Overthinking the “Right” Choice: Cow’s Milk

Everything about this topic is complicated. It runs from how the cow was born and raised to how it is treated, which leads to how the milk gets extracted (and how often). The process in obtaining the milk. What does it mean for it to be “ethical”? This is not a means to turn someone vegan/vegetarian…but to ask, did you make the best choice you possibly could?

If you have 50 mins to spare…BBC does a great documentary on the entire process. Keep in mind, this is the ideal factory farm; there are many areas that can be dug deeper.

When you head to a supermarket, the variety is vast. Why re-create the wheel when NOW magazine did a feature on this in 2014. Comparing the most popular brands of milk, there is a breakdown in the company’s operations and ethical/environmental contribution.

What does ethical milk mean to me? It’s knowing everything from treatment of the animals to the operational piece:

  • How many cows are there? What space do they have?
  • What do the cows eat?
  • How often are they milked? What method?
  • How do new cows get introduced?
  • Any hormones or non natural substances being used on them?

Let’s not forget about the workers also – who have to milk the cows and go through the entire process from beginning to end. It is important to ensure that they are looked after as well with fair wages, safe environment, etc….

With the lack of transparency behind brands, I’m finding the gap between organic milk vs conventional milk growing smaller (in Canada at least). I’m still trying to find out which is best – almost feels like information overload at times or perhaps i’m overthinking. It’s hard not to take the side of a vegan vs. nutritionist vs. environmentalist. Meanwhile, I’m looking it through the scope of who treats the animals AND people “right”, in order to produce the most “ethical” milk.

Additional Notes/Readings:
Vegan Perspective: IF you want the most extreme but eye opening truth (doesn’t apply to all farms but don’t be surprised if majority are like this). Caution – be weary of the aggressive words used. Visit Ethical Vegan

Health Perspective: In 2014 there was an article posted by the Globe and Mail that spoke on the health component of Grass-Fed vs. Organic Milk.

Government/Conscious Individual Perspective: Milk quality in Canada goes through very strict monitoring. They are tested for antibiotics – any found would require a new batch. Growth hormones are also not allowed to be used in Canada. The National Dairy Code provides these regulations per province.

Nutritionist Perspective: Another good opinion piece of noting the lack of difference in Organic Milk vs Regular Milk – visit Fitness Reloaded

To Ponder On: How do you know the choice you made was the right one?

Photo Source: Modern Farmer

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