Last week, several articles in Belgian and Dutch media reported about the positive effects of drinking (cow) milk. One of the main Belgian newspapers, De Standaard, had this headline ‘Professor debunks myth. Milk is required. Milk is good for you.’ (Prof ontkracht mythe, melk moet, melk doet je goed).
These articles followed a press conference organised by the Belgian Confederation of the Dairy Industry, in which it wanted to invalidate several ‘myths’ about drinking milk. These ‘myths’ clearly referred to the statements of health organisations and animal rights organisations that milk is absolutely not necessary for humans. In recent times, scientific research has shown that milk is absolutely not necessary for healthy bones (on the contrary even, some studies lead to suggest that consumption of milk might enhance osteoporosis). We can get all nutrients found in cow’s milk, from plant based foods. Furthermore, a large part of the human population is even lactose intolerant. Humans do not need cow milk, just as they do not need camel milk, dog milk or elephant milk. Not to mention the negative impact of the production of dairy on animal welfare and the environment.
Humans do not need cow milk, just as they do not need camel milk, dog milk or elephant milk.
What struck me as very remarkable in the coverage of the issue, is that the rolls were reversed as it were. Talking about myths! For decades, the message that one hàs to drink cow milk was the most normal thing in the world. Nearly all of us, as children, will have drunk cow milk, even more, for some it was obligatory in school! Most people did not even think about it. It was normal and natural, and we need milk, no? At least, that is what we thought, the result of years and years of milk indoctrination. Several campaigns however started debunking those myths, campaigns like ‘melk, je kan zonder‘ (=milk, you can go without). The fact that the Belgian dairy industry wants to invalidate precisely thàt message, and even holds a press conference dedicated to the issue, must mean the tides are turning.
I was pleasantly surprised (this time at least 😉 ) to read the online commentaries on articles that appeared in social media (for example on the facebookpages of Het Nieuwsblad and De Standaard, two main newspapers). A lot of people exposed and even mocked the message and exposed the true nature of this statement: propaganda of the dairy industry. Of course the Belgian Confederation of the Dairy Industry wants to sell their product! A lot of readers seemed to realise the apparent conflict of interest.
It reminded me on how the tobacco industry employed medical professionals in the 20th century in propaganda. With images of doctors in advertissements for sigarettes, sponsored by the tobacco industry. Sometimes even to underline the positive (!) health aspects of smoking, or to promote one brand of sigarettes over another.
Myths, that luckily have been debunked in recent times.
The times, maybe yes, they are slowly changing.
Originally posted in Dutch on our other blog Veggieleven: Over rokende dokters en melkindoctrinatie.