed by the arguments in favor of a milk-free diet and have decided to avoid milk for the last few months. I do not have lactose intolerance and have been drinking milk and milk beverages since birth.

But these arguments appeared valid:

  • Every animal has milk designed by nature for its own young - cow's milk is designed for the digestion and growing needs of baby cows, not humans.
  • Most westerners (and nowadays that also includes most affluent people even in poor countries, that includes people like us) get enough protein and calcium anyway through other means.
  • A high protein diet, particularly rich in animal protein (that includes milk) actually depletes bone calcium - this has been validated by very respectable doctors and studies.
  • Americans have some of the highest levels of bone disease and bone fractures in old age despite drinking lots and lots of milk in comparison with other people.
  • Even cows dont drink milk beyond the first few months of their life and they only eat green vegetables. Same goes for elephants..
The key question is, how far do these arguments apply to Indians who, affluent or not, do not eat as much meat as westerners and hence do not have this protein overload problem? Hence if they give up milk are they giving up a cheap and valuable source of both protein and calcium?

I don't know. But I have played it safe by doing two things - not giving up on yoghurt or curd, a standard staple of Indian food and taking calcium supplements.

But no latte's and no hot milk or Milo etc.

I am also happy I am making a very small contribution to keeping milk prices low for those that need them, keep methane emissions low, alleviate the sufferings of cows that are now treated as machines in food factories. Actually a lot worse than machines.

And I should say I don't miss milk - I can appreciate the flavor and taste of tea and coffee much better these days and also restrict calorie intake without sacrificing taste, at least taste as defined by myself for me.

You can read the anti-milk propaganda website for more details...but I for one, am convinced.


Alisa Fleming said...

It is good to hear that milk-free has worked so well for you. It is hard to let people know that the cravings do subside over time, but it sounds like you quickly discovered that!

Ganesh said... was easier than I thought. Thanks for the comment..