Butter Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  11 min read
butter benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Energy: butter is bad for / increases the risk of allergies, asthma, birth defects and sterility caused by pesticide exposure

Longevity: butter is bad for / increases the risk of antibiotic, dioxin and artificial hormone ingestion, antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, bovine leukemia virus (BLV) contamination linked to cancer, developing cardiovascular disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) linked to cancer, serum cholesterol, unhealthy pH levels in body

Appearance: butter is bad for / increases the risk of acne, dull completion, skin issues, weight gain

Butter is…

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: high, 5,553 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of butter / 665 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of butter

Carbon footprint: low, 1.8 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of butter or ghee, a car driving equivalent of 4.25 miles or 6.75 kilometers

Destruction: high, butter production is relatively destructive, land usage for pasture, grain and forage, solid waste (excrement/manure) runoff into soil and freshwater, deforestation for feed crops, animal agriculture leading cause of: species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction, responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction

Butter is…

ANIMALS

Kills: male calves, in most cases the dairy industry sells “unwanted” male calves to be slaughtered for veal, as pregnancy must occur for female cows to lactate and produce milk

Harms: cows, calves mother cow and calf distressed due to separation within 24 hours after birth, male calves slaughtered for veal, female calves fed artificially, locked in tiny cages, cows genetically modified to grow so obese that many become lame (unable to walk) shocked with electric prods, shackled with chains and dragged, beaten, prods poked up rectums, live last few months in crowded feedlots with hundreds or thousands of others, without pasture, often without shelter, must stand in mud, ice and their own waste, dairy cows eventually slaughtered for beef once milk production has ended

Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems, habitat contamination (water and soil pollution), wildlife habitat destruction (deforestation/land clearing), wolves and coyotes killed to prevent predation on livestock

Butter is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Butter has…

Where does most butter come from?

The world’s top butter exporting country is Ireland, followed by New Zealand, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, UK, France, USA, Belgium, Portugal. In the United States Wisconsin has the most dairy plants (199 dairy product plants). Other leading dairy processing states were New York with 123 plants and California with 114 plants. 

Is butter nutritious?

Butter contains vitamins A and E but is high in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, antibiotics and growth hormones.

What are some butter substitutes and butter alternatives?

Check out Switch4Good’s Dairy Free Meal Plan for recipes, ideas and tips on ditching milk and dairy for good!

butter is acidic when salted, neutral when unsalted.

acidic foods and alkaline diet to improve ph levels

Is butter alkaline or acidic? Butter is acidic when salted and neutral when unsalted. What is the pH level of butter? Butter has a 6.0 pH level when salted and 7.0 pH level when unsalted, once digested.

When you eat food, it is broken down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

butter is gluten free.

gluten free foods and what to eat on a gluten free diet

Is butter gluten free? Yes, butter is gluten free. Butter does not contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

butter is a common food allergen: milk.

the most common food allergens include milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is butter a common food allergen? Yes, butter is made from a common food allergen: milk. Many people may experience allergic reactions to butter.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

butter has a high water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does butter have a high or low water footprint? Butter has a relatively high water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of butter? It takes 5,553 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of butter / 665 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of butter.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource? Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake…quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

butter has a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does butter have a high or low carbon footprint? Butter has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of cabbage? It takes around 1.8 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of butter or ghee, a car driving equivalent of 4.25 miles or 6.75 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

butter is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is butter eco friendly? Is butter sustainable?

Butter production is relatively unsustainable.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

butter is not vegan.

vegan food to eat on a vegan diet

Is butter vegan? No, butter is not vegan. Butter is dairy, the byproduct of a cow, therefore making it an animal-derived food. A mother cow’s milk must be used in order to produce butter. 

According to Sentient Media, “more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day. Including wild-caught and farmed fishes, we get a total closer to 3 billion animals killed daily.”

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

butter has labor issues and human rights concerns.

labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is butter a product associated with labor concerns? At this time there are concerns associated with dairy production. It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may be associated with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even be subjected to harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment has been likened to modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Butter, without salt – FoodData Central – USDA

Butter, margarine, and cooking oils – MedlinePlus

Dietary fat – Better Health Channel

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.