Here are 10 facts about cow’s milk that I wish I’d known sooner:

1. Cow’s milk is for calves, not humans. DUH. Why didn’t I realize that?!  Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do: to nourish their babies. But calves on dairy farms are typically taken away from their mothers when they are just a day old and fed milk replacers (including cattle blood) instead. Calves can’t drink any of the milk that was meant for them because humans take it.

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2. Male calves are often sold to the veal industry and killed after just a few (miserable) months.

veal, calf, baby, cow, dairy

3. Females are usually artificially inseminated every year so that they keep making more milk for humans.

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4. Cows on today’s factory farms are forced to produce four and half times more milk than they did a few decades ago.

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5. On many dairy farms, cows are dehorned while they’re fully conscious and without painkillers. This is an extremely painful process, as their horns are full of sensitive nerves.

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6. Cows naturally live to be about 20 years old. But in the dairy industry, they’re usually killed when they’re around 5.

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7. Humans are the only species on Earth that consumes milk from another animal. Pretty bizarre when you think about it.

8. Cow’s milk hurts the Earth. Each cow raised by the dairy industry consumes as much as 40 gallons of water per day.

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9. Cow’s milk is bad for your skin. The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that there’s increasing evidence of a correlation between acne and our diets. In particular, having acne is correlated with consuming a diet that has a diet that has a high glycemic load and contains a large amount of dairy products.

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10. Cow’s milk can harm your health, as dairy products have been linked to cancer. Um, no, thanks!

Need some help weaning yourself off dairy products? Check out our list of vegan milks.