According to the Swiss Animal
Welfare Ordinance, cows are only granted 90 out of 365 days to move
freely for two hours or a little more at a time. Almost 60 percent of Swiss cows live in barns that allow them to roam freely, which gives them a little more freedom of movement, but can also be highly stressful for them due to a lack of escape options in closed barns. As a result of the confinement, the animals are often dehorned, even on organic farms. Although more than 85 percent of all dairy cows in Switzerland (2020: 86.9 percent according to the Agricultural Report of 2021
) are kept under the conditions of the animal welfare program "RAUS", which requires the animal be granted regular access to outdoor areas, these areas are not necessarily lush green fields. A solid outdoor run with a concrete floor is sufficient to qualify for the subsidies for this "animal welfare service". Another little-known fact is that mother cows and calves are separated shortly after birth. Cows give birth to their calf after nine months of pregnancy – just like humans. When mother cow and calf are allowed to remain together, they usually develop a lifelong bond.
Thomas Stollenwerk's book also addresses the health risks resulting from increased consumption of milk and dairy products. In 2005, a scientific article caused a stir in the dermatological community after researchers at Harvard University described a possible link between the consumption of milk and acne among teenagers. Even though the link has not yet been conclusively determined, dermatologist Prof. Bodo Melnik, MD, is convinced that milk plays a far greater role than previously assumed in triggering a number of diseases. According to Prof. Melnik, milk is a secretion which, in the context of mammalian evolution, has the function, on the one hand, to nourish and, on the other, to ensure postnatal growth. Its amino acids send growth signals. When growth factors like insulin, amino acids, and cellular energy come together, a cell can divide and multiply. Each glass of milk provides an insulin kick for about an hour and a half and can increase the risk of developing diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, or cancer.
Thomas Stollenwerk studied political science and has been working as a journalist since 2013. His research focuses on the manifold social, ecological, and economic aspects of sustainability. In 2015, he became editor-in-chief of the magazine Biorama.
His work "Schwarzweissbuch Milch - Die Neuerfindung eines Naturprodukts - zwischen Mythos und Wahrheit" (Black and white book on milk - the reinvention of a natural product - between myth and truth) is available in stores and can also be viewed upon appointment during opening hours at the TIR library, where reading and workstations are available. Recent additions to the TIR Library are featured in the TIR Library newsletter.