Saturday, September 27, 2008

are they serious?!

The brilliant people at PETA sent a letter to Ben and Jerry's asking them to replace the cow's milk they use in their delicious ice cream products with human breast milk. They apparently got the idea from some restaurant in Switzerland that is using breast milk in some of their soups, stews, and sauces.

Ok... are they serious?! How do you say this to someone with a straight face and expect to be taken seriously? I have several issues with this.... and I'm not really sure where to start. I'll try to organize my thoughts as best as possible.


2. Where is this Swiss joint getting all this breast milk? Which leads to the logical question of where would Ben and Jerry's get it? They make a lot of ice cream... so that's a lot of milk. Part of PETA's thing is that the cows aren't treated well - they're basically knocked up every 9 months so they keep producing milk, and they're forced to give way more than a baby cow would actually use. They also say that people are the only animals that drink the milk of another species, which they feel is weird and obviously against nature... or something like that. So... lets say we get rid of all the cow farms. How are we going to replace all that milk with people milk? With people farms? Where we knock women up and attach them to breast pumps? How is this a better situation? It's ok to do this to women, but not to cows?

3. Again, EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWAH! We're talking about juice squeezed from a person here (bonus points if you know where that quote comes from). Yes, milk is juice squeezed from a cow... but we're all used to that and it's "normal," and obviously I don't think about it when I'm drinking the delicious goodness.

4. Since the idea of people farms brought up in point #2 clearly would never happen (unless human trafficking changes from the sex trade to the milk trade... or maybe some harmonious blend of the two?), I again ask where would all this milk come from? People donating to the community? This raises all kinds of health concerns for me. All kinds of stuff can spread through breast milk - disease, drugs, funky tastes from food that was eaten... there's no way all that could be regulated. I think this goes against the PETA claim that it would be healthier than cow milk. (Yes, I know lots of people/groups have raised concerns about hormones, antibiotics, etc, being injected into cows and getting into the milk.... so you tree hugging granolas out there can spare me the comments.) And seriously - where is that restaurant getting its milk? Is there some knocked up chick or new mom sitting back in the kitchen just squeezing stuff out every few hours?

5. I saw an ad on PETA's page that claims milk is bad for kids. I went to the website listed on the ad (, and it makes these seemingly outrageous claims that completely contradict everything we've ever been told about milk. Example - we've all been told 2038234343082334 times to drink milk for healthy bones. This website states, however, that milk may actually cause osteoporosis. I find that claim... suspect. Until 5 minutes ago, everything I've ever heard or read, or been told by a doctor, is milk leads to good, strong bones. I drink a shit ton of milk, so ask me how my bones are in 40 years. The ad also states that milk is "linked to ear infections, colic, and diabetes." The phrase "linked to" raises several questions for me. The one thing I really remember from the stat classes I was forced to take in school was that people frequently incorrectly assume that correlation means causation. Simply having two things linked to each other really means jack shit. Kids could have ear infections for any number of reasons. Lots and lots of kids drink milk, so it's not surprising that there would be a statistically significant number of kids with ear infections that happen to drink milk. Does it mean the milk has anything to do with the ear infections? No. Most of what I've read on their page talks about specific reactions to milk - allergic reactions that cause stomach pain and increased mucus (which can lead to those ear infections and respiratory issues). I think taking these specific cases and jumping to the conclusion that no one should drink milk is absurd. Some people are allergic to peanuts - does this mean we should all eliminate peanuts and peanut products from our diets? I have asthma and I had lots of ear infections as a child. I never stopped drinking milk, though, and as an adult, I don't experience an increase in my asthma whenever I have a glass, nor have I had an ear infection in some time. Other issues listed on have to do with the fat and calories in milk and other dairy products. Obviously, you're not going to do well if you drink 6 gallons of whole milk a day, as well as down 2 blocks of cheddar cheese every afternoon. Olive oil is high in fat, but that doctor on Oprah constantly tells me how good that is for me, as long as I'm not drinking the entire bottle. Everything in moderation, people.

I'm not saying that PETA should totally be ignored all the time. I admire that they stand up for animal rights - there are times when bad things really need to get pointed out and fixed. I don't think this issue, however, is one of their better moments.

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