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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 713)...

    I have recently decided to give up dairy for health and animal welfare reasons. I cannot find any reference to dairy in daniel's books. I recently read an opinion that the drinking of cows milk is little more than a cultural tradition. I was wondering when people in human history started consuming dairy products and their reasons for doing so. I found an article from July 21, 2002 in The Sunday Times Magazine, uk "Cover feature: Is there a time bomb in your diet? Exploding the myths about milk" including the paragraph: 'Just 7,000 years ago, the first settled communities, with their new-found genius for growing crops and domesticating animals, were able to create a relative heaven on Earth, verily a 'land of milk and honey'. This phrasing reminded me of something familiar and wondered how it fitted in with 'the great forgetting'. I also gathered from this article that 7/10 people worldwide are lactose intolerant because dairy culture was largely confined to the Caucasian minority, and today most of humanity still thinks it a very peculiar practice to consume milk beyond the end of weaning, and even more peculiar to drink the milk of another species. So is cow milk drinking a product of taker culture? or am I rejecting a part of my leaver culture ancestry by giving up all dairy milk. I suppose what I am really asking about is whether it is true to say that people only started to drink dairy with the development or invention of the kind of agriculture that made people takers or was animal milk part of human life before then.

    ...and the response:

    Milk was almost certainly not a staple of the human diet until the domestication of cows and goats. Milk drinking, however, is not restricted to people of our culture. The Masai, African pastoralists, drink large quantities of milk and are not found to suffer from lactose intolerance, though many do not in fact absorb the lactose they take in.

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