Milk replacement? What with?
As variety of lifestyles gradually becomes bigger and more visible due to technological achievements of humanity, more people start considering various changes to their own ways of doing things, including dietary preferences. What are the possible reasons for people to switch to dairy-free diet, what are its pros and cons and what substitutes for milk can one find?
With annual US milk production numbers steadily climbing up to as big as 200+ million pounds in 2017 but concurrently decreasing consumption rates we can suppose that more and more people either choose to drink less milk without any replacement or, what’s more likely, to find alternatives to it. As we can currently see from the latest societal trends, there are quite a few reasons that drive us towards such choices. Among those the most popular are ethical and health ones. For the former, it has been gradually becoming clear that humanity’s industrial activities add a lot to climate change and harm to animals, so many adopt more environmentally-friendly approach in order to create a counter-effect to the environmental damages happening worldwide. Regarding the latter, lactose-intolerant people or those who are allergic to any component that milk contains simply have no choice left but to leave milk for other milk-like products.
Pros and Cons
Among pros of drinking milk meta-analyses list reduced risk of obesity in children, supportive function for dieting adults’ organisms, strengthening bones, as well as lower likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular issues. The cons, however, are also present and include higher risk of colorectal, bladder, breast and gastric cancer, high cholesterol levels due to saturated fats milk contains, and possible contamination of cow milk with whatever animals get injected at farms, like hormones or antibiotics. So what is there for us if we decide quit drinking milk?
The latest trend is turning to plant-based drinks fortified with nutrients required for our health in addition to ones these have already had.
- One of the most well-known and wide-spread alternatives is soy milk. Thanks to cholesterol-lowering properties of soy, its incredibly high protein levels and all nine most useful amino acids a human body needs, there is no surprise that this one is such a popular substitute to regular milk.
- Then, there’s nut milk. Being packed with ‘good’, unsaturated fats, gluten-free and free of milk sugar, lactose, this one is a decent option for people having certain digestive tract issues connected with intolerance. However, versions fortified with calcium and protein are necessary, as naturally nut milk has quite low levels of those.
- Another handy and quite nutritional alternative is rice milk. This one is definitely a way to go with for allergic people as it is the least allergenic one. Also, it is often fortified with B12 vitamin, iron and calcium, all needed for our well-being.
Still, as possible alternatives may not be (and often aren’t) as nutritionally rich as milk itself, it is important to ensure that the product you choose is fortified with necessary elements such as B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium and other nutrients. So the most important thing is, as usually, to get as much data as possible and make an informed choice for ourselves.
Lactose Intolerance – NIDDK
Plant-based milk alternatives an emerging segment of functional beverages: a review – US National Library of Medicine
Choosing the right milk for you – Consumer Reports
U.S. Plant-based Milks – Statistics & Facts – Statista.com