REASONS TO SWITCH
In order to make the transition to plant milk easier, we've compiled a number of resources to help you find out what benefits you, and the rest of the world, will get. Keep scrolling to see just some of the benefits you'll gain from making the pledge to go dairy free.
SO WHY WORLD PLANT MILK DAY?
We all want to feel our best, but dairy can leave us lagging. A dairy-free lifestyle has the power to make you feel fantastic, now and in the long-term future. Expect to experience increased energy, less bloating, improved digestion, clearer skin, reduced asthma symptoms, less inflammation, and other lasting health benefits when you make the switch.
Cows’ Milk Allergy
Did you know that cows’ milk allergies might be more common than allergies to peanuts, shellfish, and eggs? Cows’ milk allergy mostly affects infants and children, but also up to 1 in 13 adults! (1) Further, a meta-analysis of 51 studies on the prevalence of food allergies found that up to 17% of people self-report an allergy to cows’ milk (2).
In addition to the immediate symptoms that can occur, such as wheezing, hives, vomiting, and life-threatening anaphylaxis, some symptoms can actually occur up to several days following dairy consumption, including eczema and acid reflux (3). This means people may not even realize their symptoms could be an allergic reaction to the cows’ milk they consumed days prior. Unfortunately, methods for reversing cows’ milk allergy, such as immunotherapy, have not been proven safe or effective, which is why doctors recommend avoiding dairy products entirely (4). Think you could be affected? Learn about the 4 Signs That You May Be Allergic to Dairy by Switch4Good expert, Dr. Vivian Chen.
Our tip to you: avoid all forms of dairy to manage symptoms, including milk from sheep and goats. Click here to learn about alternatives to cows’ milk.
How can cows’ milk be considered a health food when 65% of the world’s population is intolerant to it? Once someone who is lactose intolerant consumes cows’ milk or other lactose-containing dairy products, symptoms can occur within 30 minutes to two hours! (1) The struggle is real. These symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, and diarrhea (1). Cows’ milk is making those who are lactose intolerant sick.
According to the National Institute of Health, 65% of adults experience dairy intolerance, a generally lifelong inherited condition characterized by varying levels of difficulty digesting lactose (dairy sugar) (2). This condition is commonly referred to as lactose intolerance.
Our tip to you: completely avoid lactose by passing on the milk, cheese, butter, cream, and other dairy products. Click here to read Switch4Good expert Dr. Angie Sadeghi’s breakdown of lactose intolerance. If you think you might be lactose intolerant, take our quiz to find out!
Don’t be fooled by advertisements claiming that cows’ milk helps strengthen bones—the research tells a different story. A 2018 meta-analysis involving over 250,000 male and female subjects found no link between drinking cows’ milk and a reduced risk of bone fractures (1). In fact, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal, those getting the USDA “recommended” 3+ glasses per day had a whopping 60% greater hip fracture rate (2).
Yup, cows’ milk could actually make bones more brittle, not stronger. How can this be? Researchers suggest the milk sugar D-galactose promotes oxidative stress and inflammation, which are both linked to loss of muscle and bone (2). Additionally, while phosphorus is essential for calcium absorption, too much can be counter productive. Cows’ milk is so high in phosphorus that it can actually lead to calcium resorption from the bones (3).
Our tip to you: for truly strong bones eat more fruits and vegetables! The foods highest in calcium and 50% more bioavailable than the calcium in cows’ milk are almonds, kidney beans, and most dark, leafy greens (4). Diets higher in fruits and vegetables have been shown to lead to denser bones in younger and older adults (5,6).
Cows’ milk and other dairy products have been shown to increase increased mucus production in the body, which is a hallmark symptom of asthma (1). Researchers hypothesize that increased intestinal permeability, which has been associated with strenuous exercise, allows the casein protein to leak through the gut and therefore stimulate excess mucus production (2,3).
Why might this be? Asthmatics need more antioxidants to protect their vulnerable lungs, as they have far fewer antioxidants than most (4). By eating more foods that contain these antioxidants, they could reduce the chance of worsening symptoms by half! (5) It sounds so simple! But not for those who still consume dairy products. Unfortunately, there are not many antioxidants in dairy, so relying on dairy products may actually lead to worsening symptoms.
Our tip to you: try some chocolate soymilk. Chocolate soymilk from Trader Joe’s contains almost double the antioxidant content of store brand chocolate cows’ milk (6). This may explain why an astounding 92% of people with asthma who cut out dairy and other animal foods for one year improved their symptoms enough to go from 4-5 medications to just 1! (7) To learn more about how to include more antioxidant-rich foods into your diet click here.
Research links Cows’ Milk to Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer. In a study examining the incidence rates of ovarian cancer in 40 countries across 5 continents, researchers found they were most closely correlated with cows’ milk intake (1). The researchers suggest that women who drank just 1 or more glasses of whole cows’ milk per day were at three times greater risk for ovarian cancer (1). Skim milk has also been tied to this deadly disease.
Our tip to you: Eat more vegetables! Although dairy consumption can increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer, vegetables can reduce it (2). Eating 3 or more servings of vegetables per day can decrease ovarian cancer risk by 39% (3).
Research Links Cows’ Milk to Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, American men have a 1 in 9 chance of developing prostate cancer—the second most common to skin cancer. Drinking cows’ milk each day can increase a boy’s risk of advanced prostate cancer threefold! (2) The same can be said for adults. A study of men across 42 countries revealed that cows’ milk was more closely linked to the development of prostate cancer than any other food (3). In fact, a primary research study found a 60% higher relative risk for those men consuming 2 cows’ milk servings per day compared to zero servings per day (4). Why might this be? Some researchers suggest it may be in part due to the high dietary phosphate content of cows’ milk (5), while others suggest that cows’ milk proteins can activate an enzyme whose signaling pathway can initiate prostate cancer development (6).
Our tip to you: Research shows that men who ditched dairy and opted for a plant-based diet were able to cut their risk of prostate cancer by 35% (7). We suggest ditching dairy to lower your risk.
Research Links Cows’ Milk to Increased Risk of Breast Cancer. A study of breast cancer cases that surveyed 40 countries across five continents revealed that cows’ milk was the second food most correlated with breast cancer (the first was meat) (1). Researchers suggest that since the cows’ milk we consume today is produced from pregnant cows, in which estrogen and progesterone levels are elevated, this can have adverse effects on the body and potentially stimulate the development of breast cancer (1).
Additionally, research has shown that cows’ milk increases our circulating levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a growth-stimulating hormone, which can lead to unregulated cell growth, a characteristic of cancer (2). IGF-1 has also been shown to play a role in increasing other known risk factors for breast cancer, such as greater adult height, number of menstrual cycles, and higher birth weight (3).
Our tip to you: Don’t be afraid to consume soy! Circulating estrogen levels decreased by 50% in women who drank soy milk every day and stayed down for one month even after they stopped drinking it (4). Soybeans contain phytoestrogens which not only can act as estrogen blockers (5), but also inhibit breast cancer cells from producing estrogen in the first place (6).
It is common knowledge that proper hydration is essential to any form of exercise, but chocolate milk is not the drink of champions. Cows’ milk, even “no hormone added,” “grass-fed,” and “locally produced,” contains 15 different sex hormones, including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. That does not even include the other 60 natural hormones found in cows’ milk and the synthetic hormones many dairy cows are given to boost milk production. Consuming these large amount of hormones can lead to a wide array of unwanted side effects and even cancer. To learn more about the toxic effects of hormones in today’s cows’ milk from Dr. Vivian Chen, click here.
Cows’ milk and dairy products are full of estrogen hormones. These products supply 60-80% of the estrogen in our diets (1). This is due to the fact that the milk people consume is taken from pregnant cows. Modern genetically-improved dairy cows, such as the Holstein, lactate during the latter half of pregnancy, when estrogen levels are highly elevated (2). In fact, just 30-60 minutes after drinking milk, estrogen levels can increase by 26%! (2) Numerous studies have found an association between excess estrogen and increased risk of breast and prostate cancers, fatigue, and weight gain (3,4).
Our tip to you: Pomegranate juice! Pomegranates contain aromatase inhibitors like ellagetanins which inhibit estrogen production (5). It is also a great anti-inflammatory food. Compared to drinking a placebo, pomegranate juice can increase Olympic weightlifting performance by 8%, decrease how hard training felt by 4%, and decrease muscle soreness by 13%! (6) And don’t be afraid of soy. Soy actually contains phytoestrogens which act as estrogen blockers (7).
We are always trying to find ways to decrease our stress levels, as stress can reap terrible effects stress can have on our minds and bodies. Stress is often controlled by a hormone known as cortisol—a stress hormone consistently found in cows’ milk (1). To make matters worse, high cortisol levels cause us to store belly fat (2) and are linked to lower muscle mass and bone density (3). Consuming excess cortisol is definitely not going to help us lower our stress levels, and no one needs more stress in their lives.
Our tip to you: While dairy-laden meals have been shown to increase cortisol, research shows that barley soup and vegetable stir-frys with rice can lower levels of this high stress hormone (4).
INSULIN-LIKE GROWTH FACTOR-1
Milk naturally contains a hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), a growth stimulating hormone. The whey protein naturally present in milk further stimulates our body’s production of IGF-1 by a pathway called mTOR, further increasing our circulating levels of this hormone (1). Consuming cows’ milk leads to a 10–20% increase of circulating IGF‐1 in adults, and to a 20–30% increase in children (3).
We need IGF-1 is involved in the maturation and differentiation of many cells and organs; in other words, it is vital for growth and development. However, excess IGF-1 from consumption of cows’ milk can interfere with these processes and has been associated with accelerated linear growth, altered fetal development, atherosclerosis, weight gain, acne, autoimmunity, and even neurodegenerative diseases (3). Additionally, IGF-1 receptors are present on most cancer cells. Excess IGF-1 can bind to these receptors and stimulate cancer cells to grow more quickly (2). This may explain why IGF-1 has been linked to breast, cervical, ovarian, endo‐metrial, colorectal and prostate cancers (2,3).
Our tip to you: IGF-1 is a goldilocks hormone whereby you don’t want too much, and you don’t want too little. Exercise and, in particular, strength training is a great way to naturally boost your IGF-1 levels without causing excess. Removing dairy products is a simple and effective way to control IGF-1 and reduce your risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and acne. Watch this video to hear from Dr. Milton Mills on how cows’ milk does NOT do a body good!
Cardiovascular Health and Inflammation
Years of research has told us that consuming foods high in saturated fats, like dairy products, can be detrimental to our cardiovascular health. Most recently, a 2018 study published in Laboratory Investigation not only found changes in size and shape of red blood cells just one hour after consuming a high-fat milkshake but also changed in our immune cell function, setting the stage for inflammation, plaque formation and ultimately heart disease (1).
Not only do dairy foods contain a significant amount of saturated fat, but also more than 2 percent of dairy’s calories come from trans fats (2), a substance deemed as the most harmful fat in our food supply by the Institute of Medicine (3). So harmful, in fact, that there is no upper limit of these fats since any trans-fats increases the risk of cardiovascular heart disease. Trans fats cripple arteries, cutting blood flow to our muscles and promoting inflammation and heart disease (4).
Finally, cows’ milk contains proteins (5) and other foreign components, including sugars such as Neu5gc (6), that many people’s bodies do not recognize, initiating an immune response and promoting further inflammation. (7)
Our tip to you: While the dairy industry is adamant about promoting chocolate milk as a recovery beverage, this sugary drink is far from a health food. Antioxidant-rich foods are a far better alternative, as antioxidants stimulate cardiovascular health, athletic performance, and a speedy recovery by combatting damage done to your cells during your workout. And those are found in plant sources, not dairy food. So, eat more berries instead of dairy! Berries boost artery function and soothe inflammation (8). This will help you perform better and recover faster.
Type 2 Diabetes
Research has found that whey protein from cows’ milk to be highly insulinotropic, despite having a low-glycemic index (1). Simply put, dairy products, including full-fat milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, and ice cream cause our bodies to produce large amounts of insulin, which works against type 2 diabetes prevention (1). In fact, drinking a cup of milk with other low-glycemic index foods was found to increase insulin production by an astounding 300% (1). Furthermore, 8-year-old boys who were given skim milk for just one week more than doubled their insulin production (1).
Due to the insulinotropic properties of cows’ milk, consuming this material past weaning causes our bodies to maintain higher than normal levels of the growth-stimulating hormone, Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) (2). High levels of this hormone constantly stimulate the proliferation of pancreatic cells, which produce insulin. This overstimulation produces excess insulin, damages the cells, and eventually leads to cell death (2).
Ultimately, when our bodies aren’t utilizing insulin properly, blood sugar levels remain high, resulting in hyperglycemia, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes (3).
Our tip to you: Both observational and interventional studies show that a low-fat, plant-based nutritional approach to diet can improve weight control and blood sugar levels (4). Plant foods are perfect for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. Click here for some mouth-watering dairy-free and plant-based recipes!
"We are at a crisis point. If we don’t radically change our attitudes toward the natural world, things are going to get much, much worse. What we are experiencing now will seem mild by comparison"
Thomas Gillespie - Ecologist
"Despite the prevailing myths, dairy is not an essential food group and it is certainly not ethical. I spent many years following a vegetarian lifestyle and was dismayed to learn about the perpetual cycle of grief, exploitation and ultimately slaughter that dairy cows endure. It is an unsustainable industry and a very cruel distortion of the female reproductive system. And, you will be pleased to know, your immune system and skin will thank you for switching to plant milk! It is always hard to change habits but quitting dairy was truly the best thing I did for my health."
Evanna Lynch - Actress & Activist
HAPPY COW FRIENDS
Did you know that
cows have best friends?
Research done by Krista McLennan of Northampton University indicates that cows do indeed have 'best friends'.
For the study, cows were penned for 30 minute intervals twice, once with a preferred partner, a 'best friend', and once with a cow that they did not know. During this time, the heart rates of the cows were measured.
As it turned out, when paired with their best friend, the cows’ heart rates were significantly lower and they experienced less stress overall.
These findings not only have implications for the dairy industry, but also for the well-being of the animals.
The notion that cows have best friends indicates a great degree of personality in the species, and a desire, not unlike our own, to develop deep connections with others.
Not only are cows more calm when they’re around a buddy, but they’re actually smarter too. In a 2014 study, researchers from the University of British Columbia found that young calves that live alone perform worse on tasks of cognitive skill than those that live with a buddy.
One of these tests included a Y-shaped maze with a white bottle on one end and a black bottle on the other. At first, the white bottle had milk and the black bottle was empty.
Calves from two groups, those that grew up with a buddy and those that did not, practiced getting the milk from the white bottle. Both groups took the same amount of time to learn that the white bottle had milk.
However, once the researchers changed the formula, and placed the milk in the black bottle, the cows that grew up with a buddy learned significantly quicker where to find the new source of milk, indicating a higher level of mental flexibility and adaptability to change.
Both studies indicate the benefits of long-term social connection in cows.
We’re lucky that we could provide a home for both Cora and Henry at the Barn Sanctuary, two calves who grew up with one another, so that they can keep each other company.
Dan McKernan, Founder Barn Sanctuary
For the study, cows were penned for 30 minute intervals twice, once with a preferred partner, a 'best friend', and once with a cow that they did not know. During this time, the heart rates of the cows were measured.
THE incredible variety OF FOOD & DRINK
HAVE YOU TRIED
ALL the different plant milks out there?
What on earth is "plant milk"? Non-dairy milk is sourced from a range of plants - like nuts, soy, seeds and grains - and with a huge decline in the demand for dairy, plant-based milk specialists are becoming more and more experimental in producing the best possible milk alternatives, not only for our health, but also for the environment. So don't even hesitate in trying all the different plant-milks out there during this year's 7 day dairy-free challenge.
Plant milks have come a long way since the humble soy milk, the dairy free milk industry now boasts 10+ plant based alternatives to cow's milk, below we list the 10 most popular plant milk choices, as well as discuss two major benefits of switching to plant milk.
Two Major Benefits of Plant Milk
1) Dairy free = cruelty free
Sleep easy knowing that no sentient being was harmed in order for you to enjoy your morning cup of coffee.
Most dairy cows are treated horrifically their entire lives - being impregnated yearly and never given the chance to connect with their babies. If their baby is born a male, they are discarded and killed for meat. If their baby is born a female, they are doomed to suffer the same existence as their mother.
2) Physical health
The dairy industry loves to highlight the nutritional values of cow's milk, we've all heard how the calcium is great for our bones, right? Well it's true, dairy does have high levels of calcium, protein and Vitamin-D. What they don't tell you about is that it also supplies an excessive amount of saturated fat, antibiotics and hormones into our system, which is a surefire way of increasing the risk of clogged arteries, heart disease and respiratory problems (to name a few).
Plant-milks are manufactured to have all the same nutritional values as dairy milk, without the negative effects - trimming the fat, so to speak.
10 POPULAR PLANT MILKS TO TRY ON WORLD PLANT MILK DAY:
1) SOY MILK
2) ALMOND MILK
3) CASHEW MILK
4) COCONUT MILK
5) HEMP MILK
6) QUINOA MILK
7) OAT MILK
8) RICE MILK
9) PEA MILK
10) FLAX MILK
And if you want to make your own plant-milk, they are super easy. Visit our toolkit page here.
Each plant milk listed above has different health benefits, flavours and backgrounds. Click their links to find some more useful information on recipes, benefits and how you can make these milks from home
Did you know the world’s 13 biggest dairy companies have the same combined greenhouse gas emissions as the UK, the sixth biggest economy in the world?
Or that waste from a dairy farm of 2,500 cows is equivalent to waste from a city of 411,000 people?
Or that rivers and lakes are shrinking because of the dairy industry. 1,000 gallons of water is required to produce 1 gallon of cows’ milk.
Environmental Impact of the Dairy Industry.
1. Waste from a dairy farm of 2,500 cows is equivalent to waste from a city of 411,000 people. (1)
2. Butter ranks third on the National Resource Defense Council’s chart of 10 common climate-damaging foods. It requires 21 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of butter. (2)
3. 1,000 gallons of water is required to produce 1 gallon of cows’ milk. (3)
4. Animal agriculture makes up ¼ of the global water footprint, 19% of which is from dairy cattle. (4)
5. 100 calories of cattle feed only produce 40 calories of milk, making it a wasteful and inefficient food. (5)
6. 1 in 6 pints of milk produced globally is lost or wasted (this equates to 128 million tons yearly) yet milk production has increased by 6% between 2014-2018. (6)
7. The production of raw milk makes up 38% of the greenhouse gases produced by enteric emissions (aka the global collective of cow burps and gas). (7).
1. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. National Service Center for Environmental Publications website. https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPURL.cgi?Dockey=901V0100.txt. May 2004. Accessed May 2019.
3. Hoekstra, AY. The Water Footprint of Food. https://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Hoekstra-2008-WaterfootprintFood.pdf. Published 2008. Accessed May 2019.
4. Mekonnen, MM. and Hoekstra, AY. A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products. Ecosystems2012; 15(3):401–415. doi:10.1007/s10021-011-9517-8.
5. Emily S Cassidy et al 2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 034015
6. Edinborough University and The Guardian
7. Upfield Plant-Based Spreads and Margarine vs. Dairy Butter: Life Cycle Assessment Technical Summary
How Does Ditching Dairy Saves the Planet?
1. Going vegetarian will reduce your carbon emissions by on average 31%, land use by 51%. Ditching the dairy (and eggs) and going vegan, can reduce your carbon emissions by on average 45% and land use by 55%. (1)
2. According to the U.S. Geological Survey—the sole science agency for the Dept. of Interior—water-saving showerheads produce about 2 gallons of water per minute. Knowing that it takes 1,000 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of milk, a person can save the water equivalent to 50 ten-minute showers for every gallon of milk they don’t drink. (2, 3)
3. If everyone in the US ate no meat or cheese just one day per week, it would have the environmental benefit of not driving 91 billion miles or taking 7.6 million cars off the road. (4)
4. Eating 60% less cheese and 4-6 more servings of beans will help keep the global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius by 2050. (5)
5. Eating 4 ounces of cheese contributes the same amount of carbon dioxide emissions as driving 3.5 miles. Each time you pass on the cheese you are keeping CO2 out of the air. (6)
1. Aleksandrowicz L, Green R, Joy EJM, Smith P, Haines A. The Impacts of Dietary Change on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Land Use, Water Use, and Health: A Systematic Review. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11(11): e0165797.
2. Hoekstra, Arjen Y. “The water footprint of food”. Water for Food.
4. “Reducing Your Footprint.” Reducing Your Footprint – 2011 Meat Eaters Guide | Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health | Environmental Working Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2017
5. Springmann, Marco et al, “Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits.” Nature volume 562, pages519–525 (2018) and summary by The Guardian
6. Hamerschlag, K. Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health. Environmental Working Group. 2011. \
What About Sustainable Nondairy Foods?
1. Oats are more sustainable than cows’ milk. (1)
- 1 liter of oat milk emits 0.9 kg CO2 and requires 0.8 sq meters of land and 48 liters of water
- 1 liter of cows’ milk emits 3.2 kg CO2 and requires 9.0 square meters of land and 628 liters of water
2. Pulses (beans, dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas) are a more sustainable source of protein than cows’ milk. (2)
- Pulses contain between 8-18 g of protein per serving (depending on the pulse variety) and emit 100 tons of GHG emissions per ton of protein
- 1 cup of cows’ milk contains 8 grams of protein yet emits 600 tons of GHG emissions per ton of protein
3. Bananas are a more sustainable source of potassium than cows’ milk. (3)
- 143 liters of water is used to produce 1 banana with 422 mg of potassium
- 250 liters of water is used to produce 1 glass of cows’ milk with 366 mg of potassium
4. Kale is a more sustainable source of calcium than cows’ milk. (4)
- 1 cup of kale has the same amount of absorbable calcium as 1 cup of cows’ milk, but only 33 calories. An 8 oz glass of cows’ milk ranges from 83 to 148 calories (from skim to whole-fat varieties).
1. Science 01 Jun 2018: Vol. 360, Issue 6392, pp. 987-992
2. World Resource Institute
3. Hoekstra, Arjen Y. “The water footprint of food”. Water for Food.
4. Amy Joy Lanou. Should dairy be recommended as part of a healthy vegetarian diet? Counterpoint. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009; 89(5):1638S–1642S.