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Yesterday, I wrote what I thought was a private letter to my friend New York Governor Andrew Cuomo about changing the state beverage from cow’s milk to almond, rice or soy milk. The press got wind of it and news of the letter, assumingly leaked by my friends at PETA, is everywhere. I should say I’m not upset about that, just surprised, and do think that it’s a good opportunity to share with you why I felt the need to send that letter in the first place and allow you to read the entire text from the letter itself.  

I made a conscious effort to leave out the main reason I personally abstain from drinking milk (or consume any meat/dairy products), which is the effect that industry has on the Earth and on the animals it tortures. Instead, I focused on the reasons why many people stop drinking milk which most of the time is for the benefit of their health. The truth is, eating meat and dairy is linked to heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and even impotence. 

With the health problems that dairy causes known, I also think it is important that we engage in a conversation about what affect the slaughtering of more than 27 billion animals for food has on our planet.  Most people still believe that the largest contributor to global warming is cars or factories or planes, etc. but that’s incorrect … it’s cows – raised for what else? Food. And what causes the change in our climate? It is the gas that the cows emit from their back-sides, methane, which is depleting our ozone layer.  A recent United Nations report concluded that a global shift toward more of a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change. Cows account for more harm to our environment, than all of the cars, trucks and trains around the world combined.  The chances of curing World hunger, the destruction of the Amazon Rain Forest and the Earth’s dwindling water supply are all being destroyed by factory farming. Albert Einstein said famously, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” 

And then there is my own personal reason for not drinking milk or supporting eating animals at all: compassion.

Many people don’t understand that humans aren’t meant to drink milk. Cows produce milk to feed their offspring just like human breast milk. In order to force cows unnaturally continue giving milk for humans, factory farm operators typically impregnate them using artificial insemination year after tortuous year.  After their baby calves are taken from them, mother cows are hooked up, several times a day, to milking machines. Using genetic manipulation, powerful hormones (which cause cancer), and intensive milking, factory farmers force cows to produce about 10 times as much milk as they would naturally.  A cow’s natural lifespan is about 25 years, but cows used by the dairy industry are killed after only four or five years.  Even die hard meat eaters often say, “Well, I wouldn’t eat veal! ” because most people are aware of the cruelty involved with baby calves. What most don’t know is that dairy is directly linked to the milk they are tossing into their morning java.  Watch the video of a typical day in the life of a dairy cow on a factory farm.  Leave a comment, I would love to read them. 

You may not want believe it when you hear the slogans like “Milk Does a Body Good,” but when you research the facts you will clearly see that physically, karmically and ecologically the alternatives of almond, rice and soy are the only proper choices.  

In my opinion, tens of billions of innocent animals that are born into suffering and then slaughtered is the worst karmic disaster of our time. If changing New York’s beverage of choice to another alternative is possible, the time to do that is now.

Let’s see what the Governor thinks, I will keep you posted.  

Russell Simmons

To read Russell’s letter to Governor Cuomo, click next.


The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York

Dear Governor Cuomo,

I am writing to request that the states official beverage be changed from cows milk to soy, rice, or almond milk. New York is known for its tolerance, but one thing that many of us are intolerant of is lactose: Approximately 70 percent of African-Americans and 90 percent of Asian-Americans get digestive problems from cow’s milk, which means that the state is contributing to a public health problem by promoting dairy products. Plus, studies have linked the high amounts of fat and cholesterol in cows milk to an increased risk of heart disease and obesity. Nondairy milk, however, is lactose- and cholesterol-free and contains as much as or more calcium than cows milk does.

For the health of the residents in the Empire State, I ask you to consider this request.

Thanks for your time and consideration. My friends at PETA and I await your response.

Respectfully yours,

Russell Simmons

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