What Is Milk Made Of? (from the cow to your cup)

Fun fact for the day: humans are the only species to routinely drink the milk of another mammal. All other mammals are weaned at an early age. Bit of a clue there? But anyway, today’s question is: What is milk made of? From the cow to your glass, is this product really as natural as the industry would have you believe?


What Is Milk Made Of (from the cow) ?

 Milk from the cow is made of 80% – 90% water. The remainder is carbohydrates (lactose), protein and fat with plenty of vitamins and minerals in there too. What you probably don’t want to hear about is the high hormone levels in milk and the pus and blood content. Yep, it’s actually a thing … nice :-/ 


Watch: Michael Greger M.D. on high hormone levels in cow’s milk

“Women trying to conceive should avoid dairy” – pretty unambiguous …


Related: Why Are Vegans Against Milk?


Cow’s Milk Is Mostly Water

Much like the non-dairy alternatives out there, cow’s milk is mainly water. The mass produced milk in your supermarket is primarily from a breed of cow known as the holstein and this product is around 87% water.

The other 13% comprises protein, fat, carbs (lactose), vitamins and minerals. Less prominent on the industry websites out there is info on the hormone content in cow’s milk.

Not to mention the concerns around pus and blood in your milk! Yes, you read that right. More on this below.

Mother cow must be pregnant in order to produce that white gold and much like a human mum, hormone levels are elevated during pregnancy.

This means that dairy milk is full of hormones like estrogens, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and progestins. In some countries cows are administered extra hormones to boost the production of milk.


Hormones In Milk. A Cause For Concern?

As I said above, the dairy industry doesn’t like to draw attention to the hormone levels in your pint of milk. But make no mistake, commercial milk is loaded with ‘em.

Close up of a dairy calf confined to a veal crate, separated from mum, not long after birth. The huge levels of hormones in cow’s milk have been linked to disruption in the endocrine system [1]. This is the body’s hormone production centre and it can have a big impact on human health.

If you take a step back and look at this logically, who is that cow’s milk designed to feed? It is specifically formulated, naturally, to take a newborn calf from 75 lbs to 600 lbs in 10 months.

Obviously, most dairy animals don’t get anywhere near 10 months on the teat but this is what the milk is designed to do … and the hormone content plays a big part in that growth.

When you consider the average human child puts on about 13 ounces each month you can immediately see the huge difference in growth rates between cows and humans.

Cow: approx 800 ounces gain per month.

Human: approx 13 ounces gain per month.

If that doesn’t make you sit up and question the nutritional advice from the powers that be then I’m not sure anything will.

It’s the same powers that be who are heavily lobbied by the dairy (and meat) industries.

… and no, that’s not paranoia.


What About The Pus & Blood Thing?

This is where it gets a bit gross … apologies!

In every bottle of cow juice you buy there’s something known as somatic cells in there.

Now, it’s true there has been quite a bit of fear-mongering in vegan circles around the question of pus in milk. Contrary to popular belief, somatic cells are not pus cells.

Dr Michael Greger M.D. provides a very balanced view in this article … and he’s a full-throated proponent of a vegan way of life. He could easily spin this up into something it’s not but he chooses objectivity instead.

So what’s the problem then?

Well, as Greger explains, the over industrialisation of milk production has resulted in extremely stressed animals … and stressed animals get sick.

Mastitis is one of the biggest killers of cows in modern dairy herds and it causes elevated somatic cell counts in the milk. In the US, the limits for ‘somatic cell count’ are the highest in the world because of the prevalence of mastitis.

“Rose milk” is blood in the milk and is another problem partly due to mastitis infections. Rough milking can also cause blood to enter the milk and in massive dairy herds you can imagine how the efficiencies may cause less attention to be paid to the milking process.

You won’t see rose milk on the supermarket shelves because it won’t sell but you can be fairly sure there is some blood in your morning glass.

So what with the pus and the blood and the fact that we don’t actually need to drink the stuff, why would you?


Time To Wean Yourself Off The Milk?

Every other mammal on the planet is weaned off their mother’s milk. It gives them the best start in life and then it’s over to the solids.

Thoughtful looking teenage girl looking into the middle distance, battling with a moral dilemma. Why would humans be any different?

In reality, the fact that 70% of us lose the ability to digest lactose after we stop consuming breast milk should be a pretty big clue.

We’re simply not designed to carry on drinking milk after a certain age. Let alone consume the hormone loaded lactations of another species.

It’s pretty obvious when you look at it rationally and objectively.

The only reason we drink such vast amounts of cow’s milk into adulthood is because the marketing men and women have done a proper number on us all over the years.

The lobbyists have huge swaying power and they’ve convinced everyone that milk is a healthy and nutritious necessity for human development.

Well, they’ve convinced nearly everyone. They hate us vegans because through living healthy lives without that white stuff, we’ve proven that they’ve been lying to you all along.

Is it time you ditched the dairy?


I hope this article has helped to answer your question today and has crystalised the issue somewhat for you. I’d love to know what you think so please leave your comments below – I always respond. Please also share this article far and wide using the social buttons.

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Thanks so much for reading and have a peaceful day 🙂



[1] Malekinejad H, Rezabakhsh A. Hormones in Dairy Foods and Their Impact on Public Health – A Narrative Review Article. Iran J Public Health. 2015 Jun;44(6):742-58. PMID: 26258087; PMCID: PMC4524299.

Calf Photo by Cottonbro Studio

Thoughtful Girl Photo by Public Domain Pictures



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