Book Review: Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth About Cow’s Milk and Your Health by Joseph Keon
Joseph Keon seeks to combat the cultural myth of dairy being a necessary part of a healthy diet perpetuated by the milk moustache ads with his book citing multiple scientific studies that have been swept under the rug by those being paid by the dairy lobbyists. Although Keon cares about animal welfare as well (and there is a chapter on the suffering of dairy cows), the book predominantly focuses on debunking multiple myths surrounding human consumption of dairy: the overly-hyped “need” for calcium, that dairy is good for children, and the idea that dairy prevents disease. Keon additionally alarmingly shows the various chemical, virus, and bacteria contaminants commonly found in dairy. Citing multiple scientific studies, he unequivocally demonstrates that contrary to what the dairy industry and government want you to think, dairy is actually bad for your health.
I’ve been a vegetarian for five years as of January 2011 (working on my sixth year). I’ve honestly stayed away from books on veganism, because I had a feeling vegans were right, and I could not see myself ever giving up cheese. How odd that I could give up so many other things I was raised on like bacon, chicken nuggets, etc… but not cheese. With my recent increased interest in my health, though, I had already decided to cut back on my cheese consumption, so I figured why not give a book on dairy a go. The first few chapters were definitely pushing the buttons I already subconsciously knew–we don’t need dairy, it’s unnatural to consume the milk of another creature intended for their young, etc…. Where I suddenly found myself nodding along and saying yes, though, was when Keon got into the similarities between how adults and children act about cheese and addicts. Keon starts the section by clearly defining addiction:
“Addictions are considered diseases because they are out of our control, often so much so that they lead us to behave in ways that are dangerous to our health. In its most basic definition, an addiction occurs when we are physiologically or psychologically dependent upon a habit-forming substance or behavior, to the point where its elimination from our life may result in trauma or suffering.” Location 721
Keon then goes on to explain exactly what about cheese makes it so addicting when we know it’s bad for us.
“Research has shown detectable amounts of compounds identical to the narcotic opiate morphine in cow’s milk. Study of the morphine found in milk has confirmed it has identical chemical and biological properties to the morphine used as an analgesic. A plausible assumption is that all mammals produce this opiate compound to make sure their offspring return to the breast to acquire essential nutrients and to bond with the mother.” Location 722
Whoa. So cheese, basically, is morphine. The chemical that is healthy for a calf to ingest as it causes her to return to the mother for food, comfort, and safety, when consumed by people causes us to return repeatedly in an addictive manner to a substance that is really, almost pure fat. WOW. You know those life-changing moments? I had one right there.
There are two other sections that are mind-blowing in Keon’s book. The first deals with multiple first world “diseases” that are often actually allergic reactions caused by prolonged exposure to the allergen–cow’s milk. When we take all races into consideration, most people are allergic to cow’s milk: 90% of Asian-Americans, 75% of African-Americans, 50% of Latino-Americans, and 25% of Caucasian-Americans (Location 900). Yet despite these known statistics, the federal government continues to push dairy onto schools at the dairy lobbyists’ urgings.
“The policy of pushing milk upon children in inner-city schools is particularly problematic when we take race into account. African-American children have a lactose intolerance rate of about 75 percent…..Worse, children who have made the healthful transition to beverages made from rice, soy, or almonds are out of luck when they get to school. That’s because any public school in America that attempts to serve these beverages in place of cow’s milk will lose its federal support.” (Location 2163)
Being constantly exposed to an allergen in childhood can cause or exacerbate multiple issues such as colic, irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, acne, asthma, headaches, Crohn’s Disease, chronic nasal congestion, fatigue, depression, joint pain, and even autism.
Keon also addresses the issue of osteoporosis and breast cancer, two issues of utmost concern for women in particular. Whereas women are told that drinking milk will help prevent the former and will not be a contributing factor in the latter, the science actually demonstrates both statements to be false. If a woman follows a typical Western diet, the consumption of that much protein causes her body to become acidic and leech calcium. Studies have shown that no amount of extra calcium consumed can keep up with the leeching. This means that consuming three glasses of milk a day will do nothing for a woman following an omnivorous diet. Add to this the fact that
“Milk has been associated with increased risk for breast cancer, and the combination of pesticides and radiation have been proposed as one possible explanation.” (Location 1816)
When the fact that dairy consumption does not prevent osteoporosis is combined with the association with breast cancer, one is left wondering why there aren’t government campaigns warning women to stay away from dairy to save their lives! (Oh yeah. The dairy lobbies. Money. It always comes down to money). Further, studies have shown that
By age sixty-five, women who have followed a meat-centered diet have lost, on average, 35 percent of their bone mass, while women who have followed a plant-centered diet have lost only about half that amount: 18 percent.” (Location 3195)
I’ve only touched on the surface of the shocking facts backed up by science contained in this book, focusing in on the ones that stuck out the most strongly to me. If you have any interest at all in your health and/or the health of your children, I urge you to read this book. Educate yourself on the facts instead of listening to government programs and advertising caused by dairy lobbyists who are only after your money. Dig for the truth. Read this book.
5 out of 5 stars