Skim Milk has the same calorie load as Soda (& 10 other Reasons to not Get Milk).

Via elephant journal
on Jul 8, 2012
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Pass the Water: 11 Reasons to skip Milk.

The below excerpts are from Mark Bittman. Skip this, go straight to his great article at the NY Times.

1. Americans were encouraged not only by the lobbying group called the American Dairy Association but by parents, doctors and teachers to drink four 8-ounce glasses of milk, “nature’s perfect food,” every day. That’s two pounds! We don’t consume two pounds a day of anything else…

Kid's milk
Photo: scribbletaylor

2. Department of Agriculture’s recommendation for dairy is…three cups daily — still 1½ pounds by weight — for every man, woman and child over age 9.

3. 50 million people are lactose intolerant, including 90 percent of all Asian-Americans and 75 percent of all African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Jews. The site helpfully suggests that those people drink lactose-free beverages.

4. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: “Sugar — in the form of lactose — contributes about 55 percent of skim milk’s calories, giving it ounce for ounce the same calorie load as soda.”

Let’s repeat that one: Skim Milk has the same calorie load as soda.


5. Nutrients…[are] far more easily digested as yogurt or cheese than as fluid milk.

6. …milk allergy — the second most common food allergy after peanuts, affecting an estimated 1.3 million children…can be life-threatening.

7. …Although treating heartburn is a business worth more than $10 billion a year, the solution may be as simple as laying off dairy. (Which, need I point out, is free.)

8. Dr. Barnard,

“It’s worth noting that milk and other dairy products are our biggest source of saturated fat, and there are very credible links between dairy consumption and both Type 1 diabetes and the most dangerous form of prostate cancer.”

9. ….9 million dairy cows, most of whom live tortured, miserable lives while making a significant contribution to greenhouse gases. …The bucolic cow and family farm barely exist:

“Given the Kafkaesque federal milk marketing order system, it’s impossible for anyone to make a living producing and selling milk,” says Anne Mendelson, author of “Milk.” “The exceptions are the very largest dairy farms, factory operations with anything from 10,000 to 30,000 cows, which can exploit the system…

…and the few small farmers who can opt out of it and sell directly to an assured market, and who can afford the luxury of treating the animals decently.”

10. Osteoporosis? You don’t need milk, or large amounts of calcium, for bone integrity. In fact, the rate of fractures is highest in milk-drinking countries, and it turns out that

…the keys to bone strength are lifelong exercise and vitamin D, which you can get from sunshine.

11. The federal government not only supports the milk industry by spending more money on dairy than any other item in the school lunch program, but by contributing free propaganda as well as subsidies amounting to well over $4 billion in the last 10 years.


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20 Responses to “Skim Milk has the same calorie load as Soda (& 10 other Reasons to not Get Milk).”

  1. ashleybess says:

    Yep. The milk of a mammal is meant for nobody but that mammal's offspring. There's really no getting around that fact once it strikes you, but it never does with most people… the dairy industry has done an amazing job propaganda-wise!

  2. Suri_k8 says:

    And seeds are meant to produce plants and we eat them too. Some human groups actually evolved tolerance to milk specially those descended from cattle farmers.

  3. ashleybess says:

    Okay, then those who wish to drink dairy can drink human milk. There are no ethical issues involved with that because humans can voluntarily give their milk. Separating calves from their mothers is a cruel practice just so we can have cheese fries.

  4. ashleybess says:

    Human milk is, after all, perfectly tailored for human (though infant) nutrition. Why drink cow's milk that is designed specifically to nourish calves? It seems we have also evolved to be able to digest petroleum and plastic. Does that mean we should be eating either?

  5. Suri_k8 says:

    Well , people like drinking milk just like some people like eating tofu or buying wedding rings with big bloody diamonds.
    I dont think there are any humans that can digest plasitic, if you know the meaning of the word evolved then you know that what you said is nonsense.
    It is not impossible to produce dairy ethically , you can have yur own cows and take good care of them….on the other hand nothing that is produced at an industrial level will ever be sustainable or ethical not even beans ..there is a reason for the existence of industrial ways of producing stuff , we are just too many and if you think that is going away you are dreaming and in denial…the fact that it creates destruction and suffering doesnt change anything…you can make it better by changing the law and regulation but you wont make it dissapear .

    There are ethical issues involved with everything that is not handcrafted or produced by yourself, from the plastic and rare metals in your cell phone to the wooden floors in your home.
    Many things in nature are meant to be used in some ways and for certain purposes but we use them differently . We were meant to be hunter gatherers but now we are not ….deal with it …or go live in a cave .

  6. ashleybess says:

    I'm not contesting the idea that we are hunter-gatherers, and I'd rather not live in a cave, thanks. I eat meat but I won't consume dairy.. I'm contesting the idea that the milk of any other animal is meant for human consumption. I don't believe it is. There is no other animal who drinks the milk of another species.

    True, there are ethical issues involved in the production of most, if not all, of what we consume. It is impossible to create without destroying, That said, I think your attitude is a bit defeatist. Just because there are potential ethical issues embedded in the production of most, if not all of what we consume doesn't mean we shouldn't try to minimize harm. I acknowledge that dairy can be produced humanely, but the vast majority of dairy consumed is not. Dairy cows are artificially impregnated with a frequency way beyond what they'd naturally experience and calves and their mothers are separated within 24 hours of birth. I truly believe mammals experience pain with this separation – probably not as profoundly as a human mother and child would, but it's still significant.

    Nutritionally, I don't believe cow's milk (or goat's milk or camel's milk) is any good for humans, but I guess I don't care if people consume it as long as nature's intended recipient (the calf) receives it first. Unfortunately this is very rarely the case.

  7. I don't agree that we should skip milk. Being so concerned about calories isn't justified given calcium and other nutrients you get in milk. From soda, all you get is fructose. Lactose intolerance is something that I've been struggling with too but this started only when I moved to America. Back in my home country Nepal, I could drink quarter gallon milk in a day without any digestive problems. In America, even few drops in coffee upsets my digestive tracts. I imagine the root cause of this intolerance is hormones and chemicals used in industrialized and processed milk.

  8. […] Skim Milk has the same calorie load as Soda (& 10 other Reasons to not Get Milk) ( […]

  9. shaydewey says:

    Milk is one of the only foods that I don't seem to be allergic to or intolerant of, I can't have wheat, corn, legumes, really any grains, bananas etc. I have cut milk out of diet many times but I feel better when I have it as a source of nutrition. I don't eat meat but I consume milk products, which is just as bad ethically. I didn't ever really drink it as a child.

    I do agree that there has been a lot of propaganda preaching that you need milk, that kids need to drink a lot of milk to grow, I was a tall girl at 5'8 and 130 by the time I was 11, vegetarian and only had maybe 3-4 servings of dairy a month, so being without it didn't stunt my growth.

  10. Zach says:

    1 & 2. The 2 (now 1.5) lbs of milk we’re supposed to consume is mainly for calcium requirements. We may get some calcium from other sources, but usually not enough to ignore the amount we get from milk. Not to mention that sodium beats out calcium at the kidneys for reabsorption, which is a big problem because of all of the preservatives in prepackaged foods. And the 1.5 to 2 lbs of milk per day is over the course of the entire day, not just one meal.

    3. European-descended ‘caucasians’ have evolved to be able to drink bovine milk, which is why it’s a better source for them.

    4. Skim milk may have the same Calorie load as soda, but it’s from NATURALLY OCURRING lactose, whereas soda is added sugar.

    5. Though this is true, people who are lactose-intolerant still can’t have much cheese or yogurt, maybe unless there are live cultures inside.

    6. Any allergy to cow’s milk is caused by a lack or absence of antibodies that neutralize bovine allergens. This is the same reason you shouldn’t feed any form of peanuts to infants until 12 months of age. If you’re worried your children might have this allergy, consult a doctor.

    7. For me personally, milk helps with heartburn, though it is fat-free and in small amounts. Getting rid of dairy from your diet will help if it is a trigger food.

    8. Again, I personally drink fat free milk (which isn’t absolutely fat free). Saturated fat is ‘bad’ for you, but remember that milk is not the only source of saturated fat.

    9. This is the only reason listed that might persuade me to stop drinking milk.

    10. Calcium is definitely needed for bone growth, development, and maintenance. We use vitamin D to absorb it our bodies do produce enough ssunlight to make vitamin D, but there are a LOT of people who don’t go outside or exercise often enough for this to happen. Also, so many people are worried about skin caner and sunburns that they put on sunscreen, which limits (if not nullifies) the process of making vitamin D.

    11. Milk is one of our natural, most available sources of calcium. Little by little, the government is getting involved in food and health matters for the BENEFIT of its citizens. I certainly wouldn’t complain if the government started advertising to eat more fruits and vegetables, but then an article might come out about how fruits and vegetables are actually bad for you…

  11. Baba says:

    who says? vegan industry is the worst propaganda machine. Cows give milk happily after they've fed their offspring, and that extra can be used for human consumption. Dairy is the nectar of life.

  12. Hannah says:

    I find it ridiculous that anyone would compare milk & soda for a calorie count.

    No, dairy isn’t good for everyone, yes there are ethical issues in its mass production–HOWEVER to quash the nutritional benefits by comparing it to soda is crazy.

    Did you know that 100g chia seeds have around 486 CALORIES vs skim milk 45ish & coke 38? OMG! (See? Ridiculous)

  13. Jen says:

    I believe this is completely untrue.

    The problem with dairy is America is the same as it is with any other food: It is processed. Pasteurizing and homogenizing milk takes out the lactase, which is the very ingredient that helps one digest the milk. THIS IS WHY PEOPLE ARE MILK INTOLERANT- THE PROCESSING OF DAIRY.

    Years ago, I would have believed in everything stated above, as I gave up dairy and meat. I found myself ill, my hormones unbalanced, depressed, and anemic. I also had IBS. I went to an Acupuncturist, who put me on the Weston Price diet. This is basically, whole,unprocessed, raw milk and dairy products, organic meats and fresh seafood, and organic grains that must be sprouted ONLY. No other grains. And, of course, organic fruits and vegetables.Fermented foods are encouraged. You are not allowed ANY SOY or processed oils. (only olive oils). Oils are not for cooking. Butter and full- fat foods are encouraged. Only natural sweeteners are used. It is basically a "back to the organic farm" diet.

    I was so taken aback, at first. Everything I had practiced and told was true about a low fat diet and cholesterol was being completely violated at first. I had been vegetarian for seven or more years in the past, and i was striving for that again actually, when she gave me this eating plan.

    I figured I would try it- I was miserable, and what I had been doing was not working for me.

    Low and behold, three months after moving to this diet, my IBS vanished (and has never returned for over five years), my fatigue and depression lifted, I LOST WEIGHT EATING WAY MORE FAT, MY CHOLESTEROL AND BLOOD PRESSURE ARE BOTH LOW, my hormones balanced, and I felt physically better than I had in YEARS.

    Milk is not the enemy, FAT is definitely not the enemy. AS USUAL, IT IS THE PROCESSING OF FOOD THAT IS THE ISSUE.

    I buy my RAW MILK, at a farm where I can see the cows I am getting it from. They are roaming or in large areas. They are not hooked up to anything; they are not fed hormones. I do believe in the ethical treatment of animals.

    Finally, all bodies are different. And to think the answers above, or any "one size fits all" approach is correct,is rather ludicrous. If people became more aware of their own bodies, and stopped listening to what everyone else says they should do, they would be much better off. One thing I do think would benefit all, would be to get out of the grocery store and back to the FARM. FOOD is a BUSINESS. It is the second largest American EXPORT, and it is not made for health, but for profit in most cases. ( an article about RAW milk).

  14. Ravi says:

    This is asinine. Any doctor who tells his patients that they don't need calcium in their diet should have his license revoked.

  15. R. Wheeler says:

    While I agree with most of the article, there is one section I would like to point out that does not seem to be quite accurate.

    8. Dr. Barnard,

    “It’s worth noting that milk and other dairy products are our biggest source of saturated fat, and there are very credible links between dairy consumption and both Type 1 diabetes and the most dangerous form of prostate cancer.”
    Now, I agree that there are definitely links between dairy consumption and diabetes and cancer. However, the fact that it is a source of saturated fat is irrelevant. Saturated fats are not bad for you.

    I personally follow a high fat/low carb diet, where fats (mostly saturated) make up about 70% of my daily diet (see #7 in the link). That being said, I researched my little heart out before I made such a leap with my health. I have never felt better in my life, I am losing weight, and my lab results are amazing.

    I believe that it’s the lactose and other things in the milk that links to different diseases, not really the saturated fat.

    However, for arguments sake, I would like to say (playing devil’s advocate here) that fat, when partnered with any form of sugar, then becomes a problem. Your body uses the sugar for energy and stores extra sugar and consumed fat, as body fat. This could lead to disease as well. But for the article to make a blanket statement, attaching saturated fats to diseases, I personally cannot agree with.

    Sorry, this turned out longer than I had planned.

  16. elephantjournal says:

    According to the American Heart Association, a diet high in saturated fats can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease. That being said, an individual's response to saturated fats can be varied. I'm glad you found a diet that seems to work for you. If you'd like to share it with elephant journal please write to

  17. Nichole says:


  18. Lucy says:

    Yeah, they say that, but it turns out there's no hard science behind it, just like there was never any hard science behind the low-fat diet, or the low sodium diet. The medical and nutrition industries make pronouncements based on inference and leaps of faith, and expect us to all follow right along… until one day they reverse course. People should experiment with their diet and find what works for them. It's ridiculous to think that any one size fits all approach would ever work for all people.

  19. robert crawley says:

    Ref. Donald Diamond’ Fit for Life’.

    the molecular structure of cow milk -vs- human milk is like basketball -vs- a golf ball in size. This would seem to explain why it’s hard to digest. Also, Elmers glue is distilled milk. Take out the H2o & lactose and your left with Casin…a very strong glue. Lactose intolerance is because after the age of puberty humans stop making the enzymes necessary to break down the lactose in milk.

  20. Mel says:

    Really !!! Cows do not roam freely, choose a mate, copulate, become pregnant, give birth in suitable surroundings, feed their babies for as long as needed, then 'happily give us the leftovers'
    Cows are kept prisoners, (the word 'husbandry' then comes into play) they are artificially inseminated to become pregnant. They give birth, not in a field but in a concrete floored pen, where the sex of the baby is checked. The girls are taken away to be reared for more milk making purposes. The girls are the 'lucky ones' because the boys are useless in the dairy industry and are dumped in the rubbish and left to die.
    I think the propaganda you have been hoodwinked by comes from the government.
    Quite apart from looking at this from a vegan point of view, do you really want to consume something so tampered with? Those cows are injected with hormones and antibiotics which end up in your glass and on your plate.