If Adult Cows Don’t Drink Cow’s Milk, then Why do We?

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After seeing a field full of cows and catching sight of a calf drinking milk from its mother, it got me thinking—if adult cows instinctively know that other cow’s milk isn’t made for them, then why do adult humans also not know this?

Not only that, adult humans would not drink a human woman’s milk—as they know, instinctively, that nature’s intention is that mothers produce milk for nursing babies.

So, it really is rather strange that humans are the only species to drink the milk from another species, and what’s even odder is that they continue drinking it long past the nursing stage.

A cow’s milk is designed for its calves. However, it is rare for a calf to ever drink its mother’s milk in the realms of the dairy industry.

To maximize profits at factory farms, within hours of calves being born, 97 percent of them are stolen from their mothers. The other three percent are taken away within days. On so-called “humane dairy farms,” calves are taken away within an hour, as farmers believe it is less distressing than leaving them for a day or more.

A dairy cow will lose her babies between approximately four and seven times during her life, which causes extreme distress and anxiety and takes an enormous emotional, mental, and physical toll on the mother.

Dairy cows spend pretty much all of their short lives pregnant, so they are in an almost constant lactating state. Instead of feeding their own babies their milk, it is pumped from them with machines and given to human children and adults. Cows carry their calves for nine months, the same length of time that humans are pregnant.

Mother cows have the same primal instincts to protect, nourish, and nurture their babies as humans do. The same way that any new parent bonds with their baby, mother cows do the same. Just as a human baby cries when its mother leaves the room, a calf will cry for its mother too. Cows and their babies have been known to cry out for each other for up to six weeks after separation.

If that isn’t enough to make us consider opting for a dairy-free alternative to milk, it’s worth noting that cow’s milk contains casein, which is a glue-like substance that makes up approximately 80 percent of milk’s protein. If someone has sensitivities or an allergic reaction to milk, it is most likely due to the casein element. Studies have shown that milk protein allergy (MPA) is known to affect up to 15 percent of babies during the first year of life, as their intestines and immune system is too immature to process this strong protein.

Cows that are treated with bST (bovine somatotropin) to increase their milk production are known to contain even higher amounts of beta-casein type A1 in their milk. Beta-casein is a protein that contains an amino acid called BCM-7, which acts like a powerful opiate and has been associated with numerous negative health effects and chronic illnesses.

Casein digests in our bodies so slowly that substances in it, known as casmorphins, break apart and act like opiates when they enter our bloodstream. This is also widely believed to be the reason that dairy is so addictive, and why it has even been compared to heroin.

Nature intended casein to be a bonding “feel good” sensation so that nursing calves would remain calm, and also so that they would have a strong connection to their mother and return for milking. However, as calves are weaned off their mother’s milk when they get older, the high cholesterols and fat in it does not pose a problem for them.

All dairy products contain casein, and it is the main ingredient in cheese—this is why some vegans struggle to quit their cheese addiction when initially changing diets.

One study, carried out by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, even links casein to cancer and concludes that “casein (the protein in milk) is the most relevant chemical carcinogen” ever identified.

Another study carried out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) also linked beta casein A1 to coronary heart disease and type 1 diabetes in 0 to14 year-olds. Numerous other studies have associated it with allergies, autism, and neurological disorders.

Drinking organic milk does not free us from the apparent dangers of milk, as it also contains fat, cholesterol, a variety of allergens, and 59 active hormones, including Growth Factor One (IGF-1), which is a powerful growth hormone that helps a baby calf gain hundreds of pounds in weight during the first year of its life. Despite this, many people still feed milk to tiny human babies and young children—even though research has shown it is a probable stimulater of cancer cells in young children and adults.

When we take all of this into consideration, it really does highlight the need for a serious discussion about why we drink cow’s milk as adults, but, more importantly, why we feed it to our own offspring rather than leaving it for cows to feed their own babies.

If all of this isn’t worrying enough, when we look at the dairy industry and what mother cows and their babies go through just so we can drink milk, it makes sense (both from a health perspective and a compassion standpoint) to opt out of the dairy industry and, instead, choose from the delicious, healthy, cruelty-free options that are freely available in almost every supermarket.

I personally found that the consumption of dairy, particularly when I was premenstrual, had a volatile effect on my moods due to the varying amounts of progesterone and estrogen contained in milk, especially when the milk was from pregnant cows. High levels of estrogen in our system can lead to unstable emotions, pain, irritability, headaches, sweet or salty food cravings, poor concentration, insomnia, sluggish metabolism, weight gain, and lethargy.

As soon as I adopted a vegan diet and lifestyle, I immediately noticed I was less bloated, I slept better, I had higher concentration levels, and I no longer suffered from abdominal aches and pains or headaches. I also felt far more energized, and my skin was much clearer.


“It’s not natural for humans to drink cow’s milk. Human’s milk is for humans. Cow’s milk is for calves. You have no more need of cow’s milk than you do rat’s milk, horse’s milk, or elephant’s milk. Cow’s milk is a high fat fluid exquisitely designed to turn a 65 pounds baby calf into a 400 pound cow. That’s what cow’s milk is for!” ~ Dr. Michael Klaper, MD


For a guide to becoming dairy-free, click here.  



Relephant Reads:

How Being Vegan Lowered my Anxiety & Cured my PMS.

Are We Really Animal Lovers if We Eat & Drink Them?

Science says Vegetarians have Higher Intelligence & are More Empathetic.




Author: Alex Myles
Image: Huffington Post
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis

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Alex Myles

Alex Myles is a qualified yoga and Tibetan meditation teacher, Reiki Master, spiritual coach and also the author of An Empath, a newly published book that explains various aspects of existing as a highly sensitive person. The book focuses on managing emotions, energy and relationships, particularly the toxic ones that many empaths are drawn into. Her greatest loves are books, poetry, writing and philosophy. She is a curious, inquisitive, deep thinking, intensely feeling, otherworldly intuitive being who lives for signs, synchronicities and serendipities. Inspired and influenced by Carl Jung, Nikola Tesla, Anaïs Nin and Paulo Coelho, she has a deep yearning to discover many of the answers that seem to have been hidden or forgotten in today’s world. Alex’s bestselling book, An Empath, is on sale now for only $1.99! Connect with her on Facebook and join Alex’s Facebook group for empaths and highly sensitive people.

Soren Brockdorf Mar 28, 2018 1:37am

What? you just posted an article about baby cows being ripped from their mothers at birth and now you post, "field full of cows and catching sight of a calf drinking milk from its mother."

Matthew Smith Oct 21, 2017 5:26pm

Alex Myles, I have evaluated the potential for cognitive dissonance, here, as of course that is an undesirable attribute to civilized discussion. I am hard pressed to believe that it is occuring on my end, but of course, true objectivity does not exist in humans, so I could be wrong. This detail notwithstanding, what I refer to as "silly" is not that humans are frowning upon and aren't drinking cow's milk, in general, but rather the notion that "cow's milk is made for calves and not people, therefore people shouldn't drink it". As I stated, the reason we cannot use this reasoning is that it implies a limited and specific design. It is clear, as I stated, that the bovine lactation process is clearly in place to support the early development of the young calf. But in addition to this, we seem to have stubbled on a food source that - as long its not chemically tampered with (which clearly it is, and is easy to see given your valuable data and research) - can sustain human beings. As are many other seemingly "odd" food sources. Seeds. for example, are "designed" to give birth to new plants. But guess what... we humans can eat them. Pumpkin seeds. Sunflower seeds. Chia, etc. The egregious part regarding the dairy industry is just that... Its an industry. Just like nearly all large scale factory farming methods, they are an abomination. So as I stated... Perhaps avoid the "store milk", and try out the organic raw milk from your local small scale dairy farms (which do exist all over the place). You may just find that your chemical composition agrees with it. Or it may not. It does for me. And my children, and many others that I know. And many of the small scale dairy farms have wholesome and upright, responsible farming methods that do not factor in all the offensive methods your information and/orthe videos point out. Some calves on some farms continue to get their mother's milk until they are much older than the information suggests (on the small scale responsible farms, that is). But they simply share the mother's milk with the farmer. Nothing is given to the cows on the farm with which I am aquainted, except pasture grass, hay, and corn/grass silage. No antibiotics, unless they catch certain illnesses, in which case their milk is often not used (depending in the antibiotic), and other such wholesome measures. This is a certified organic dairy farm. Granted they are few and far between, but what I propose here is some perspective to the demonization that is happening with the whole dairy world, in general. It doesn't heve to be portrayed in such a one sided light. That is all.

Alex Myles Oct 21, 2017 3:05pm

Thanks for reading it. I think it's so helpful to understand why we crave something as once we know why we generally can work ways to stop it. I swapped to dark chocolate, which I didn't used to like but love it now I've got more used to it, especially with mint or orange. It's only milk chocolate that contains milk.

Alex Myles Oct 21, 2017 3:03pm

I don't know either. I also have almond milk with cereals and find it complements perfectly and adds a lovely subtle taste :)

Alex Myles Oct 21, 2017 3:02pm

Thank you so much for sharing it onwards. Strange about the ad! Will mention it to elephant journal so they can send it to the ad team, thank you!

Alex Myles Oct 21, 2017 3:01pm

You're most welcome Bianca, I agree, it's so badly needed, it keeps me awake at night the abuse that these innocent animals suffer. Thank you also for being a supporter of ending this unimaginable nightmare for animals.

Alex Myles Oct 21, 2017 3:00pm

When you say you find it "silly" that humans shouldn't be drinking cow's milk I can only imagine that cognitive dissonace is occuring to cause you to blank out the horrendous and barbaric ways that mother cows and their babies are treated so that the majority of people can drink the marjority (97 per cent) of cow's milk. As for the health reasons, I specificially state that it is cows that are treated with bST, which is the majority.

Matthew Smith Oct 9, 2017 4:30pm

Something to remember about this "weird concept of humans consuming cows milk"... Humans are amazing organisms, each one differing slightly or excessively from one to another with regard to dietary needs, allergies, etc., We even differ within ourselves in dietary needs given various phases of our individual life in conjunction with seasons, demands we put on ourselves each day/week, etc. So to blanket cover "dairy is bad for humans" is itself an ignorant statement. Humans can use so many things as fuel. Our bodies are adaptive. I have been a raw milk drinker my entire life. As a farm kid, my brothers and I excelled at physical activities, had great muscle tone, were rarely sick, and developed amazingly. We drank A LOT of raw milk, ate homemade butter, yogurt, etc. It was not bad for us, at all. Store milk? That's a different story. The processes by which we kill the natural vitamins and replace it with synthetic ones, for example, is turning the balanced product that the animals body created, into an imbalanced one, using methods and compounds that we 'think' we know is ok. Insert the arguments against processed foods, here. An obviously tangential topic. This idea that "cow's milk is made for calves and not people" implies a very specific existential design in the works. I don't see signs on anything in nature that says "Humans can eat this, but not this". We try everything and see what happens, don't we? So to use this line of reasoning to push the idea that we shouldn't drink milk at all is silly. The majority of humans can consume milk from any mammal, if really needed. And as long as its kept in moderation, as with everything, our bodies can handle it, and in some cases, thrive from it. Does it seem gross to consume the milk of a horse, for example? Yes, only because it's unconventional. But it can be done. There are those that do in other countries. Humans can process it because we are amazingly adaptive. So it is not responsible to imply that it is unnatural, and that it is only "made" and "designed" for colts and foals. Or in the case of cows, calves. Sure, it seems obvious that the bodies of those animals produce it when they give birth to their offspring, implying heavily that the purpose of which is to nourish said offspring, but to insist that this is the ONLY purpose of that "food" is a little narrow-minded, especially when we have real feedback that some humans can use it effectively to survive and grow, too. Are you one of them? Maybe. Or maybe not. You have to try it and see. And try raw milk. From a local source. By the way, on our farm, we had more than one instance where grown cows drank milk. Some, who were what you'd call, "young adults" would nurse from a cow who was not their mother, after many weeks of not nursing from their own mother. Effectively, an adult cow drinking milk. In other cases, an unattended pail of milk would frequently attract an adult cow passing by it, who would subsequently drop their mouth into it and start chugging. In another instance, we had a cow give birth, and in the process, temporarily paralyzed herself (back legs) due to complications with the calf's positioning when it was birthed. The calf did not survive. We had to milk the cow by hand for a few weeks while she healed. She could not stand. We had to milk her while she laid down. We milked her into a flat trash can lid. No room for a bucket when the cow was lying down. While we did so, she was adamant about reaching this trash can lid as we sprayed milk into it. We opted to indulge her instincts and slid the "tray of milk" to where she could reach it, and she drank it up. We continued this process daily. She loved it when it was milking time. You could see her excitement. Her head bobbing around as we slowly filled the lid, in anticipation of the milk soon to be served to her. Unconventional? To be sure. Did it harm her? Not in any visible or measurable way. In fact, it seemed the extra nutrients could have possibly aided in her recovery. She eventually got up and walked again.

Valerie Maynard Oct 5, 2017 3:58am

thanks for this. I've been struggling to cut dairy out, and this really puts it into perspective. not craving milk so much anymore thinking about those poor babies :( what I struggle with the most lately is cutting out chocolate that contains milk products, though. Any suggestions? (I'm also gluten free)

Bianca Lane Oct 3, 2017 10:20am

Alex thank you for this article. It so badly needed to be said. It's true, too. In my area and nearby there are dairy farms and the babies are taken away. The calves are either hand reared or else sent to slaughter. Most males are reared and then sent to slaughter anyway. The females go back into the 'machine' to continue the cycle of misery. We might as well be drinking cows' tears. I quit dairy and never felt better.

Danse Lewis Oct 3, 2017 2:51am

The link to the study about casein being a cause of Type I diabetes actually states that there is not a correlation when adding in other (causal) factors.

Elephant Journal Oct 3, 2017 2:45am

Hi Jayne, Thanks for your note! It sounds like a "bad ad" snuck through. We try to remove those kinds from our network entirely, but we're not always 100% successful. The next time you notice something like that, we'd love if you could send us a screenshot to [email protected]! That way we can address it.

Mark Steed Oct 2, 2017 7:50pm

I don't know why anyone drinks cows milk. Ice cream, yea, I get that. I don't eat it mind you but, I get it. Back in the 1970s when I was a kid a doctor once said: "Milk is for a calf". He said back then that it wasn't healthy and had too many natural hormones that were dangerous to humans, weaned ones particularly. I eat a lot of breakfast cereals but, with Almond milk.

Jayne Schell Oct 2, 2017 4:56pm

unsettling that a shoe ad was streamed throughout your good article ... cow leather shoes

Stephani Conner Oct 2, 2017 4:12pm

Alex, thanks for another thoughtful article on the animal-food-products industry. I am sending this along to others. ...and then the ad that appears at the end of the article (on my screen anyway) is for fast-food cheese curds...