From the very first few days of your life the imagery is all around you. Glasses of whiter than white milk and happy cows enjoying a charmed life in lush green fields. So when you hear more and more people saying things like “quitting dairy changed my life” there is a natural disconnect there. If cow’s milk is so good for you, like we’ve been told, why do so many people report major improvements in their wellbeing when they quit the cow juice?
“Quitting Dairy Changed My Life”Sounds a bit ‘cheesy’ but you could soon be the next person who is happily declaring, “quitting dairy changed my life” because thousands of people are rejecting dairy every week with often rapid and remarkable results. Like all mammals, humans have no need to consume dairy after the weaning stage. That’s just a fact.
Watch: “ Quitting Dairy Cured My Acne! “
( Hard to ignore when there’s thousands of anecdotes just like this one from Rachel Vinn )
Health Issues Related To Dairy Consumption
Saturated Fat: Friend or Foe?
Whatever you think about saturated fat, the link to cardiovascular disease cannot be ignored. We have 70 years of science devoted to the issue and a number of more recent publications attempting to debunk that science really are to be taken with a pinch of salt!
Only a pinch though … think of your heart.
‘Science Journalists’ with zero scientific qualifications like Nina Teicholz are a great example. Surprise surprise, it turns out she has strong links to the animal ag sector even though publications of hers  state no conflicts of interest.
As of 2022 Teicholz enjoyed a healthy $144k salary as a board member of ‘The Nutrition Coalition’ … an outfit funded, in turn, by the ‘Global Food Justice Alliance’ which actively promotes meat and dairy campaigns, especially to children.
It unravels quickly for Nina when you follow the money.
Oh … she has a book to sell too.
If you’re interested in learning how this all works then grab a cuppa and have a watch of Chris MacAskill from Plant Chompers addressing these concerns … ‘enlightening’ is a good description of this excellent vid.
… and here’s a great dismantling of one of Teicholz’s influential, pro-animal fat articles. A piece which is like weapon’s grade red meat for the animal ag industry!
The article in question is now debunked everywhere yet her narrative has laid roots in the internet ecosystem and as we all know, once it’s out there it’s forever digitally immortalised.
Being vegan myself I’m obviously going to advocate for eliminating the major sources of sat-fat from your diet, seeing as animal products are the number one source … especially full-fat dairy.
But, in the interests of balance I cannot close this section without mentioning the accepted wisdom on saturated fat is being seriously challenged. This 2020 paper  perfectly illustrates the areas of broad consensus and those where there is disagreement among health professionals.
One thing they all agree on is the positive association between LDL cholesterol and heart disease. There is less agreement on how much of an effect reducing saturated fat has on the incidence of CVD.
Is the heart health benefit directly due to the act of lowering saturated fat in the diet or is it more about what you’re replacing that sat fat with?
Although it has to be said there is study after study showing the positive association of sat fat and LDL cholesterol. So I’d say it’s just a good common sense idea to cut back on the animal products generally.
I didn’t intend to write quite so much on saturated fat but you quickly find this is a very deep rabbit hole and I could easily devote this article to the debate. But what about other health concerns around dairy?
This is a contentious one.
You may be aware of the relatively well accepted associations between teenage acne breakouts and dairy products. Elevated hormone levels have been cited as the cause.
You can find endless anecdotes online where some poor soul has suffered with soul destroying acne breakouts in their adolescent years, only to have their skin miraculously clear up when they remove dairy from their diet.
While it’s true that anecdotes cannot be used to prove causation there does come a point when the volume of anecdotal evidence has to be taken into account.
… and we cannot neglect to mention the procreation issue.
We now have an increasing number of medical doctors recommending women avoid dairy when trying to conceive due to concerns around fertility.
Yet others strongly disagree. They claim any elevated levels of hormones in the human body due to the consumption of dairy are so small that there’s no way we’d experience any abnormal effects.
Cow’s milk naturally contains various hormones and many argue that, due to increased technological efficiencies, general levels of these hormones are more concentrated in milk from modern dairy units.
While illegal in the EU, to increase milk yields from US dairies, it’s common practice to regularly inject dairy cows with growth hormones (rBST).
Also known as bovine growth hormone, rBST stands for recombinant somatotropin and is a genetically engineered hormone specifically designed to pump a cow’s udder full of that white gold.
It’s been shown these synthetic hormones enter the milk supply, further compounding the problem and potentially creating whole new health issues.
In this 2016 study a shocking “83% increased risk of sporadic anovulation” was shown to be associated with the consumption of cream and yogurt. This was among perfectly healthy women with normal ovulation patterns.
While it’s true that corroborating studies are needed to bolster the data, we cannot be complacent and simply ignore these associations.
Apart from anything else, when it’s been proven we don’t actually need dairy to live a perfectly healthy life, why take the risk?
Who knows? … you might just feel a whole lot better!
If milk gives you bad guts then you’re certainly not alone and the reasons are genetic.
It’s well known that 95% plus of East Asians are lactose intolerant. This means they lack the digestive enzyme which allows humans to process dairy products beyond the weaning stage.
The enzyme is called lactase and nearly all of us produce it while we are breastfeeding. In most humans this production decreases rapidly when it’s time to be weaned off mother’s milk.
Once we are weaned we don’t need the enzyme any more and we become lactose intolerant. Well, most of us anyway.
Northern Europeans are the exception with a high occurrence of ‘lactase persistence’ into adulthood. It’s been suggested that close to 100% of Irish people possess the genetic mutation which happened shortly after our ancestors began to consume non-human milk.
If you don’t have this gene then you’re going to struggle digesting dairy. Even among those who can tolerate lactose, the variation among populations is stark.
You may be 50% tolerant which means you’re still going to suffer with some degree of digestive discomfort when consuming milk products.
The argument that lactase persistence is a clear example of natural selection in humans’ evolutionary path  may turn out to be a false positive when you consider the many other health issues with consuming dairy.
It can be postulated that drinking milk was necessary to survive the lean times our ancestors endured, but these days we really don’t need the stuff.
What Makes People Quit Dairy For Good?
Vegans avoid it for animal rights reasons but there are numerous other reasons people cite for quitting dairy.
The most obvious is if you have a milk allergy. But then chances are you realised pretty early in life if this is you.
The next biggie is lactose intolerance, which I’ve covered above. Most humans on the planet can’t even digest dairy properly.
Maybe you just prefer non-dairy alternatives. I absolutely love a creamy oat milk in my morning coffee. It’s much nicer than that fatty, greasy cow juice … in my opinion.
Health benefits are cited by many as the reason they quit dairy and never looked back. Reports constantly surface of people improving their digestion, experiencing a reduction in stomach pain and bloating when removing dairy from their diet.
What Is The Best Way To Quit Dairy Without Relapse?
This will be different for everyone. I went for the cold turkey option and the effect was really quite profound. I’d go so far as to say it was even a spiritual experience for me.
I was veggie for 20 years before finally taking the step into veganism but up to that point I was consuming a lot of dairy.
Cheese and salad sandwiches with plenty of butter on there every day at work. Often a litre or more of chocolate milk and sometimes another pint of milk the same day. Cheese regularly figured in our evening meals and then a bowl of cereal with full fat milk in the evening.
I guzzled the stuff down.
When I quit dairy there was a brief period which could be loosely described as withdrawal. Maybe 2 weeks where I had cravings, especially for cheese.
In fact, cheese is mildly addictive containing, as it does, compounds similar to morphine. Although the effect is very weak it is still there so this may partly explain why many people find it so difficult to quit that cheesy delightfulness.
If you find you need to slowly reduce the dairy and wean yourself off it then that’s fine too. Whatever works for you. We’re all different.
9 Things That Happen When Dairy Is Removed From Your Diet
Many of the same effects are reported by thousands of people who’ve been released from the grip of the dairy industry. They include:
- The skin clears up dramatically.
- Increased energy and vitality.
- A great improvement in digestion.
- Permanent weight loss.
- Increased libido.
- Much less bloating and gas.
- More agreeable bathroom visits.
- No more headaches and body aches.
- Overall improvement in gut health.
This is not an exhaustive list and looking at the range of improvements in general health, the question has to be asked: “were humans ever meant to consume dairy?”.
Now that I’ve removed it from my diet I’m convinced the answer to that question is a resounding “No”. I’m confident you’ll feel the same when you quit dairy too.
Find The Hidden Dairy In Day To Day Products
When you go vegan and start looking at the labels on the food you buy, you quickly realise there is hidden dairy contained in many products which you may have always assumed are dairy free.
There’s a few reasons for this and we take a look at the subject in more detail in the article: “Why is there milk in everything?”.
Let’s just say the tentacles of big ag reach deep into the consciousness of the consumer. We’ve all had a proper mind-job done on us over the years.
… and now you’ll find dairy in some chewing gum brands, potato chips (crisps) and many processed foods like biscuits and ready-meals.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg … although you should be ok with lettuce 🙂
Oh and watch out for ‘lactose free’ especially if you have a dairy allergy. I learned quite recently that lactose free products usually just have the lactase enzyme added so you can digest it more easily. They’re not free of lactose.
Is It Time To Change Your Life?
I chose to quit dairy because I learned of the brutal reality on modern dairy farms. The animals are just commodities … numbers on a spreadsheet.
The astronomical demand for milk creates a situation where the humane treatment of dairy cows is simply not possible. Farm workers have to detach from any kind of empathy just to get through the day.
Humans have created a daily living hell for dairy cows. Calf separated from mum at birth, with all the trauma that entails. Male calves are often shot in the head at days old.
A milking cow may last 6 years at best before she is utterly spent. Sometimes these poor girls are so knackered they can’t support their own body weight any more.
The farmer removes them from the operation with a crane and she is taken to slaughter where she ends up in a burger. The dairy industry is inextricably linked to the wider meat industry.
That’s the reality. That’s why I changed my life and quit dairy for good.
I couldn’t justify spending my money on a product that drives so much suffering.
Happily, I discovered the many health benefits of a dairy free life, which is a nice little bonus for taking an ethical stance on the issue.
Lift the veil from your eyes, have a peek at your life, free of dairy. It’s a more peaceful place 🙂
I hope this article has helped to shine a little light on the issue for you and answered some of your questions. If I missed something or if you disagree please leave your comments below – I always respond. Please also share this article with the universe using the social buttons.
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Thanks so much for reading and have a peaceful day.
 Teicholz N. A short history of saturated fat: the making and unmaking of a scientific consensus. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2023 Feb 1;30(1):65-71. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000791. Epub 2022 Dec 8. PMID: 36477384; PMCID: PMC9794145.  Ronald M Krauss, Penny M Kris-Etherton, Public health guidelines should recommend reducing saturated fat consumption as much as possible: Debate Consensus, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 112, Issue 1, 2020, Pages 25-26, ISSN 0002-9165, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqaa134.  Gerbault P, Liebert A, Itan Y, Powell A, Currat M, Burger J, Swallow DM, Thomas MG. Evolution of lactase persistence: an example of human niche construction. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 Mar 27;366(1566):863-77. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0268. PMID: 21320900; PMCID: PMC3048992.
Stethoscope photo by Thirdman
Spotted cow photo by Helena Lopes
Stomach pain photo by Sora Shimazaki
Blue cheese photo by Polina Tankilevitch
Person peeking photo by Noelle Otto