Ah, silly assumptions

A friend of mine mentioned lactose intolerance, and it didn’t take too long for someone to call milk ‘poison’, and another to say that we’re not ‘supposed’ to drink milk. Well, I’m pretty sure milk is not poison, given the number of cultures that consume it around the world and the sheer quantity of people that do that consuming. We’re not all dropping dead, so I would dispute anyone saying it is a poison. Sure, some people have bad reactions to it, but that’s not enough to label it a poison to everyone. If it were, then we would have to label water a poison because there are people out there who are allergic to it. Sunshine, too. Calling it a poison is just nonsense.

The claim that we are not ‘supposed’ to drink milk is an interesting one. There are a few arguments that come under this umbrella. There is the ‘it’s for babies not for adults’ argument, the ‘it’s for baby animals not humans’ argument, and the ‘prevalence of lactose intolerance’ argument. The vegan argument (it’s for baby animals not humans) is one that I’m not keen on having. It’s an ideological argument, and I just don’t buy in to the vegan ideology. It’s just not my thing, and not something I’m interested in enough to argue about.

The ‘it’s for babies not adults’ argument generally says two things. First, that milk is a concentrated form of nutrition that is suitable for fast-growing babies but not for adults, and second, that lactose intolerance inevitably develops after infancy. Milk is a very rich food, and full of good things like calcium and B vitamins, but it’s also pretty calorie-heavy. So drinking litres of it every day may not be the best way to stay trim, but it’s still a good source of nutrients. As for the development of lactose intolerance, I do not know enough about the biochemistry behind it to know about its patterns of development.

The argument that really gets me though, is the one that says that there are so many lactose intolerant people out there, so it’s obvious that humanity did not evolve to drink milk. This is one of my favourite fallacies – that humanity (or any species, for that matter) reached a point of perfect adaptation to their environment and just stopped evolving. It’s rubbish – evolution is always happening, as evidenced by the sheer numbers of people who have evolved lactose tolerance since the domestication of farm animals in the last ten thousand years or so. If we stop changing, if we stagnate, then eventually the human race would die out as its environment changed around it. But we can’t stagnate – biological processes continue to move us onward.

So. Milk drinking. Do it if your body can handle it and you like it. There’s no good reason not to.


2 thoughts on “Ah, silly assumptions

  1. cmdelislefm

    Yes. When you turn the last point on it’s head: there are so many people whose genetic makeup enables them to process milk that it’s obvious that they are supposed to drink milk, the evolutionary argument looks even more fallacious and arbitrary.


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