There are a multitude of calcium rich foods from the plant world, so much so that you never need to worry that not drinking cow's milk will prevent you from getting enough calcium, whether during pregnancy or afterwards.
We have all been raised to believe that cow's milk is the end-all, be-all in calcium and bone health, but the facts don't actually align. An excellent book to read to learn all the facts about cow's milk and what it actually does to your health is Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth About Cow's Milk and Your Health.
Milk Doesn't Do a Body Good
There are hundreds of well-documented statistics about how not only does milk not do a body good, it actually leads to many illnesses such as acne, allergies, headache, back pain, arthritis, lactose intolerance, cataracts, heart disease, obesity, Crohn's disease, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, infertility, menstrual cramps, mad cow disease, and tuberculosis. If you deal with any of these diseases, I highly recommend you pick up Whitewash for more information.
The proteins in milk also act like morphine in your body and can cause you to become physically addicted to dairy products. That addictive property is the main reason why so many people struggle to stop eating cheese-- it's not just lack of willpower, but a physical addiction!
Why Aren't Adult Humans Weaned?
When you stop to think about it, it makes very little sense for humans to drink the milk of another species.
Milk is designed to take infants to the weaned stage, at which point they start drinking and eating solid foods. The same is the case for every species of animal; they all drink their mother's milk until they start eating their standard diet. Humans started to drink milk and its byproducts because it was readily available from their farm animals, and then they developed a taste for it. From there, the industry grew.
The Marketing of Our Health
Today, the dairy industry has done such an incredible job of marketing the health benefits of dairy (based on questionable data), that we believe everything they say and never stop to consider otherwise. Our governments subsidize the industry and are also elected with help from the campaign contributions of the dairy industry. It is simply part of our lives, unquestioned.
It's time to question the idea that milk is good for us.
There are so many calcium rich foods in the plant world. While cow's milk certainly has a lot of calcium in it, studies show that our bodies don't absorb that type of calcium as well because of the amount of protein in the cow's milk. Animal protein is highly acidic, and in an effort to balance the pH levels in our bodies after we eat acidic foods, our body takes the calcium out of our bones. It's better for our health to eat vegan calcium rich foods, rather than meat-based foods with calcium.
Studies show that an increase in the amount of calcium in your diet does not necessarily lead to better bone health. In fact, many studies show that those countries in which the most calcium is consumed have the highest rates of osteoporosis and bone fracture. The US Food and Nutrition Board's recommended amount of calcium daily is 1000 mg, and the World Health Organization recommenders between 400 and 500 mg. Anything beyond that amount does not do your body any good.
Calcium Rich Foods
(in one 3.5 oz serving, as reported in Whitewash)
You can even get vegan calcium from the water you drink. Depending on your area, you could be getting as much as 50 mg of calcium from one glass of water.
I hope this proves that it is not only possible, but incredibly easy to get plenty of calcium rich foods and still maintain a vegan diet. Getting enough calcium tends to be the biggest fear of new and aspiring vegans, as well as of the family members of a vegan. Again, this goes back to the fact that the dairy industry has done an absolutely amazing job with their marketing campaign for milk. It's time for us to start thinking without the help of marketers!
For more information on the vegan lifestyle and to make sure you're getting enough calcium, check out the Vegan Mecca website.