SO YOU WANT TO BE A VEGAN… (Part 2: Calcium)

Hello, friends. You may remember me from such posts as SO YOU WANT TO BE A VEGAN… (Part 1) and Nutritiony Things I Have Learned # 1 (Protein). Or perhaps this is your first visit to my weird little blog, in which I case, welcome.

In today’s installment of SO YOU WANT TO BE A VEGAN, we’ll be looking at some common myths about veganism, because there are about 735,000 of them, and we should probably make a start on that. Today’s myth concerns calcium, and why these wacky vegans refuse to get it from cow’s milk like everybody else.

So whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or frowning at your screen with a piece of bacon hanging out of your mouth, venture below for more information on those wild plant-loving scamps, The Vegans. *cue ’80s-sitcom-style theme song*

Myth #1: Vegans can’t get enough calcium because calcium comes from cow’s milk.

Before I vanished down the vegan rabbit hole, I believed what most of us believe, which is that milk is not only healthy, but a vital and necessary part of keeping our bodies from falling apart and dissolving into dust. And gee, I wonder why I had that impression.

Probably because every other ad on TV was telling me that milk was good and wholesome and built strong bones and Could Make All My Adolescent Dreams Come True~*~*~*~! But as it turns out, there isn’t really much actual science to back up all those claims about cow’s milk miraculously turning skinny nerdy kids into big, buff football players (or whatever your commercial of choice was purporting). In fact, there’s a significant amount of scientific evidence that milk doesn’t help  your bones at all.

But the calcium – THE CALCIUMMM!!!

So, let’s consider this question: Where do the cows get their calcium from?

As it turns out? From the grass they eat. Calcium is a mineral, and it’s found in plants that have absorbed it from the soil. Cows don’t just magically produce calcium in their milk – they get it from eating dark leafy greens, like grass. And while you yourself don’t have to eat grass (though you can if you want to – no judgment here), you can in fact  get your calcium from plants we do eat, like spinach, kale, collard greens, okra, and a ton of others.

I mean, really, think about this. Consider the logic here. The plants have the calcium. We want the calcium. So instead of just eating the plants themselves, which are perfectly delicious and nutritious and full of other good things, we’ve created an industry where we raise these animals who eat plants, feed them, water them,  impregnate them, wait for them to lactate, milk them, pasteurize that milk, bottle that milk, and then drink that milk so we can get the calcium that we could just as easily get from just eating some damn kale.

There is also, and I can’t stress this enough, the fact that drinking cow’s milk is weird. IT IS WEIRD. I mentioned this in my last post, but I really just can’t get past it, so I am mentioning it again.

Okay, so stick with me here. As babies, we drink our mother’s milk to get vital nutrients and the hormones we need for growth, and then we are weaned off it as we get old enough to eat solid foods. That’s how our bodies are meant to work, and it’s why so many people are lactose intolerant, because our bodies just don’t have any reason to be able to break down lactose (the sugar found in milk) after a certain age, because by all logic we should no longer be drinking it.

And yet, because we are inventive and endlessly weird creatures, we looked over at cows and said, “Hey, you know what? I know the whole purpose of milk is to contain everything an infant needs to grow, including a whole crap-ton of hormones which in this case are intended to help this little bitty calf grow into a giant-ass cow, but wHy DoN’T wE dRiNk ThAt StUfF?”

So, yes. In conclusion: Dairy tastes good. I get it. But even putting aside the weirdness of it and the animal welfare aspect  (see my previous post for more on that subject), the fact remains that cow’s milk is not doing anything to help “build strong bones,” and consuming it is just plain not good for us. Every other day there’s someone pointing a shaky accusatory finger at soy because it has “estrogen” in it (for the record, it does not – it contains phytoestrogens [plant estrogen], which have no effect on our non-plant bodies :P), and yet they seem perfectly content to consume endless streams of dairy, which contains actual estrogen, a slew of other hormones, and various other things that we would not want to put into our bodies if we hadn’t been so successfully marketed to.

So, yeah. Milk. I just…you know. I wouldn’t. :P

This concludes today’s installment of SO YOU WANT TO BE A VEGAN. As always, feel free to comment with questions or things you’d like me to address in future installments. Until next time~~~

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