Shira Lane: born in Israel, raised in Australia and returned to Israel to serve the Israeli Army. In 2001 Lane graduated from Entertainment and Performing Arts School, Beit-Zvi. In 2002 her television career launched with Israeli TV Drama series ‘Tipol Nimratz’. When the TV show run ended, Lane sought to return to her family in Australia, but due to severe dog quarantine laws, she diverted to Los Angeles, not to be separated from her dog.
Lane’s inquiries into milk started while she was in production on feature film ‘Magdalena’, with Dean River Productions and Inspirational Films. Lane’s allergy to milk and dairy products amplified upon arrival into the U.S. Lack of information from other documentaries, nutritionists and even doctors, motivated Lane to do her own research. The findings from medical journals and other resources are revealed throughout the film.
“I would have wanted my parents to watch this film, when I was growing up, and I hope the information in the film helps others the way it has immensely helped me.”
Hello. I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Happy, happy, happy new year. (Pop sound) That was the virtual opening of a bottle of champagne. I want to celebrate with you with a little glass. Here’s to a great year: health, happiness, and let’s move our species along a little bit. Here’s to some great evolution, some great things happening with humanity. I’m very positive about 2012. And while we’re making all of those promises to ourselves, all of those great resolutions about the things we’re going to do, the pounds we’re going to lose, the diet we’re going to improve, can we work on milk? When I talk to people about getting healthy, when I talk to people about some of the things that they might adjust in their diet—and they always know that they’re talking to me, the vegan—but the thing that I always make clear is that if I were going to eliminate anything in my diet when it came to all the meats out there and all the milk products, milk products would be the top thing on the list. And you may be going, “What? Milk? What’s wrong with milk?” Well, we’re going to spend an hour today talking about just that. I have a guest with me. Shira Lane is a filmmaker and created a film called Get the Facts About Milk: The Milk Documentary. She was born in Israel, raised in Australia, returned to Israel to serve in the Israeli army, and in 2001 she graduated from Entertainment and Performing Arts School, Beit-Zvi. In 2002 her television career launched with Israeli drama series, Tipol Nimratz, and we’ll find out what that means later. When the TV show run ended she thought to return to her family in Australia but due to severe dog quarantine laws, she diverted to Los Angeles not to be separated from her dog. We might want to know about that too. There are a lot of things I’m going to be talking about in this hour but I want to welcome right away Shira Lane.
Caryn Hartglass: Welcome to It’s All About Food.
Shira Lane: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Caryn Hartglass: Hi. How are you today?
Shira Lane: I’m doing fabulous. Thank you for the wonderful introduction.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I would read more…I recommend people go to milkdocumentary.com.
Shira Lane: Yeah, milkdocumentary.com. We tried to make it simple. You don’t have to go to movie.com. We tried to get everything possible so people can find us.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s good. And then people can read more about you.
Shira Lane: I’m not important. I think the film is more important than me.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh please. I think you’re important.
Shira Lane: That is very sweet of you. I completely agree with you that people are still in that belief that milk is really, really good for you and that we need to be drinking more of it. What is really funny is that Harvard just recently came out with this whole thing that milk is not healthy.
Caryn Hartglass: Harvard’s interesting. They put out some really good information. And it’s coming from Harvard. People should be impressed.
Shira Lane: I know. I was thinking maybe they got a hold of my documentary and that’s what promoted them to begin to do some research about it.
Caryn Hartglass: This information that’s in your documentary has been out for a long time. So, here’s the thing. I was looking just before the show started but I don’t have the numbers at my fingertips. But the budget for the dairy industry, their marketing budget, it’s some gigantic number.
Shira Lane: They have…I don’t remember it exactly either. If I’m not mistaken, I know that in 2007 I got my hands on some records and they spent approximately 180 million dollars on marketing. I’m sure that with the years they’ve increased that number. They’re really, reallt good at marketing. People tend to forget that this is a company that is for profit. Their job is to see you something you do not need. That is what advertising is. (phone rings) Sorry about that. I do apologize for that. A lot of people don’t understand. They think that it’s in schools so we should be drinking this. They are the smartest marketers that there is. If there is an award for the best marketing company ever, it goes to the people who market milk because they have been successful in getting into schools, getting in the infrastructure in government so that it’s really hard to get rid of. It’s just in the last 100 years that people think that milk is really healthy.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t like to sound negative and I don’t like slamming things. I always like to give a very positive image on things and this show is going to end this way but I’m going to bring up some things and I’m going to sound like I’m complaining. We are heavily marketed in this culture and we want to be able to trust our government but more and more we know we can’t. We want to be able to trust our doctors and more and more we know we can’t. We want to know that what we see on television is true and more and more we know that’s not true. There are a lot of people that still…it still gets to them even when intellectually they may know that it’s not true, there’s all this subtle stuff that gets into our subconscious. People think that they need to drink milk.
Shira Lane: People think that they need to drink milk because of the marketing companies. Here’s how it started. In the beginning they were telling us we need to drink milk for vitality. It’s going to give you energy but that turned out to be not true so they dropped that campaign. Then they decided on “Milk Makes Strong Bones.” There had this big ricket problem and really what happened is people weren’t exposed to the sunlight and they didn’t have Vitamin D. They thought that they should drink milk because there is calcium in milk. That turns out not to be true because when you drink milk your blood becomes acidic and any calcium you do drink really doesn’t do anything. Actually what it does do is cause osteoporosis and hip fractures because it’s pulling calcium out of your bones so they had to drop that campaign as well.
Caryn Hartglass: But that information still lingers and people still think that is true. We still see it: in magazines that promote that milk is good for bones.
Shira Lane: And the reason that we have that is because a lot of people in doctor professions do not get updated on nutrition. First of all, doctors do not receive any nutritional lectures or anything. Maybe they get a lecture or two but they really don’t emphasize nutrition. They emphasize what medication to give to what problem. So you should never go to your doctor for a nutritional question. And they’re only telling you what they’re seeing on television.
Caryn Hartglass: But they’re also telling you what they’re getting from the drug companies because the drug companies, this is important, they spend more on sales than they do on research and they print a lot of literature that they give to the doctors. Sometimes they wine and dine the doctors and sometimes they just get this promotional stuff in. And doctors don’t have a lot of time, especially with our crazy insurance system. They’re cramming as many patients as possible they can see. I don’t want to knock them but they don’t have a lot of time to get the information so they read these pamphlets and they get the wrong information.
Shira Lane: That is true. I’m not downing doctors. Doctors have a rough time. It is hard. I think it’s the educational part of becoming a doctor that they really need to increase the nutritional part. I mean, when you take your dog to the vet and its got diarrhea, the first thing the vet says is, “Have you changed its diet? Have you done anything different?” But when we go to the doctor with diarrhea, they don’t ask anything about what we’ve eaten or what we’re doing and the first thing they’ll say is, “Here’s this pill that will fix you and you’re good to go.” That’s really one of the reasons that I made this film because I came across so much information. There’s so much information if you just google the word, “milk.” You will see that there is a lot of information out there that milk is actually the worst thing that you can put in your body. It’s the last thing you want to do. If you’re thinking that you want to go healthier but you want to decide between milk or dairy, I say give up the milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely. I agree with you. Milk’s got to go.
Shira Lane: The reason that is, and I’ll simplify it, we’re not cows. We’re not cows so we’re not designed to drink the milk of cows and we’re not babies anymore. When we grow older we lose the enzyme called lactase that breaks down the lactose. And lactose—you hear a lot of people are lactose intolerant—and that is because the don’t have lactase which breaks down the lactose. Lactose is actually milk sugar. It’s the sugar that’s in milk. What happens is it sits in our large intestine and it gets all icky and then we’re running to the toilet, we’re gassy, we’re uncomfortable. This brings back another thing that’s in the documentary which is the school lunch program. The school lunch program…here’s back into how the dairy industry is really good at marketing. What they do is they say, “Let’s get into schools. Let’s teach these kids that milk is really good and they need milk to grow tall, they need milk to be skinny.” I mean, if they could say that milk could give you blond hair and blue eyes, they would tell you. They’ve gone even as so far to tell people that it will make you skinny and help you to lose weight. They had to drop that campaign in 2007 again because they were told that they had nothing to prove that this is true. So back to the school lunch program. What they’re doing is they put it into schools and the school lunch program is very important for communities that are very, very low-income. Usually those communities are communities of color. Usually the school lunch is the only place where they have like a real good meal. So a lot of schools really, really want to be part of this school lunch program. They want to have that food to give to the children. The problem is that the school lunch program is actually subsidized food. It’s food that the government doesn’t know what to do with so they’re like, “Let’s give it to schools. Let’s give it to hospitals. Let’s give it to prisons. They’ll be happy.”
Caryn Hartglass: Isn’t that amazing that we give the lowest quality foods to our children?
Shira Lane: To our children and people in hospitals. Yes. And then here’s another thing. We’re giving this milk…and we’re forcing it. Within the school lunch program it says that you cannot restrict the sale or marketing efforts of milk within the schools. So milk can advertise in the school. They can put posters up in the cafeteria. But broccoli? You can’t advertise about broccoli. That’s crazy. But here’s the thing. These people of color who are in the school lunch program and who are forced to drink milk, most of these kids are lactose intolerant. Now when you’re forced to drink milk in the middle of the day in school, you’re going to feel really bad and have these really bad bowel movements and you are forced to sit there at school. You’re not going to be able to concentrate. You’re not going to be able to excel in school. In a way, our foods are ruining the education of these children.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, like in the film you mention, or someone mentions that being lactose intolerant is actually natural and those who are able to digest lactose are like mutants.
Shira Lane: This is true. I know it sounds weird. But when any mammal…when we’re born, we’re born with the lactase enzyme that breaks down the lactose. We use that to digest the milk so we can digest our mother’s milk. When we’re finished weaning, our body naturally ceases to create the lactase because we don’t need to drink the milk anymore. Some people have after generations after generations after generations, like people in Northern Europe, continued to develop the enzyme to break down milk and they do not suffer from lactose intolerance. But 75%…between 70 and 75% actually to be more accurate of people are lactose intolerant. Of the world’s population, 70 to 75%. So if you’re lactose intolerant, it is normal. You are normal. You are not meant to be drinking milk. Milk is a food that is designed to make things grow.
Caryn Hartglass: Something that surprised me about the politics about milk…I’m just surprised that so many different organizations are not fighting about milk more. For example, you were just talking about the percentage of the population that cannot digest milk and so it’s really discriminatory to have these children who are lactose intolerant made to drink milk. Now certainly they can just not drink it but the school is not reimbursed per child if they don’t serve the child milk. And the parent has to jump through hoops to get a substitute for milk. So it’s really discriminatory. So why aren’t we seeing more organizations saying, “Change this policy because it’s racist.”
Shira Lane: You know, that is absolutely true. I would love, love to see more organizations fighting for it.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s because of this subliminal thing going on with marketing and media where we really believe that milk is important.
Shira Lane: That is true. And it hurts me and that is why it was so important for me to drop everything that I was doing and make this film. Because when I came across this information…here’s my story. I, my whole life, had been allergic to milk. I’m not lactose intolerant, I’m allergic to casein, one of the proteins in milk. But living in Israel it was really easy for me to do the separation because of the kosher do I really didn’t have to think about it. But when I came to America, I was getting sick constantly and I just needed to figure it out. So I started to do my own research. And then at some point I was like, “Wait a minute. I’m sure there’s a documentary out there about this. Why am I doing all this research? I’m sure somebody else has already done the work and in two hours I’ll be up to speed.” Well to my astonishment, there was nothing. There was nothing. I just dug deeper and deeper and deeper into this milk information that it doesn’t do a body good, it isn’t the best thing in the world, it causes cancer. There are so many things. And the hormones and the antibiotics in the milk. I just went on and on and eventually I became the crazy person at the supermarket telling people, “Don’t buy milk. That’s horrible.” And then eventually I was like, “I’m in the movie industry. Why don’t I just make the documentary? So I just stopped everything I was doing. I was an actress at the time. I was acting in a movie, Magdalena, when I decided to call my manager and say, “Sorry. No more auditions. No more anything. I am doing this documentary.” So I put everything I had into this because I just want…I don’t want children to suffer anymore. I mean, children who have got asthma, which is what I had. When I drank milk I had asthma, bronchitis. I was in the hospital two weeks with a collapsed lung. 50% of children are allergic to milk.
Caryn Hartglass: When I hear about children getting tubes put in their ears at such a young age because of all of the problems that they’re having and it’s all because of milk.
Shira Lane: And they won’t tell you that. The hospitals won’t tell you that. You go to the hospitals and you get taken care of and they give you dairy products as you’re coming out. There has to be…
Caryn Hartglass: There are so many things I want to respond to that you just said. I’m scribbling notes as you’re talking but let’s see what we get to. #1. I appreciate you saying it was relatively easy for you not to eat dairy while you were in Israel. I became a vegan in 1988 and I was struggling with how to do it and what happened was I went to work for an Israeli company and I spent three months in Israel and I decided to do it there just for that reason because it was easier and because people knew what was in the food and they certainly knew if there was dairy in the food and that made it really easy for me. Plus there are so many great vegetables and great things to eat that it was such a pleasure.
Shira Lane: I’m so glad and that’s true. In Israel it really is a lot easier. Although Israel is a very dairy-based place. They love their dairy there.
Caryn Hartglass: So how does this affect…what do people that are lactose tolerant do in Israel? How do the families handle people not consuming milk over there in the land of milk and honey?
Shira Lane: A lot of people are lactose intolerant and I think what happens is they tolerate it and they just don’t know that they are lactose intolerant. I think that some people that are really severe, they will know. They eventually find out what makes them feel crappy. But for most people they just feel like, “Maybe I ate something weird.” They don’t put too much thought into it because the problem is that milk is really in everything. It’s in our breads here in America. It’s in meats if you eat meat. It’s in gum. It’s really in absolutely everything that you can possibly imagine. It’s even in dark chocolate that isn’t supposed to have milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Well some of them do. You have to read the ingredients.
Shira Lane: Well most of them. It’s really difficult to find and that’s what really caused me to make this because it’s just in everything and it’s really hard to avoid.
Caryn Hartglass: What’s really crazy is I just took a food handling course here in NY, which you have to take if you’re going to be handling food or working in a restaurant. And I have some projects that I want to do in the future so I took this course which anyone can do online. And I really recommend doing it because you learn so much about the food industry that’s scary.
Shira Lane: Really? Like what?
Caryn Hartglass: Just all the rules that restaurants are supposed to follow to prevent the growing of all of these microorganisms that cause food-borne illness. When you read about all of the possibilities and what needs to be done to prevent or lower the risk, it’s just amazing that people are still walking around alive because I know a lot of restaurants don’t do these things or try and make shortcuts. So it was just eye-opening. One of the things they talk about are the foods that people are allergic to. One of the top things on there is milk and what restaurants are supposed to do at least at NY is if someone asks if there is milk in food or if there is an allergen in food, the servers are supposed to know. As a vegan, I’ve asked many different places and restaurants, “Is there milk in the food? Is there butter in the food?” And I get this blank stare from people sometimes unless I’m in a vegan or vegetarian restaurant. That’s scary because for me it’s a choice but for people who have allergies and issues to milk and can’t eat it and the servers don’t know, and they’re supposed to, it’s scary. Are you with me?
Shira Lane: That is so true. For some reason we got cut off. It is a problem that there is no education among the servers. And it makes it really difficult to eat out and trust. And what’s worse is it makes you a really bad person to dine with because you go there and you’re asking questions and they don’t know the answer and you say, “I don’t eat dairy.” And they go, “Oh my gosh.” Really?
Caryn Hartglass: They’re supposed to be respectful of you and give you what you need. There was a scene in your film about cooking with butter and making eggs with butter and the server was saying that everything had butter in it. It was crazy because there are things that the cooks don’t know how to do without butter or the servers don’t know if things have butter and things that I’ve heard very often when I ask for things that don’t have dairy and when I really grill them, they’ll say, “There’s just a little bit of butter. There’s not a lot.” And what I’ve had to say, and I don’t know if you’ve had this experience, is I’ve had to say if I knew I wasn’t getting their attention, “I will die if I eat dairy.”
Shira Lane: That usually will get their attention because then they’re thinking of lawsuits.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right. It’s all about money.
Shira Lane: Yes, unfortunately. I just wish that people had a better understanding of what is in our food. I mean, the reason I made this film was not only about milk but for people to start asking questions, for people to look into our food. Don’t accept as true whatever people are saying because that’s just not going to benefit you. You really need to look into food and see where our food is coming from because once you understand that, you will understand the importance of why it is that you should be healthy and why it is that you should eat in a certain way.
Caryn Hartglass: You kind of touched on it a little bit but part of the problem is when you go out to a restaurant, you want to have a good time—you’re with friends or you’re on a date or with family. And when you start to have a conversation with the server about all of the ingredients in the food it kind of changes the tone of the atmosphere and it’s kind of a drag. There she goes again talking about what’s in her food—what she can have and what she can’t have. And you really just want to be able to go and relax and order things. I look forward to a day when we can do that everywhere.
Shira Lane: I think restaurants…I’m here in Los Angeles and restaurants here have begun to be a little more friendly. I’m seeing more vegetarian meals but also non-dairy vegetarian meals. I think this is a growing trend where I think a lot of restaurants are forced to have a lot more healthier options. Usually what we’ll have is salad. Well, I just got some grain salad with olive oil.
Caryn Hartglass: There are definitely more options in many places but there are still lots of pockets, especially in Middle America, where it’s like time is standing still.
Shira Lane: That’s true. But I think in places, like LA and NY and in the main places, restaurants, to get younger, trendier people, it has to be a lot healthier. It’s not just the hamburgers and anything fatty. People are beginning…I think the revolution is beginning to get to our food and where our food is coming from. I think a lot of younger people in their late 20s, early 30s are really looking into their food. It’s more of a cool place, to go to a place that serves healthy food.
Caryn Hartglass: We’ve got a lot more people, a lot more celebrities, a lot more hip people that are vegan or are looking into the vegan scene or non-dairy. It’s definitely a positive trend. Shira, we have to take a short break and I want to talk a lot more about your film. Stay with us and we’ll be back in a couple of minutes.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. We are talking about the documentary, Got the Facts on Milk? And I have the director and filmmaker, Shira Lane, with me here on It’s All About Food. Got the facts on milk? Most people don’t.
Shira Lane: Unfortunately that is true.
Caryn Hartglass: I like to look at people’s expressions when I say “dog’s milk.” How about a nice cold glass of dog’s milk?
Shira Lane: The thing about that is that people find cow’s milk fine. But I tell them cow’s milk is really, when you look at the structure of the milk and you look at the structure of human milk, really we should be drinking human milk and not cow’s milk because at the end of the day we’re humans and not cows.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t know about that with some people.
Shira Lane: But people get grossed out by that. They go, “Oh my god. Really?” It’s OK to go to a cow. And there are two things to that. One: When you’re giving cow’s milk, especially to young children, the way that our milk, mother’s milk, human milk is built is to increase brain development. We develop a lot longer than a cow. When you consume cow’s milk, a cow is supposed to go from a baby to maturity within two years but a human is supposed to go from 0 to 18, 19, 20 years. That’s when we hit maturity. So when we’re looking at these different milks you see that each milk is designed differently. Each milk is designed for each species. It’s very species-specific. But another thing is if you want to drink and are like “Oh I’m grossed out. I’m going to go for an animal milk,” you should go for rat milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Rat milk?
Shira Lane: Rat milk. Rat milk. Rat milk is the closest thing you can get to human milk.
Caryn Hartglass: I didn’t know that. I thought rat milk had more protein in it than human milk.
Shira Lane: Oh it does but it’s the closest one…if you’re looking at different milks, it’s the closest one to human milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Nice. It would be hard to get a glass, though. They’re so small.
Shira Lane: I know. And then it’d be pretty expensive.
Caryn Hartglass: The point is: are you grossed out by the concept of drinking certain other animals’ milks and not others?
Shira Lane: I think people really don’t stop to think about it and that goes…that’s our issue that we just accept what the advertisements and commercials say. We accept what the media say and we don’t stop to think. We don’t stop to question, “Wait a minute. This is a company trying to sell me something.”
Caryn Hartglass: Well I’m absolutely convinced that many people could be marketed to drink dog’s milk. I mean it could take some time but the media can do anything. It’s done a lot already. Unfortunately. I’m just reading about how the law was passed about how we’re going to be able to slaughter horses for meat in this country that is something that has not been allowed for a long time. And so people think…some people think who are meat eaters that they can’t eat horse meat because it’s from a beautiful horse and we don’t think of horses in this country as meat. That there are so many things that we have been socialized to accept. It’s OK to eat cow in this country but not dog. But it’s OK to eat dog in some Asian countries but I don’t get any of it. I’m a plant-eater. I don’t differentiate. But milk is the worst food from any animal.
Shira Lane: I agree. That is true. Eating meat…I can go on about that. Before I made this documentary, I have to be honest, before I made this documentary I was not vegan. I just was allergic to milk, that was it. When I started doing this film and came across all this information about milk, then along the way it was inevitable for me not to see what was going on with the meat industry and all the other animal industries. When I came back to the editing room and I was sitting there and I was going through all of the information again, you know what, I was like I can’t do meat anymore. And that day when I started editing this film, I became vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow. Well I give you a slap on the back and kudos to you because there are many people who have written books and put out films talking about what is going on in the food industry and they still have not connected the dots. Absolutely. Let’s throw out a few names. Let’s talk about Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan. These people are always talking about factory farms and all of the dangers that are going on in their food and that they still believe that eating meat and dairy is OK. And there’s a long list of that. But OK, that’s fine, we’re humans. Let’s just … go through a list of things that milk is related to when it comes to health problems. You listed a few, but let’s list as many as we can because there are so many.
Shira Lane: Oh my goodness. There are so many. It would take me hours and hours.
Caryn Hartglass: OK, well at the top of the list milk is connected to at the very most breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer.
Shira Lane: Correct. And that goes back to…oh, do you want to just list?
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s just hit them. I just want to go bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, milk is bad because it increases the risk and is highly correlated with different ailments.
Shira Lane: That is true. It is connected with reproductive cancers because of the IGF-1 and the hormones in milk. That’s natural. Even if you have organic milk, you’re still getting the hormones because all milks have hormones in them.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a very good point. It’s still a high risk even with organic milk.
Shira Lane: Just because it’s organic…that’s better than regular I guess because you’re not getting the antibiotics that are in milk and all the other anti-inflammatory drugs that you have in milk. But what you are still getting are the hormones and these hormones are designed for a cow and also they’re designed for a baby to grow. So when you’re an adult and you don’t need to grow anymore and these hormones are in your body and looking for things to grow and you have carcinogens in your body—and everybody does, we don’t live in a bubble—these hormones go, “Oh these are something cool to grow, I’ll just grow that.” In countries where we have the highest consumption of dairy are the countries that have the highest rates of cancer. In our film, that’s what we did. We just looked at the data that said here are the countries that have highest deaths from cancer and here are the countries that have the highest dairy consumption. It was really one for one. And the countries that had no consumption of dairy or very little had no cancer reports whatsoever.
Caryn Hartglass: You could say the same for many other things, like osteoporosis.
Shira Lane: That’s true. Milk does cause hip fractures and osteoporosis. It really deteriorates the bones. It does not help to build strong bones. This is according to all of the studies in the film and everything is linked in the film so if you want to get the real studies, it’s all there in the film. But what the doctors and researchers are saying is that when you consume dairy, it causes your blood to become very acidic and when your blood becomes acidic it needs to buffer itself. So it needs calcium and it will take it from a place where your body stores it, which is the bones. And then what it will do, it will return the blood to the proper pH and then you will be urinating your bones to the toilet. What this also causes is kidney stones because then the calcium will sit there and you’ve got kidney bones. So you’re urinating your bones to the toilet and you’re also causing kidney stones.
Caryn Hartglass: Amongst many other things. Now you mentioned that there are hormones in the milk and that it’s one of the reasons that we don’t want to drink milk. These hormones are really meant to grow a little baby calf to a big animal in a short amount of time and no other reason. But that’s not the only bad thing in milk. The milk protein, or a number of the other milk proteins, many of them are too large or too difficult for us to digest and then they roam around in the body undigested and cause all kinds of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, which we don’t hear enough about.
Shira Lane: That is true. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to get into that in the film but that is so true. Cow’s milk is just not designed for humans. Cow’s milk is designed for a baby cow, meaning a calf. And I want people to understand. People usually don’t also think about what’s happening to the environment when we consume these products. Let’s just take it out from us and let’s look at the environment. When we are producing milk, we also have to make sure that the cow is pregnant every year. People don’t think that. We think cows just give us milk. No. Just like any other mammal, like a mother human, she has to have a baby so she has milk. So they impregnate the cow every year and they take the calf away.
Caryn Hartglass: And what happens to that calf?
Shira Lane: It depends if it’s male or female. If it’s male it will go to slaughter and become veal. If it’s female, it will probably go to become a replacement cow. Cows usually live until about 20 years but when you’ve got a milking cow they only live until about 4 or 5 because they become spent. They are impregnated every year. They get milked all the time and they just don’t last that long.
Caryn Hartglass: So many vegetarians who think that there isn’t any murder involved in eating dairy and eggs, there’s a lot of that that’s involved with dairy. The veal calves and then the cows aging and being treated so poorly that they die so young and go into hamburger.
Shira Lane: If you are vegetarian because you can’t think of killing animals then you should stop drinking milk because drinking milk actually promotes the veal industry.
Caryn Hartglass: There’s one other little ingredient that nobody really talks about and I don’t know if it’s that big of a deal but everybody cries about their cheese and says, “I can’t give up my cheese. I love my cheese.” And a lot of cheese, hard cheese, has rennet in it, which is not a vegetarian ingredient. It comes from cow’s stomach linings. Eww. Nobody talks about that.
Shira Lane: That’s a really good point. I did not know that.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh yeah. That’s an old story that nobody talks about anymore. A lot of the soft cheeses don’t use rennet but a lot of the hard cheeses are not really vegetarian. I mean there are just so many reasons. You’re talking about the environment. There are just a gazillion health reasons not to consume milk but there is a gazillion not for the environment.
Shira Lane: Yeah. When we talk about the environment…first of all, when you have a large group of cows and on a lot of farms there are now 4,000 or 5,000 to 10,000 cows…
Caryn Hartglass: They call those family farms too.
Shira Lane: They have cesspools. They have a problem controlling all of the urine and poop that goes on and that seeps down into our ground water and it contaminates the ground water. Apart from that we have a lot of E. Coli problems and this is caused by these huge factory-farming places that they are not disposing of their manure properly and it just leaks into our water systems and we have an E. Coli problem. Then you have the methane. Cows create methane. They burp it and they fart it and everything else. It comes out. And when you are constantly increasing the number of cows so that we can have consumption, you are creating more and more methane. What is methane? People talk about methane but don’t know what it is. We talk a lot about CO2. Let’s put it this way. Methane has 23 times the heat-grabbing capacity than CO2 . So 1 methane equals 23 CO2 and it stays in the atmosphere a lot longer. When we’re talking about the environment, according to the UN, the animal industry causes 18% of global warming footprint that we have. So if we’re really looking into the environment and you’re saying that you’re an environmentalist, you cannot be an environmentalist and consume dairy and meat.
Caryn Hartglass: This is the important point about animal agriculture and global warming. We’re talking about improving all kinds of technology for cars and factories and all of that absolutely has to happen. We have to get more sustainable energy sources to fuel everything that we do. I’m not saying that it’s wrong that we use fuel to do all of the things that we do, I just think we can do it all and have it all and do it sustainably. To upgrade all of our cars and factories…there’s a lot of great technology that’s out there already. To do all of that is going to take a lot of time and a lot of money. It’s going to take years. We’re spewing all of this CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and it’s going to take a long time to fix that. But what we can fix today is animal agriculture. I just want to correct one thing. The methane, yes, has 23 times the power of greenhouse gas atmospheric-warming potential but it stays in the atmosphere less. I think it’s about 8 years.
Shira Lane: Oh really?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. CO2 is in the atmosphere for about 100 years and methane is about 8. And that’s the good thing because when we reduce animal agriculture, the gases that are so powerful—methane and nitrous oxide—that are warming our atmosphere are not going to last in the atmosphere as long as CO2. So we’re going to do a great thing. We’re going to improve our health, we’re going to clean up the atmosphere fast, we’re going to give ourselves time to mitigate global warming and get all of these new technologies in place. It’s just win-win.
Shira Lane: That is wonderful news to know.
Caryn Hartglass: Well I think it’s on purpose. You interviewed Noam More in your film and he had put out a report. I was Executive Director of EarthSave International for about 8 years and we had a report that we published that he wrote and that’s where I got all of the information on global warming and animal agriculture. Noam More put that together. He’s quite a sharp guy.
Shira Lane: He is quite a sharp guy. He really is.
Caryn Hartglass: OK. Your film is great and people should really go see it because we need to paste over our old images of what it can do and get the fact on what it’s really doing. But can we talk about one person you had in your film, Isabel Maples?
Shira Lane: She was something else.
Caryn Hartglass: Was she a real person? She was such a moron. May I say that?
Shira Lane: Yes you may. For those of you who don’t know Isabel Maples, in the film we travel across the country and we interview a lot of researchers and doctors. No one from the dairy industry really wanted to talk to us because the dairy industry knew what we were doing the film about. Eventually I got a hold of Isabel Maples who is a dairy spokeswoman. We interviewed her in Washington, DC. When I interviewed her and I asked her all of these questions, she answered things that just blew me away. My cameraman—here’s a backstory—my cameraman had to walk out of the room during that interview.
Caryn Hartglass: Well I give you a lot of credit. You were very calm. You were respectful. You must watch this film, just this part alone, to hear this woman answer the questions and the stuff she says what causes to enter into early puberty, it’s just beyond nonsense. And she’s supposed to be an authority. And that’s what’s so scary. There are a lot of people out there in positions of authority that are educating the public and not only are they wrong, they are nonsensical.
Shira Lane: Right. They are pretty much teaching what they were taught. None of these people…and this is something to look at and this is what was really important in the film is I wanted to interview people that actually did the research themselves, that went in and wrote the reports themselves, that knew firsthand. For some reason I couldn’t get anybody that did research or that did studies that could prove milk, that could prove one good thing about milk. The only people that were saying good things about milk were people that were taught by the dairy industry which makes sense when you realize there is something here. From Colin Campbell to Neal Barnard…these are people that are hands-on with what’s going on and constantly doing all kinds of research and looking into things. They just could not stop talking about how we should stop now drinking milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Are you familiar with the Weston Price Foundation?
Shira Lane: The Weston Price Foundation? No.
Caryn Hartglass: OK. Well you might look into them and you might talk to some of those people. So they’re an organization that…they founded a lot of their information on Weston Price who was a dentist. I don’t have the whole story but he did a study a long time ago about whole grains and the effect on teeth. He was a dentist. And I think he went to Africa and discovered that people who were eating whole grains didn’t have the same cavity problems that we have and so he made this connection and said that it’s important to eat whole grains. Somehow these people came along and founded an organization on his early principles and then totally brought things out of perspective. So now they promote raw meat. They promote raw milk, unpasteurized. They’re promoting whole grains which is good. They put out some information that’s kind of credible and some stuff that’s just crazy. They say a lot of things about how raw milk is healthy. I’ve taken a few of their articles and tried to go to the first source of where they’ve come up with this information and it always leads me to junk. So that’s always a fun thing to do but people don’t have time to do that. When they’re reading a book and they see references in the back, they think this is a researched piece of information.
Shira Lane: That’s funny because I do the same thing. I do the same thing with the dairy industry whenever they have…they have this e-mail called the Dairy Download and they always come out with these new studies and then I go back to the links and I go back and go back until I find the original and usually the original research has nothing to do with what they were promoting.
Caryn Hartglass: I can’t say how important it is not to just spew out the sound bites that you hear. Go to the original source before you open your mouth. You might want to look them up because they are very powerful and they have a big following. They’re putting out a lot of, in my opinion, it’s not good information at all.
Shira Lane: I know a lot of people are really for the raw milk. People believe that if I get raw milk from a cow who’s healthy… Personally, I’m not a doctor. All I am is a documentarian. I collected all this information. I collected video of all these people and I put it together in a package for people to be able to observe all this information. And it’s a lot. But from what I’ve learned from the researchers and doctors that are there, raw milk or any milk, if you’re not a baby and if you’re not drinking your own mother’s milk, you shouldn’t be drinking milk. There is nothing good in drinking milk from another animal.
Caryn Hartglass: You may not be familiar with Dr. Benjamin Spock. I don’t know if you are. He was a well-known doctor in the United States about…I don’t know when he started. He wrote The Baby Book and The Baby Book is still out. It’s in a number of revisions and another doctor’s now writing it since he’s passed. But he was really respected and many, many mothers would go to their Baby Book by Dr. Benjamin Spock for many decades for information about how to raise their babies. When he was in his 80s and he was revising the book for the 7th Edition he stopped recommending cow’s milk for all people saying that it’s not healthy for babies and he became a vegan. He said in the foreword or in some part of the book that he had suffered from bronchitis for all of his life and when he stopped drinking milk it cleared up completely. When he put all of this information out, and he was a man who was so well-respected, all of these people started saying he was a nut.
Shira Lane: That he went crazy? That’s an easy way for the dairy industry to dismiss it. Like I said, it’s like going back to square one, the dairy industry is the most powerful marketing organization I’ve ever seen. They deserve an award for marketing. Really they do. Every award and any award they deserve because they have been able to establish a staple. They’ve been able to establish a staple and convince everybody of something that is healthy. I want people to think about this and think about the ’60s. When they were saying that cigarettes were healthy.
Caryn Hartglass: Good point.
Shira Lane: We had doctors saying that they smoked cigarettes and doctors advised to smoke cigarettes. Years later we find out that, oops, we were wrong. I think that the time has come again with milk. They’ve been advertising so long and people really haven’t stood up and questioned it. There have been a lot of people questioning it but I think that the media hasn’t gotten into it yet. The problem is that the dairy industry has so much money and so much power to put their message out as wrong as it is and as misleading as it is. The people that really know the research that can read the research and that understand it, they don’t have the money to put out that message. So that’s why I really wanted to create this film because I wanted to make sure that I give a platform to those people so they can speak and we can promote their message.
Caryn Hartglass: We need your film. We need many more that are talking about what’s wrong with dairy if we’re going to make a dent in combating in that force out there that is so huge. We just have a few minutes left. Can we talk about all of the great foods that are out there so that we don’t have to consume milk?
Shira Lane: Oh my goodness. So just for example, when I cook I like to use cashews. I make cashew cream.
Caryn Hartglass: I love cashes. Magical cashews.
Shira Lane: I know. They’re so good. I have a Bullet so we blend everything up. I take a handful of raw cashews, a little bit of water, and bang, you’ve got this thick, great cream for pastas, soups, whatever you want to use. I use almond milk instead of regular milk and I use almond milk in everything that requires milk. Every time it says to use milk in a recipe, I use almond milk and it works just fine. I really have no need for it. I have found other substitutes for cheeses. Unfortunately not all of the fake cheeses are healthy. There are substitutes, especially if you’re just getting off dairy. Usually it’s a good transition to find substitutes and there are…there’s a company that I really like called Daiya Cheese. It’s fabulous because my life partner is not vegan and he actually loves this cheese. He says that it is quite good. He’s my tester. It’s really funny because my partner is not vegan but he’s really slowly eating a lot healthier. He’s coming to…we’ve been together 3 years and said to me today, “When I don’t eat at home I don’t feel as healthy.” He’s coming around. There are a lot of healthy things that you can substitute instead of dairy. I really advise on nuts. I use nuts in everything. When you’re looking for calcium, first of all green, leafy vegetables have tons of calcium and so does sesame seeds.
Caryn Hartglass: Great Middle Eastern food. Sesame seeds and tahini.
Shira Lane: You can make some hummus because hummus has some tahini in it. Hummus, which is a great protein, and tahini are just great, fabulous.
Caryn Hartglass: I just want to mention that I have a nonprofit called Responsible Eating and Living. Our website is responsibleeatingandliving.com and I have a number of recipes for nut-based cheeses that you can make at home. They’re really easy to make and they’re delicious. I personally prefer the nut-based cheeses than the ones that are available in the supermarket but you have to make them at home.
Shira Lane: Those sound great.
Caryn Hartglass: I love cashew cheese and almond cheese. They melt and they’re just incredible. We’re not missing anything by not having cow’s milk. There are lots of great dessert books out there and we can just do it all. Really. But we’re at the end of the hour. We’re done.
Shira Lane: If you want to get the documentary, it’s at milkdocumentary.com.
Caryn Hartglass: Watch the film. Get it for your schools, for your churches and synagogues, and your community centers. Everyone needs to see it. You do not need a milk mustache, you need a green mustache. Eat your greens.
Shira Lane: Yes. Thank you so much for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you Shira Lane. Just keep doing what you’re doing.
Shira Lane: Happy New Year.
Caryn Hartglass: Happy New Year. Thank you for listening to It’s All About Food. I am Caryn Hartglass and please, again, visit responsibleeatingandliving.com. Have a delicious, delicious week and stay warm.
Transcribed by Jennie Steinhagen, 4/12/2013