LAST UPDATED: 14 June 2016
Everywhere you look these days, you will see evidence of changing times ... When cafes in Melbourne started offering almond milk, we were impressed. When Coles and Woolworths put delicious, melty dairy-free cheese on their shelves, we were excited. When the trendiest gelato place in Newtown went 100% dairy-free we were lost for words!
Change is happening ...
And it's all because people are choosing kinder, healthier options. The CSIRO has said that 1 in 6 Aussies are steering clear of dairy, with the majority making this choice because they simply feel better without it. Anyone who has suffered bloating, gas or congestion from dairy would understand why. But then it shouldn't come as a surprise that many people don't feel their best after dairy when you consider that cow's milk was never designed for humans.
The purpose of cow's milk is to turn a 65 pound calf into a 400 pound cow as rapidly as possible. Cow's milk is baby calf growth fluid. It's for baby calves. Are you a baby calf? If not, then don't
drinkbaby calf growth fluid. There's nothing in it people need.Dr Michael Klaper
With over 3 million Australians opting for dairy-free food, a huge market has opened up for delicious dairy-free products. As a result, it seems almost daily that we hear of a new yoghurt, icecream, cheese or milk product exploding into this space. Food retailers are embracing the movement too with dairy-free pizza, donuts, crepes, gelato and frozen yoghurt options popping up at rapid speed. There's never been a better time to be dairy-free. And regardless of why you make the choice, the impacts are astronomical — for yourself, for animals and for the planet.
Jordy's mother's milk was intended to help him grow strong. But the more milk Jordy drinks, the less the dairy industry can sell to humans. So, in Australia and around the world, millions of calves are taken from their mothers and sent to slaughter, at only days old. Fortunately, Jordy was rescued by our friends at Brightside Farm Sanctuary. Choosing dairy-free spares the lives of more calves like Jordy.
Animal agriculture contributes more to climate change than all transport combined. The biggest percentage of agriculture's emissions is produced by cows raised for meat and dairy. Eating dairy-free is a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint and help protect our planet.
Dairy consumption has been linked to increased risk of some types of cancer — particularly prostate, breast and ovarian cancer. A recent study found that in people under the age of 65 a diet high in animal protein (including dairy) could make you four times more likely to die of cancer or diabetes. In contrast, plant-based foods are generally high in protective anti-oxidants, fibre and phytochemicals.
A cow in the dairy industry will be impregnated and, once she has given birth, have her newborn baby taken from her within a few short days. This will happen every year, over and over. After around 4 to 6 years, her body usually weakens, she may become lame or ill, and she will be sent to the slaughterhouse to be killed for cheap beef.
A 2011 study comparing the water usage of soy milk and cow's milk found that the water footprint of soy milk was 28% of that of cow's milk. The same study also found that soy burgers had a water footprint of 7% of the average beef burger.
There is no doubt that calcium is needed for healthy bones, but recent science raises some questions about the long-held belief that dairy is the best source of calcium for humans. A 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal found that women who consumed three or more glasses of milk per day were 60% more likely to suffer a hip fracture and 16% more likely to suffer any bone fracture. (Additionally, women with a high dairy intake also had an increased risk of dying from heart disease and cancer.)
The good news is that there's plenty of calcium in plant-based foods. In fact, kale has more calcium per gram than milk does. Other dark, leafy greens are also great sources of calcium, as is broccoli. Many nuts, seeds and legumes contain calcium and a lot of soy milks are calcium-fortified.
There is a compelling argument that today's pasteurized milk, in all its guises, has virtually no redeeming features at all, and serves only to cause disease and poor health. By simply switching from dairy to non-dairy milk we will make a dramatic and long-lasting improvement to our health.Dr Amy Lanou, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
If you've been thinking about joining the movement of people going dairy-free, there's never been a better time than now. Get started with our deliciously dairy-free shopping list. Or find out more about how your choices can have a positive impact for animals, the planet and yourself by ordering your free vegetarian starter kit today.
Header image thanks to Santuario Igualdad Interespecie.