The Times of India - Tuesday 11 April 2000
By Pritish Nandy, interviewing Maneka Gandhi
Submitted by Pravin K. Shah, Raleigh, NC
Ayurveda actually lists milk as one of the 'five white poisons'. She has stirred a hornet's nest with her campaign against milk. Even hardcore veggies have attacked Maneka Gandhi and religious leaders have openly come out to contradict her. Curiously, on her side now is global research and modern science, of which she has been a long-term critic. They are the ones who are defending her now.
You have come out very strongly against milk. Why are you so hostile to it?
There are three reasons.
Would you like to explain why you think milk is unhealthy?
There is this belief that milk is a complete food and an important source of protein, iron and calcium.
* Milk has no iron, however it also blocks its absorption.
* The ability of the body to absorb calcium from milk is barely 32%. Whereas the body can absorb, 65% from cabbage and 69%
* Milk has less protein than most vegetables.
Even if we assume it contains more protein, it would be useless for human beings. Because human beings require only 4 to 5 percent of their daily calorie intake in proteins and the daily consumption of Indian bread (Chapattis) and potatoes would give more protein than the requirements.
So milk is not the best food in the world as it has been touted for generations?
Milk is very difficult to digest particularly for Asians and Africans. Why do I not eat plastic? The reason is: I have no enzyme to digest it. We do not have lactose in our body and so we cannot digest lactose. If we cannot digest milk, how do we get any of its ingredients?
Apart from this, milk has something called the IGF-1. All cancer studies show that when IGF-1 rises in the body one gets cancer. All the IGF-1 in milk stays in the body, making you prone to cancer. It is also a very strong cause of asthma decease. In fact, doctors recommend asthma patients to avoid milk and milk products.
The problem with doctors is that they learn no nutrition in medical colleges. So they have a limited knowledge of food. Their knowledge of nutrition comes from the same source as yours and mine: Grandmothers and teachers. Add to this the confusion caused by our local religious leaders, particularly the ones who espouse vegetarianism.
What is specifically wrong in milk? What is specifically harmful?
The calcium contained in milk actually becomes a health hazard as undigested portions of it are deposited in the urinary system and become kidney stones. Another condition that milk aggravates rather than alleviates is osteoporosis or bone loss. Studies have shown that it is excess protein rather than lack of calcium that causes osteoporosis. So the more milk you drink, the more you are prone to osteoporosis. Countries like Sweden that have the highest milk consumption also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis.
Another misconception is that milk helps ulcers. Ulcers are caused by the corrosion of the stomach lining. When you drink milk it gives you immediate pain relief. But that is only temporary. Milk actually causes acidity and further destroys the stomach lining.
Also, ulcer patients who are treated with dairy products are found to be 2 to 6 times more prone to heart attacks. This seems only logical because milk is designed to be the food on which a calf increases its body weight 4 times over in one month! It is so naturally high in fat that it leads to obesity, the cause of all modern diseases. Ayurveda actually lists milk as one of the five white poisons.
Indians have been drinking milk for centuries. All of them did not fall sick.
It depends on what you call illness. Most people disregard arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma, headaches, and indigestion as normal for the body and cancer as an act of God.
By looking at milk as evil, are we not turning our back on our tradition and culture?
For thousands of years people thought the sun went around the earth. Copernicus was the first person who said it did not. There was a huge backlash against him. In the past in India there existed a tradition of Sati (cremating widow with her husband's dead body) and thugee and opium eating. Should they have been continued?
I have written a book on Hindu names for which I had to read every single Hindu scripture (sastra). Nowhere is there any milk drinking mentioned. There is ghee (liquid butter) mentioned and that too for havans (fire). Unfortunately our memories are short and the things we are most adamant about are those we know the least about. Dr. Spock was the guru for child nutrition, now apologizes for having advocated milk and says that children must be kept away from it.
Dr. Kurien has described the dairy industry as the gentle industry. You claim it is just the opposite?
The dairy industry is not gentle. The fact that supplies cater to demand makes the cow the ultimate victim. It may have been gentle when each household had its own cow and treated it as a member of the family. This is no longer true.
How is milk produced now in India?
The cow is forced into yearly pregnancies. After giving birth she is milked for 10 months but will be artificially inseminated during her third month. So she is milked even when she is pregnant. The demanded production of milk is more than her body can give. So she breaks down body tissues to produce milk. The result is an illness called ketosis.
Most of the day the cow is tied up in a narrow stall usually wallowing in her own excrement. She gets mastitis because the hands that milk her are rough and usually unclean. She gets rumen acidosis from bad food and lameness. She is kept alive with antibiotics and hormones. Each year 20 per cent of these dairy cows are sent illegally by truck and train to slaughterhouses. Or they are starved to death by letting them loose in the cities.
It is no secret that the slaughterhouse in Goa was constructed by Amul Dairy. No cow lives out her normal life cycle. She is milked, made sick, and then killed. Even worse happens to her child. The male calves are tied up and starved to death or sent to the slaughterhouses. It is not by chance that a calf is no longer called bachda in India. It is called katra, which means one who is to be killed. Even Dr. Kurien admits that in Mumbai every year 80,000 calves are forcibly put to death.
But milkmen (doodhwalas) love their cows. They live off them.
Have you seen how cows are milked? In the villages they practice phukan, a method of milking a cow. A stick is poked into the cow's uterus and wiggled, causing her intense pain. Villagers believe this leads to more milk.
In the cities they are given two injections of oxytocin every day to make the milk come faster. This gives her labor pains twice a day. Her uterus develops sores and makes her sterile prematurely. Oxytocin is banned for use on animals but it is sold in every cigarette shop around a dairy. Every illiterate milkman knows the word. In human beings, oxytocin causes hormonal imbalances, weak eye sights, miscarriages, and cancer.
Recently Gujarat started raiding dairies for oxytocin. In one day they found 350,000 ampules in just Ahmedabad!
You mentioned pollution in milk. What does that mean?
The ICMR did research on milk for 7 years and took thousands of samples from across India. What did they find?
* Large amounts of DDT, poisonous pesticides called HCH. Under the food adulteration act only 0.01 mg/kg is allowed of HCH.
They found 5.7 mg as an average!
* They found arsenic, cadmium and lead. These cause kidney damage, heart diseases, brain damage and cancer.
Their findings were based on 50,000 samples and the report was released at a press conference. What did Dr. Kurien and the Operation Flood people have to say? "More samples should have been taken!"
Other things put in your milk is sewage water, vegetable oil, and liquid soap. In some cases earthworms are put in because they excrete slime which increases the density of the milk!
You have said that drinking milk is drinking the cow's blood?
Milk and blood come from the same source: the body cells of the cow. Every time you drink a glass of milk, remember it comes from a sad, suffering mother whose own child was killed and who herself will be killed when she dries up.
Won't the stoppage of milk lead to thousands being unemployed?
A large number of people are dependent on smuggling, thievery, begging, drug pushing, gun running and terrorism. Do we buy their products to help them?
What is the substitute for milk?
What is the substitute to a placebo? Anything else such as soya bean milk, all green vegetables, and lentils (dal). My son has never drunk milk in his life. He is 6 feet and has never been sick a single day!