Nutrition & Health   > The Cow and Her Milk Safe or Risky?


By Richard A. Hansen, M.D. -- "Ahimsa," American Vegan Society, Jan 1998
Dr. Hansen is the Director of the Poland Spring Health Institute at Poland, Maine.


Dr. Virgil Hulse, a physician, veterinarian, and research scientist, has just published a book (Mad Cows and Milk Gate) outlining these dangers. One of the worst one is the feeding of unusable bits of cow and sheep back to the animals in the form of protein supplements. Most farmers did not realize what they were feeding their animals as the pallets are marketed primarily as animal protein supplement. Similar supplements are also given to cattle in the form of ground up chicken feathers, with inevitable contamination as is evident in any slaughterhouse or poultry factory. The American agribusiness is just as guilty of these practices as in England, supported by vehement denials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that there could be any risk to human health. Interestingly, as I write this article a news note comes through the AMA (American Medical Association) weekly physician's paper that the FDA decided to ban this practice, phasing it out by the end of 1996. But our government may have "closed the barn door after the horse had already escaped."


Cows and sheep and other ruminants are all by nature vegetarians. Thus it is biologically unnatural to feed a cow any substance derived from dead animals. First, these herbivorous creatures become carnivores, and later they are cannibals. Finally, they end up on the dinner table of the unsuspecting consumer. The meat from a dead cow with its bones, blood meal, and soy bean is mixed up into pellets, advertised in dairy magazines with colorful pictures promoted to increase the cows' milk production, thus making them "super cows." Common sense should tell us that this practice is a bad idea.


Last summer it was my privilege to speak on the subject at two camp meetings in Europe. On a flight back from Stockholm to London I met a fascinating couple. Breakfast was being served on the British Airlines plane. The gentleman politely asked the stewardess if the meat on his tray was beef. She replied tactfully, "No, it is not. We do not serve beef." The gentleman asked, "Is that the policy of your airline?" Replied the stewardess, "No, it is not our policy. We just do not do it!" One more question he asked, "Why?" She replied, "Because no one would eat it; and we don't like to waste food!"


So I had my bran muffin, fruit, and granola while the gentleman ate his slice of pork. After the trays were collected I turned to this man and engaged him in conversation. Both the business man and his wife were international consultants to the dairy industry, experts from California who had just spent a week on a British farm. The news they shared was interesting and not likely to appear in the London Times.


What I learned from these friends on British Airlines fascinated me. A compromise was reached. Three million cows were slated for cremation. This enormous multitude of cows waiting on "death row" could not be processed in a few weeks. What to do in the meantime? The cows have to be fed. And, to earn their keep the cows would be milked. Into the food chain went the milk of condemned animals who, given enough time, were likely to develop BSE.


Normally cows trust man, but man became their worst nightmare. Cows have become a primary recycling agent in this twisted society. We feed cows orange skins, almond husks, dead sheep and cows, and chicken manure. This unconscious cow cannibalism is supplemented by the feathers from chickens and turkeys, ground up and mixed up to become the final cow food. Fortunately, they don't know what they are eating or they would really get mad! Sold to the dairy men as dairy supplement that contains special bypass proteins called PNP, protected natural protein; this is used to get more milk from the dairy cow. Traditionally a single cow would produce 20 pounds of milk a day. Today the average is more than three times that much.


We wonder why there is not more BSE-like disease in the United States. But there is in America an epidemic of "downer cow syndrome" which could be a mutated strain of Mad Cow Disease.


The times in which we live call for a return to what I call the original diet: fruits, grains, nuts, and vegetables. I believe it is also time to advise our friends and neighbors to choose alternatives to milk. Avoid, too, the consumption of eggs; and, in short, make the diet completely vegan, without recourse to any animal products at all.


There are some wonderful recipes that can enable an average cook and homemaker to prepare healthful nut and seed based milks. I include a few, and we can offer many more in our recipe books and cards. All one needs is a blender, a little time, and some ingenuity. Commercial products are also available with milks based on the soybean, rice, and other grains. Solait, Eden Soy, and Rice Dream are just a few of the products available. Soy based cheeses are also easy to prepare and constitute excellent substitutes for any recipe that would use dairy based cheese, whose risks are too great. In soy based milks you will obtain more magnesium, an excellent grade of protein, and completely avoid the risk of lactose intolerance with its annoying symptoms of abdominal cramps, gas, and diarrhea. 75% of adults of Afro-American descent and as many as 40 to 50% of whites and orientals lack some or all lactose enzymes. These therefore have an intolerance to milk.


Galactose, another sugar in cow's milk, is normally transformed into glucose, even by the baby. Some infants, however have lactose intolerance manifested by the failure to thrive, a development of cataracts, and other symptoms. These babies usually do very well on soy milk. Bed wetting in children can be improved when milk is removed from the diet. Constipation is relieved, particularly in the elderly. Colic in babies is relieved when mothers breast feed their infants or use a soy formula.


But most important is the reduced cholesterol intake, the elimination of oxidized cholesterol, and the lowered risk of arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Powdered milk, powdered eggs, whey, smoked fish, meat, cheeses all contain oxidized cholesterol, a very toxic substance to the blood vessels. Cholesterol is found [for all practical purposes] exclusively in animal products, and it is best not to eat any cholesterol-containing food at all.


Of immediate concern, however, is the risk of cancer, now common in beef cows, dairies, and other domestic food animals. Pasteurization offers no protection against many viruses including hoof and mouth disease, lymphosarcoma virus, and the prions that cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.


These prions are so resistant that they survive radiation, formaldehyde, and heating to 360 degrees C. (700 F). Disease in animals has increased rapidly. The use of milk is becoming too unsafe for me to use it on my cereal.

I have just begun to discuss some of the reasons for total dietary veganism. The life you save may be your own. May you have health and peace also as you live in these momentous times.


Making Your Own Milks


Almond Milk

3/4 cup almonds, blanched
3-1/4 cups water
2 Tbs. sweetener
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup soyagen


Blend almonds with small amount of water first, then add remaining water and ingredients. Whiz until smooth. Strain, chill, and serve.


Cashew Milk Blend

1 cup cashew meal
1 cup hot water
add 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbs. sweetener
3 cups water

Blend all until smooth. Chill and serve.


Rice Milk

2/3 cup hot cooked rice
1/3 cup cashew meal
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbs. sweetener
3 cups hot water

Blend all until smooth. Chill and serve.


Oatmeal Milk

2 cups cooked oatmeal
4 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 ripe banana
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. sweetener

Blend all until smooth. Chill and serve.

Note: Non-alcohol vanilla is now available, extracted with vegetable glycerin.

Sesame Milk

1 cup sesame seeds, light
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups water
1/4 cup sweetener

Bring sesame seeds and water to a boil. Simmer ten minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Chill and serve.


Almond Milk (2nd variation)

1 cup almonds (soaked overnight)
5 cups water
1/4 cup raisins (or 2 Tbs. sweetener)
2 tsp. vanilla

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. You can either strain out the almonds or can keep in for a thick milk.


See Freya Dinshah's Vegan Kitchen for a method of water-extracting vanilla at home.