If you haven’t heard of plant-based milks you’ve probably been living under a rock. In fact, plant-based alternatives are becoming so popular that in the space of two years (2012-2014) the non-dairy milk market in Britain has grown by 155%. Even the dairy industry has noticed and is calling into question the way brands employ the term ‘milk’. So what’s the fuss about and why make the switch to plant-based alternatives?
Nutrionally-speaking, plant-based milks are on par with cow’s milk, and can be healthier!
Not only are they low in fat and calories, plant-based alternatives are just as good if not better in terms of nutritional content; most milks are fortified with vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, calcium and iron. And although there’s debate over whether dairy and soy promote tumorigenesis (and thus cancer), there are plenty of other milks to choose from so you can rest assured that you’re probably going to be fine.
Alternatives are also a great solution if you’re lactose intolerant. And the likelihood is you are to some degree. You’ll know what I mean if you cut dairy out and try to consume it later.
The dairy industry is gross, cruel and un-environmentally friendly
I know people will say that not all practices are inhumane but given how much produce humans consume, industrial-scale farming practices are likely to be unethical and ‘more sustainable’ than smaller ‘organic’ and ‘free-range’ endeavours. Dairy is no exception.
Milk comes from a lactating animal, and to get an animal to produce milk it needs to be made pregnant. Industrial dairy cows are thus artificially inseminated for ease and speed, and once the baby comes out, it’s sent off for veal. The mother then lives out the rest of her life being raped and milked.
Some cows are also injected with hormones to make them produce more milk and although I’ve read that this is banned in the EU, breast milk is full of naturally-occurring hormones and growth factors that may not sit too well with you. I for one noticed that once I made the switch to plant alternatives my mood and skin improved noticeably.
It also might be worth considering whether the dairy industry and the touted benefits of milk are as a result of subsidies and cultural brainwashing. The latter can be rectified when you ask yourself why it would be weird to consume the milk of another animal. This is particularly irksome considering the taboo surrounding human breastfeeding.
What’s more, dairy is a water-intensive industry which is linked closely to the cattle industry, one of the most detrimental businesses around. So by switching to plant-based milk you can easily lower your carbon and water footprint.
Plant-based milks taste pretty good too… don’t like one? Try another
I’m quite partial to the taste of all of the milk alternatives I’ve tried, but if you’re not a fan there are plenty more to choose from. Off the top of my head I can think of over ten varieties and brands so there are plenty of options. Plus, there are loads of dairy-free alternative foods besides milk that you can easily purchase in the UK.