In part 2 of The Root’s interview with the author of By Any Greens Necessary the subject of dairy comes up. The author, Tracye Lynn McQuirter, explains how the recommend daily servings dairy products in the USDA Dietary Guidelines disregard many people of color:
[The] majority of people of color in the United States cannot digest milk or milk products. That includes:
- 90-95 percent of Asian Americans
- 95 percent of Native Americans
- 65-75 percent of African Americans
- 50-60 percent of Latina/os
- 10 percent of European Americans
That’s a lot of Americans for the government to ignore.
One might even say the USDA guidelines are discriminatory. Luckily, even the USDA admits some people can’t or won’t consume dairy products. They suggest these options for calcium:
Sources of calcium for vegetarians include fortified breakfast cereals, soy products (tofu, soy-based beverages), calcium-fortified orange juice, and some dark green leafy vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, mustard greens).
McQuirter’s interview continues with another important point that applies to people of every skin color:
Another very important thing to remember is that we are SUPPOSED to stop digesting human breast milk after weaning because by then we’re developed enough to digest our regular diet. So our bodies naturally stop producing the enzyme to digest the lactose in milk. It’s abnormal for any species to continue drinking it’s mother milk beyond the infancy stage. Even cows stop drinking cow’s milk after six months!
Of course, these are all just health reasons to avoid dairy. There are also ethical reasons: