Normal milk

A comment was made in a previous post about cows milk and whether it was normal or not.... this posed an interesting thought to me about whether cows milk is normal or whether human milk was normal for said infant son.

I have breastfed all three of our children, the first with far less success than the last but none the less I did it. All three of them have drunk cows milk since the age of two, with K having formula till then but L and O have preferred cows milk after weaning from me. For our children till at least 10 months normal milk has meant breast milk. Now for them normal milk is in a three litre container that is bought at the supermarket, and that between us all we use over 2 litres a day of.

So what is normal milk? for the person who posed the question I suspect soy milk or coconut milk is the norm, for O up till last week his norm was me, other babies normal milk is formula albeit mainly cow some have soy or goat due to dairy in tolerances, for me its standard old homogenised cows milk... but then as an adult do i really need milk at all?

And that's where i start to wonder, do i actually need milk, I know i need calcium to protect my bones from osteoporosis, but are there better ways for me to get calcium. I definitely like getting a nice cold glass of milk to drink, but i aren't sure that i can come up with dietary reasons for this, vegans don't drink it, do they have higher levels of osteoporosis because of this?

As I re read what I have written i feel i have created more questions than i have answered at all... but in future all references to normal milk in my posts will be in relation to the homogenised cow milk in the fridge. any other milk will be classified.

love D


Puerhan said...
February 15, 2009 at 10:29 AM

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I guess one key conclusion is that "normal" is a relative term!

For me there are a number of factors at play when it comes to consuming milk of any kind. These are some of *my views*, some really going back to first principles in a sense:

1. Milk is produced by animal mothers specifically for their offspring. That is to say cows produce milk for calves, human mothers produce milk for human babies and so on. The nutritional make up of the milk directly reflects this. Human mother's milk is known to alter in its make up during different growth periods and if the baby is sick, so as to provide the nutrition that the baby requires. Obviously somewhat dependent on the mother receiving adequate nutrition herself!
(see for example: and

3. Once a child (or other animal baby) starts teething this is a biological indication that they are ready to transition to solid foods. (Gradually via soft foods and reduction of mothers milk, not suddenly.) You can observe this in other animals species. For example lambs as they get older and start to teeth still suckle but rely more and more on grass as their mother pushes them away gradually). 'Infant Formula' is really only *necessary* where breast feeding isn't possible up until the baby can get their complete nutritional needs from solid foods. (And even then debatable in a lot of circumstances I would say! I think there are other healthier options!)

2. Humans are the only species to my knowledge that consume any form of milk beyond infancy. It doesn't make sense.

3. The dairy industry is not humane, that is to say, during the life of a cow being used primarily to produce milk for human consumption there is little consideration given to the cows well-being beyond economic requirements. (Note refers to *dairy industry*, small herd farmers, people with their own cow etc might be a different matter.) On one level there are the physical and emotional aspects of the cow's life (which no doubt different people have different views and feelings on), and on another level there are the methods used to respond to these. For example the use of antibiotics for mastitis which then get into the milk.

4. The dairy industry in NZ particularly, but also in many other countries (US, UK, France etc), dominates the whole public consciousness on milk consumption. Regardless of the best intentions of any individuals involved, the industry is driven by profit, not concern for human nutrition or health, nor for animal welfare. (This is the reality of any corporate industry.) Therefore, most public knowledge relating to milk consumption is based on corporate propaganda not science. (Also covered at the link in point 5 below)

5. Following on from point 5, actually science points to increased milk consumption most likely increasing chances of osteoporosis, NOT decreasing it.
See: (read the scientific evidence, the website title is a little sensationalist!)
Being vegan does not guarantee anything either though, the right *nutrition* is still required regardless!

In terms of my own consumption, I use rice 'milk' or water for cereal and occasionally soya 'milk'. (These aren't really milk though as they are water mixed with a grain.) I don't drink any kind of milk or any regular basis. I'm not (yet?) vegan as I still consume dairy in baking or processed foods, although very very rarely in my own home.

In terms of personal ethics, as far as I am aware, there is no *need* for any other human, or creature of any kind, to suffer or die so that I may live a comfortable life, therefore, I strive to live in a way that minimises the suffering and death of other creatures. I also realise and accept that the suffering and death of others through my actions is almost inevitable!

The above reflect my personal views and thoughts and I do not expect that other people will necessarily agree or hold the same views. I also understand that these views and thoughts might be very challenging to some people. I hope you or anyone else reading this are not offended and make your own choices that you are happy with.

All the best! :-)

DKB said...
February 15, 2009 at 8:29 PM

Well I thought I'd leave a comment and then found Elrond had beaten me to it and done a far better job. I can say I agree whole-heartedly with everything Elrond has said, but then I am somewhat biased :)

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