What’s the Deal with Milk?

by Kim on November 1, 2012

There’s a lot of controversy over milk these days.

Particularly, milk of the cow variety.

pitcher This is called a heifer pitcher and you can own one.

Among the top arguments are:

Should adults drink milk? For all other mammals on the planet, milk is just for babies. And cow’s milk is just for cow babies. (Yes, that is what they’re called.)

Is milk good for you? We’re all about milk because we think it’s good for our bones, and because a bunch of celebrities rubbed it on their upper lips. But some say the animal protein found in cow’s milk actually depletes the human body of calcium. (OMG what?)

Is drinking cow’s milk unethical? On many dairy farms, cows get injected with hormones to encourage them to produce more milk-like 10x more milk than a calf would ever need. The unnatural overproduction leads to infection, which leads to antibiotics, which essentially act as growth hormones…it’s all kinda ugly. (Regardless of the details, I’m generally of the belief that unnatural food preparation methods = negative downstream affects for the consumer of the food.)

Does cow’s milk cause cancer? The hormones used to increase milk supply in cows (allegedly) increase blood levels of insulin-growth factor (IGF-1) in humans that drink the milk. High levels of IGF-1 are linked to cancer.

Is milk the ultimate source of doom and despair? Consumption of cow’s milk has been linked to a massive list of health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, IBS, general stomach discomfort, and a zillion others. Not to mention 1 in 3 people are lactose intolerant.

Our family has kind of gotten a get out of jail free card on the whole cow milk debate-regardless of where I stand or what I believe, Mason’s milk allergy means we don’t touch the stuff anyway. But even if he grows out of the allergy someday, I might still opt for milk alternatives.

highchair Check out the massive baby hands!

For a long time, I was drinking almond milk, which was amazing. But when we learned that M is allergic to tree nuts, too, almonds and I had to part ways.

So now I’m on to coconut milk.

coconut milk I’m not a huge fan of the original flavor (tastes a little too tanning-bed-y for me), but I’ve heard the vanilla is pretty bomb. (Our grocery store is a little weak on the coco-milk selection, so I haven’t had a chance to try it yet.)

So now that I’ve found a milk for me, my next step is to pick one for the little dude.

Babies are typically weaned off breastmilk and onto a different form of milk when they’re around a year old, so I have a few more months to think about this. (Of course, that’s all controversial, too-what’s so special about the 1 year mark? And do toddlers have to drink any milk at all, or could they get that nutrition elsewhere?)

The reason I’m thinking about this now is that I happened to listen to Jillian’s podcast on the topic (#66 Fitness and All About Milk) during my run yesterday. In her talk, Jillian walks through some of the most common milk alternatives and why she’s for or against them.

The contenders include:

–Cow’s milk. Despite everything I just mentioned, J’s take is that you can feel free to drink it as long as you’re not lactose intolerant and the milk is organic, so none of that crazy hormone stuff is going on. But organic milk is pricey.

–Almond milk. Also OK, as long as it’s organic and non-GMO (genetically modified). Almond milk’s claim to fame is its massive amount of vitamin E, which helps make your skin all dewy and sun-kissed and whatever. Other than that, it’s pretty on par with cow’s milk nutritionally, except for a lower protein content.

–Soy milk. Jillian’s a little biased here, since I think hearing the word “soy” makes her physically ill. In her opinion, soy anything is a no-go (personally, I like my tofu and think it’s ok in moderation). J claims that, unless it’s fermented, soy is toxic to our bodies. It’s also (allegedly) soaked in estrogen, which puts it on trial for connections to breast and ovarian cancer. (Soy formula has even been banned in countries like New Zealand because studies showed it caused damage to the reproductive tract and immune system in babies. Not cool, soy formula!)

–Rice milk. Jillian says not to bother-rice milk doesn’t bring much to the table except carbs.

–Coconut milk. Jillian’s ultimate fave. She explains that it’s antiviral and antimicrobial, and includes the special fats that are almost always turned into energy rather than being stored as fat (love those!). It also has calcium, plus the vitamin D and magnesium your bod needs to absorb the calcium.

jm coconut

There are a couple other options Jillian didn’t mention, which are actually the ones I’m considering for Mason: goat’s milk and hemp milk. Both have super high fat and protein content, which is what you want in a baby-weaning milk.

My biggest concerns about these more obscure alternatives are: where can I get them and how expensive are they??

I’ve also been following some of my fellow bloggers’ thoughts on the subject. All three of these ladies have decided or are deciding what kind of milk to wean their babies onto:

Laury (already doing hemp milk)

Emily (considering goat milk)

Gina (considering hemp milk)

Lots to think about here…good thing I have 5 more months to sleep on it!


Do you drink a cow’s milk alternative?

What are your thoughts on the great cow milk debate?


P.S. Today’s the LAST DAY to enter the Adidas bag giveaway! Get in there! I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. :)


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