June is National Dairy Month, but it is not without controversy. To many, drinking milk might seem as natural as drinking water, and milk products are as popular as ever, including cheese, yogurt and ice cream. But to others, dairy milk is undigestible, political, and/or environmentally unsustainable.
For anyone with a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, digesting dairy is not an option. There are a variety of plant-based milks available on the market: almond milk, soymilk, coconut milk and rice milk have been around for years. More recently, they were joined by oat, pea, hemp, macadamia and peanut milk. What makes them unique is how different they are from dairy and from each other. For more on this, head over to my more lengthy essay on milk and milk substitutes: Dairy Month.
For political background, I recommend you read Marion Nestle: Food Politics.
As for the environment, dairy cattle contribute to both air and water pollution. Their impact on air, via methane gas production, is lower than rice agriculture but higher than other plant-based milks and goat rearing (in case you want to enjoy goat milk or cheese instead of cow’s, it is a viable option). Dairy cattle also contribute to air and water pollution via their waste products. That said, small scale dairy farmers are staring to change feed composition and employ biodigester technologies to mitigate environmental impact (more here).
Remember, this blog’s intention is to stay close to 100 words (although this week it is longer) so feel free to send me questions or check out my links for additional information.
Just One Thing to do: Limit dairy milk and products to 2/day while exploring plant-based options.