As a global community, even a local community, we have a highly effective voice with our buying power. New options in restaurants and grocery store with vegan and vegetarian options are a direct result of consumer influence; not conscience. There is a growing movement towards plant-based diets for a variety of reasons including health, environment, and animal welfare. One of the most notable changes has been in the way people choose to drink milk. But is all milk created equal?
Dairy Production is a fascinating political landscape
Dairy production is a fascinating political landscape. Milk marketing boards spend $20 – $40 million a year to advertise. You will notice that fruits, vegetables, or lentils don’t have to advertise their health benefits with expensive campaigns. But try as they might, recent trends are resulting in declining global milk sales. (Interesting fact: there is an increase in Asia, and conversely increased rates of cancer and heart disease.) I am noticing more milk commercials, and I have also noticed media campaigns targeting their competitors. There was even an effort to try to legally restrict the use of the word ‘milk’.
Here are some hard facts on milk:
- US dairy farmers have lost money every year from 2005-2016
- Subsidies equate to 75% of farm income
- Humans are the only species that drink milk from another animal
- Human breast milk provides lactose when an infant needs it, but the required digestive enzyme called lactase naturally declines with age as the infant grows
- Living conditions of livestock, including stress and an unnatural diet have altered milk yield and nutritional values
- Dairy is the number one allergen world-wide
- Clinical studies link milk to inflammation, prostrate cancer, acne, and more
Almond milk is the favoured replacement for dairy
Dramatic shifts in diet, whether well intended or not, usually have negative environmental consequences due to population. The move from red meat to fish, for example, has all but depleted our natural fish stocks. With a switch from dairy, this recent article explains the sad reality of consumer demand on the almond industry. Unnatural sleep cycles and pesticide use are devastating bee populations in California. California is the world’s largest supplier of almonds. With demand up over 250% production changes are not unexpected. Knowing you have choices, however, you can reduce your environmental footprint.
High demand of any consumable creates environmental impact, be it food, clothing, or cell phones. The growing global population, and their increased appetite for beef and chicken in the 1900’s are a perfect example. The pressure to keep pricing down so everyone could afford meat is what resulted in torturous, industrial farming models. And beef production is the largest food-related contributor to greenhouse gas, water use, and soil degradation. Almond production is following that trend, but it is important to note from this Feburary 2019 report that the water, carbon emissions, and land use still clearly show a vast improvement over the dairy industry.
Many non-dairy brands contain added ingredients
Now we need alternatives for both dairy, and almond milk. You can buy an array of non-dairy milks, or make your own. I have been making my own hemp milk for several years. You only need a strainer and a blender. It lasts about one week in the fridge and can be used anywhere you would use milk. Oat milk is also easy to make, but does take a few added ingredients. The benefit of making your own is also knowing exactly what is in your milk. Many store brands have additional ingredients, like sugar. Other store-bought options include soy, rice, and coconut milk. (Check my blog on health questions surrounding soy here.) Each offers it’s own flavour profile and consistency. Oat milk offers the closest cream-like consistency in coffee, for example.
4 cups water
½ cup hemp hearts
Blend at high speed until white and frothy
Strain through a cheese cloth or nut milk bag
Store in a glass jar in the fridge for one week
1 cup rolled oats
Water (2 ½ to 4 cups)*
optional 1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp maple syrup, or equivalent sweetener (dates, stevia, agave)
*Thicker, creamier milk can be achieved with less water, or by adding 3 tbsp sunflower oil.
Blend for only 30-45 seconds to prevent texture from becoming slimy. Strain twice.
Store, refrigerated, in a glass container for up to one week.
Check out some fun flavour options here.
In everything from what we drive, where we live, how we shop, and what we eat and drink, consumers control the world. The best thing we could do for the environment is reduce global population! By sheer mass we affect the environment the most. This may be a big step for you to change your milk consumption, or it could be yet another small step on your journey to change. Knowing the truth about milk is important. And every step you take to reduce your footprint is equally important. Every act matters. Every consumer can raise their voice and manufacturers will respond.