We are speaking of lactose intolerance in which a person is unable to digest milk and milk products because the body stops producing the milk digesting enzyme called lactase which is essential to break down the lactose in milk. People who retain the ability to drink milk are said to exhibit lactase persistence. Lactase persistence is hereditary. It is therefore evident that to really have a choice of whether to drink milk or not, one has to be lucky enough by birth!
The history and pattern of milk drinking also brings many interesting facts to light on the extent of choice in the matter. Lactose tolerance is not a capability that human beings have had all along. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University College London (UCL), human beings developed this ability only about 7,500 years ago (Vieru, 2009). So, human beings started drinking milk only very recently in the timescale of their origin and evolution. The first population or communities to have been able to drink milk and digest have been located somewhere between the central Balkans and central Europe. Before that it was generally believed that milk was first drunk about 5,000 years ago northern Europe in a culture known as the Funnel Beaker Culture because of the funnel-shaped pottery with flared rims that they used (Halloway, 2007). That would obviously lead to the question whether their pottery was funnel shaped because it was more convenient to drink milk out of them. Whatever be the case, there is no doubt in the fact that it is not culture but genetics that overwhelmingly determines the practice of consuming milk in any community. Accordingly, the annual consumption of milk varies from country to country. In China and Japan in which the lactose tolerant population is very small, the consumption is only about 3.6 kg per person per year; whereas in Ireland and many other countries which fall within the funnel beaker