"Pyro Flow" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

From Scratch Media this is A Matter of Opinion, your guide through opinion to the facts. I’m [your name], and today we’re talking about [your topic].


Milk Does the Body Good. Or so they say…

Comment-enabled transcript

Veganism goes against everything we’re told about healthy eating. But who is our health teacher and what are their motives?

Healthy eating isn’t just a public issue, it’s a 702 billion dollar industry (Global Wellness Institute). Like it or not, lots of money rides on our beliefs about healthy food. The stakes are so high that there are major concerted, orchestrated efforts to control these beliefs, and the key players in this game of mass mind control are “big agriculture” and, most notoriously, “big dairy.”

From Scratch Media this is A Matter of Opinion, your guide through opinion to the facts. I’m Stephanie and today we’re talking about big dairy’s efforts to control your mind.

In Veganism is a Dangerous Health Trend, Ted Rogers (2017) gives voice to precisely the sort of resistance to a no-dairy diet that big dairy has been working to construct. Rogers’ arguments range from the human need for calcium to the superiority of “natural” foods. He is kinder than many are to vegetarians and vegans living in big agriculture societies, but he is gravely concerned about health. Without milk, we will get sick. The veg trend will burden our bodies and healthcare infrastructure all while decimating the agriculture industry.

Big dairy works very hard to construct Rogers’ argument for him. They lobby school boards to influence curriculum and offer schools free posters and activity books and buttons and even milk for school lunches. The Dairy Farms of Ontario report that in 2017/18 alone, the Ontario dairy education program reached over two hundred thousand students across nearly 2000 Ontario schools (DFO, 2017-18). This information is included in the “marketing” section of their annual report. In schools, they align their advertising with the authority of school knowledge. These efforts are complemented by food labels that depict happy animals, nostalgic notions of agriculture, and appeals to good old healthy living. To round out their efforts, big dairy immerses us in the best advertising campaigns money can buy. In America, in 2017, advertising expenditures for the dairy industry reached nearly 47 million dollars (Statistica).

Dr. Melanie Joy finds that these concerted, orchestrated efforts “constrain our rationality and freedom of choice”. They construct what is called “ideology” to make us believe that consuming animals and animal products like milk is “normal, natural, and necessary”, when doing so is really none of those things. Dr. Joy is a Harvard-educated psychologist, professor of psychology and sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, a noted speaker, and the author of "Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows."

In her Ted Talk, she tells the story of the slow change to her perception about food animals, the very few of the worlds animals we consider to be delicious rather than disgusting. She explains that it was in the hospital, recovering from severe food poisoning from a contaminated beef hamburger that she swore off meat and experienced a paradigm shift where she was suddenly made aware of the ideological construction of animals as food and she began to see them as sentient beings, no different from her dog, whom she would never chop up and fry.

Dr. Joy is joined by nearly 22% of the world’s population, which refrains from eating meat (Leahy, Lyons, & Tal, 2010). And she and this motley crew of nonconformist eaters present a real and growing threat to big dairy. “According to research from Dalhousie University, there are 2.3 million vegetarians in Canada, up from 900,000 15 years ago. Another 850,000 people consider themselves vegan. Those two numbers add up to 9.4 per cent of the Canadian population.

Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie, says the most “disturbing fact” for meatmakers is that the majority of Canadian vegetarians and vegans are under the age of 35. That, he says, means that the increases in vegetarians’ ranks will likely only ramp up as today’s vegetarians become a bigger part of society.” (Flanagan, 2018)

In light of the growing threat to its bottom line, big dairy has ramped up advertising, especially anti-alternative milk takes (Smith, 2018), and is increasingly pushing for new rules around what precisely gets to be called “milk”, “mayonnaise”, and “meat” (Baur, 2018). And it is here, in the realm of courts where the truth of the matter has a chance to emerge.

The court of law is one arena in which we must agree that things are knowable, that they aren’t just matters of opinion where everyone gets to agree to disagree. It’s in court that controversial issues are litigated and truth overcomes identity politics. We see this clearly in many instances of dairy organizations in the US, Canada, and the UK being forced to pull misleading advertisements that make false claims.

For example, in 2007, PETA’s complaints to the American Federal Trade Commission - an institution that works to protect consumers - about dairy advertisements that linked milk to weight loss lead to an investigation that concluded definitively that the research does not support the claim. The ad was no longer permitted to air (Severson, 2007). Here, research came between an activist group pushing an agenda and a corporation seeking profits to distill an objective truth: milk does not help you lose weight. No matter how much you do or don’t want to believe it.

Recently, in February 2019, Animal Justice, a Canadian organization tackling Canada’s animal welfare laws, reported that its work to remove a misleading dairy advertisement claiming that Canadian milk contained zero growth hormone was successful, too (Animal Justice, 2019). Milk contains growth hormone because mammals do.

It’s a fact whether you like it or not.

That’s a wrap.