Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is a debilitating, chronic inflammation of the digestive system that is incurable. Once it develops, it requires a very specific diet and can cause many complications.

It’s linked to dairy foods through the MAP (Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis) bacterium that causes Johne’s disease in cattle and other ruminants. MAP infection is widespread among cattle and is found in commercial cow’s milk (it survives pasteurisation) and goat milk (Naser et al., 2014; Dow and Sechi, 2019; Zarei-Kordshouli et al., 2019). That means you can get infected by consuming milk or various dairy products but also by inhaling MAP in fine water spray from rivers contaminated with cow manure. The infection doesn’t cause Crohn’s in everyone but if you have a certain genetic makeup that makes you susceptible, MAP may trigger the disease (Naser et al., 2014). It’s also been suggested that MAP may play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes (Dow and Sechi, 2019).



Dow CT, Sechi LA. 2019. Cows Get Crohn’s Disease and They’re Giving Us Diabetes. Microorganisms. 7 (10) 466.

Naser SA, Sagramsingh SR, Naser AS, Thanigachalam S. 2014. Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis causes Crohn’s disease in some inflammatory bowel disease patients. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 20 (23): 7403-7415.

Zarei-Kordshouli F, Geramizadeh B, Khodakaram-Tafti A. 2019. Prevalence of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis IS 900 DNA in biopsy tissues from patients with Crohn’s disease: histopathological and molecular comparison with Johne’s disease in Fars province of Iran. BMC Infectious Diseases. 19 (1) 23.

How to change your diet

Going dairy-free is not just a healthy choice, it’s also an ethical and sustainable one. If you’re used to meals based around meat and dairy, the idea of a plant-based diet may be daunting but we’re here to help make it super easy!

Sign up to our daily emails for a week to receive mouth-watering meal plans, nutritional advice and health information.

Try V7

If you want to try it for a month, sign up to 30 days of delicious vegan recipes, tips and product info… all free!

Try V30

All about dairy

Find all the above and more in Viva!’s ground-breaking resources:

An eye-opening guide Why You Don’t Need Dairy– presenting information on health, animals and the environment in an easy-to-read format.

A practical guide on how to cut dairy out of your diet and all you need to know to live a healthy and delicious dairy-free life: Everyone’s Going Dairy-Free

If you want to know more about dairy and your health and explore what scientific studies have to say, see the in-depth report White Lies


Scroll up