Get the facts.
Plant-based milks are becoming increasingly popular and the trend shows no sign of stopping.
The global market for plant-based dairy alternative drinks is forecast top top a massive $16.3 billion dollars in 2018 - up dramatically from $7.4 billion in 2010 - according to a recent report from Innova Market Insights.
Much of this growth can be put down to almond milk, which first became popular in the United States, with a huge rise from 'virtually zero' in the mid-2000s to more than $1 billion in 2016. It has overtaken soy milk as the leading plant-based alternative to dairy, and continues to grow in popularity.
Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights, said: "The dairy alternatives market has seen rising levels of interest in recent years, spurred mainly by consumers increasingly looking for lactose-free, dairy-free and plant-based/vegan options as healthy lifestyle choices, rather than regarding them as simply for those with allergies or intolerances."
Read more on Plant Based News
There is much more to dairy than the image of cows grazing happily in a field.
When you say dairy is cruel, most people look puzzled. Don't they just have a lovely time grazing in fields and pop into the shed to be milked once a day by a loveable, red-cheeked farmer?
Unfortunately, the reality couldn't be further from the truth. Far from all cows living idyllic lives in fields, some 20% of dairy cows in the UK are kept in zero-graze facilities, which means they never step foot on grass in their lives. The others spend most of their lives in sheds, where they are milked almost continuously.
Like all mammals, cows only produce milk for their young after giving birth. Dairy cows are kept in a cycle of near constant pregnancy and lactation, which causes huge physical and psychological stress. It is thought that daily milking is the equivalent of running a marathon. Since milking continues throughout pregnancy, cows often succumb to disease and exhaustion. The stress the cow's body endures means that her body will be 'spent' (i.e. will stop producing milk and therefore have no economic value) by the time she is five or six, so she will be sent to slaughter and sold as cheap meat. Cows, who are gentle, inquisitive creatures, would live into their 20s if left to live a natural life.
Every year, dairy cows also suffer the separation from their young just a day or two after giving birth, which causes unimaginable distress for both mother and baby. Reports show that they call for each other for weeks after the separation and suffer severe emotional distress. The calves, if female, will live their
Read more in Viva!'s White Lies Report
Think that cows' milk is essential for human health? There is nothing in cows' milk that we can't get from healthier, more humane sources like plant-based milk.
There is a long-standing misconception that we need dairy milk for good health, especially calcium for strong bones. However, research over the past 20 years suggests the opposite: osteoporotic bone fracture rates are actually highest in countries that consume the most dairy, calcium, and animal protein. There is now extensive evidence that consuming milk or dairy products may contribute to the risk of several chronic health conditions like prostate and ovarian cancers, autoimmune diseases, and some childhood ailments. There is also a misconception that cow’s milk is the best or only source of calcium, yet it is found in high quantities in green leafy vegetables, almonds and tofu, all of which also have high absorption rates without the same health risks.
Comparisons between cow’s and plant-based milks are particularly favourable in terms of saturated fat, calories and nutrient value. Take a typical fortified soya milk made for coffee shops, for example, which contains 44 calories and almost zero saturated fat per 100ml, with the same amount of protein, calcium and vitamins B12, D, E and riboflavin as cows’ milk. Compare this with the same quantity of whole cows’ milk, which contains more calories (66Kcal) and significantly more saturated fat (3g per 100ml).
Read more about the health risks of dairy
The dairy industry, far from its perception as an innocent by-product, is every bit as environmentally destructive as meat. Animal agriculture is one of the leading polluters, greenhouse gas emitters, destroyers of land and habitat on the planet. It is one of the leading drivers of climate change, producing more greenhouse gases than the whole of the transport sector combined.
Milk alone accounts for 20 per cent of animal agriculture emissions and around 3 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Methane is a highly potent greenhouse that has a higher warming impact than CO2, meaning it is more damaging to the climate. Methane is emitted by ruminant animals, including cows. Nitrous oxide, which is even more damaging than methane and is created by manure. Milk production is responsible for more methane and nitrous oxide production than meat.
On average, a cow produces around 700 litres of methane per day, which is the equivalent of a large 4×4 vehicle travelling 35 miles in a day. This is all not to mention the environmentally damaging activities including processing and transportation.
Read more on the environmental impact of meat and dairy
Gone are the days when you had to traipse to a health food store in a dark corner of town to pick up some plant-based milk. All supermarkets now stock a huge variety of dairy-free products, with their ranges growing all the time. It has never been easier to make the switch. Click on the supermarket logos below to see their selection!