Have you noticed the milk section at almost every grocery store is taken up by more and more plant-based milk alternatives every time you go? It’s even extremely easy to find plant-based milk at convenient stores and gas stations! In fact, the world-wide sales of non-dairy milk alternatives more than doubled between 2009 and 2015, reaching over $21 billion. While this number continues to grow, the sales for cows milk has dropped 13 percent in the U.S. over the last five years!
In addition to the wide selection of delicious milk alternatives, there are even bigger reasons to swap dairy for a plant-based alternative. In a review on plant-based milk, researchers discuss how lactose intolerance, preference towards vegan diets for environmental and animal rights purposes, and health concerns are significant reasons why people are shifting away from cow’s milk and towards plant-based milk. Here is our take on the non-dairy trend and the reasons you may want to ditch dairy for a delicious plant-based alternative…
- More people are discovering they cannot tolerate cow’s milk
Lactose intolerance is the inability for the body to process and digest high levels of lactose present in milk. Some common symptoms of lactose intolerance are abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and in some cases, breaking out in rash when consuming dairy. We find it fascinating that over 90% of adults in East Asia are lactose intolerant and now people throughout the world are paying more attention to the way they feel when consuming dairy products. Due to the increase in self-diagnosed lactose intolerance, the sale of lactose-free and plant-based products have doubled!
Did you know that humans are the only mammal to consume another mammal’s milk? In an evaluation on the interrelationship between lactose intolerance and the modern dairy industry, researchers discovered that about 10,000 years ago people learned to exploit dairy products and since, the dairy industry has grown to be one of the largest sectors in the modern food industry. Widespread lactose intolerance is extremely common, especially among adults. Contrary to dairy products, plant-based products are highly digestible and have a high amount of bioavailability (the degree to which nutrients from food are absorbed and utilized in the body). With the amount of people discovering their inability to properly digest dairy, it is amazing to see the growth the plant-based milk industry is making!
2.) Plant-based products are better for the environment
Almond milk is a popular alternative to cow’s milk because consumers are becoming more conscious about the the impact their food choices make on the environment. The dairy industry is negatively impacting the planet by using more water than plant-based milk alternatives and contributing to climate change.
In fact, producing a 12 oz bottle of almond milk requires 275 oz of water, while producing a 12 oz bottle of cow’s milk requires 361 oz of water. Additionally, cattle farms are accelerating climate change by producing half of all greenhouse gas emissions. The increased demand of plant-based products can help reduce this impact.
3.) A shift towards plant-based milks might help improve animal welfare!
For those animal lovers (or those with some concern for animal welfare), plant-based milks are in your favor! It’s difficult to manage the welfare of cattle on dairy farms. Thousands of cows compiled into one area not only produce an overwhelming amount of greenhouse gases, but it’s inevitable that they endure dire conditions- like cramming and overheating (On the other hand, we’ve never heard of an overcrowded almond!).
4.) Plant-based milk alternatives are better for your health
In addition to experiencing enhanced bio-availability from plants, plant-based milk alternatives can help prevent and even reverse heart disease. A research study also found that removing dairy products from your diet can prevent lung, breast, and ovarian cancer. Researchers followed 22,778 lactose intolerant participants and closely tracked disease among their immediate family members. They found that the incidence rates for lung, breast, and ovarian cancer decreased among the lactose intolerant. On the other hand, dairy products contribute significant amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats to your diet, which can increase the risk for cancer and other disease.
The wide-range selection of plant-based milk alternatives in mainstream markets is pretty astounding and there’s definitely a good reason why! As people become more conscious about what they put into their bodies and the impact that their food choices have on the environment, it only seems that the non-dairy trend will continue exploding and plant-based milk alternatives will become the only way to go!