The Dairy Response implies that we have a specific vegan agenda.
If this were the case it would make little sense for us to include
a "Milk and Milk Alternates" group as a part of our food guide.
Indeed, if we were pushing a vegan agenda, we most likely would
be vegan ourselves -- the truth is that only one of the three authors
is vegan. We are not against the use of dairy products; we are well
aware that dairy foods are excellent sources of calcium, and their
use certainly makes it easier to meet calcium needs. Rather, we
are providing practical guidelines to help people who choose not
to consume dairy foods, or who consume less than the recommended
amounts, to ensure that their needs for calcium, vitamin D and riboflavin
are met. It is of little practical value to a vegan or near-vegan
to tell them dairy foods are a great way to obtain calcium when
it is against their basic ethical and moral values to consume such
products. If we, as health professionals, are to be of any real
assistance to these individuals, we must begin by respecting their
right to decide which foods are or are not acceptable.
1. American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic
Association: Vegetarian diets. J.Am.Diet.Assoc. 93:1317-1319, 1993.
Pages 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 16 - all criticizing materials
written on page 71.
Our critics at the Dairy Bureau of Canada went to a great deal
of effort to criticize materials that they took completely out of
context. By doing so, they made it appear as though we made statements
which were never made. Individuals who did not have Becoming Vegetarian
to refer to could not have known that this is what was done. This
tactic is not only unprofessional, but also highly unethical.
In the opening page of the chapter we discussed the mixed messages
people receive about dairy foods and the extreme perceptions, both
positive and negative of these foods. Then we try to put some perspective
into the issue by making two important points.
i/ Milk and milk products are major sources of calcium, vitamin
D and riboflavin. It can be a challenge for those eating a North
American style diet to get sufficient of these nutrients without
using dairy products.
ii/ Dairy foods are not essential to human health. People who prefer
not to use dairy foods can get adequate calcium, vitamin D and riboflavin
from an all-plant diet when it is appropriately planned.
Our exact wording is as follows:
"It used to be so simple. But, these days, North Americans are
receiving many messages about the use of dairy products.
On the one hand, our culture teaches us that milk and its products
are an essential food group; government publications tell us that
we must eat foods from each group to be healthy. Children learn
that if they don't drink their milk, they won't grow strong bones.
Adults get the impression that the best way to prevent. or even
cure, osteoporosis is to drink more milk.
On the other hand, we hear reports of cow's milk causing allergies,
congestion and diabetes. In fact, there are even recommendations
against using milk by some physicians.
So, what's the truth? Is milk nature's most perfect food, or is
In reality, cow's milk is neither nature's most perfect food (except
for a baby calf), nor poison. Canadian and American food guides
recommend that we consume, at different ages, in the range of two
to four cups of milk daily, or comparable amounts of cheese or yogurt.
Many North Americans and Europeans rely on milk and its products
as major sources of calcium, vitamin D and riboflavin. With the
North American style of eating, it can be a challenge to get these
nutrients without milk. But this doesn't make cow's milk an essential
1. "We find this manipulative and even somewhat inflammatory. The
word "must" appears in italics making the reader skeptical about
the reliability of government publications."
While the word "must" does not appear in Canada's Food Guide, it
is implied. Here is what Canada's Food Guide (Using the Guide) states:
"Each food group is essential. That is because it provides its
own set of nutrients." pg. 5
"The 4 food groups provide you with nutrients you need to be healthy.
" pg. 4
"You need foods from each food group because each group gives you
different nutrients." pg. 41
The words "essential" and "need" are very strong. When one uses
the word essential in nutrition, it generally means necessary to
life. After reading these kinds of statements, individuals just
may get the impression that they must include these foods in their
diet to insure an appropriate balance of nutrients.
The comment that this makes the reader skeptical about the reliability
of government publications is quite presumptuous. What we are doing
in this paragraph is simply illustrating one extreme in terms of
how people perceive milk and milk products in our culture, and why
they are perceived in this way.
1. Health and Welfare Canada. Using the Food Guide. Ministry of
Supply and Services Canada. 1992.
2. "It demonstrates the authors' intent to lead the reader towards
a blind faith acceptance of their beliefs." [referring to our use
of the word "must"]
The critics have no idea of what our beliefs are, as evidenced
by their comments about our "vegan agenda". To set the record straight,
our "agenda" is now and always has been providing vegetarians -
whether lacto-ovo or vegan with the information necessary to plan
a diet that will support excellent health at every stage of the
life cycle. The whole point of this first page was misunderstood.
We had no intention of leading the reader towards anything other
than a balanced perspective regarding the role of dairy foods in
1. " The authors do not cite any specific scientifically-based
reports. Testimonials are unreliable! Hearsay is just that. The
general public does not read scientific journals; they rely on the
media for information, the accuracy of which may sometimes be questionable.
Dietitians are aware that nutrition information provided by popular
media without documentation from a reliable, scientific source is
not reliable. By failing to reference their sources, the authors
invalidate their own claims. [referring to: "We hear reports or
cow's milk causing allergies, congestion and diabetes".]
The nutritionists at the Dairy Bureau of Canada state that we claimed
milk causes allergies, congestion and diabetes. We did not. This
sentence is taken completely out of context. We simply illustrate
the range that exists in how people in this culture perceive dairy
foods in relation to health. On one hand people hear that milk is
essential to good health, and on the other hand, they hear reports
of congestion, diabetes and allergies. The next thing we say is
"So, what's the truth?" To imply that we were dealing with the accuracy
of these perceptions, when we were simply illustrating the range
in how people view dairy foods is manipulative, particularly for
people who have not read Becoming Vegetarian.
Our critics go on to mention the unreliability of testimonials
and hearsay as though we used testimonials and hearsay to justify
our claim that milk causes allergy, congestion and diabetes. We
did not use hearsay and testimonials to justify this statement (or
any other scientific statement in the book) because we were not
attempting to justify this perception. Indeed, we do not agree with
this perception, and we say so very clearly. We find it most disturbing
that the nutritionists at the Dairy Bureau would spend so much time
refuting claims that we never made.
With regard to our references, selected references are included
in the text and an extensive list of references are available upon
2. "It is irresponsible to suggest that some physicians recommend
against using milk."
Is it irresponsible to report the truth? People in our culture
have received mixed messages about dairy foods, and while much of
what people perceive is very positive, they have also been exposed
to negative view points, some of which has come from physicians,
such as Dr. Benjamin Spock, Dr. Neil Barnard, Dr. Robert Kradjian
and Dr. Charles Atwood. These physicians have sparked a good deal
of media interest, and it would have been difficult for consumers
to have missed hearing some of these reports.
1. The points made in the section of Becoming Vegetarian called
"Reasons of Compassion for Animals" are valid points for discussion,
but they have nothing to do with the nutritive value of milk."
In this section of the book we were not discussing the nutritive
value of milk, we were discussing the reasons why people might choose
not to consume dairy foods. We felt that this subject warranted
discussion for the following reasons:
i/ To educate people, particularly health professionals, as to
why a person would want to eliminate dairy from their diet. For
a vegan, it is unacceptable to consume animal foods -- period. It
is of little value to tell a vegan that they must use dairy foods
as a source of calcium or vitamin D when that is contrary to their
basic ethical and moral principles. Simply adding lactaid to cows'
milk does not make it an acceptable food for a vegan. Their reasons
for eliminating dairy products go far deeper than a concern about
lactose intolerance. If health professionals are ever to be of any
assistance to those people who cannot or will not consume dairy
foods, it is important that we understand what compels them to make
that choice. Perhaps then will we be in a position to offer advice
that will be of real value.
ii/ Our food choices are not made solely on the basis of the nutritional
value of a food, but also economics, taste, availability, appeal,
nutrition and, for some individuals, the origin of the food, the
environmental impact of growing or raising that food and the affect
it has on other living creatures. Thus, in a book about vegetarianism,
we believe that not only are we justified in including this type
of discussion, but that we would be remiss in not doing so.
1. Criticisms about cows and dairy farming
Our critics fail to tell their readers that we are discussing the
reasons people have chosen to eliminate dairy under a section entitled
"compassion for animals". We are attempting to explain why people
are eliminating dairy foods due to concerns about animals. Once
again they quote us out of context.
2. "The reference to 10 million dairy cows in North America should
Our reference to 10 million cow's was from direct communication
with Ron Barker, a veteran spokesperson from Agriculture Canada.
1. "Who is served if farming practices revert back to the 1800's?"
The nutritionists at the Dairy Bureau completely missed the point
of the discussion. We did not state or imply that we should revert
back to farming practices of the 1880's.
1. "Veal has nothing to do with the nutritional quality of milk"
We never suggested that veal had anything to do with the nutritional
quality of milk. We are not discussing the nutritional quality of
milk in this section, we are discussing reasons why a person would
chose not to consume milk. Some people are very concerned about
veal-calves as a by-product of the milk industry and it is that
concern which motivates some of them to avoid dairy foods. For this
reason, it is deserving of mention.
1. "Calves are rarely tethered in Canada, Canada has a code of
practice, routine sub-therapeutic antibiotics are rarely used in
Canada, and calves are sold from dairy farms at an older age than
is standard practice in the U.S."
2. "About 40% of white veal calves in Ontario are raised in loose
housing or free stall housing, and this trend is increasing."
We are not arguing whether the way veal calves are raised is right
or wrong, rather that the perception of how they are raised motivates
some people to eliminate dairy foods from their diets. But since
the nutritionists at the Dairy Bureau bring it up, it is important
to note that while Canada has a code of practice, it is not mandatory
to follow this code. We found it rather ironic that right after
our critics tell us that veal calves are rarely tethered in Canada,
they quote the statistic that 40% of white veal calves in Ontario
are raised in loose housing or free stall housing. Can we correctly
assume that 60% of veal calves in Ontario are tethered?
3. "Milk hasn't changed. It still provides the same nutrients it
always has and its origin is still the dairy cow. Unfortunately,
due to material like this, the public's perception has changed."
[referring to "For some people, the origins of the white beverage
that we grew up on seem to be changing a little too much for comfort."]
We didn't state or even imply that milk has changed in its nutritional
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