Milk production (figures for 2015)
- Canada, 8.2 billion liters (1)
- United States 95 billion liters (2)
- Europe 163 billion liters (3)
Total milk product shipments for Europe, Canada and the US are in the vicinity of $ 600-800 billion (4). A large part of the country’s economy, jobs and family farms are dependent of this industry.
Why would there be a debate?
If so many people appreciate dairy products there are necessarily good reasons for this. Moreover, the milk industry emphasizes the health benefits of drinking milk, or at least suggests it in countries with more stringent laws on claims of a medical nature. The vast majority of the medical community encourages milk consumption as a source of calcium, especially for children and those at risk for osteoporosis.
Faced with such a strong general voice in favour of milk how one could dare oppose to its regular consumption. Even though nature designed cow’s milk to grow a calf from 50 kg to 400 kg in a few months and our children, who go from 3 kg to 50 kg in 12 years, are the only mammals never to be “weaned”, we cannot blame humans for being creative in their diet.
Imagine now if someone undertook to make us believe that cow’s milk was more harmful than beneficial to human health and that there would even be scientific studies to demonstrate this as did indicate Vivian Goldschmidt, founder of Save Institute. Imagine if milk, rather than helping, deteriorated the condition of women suffering from osteoporosis, which is estimated at 200 million on the planet.
Yet milk or its derivatives remain irreducibly anchored in American and Europeans eating habits including mine until recently. It took me 8 years to go from vegetarian to vegan (the difference being essentially the absence of dairy and eggs products in the diet). Cheese was the culprit, the faithful companion for wine, which have been the cause of my procrastination. Just like meat, it is also the considerations for animal welfare that led me to stop consuming dairy products.
The foundation of my principles remains the concern for the living conditions of animals but if, after doing your own investigation on milk and health, you find other motivations to adopt vegetal alternatives to cow’s milk, for me the objective is reached anyhow.
Cow’s milk alternatives
Initially introduced for people allergic to lactose, vegetal milk have spread in popularity amongst a much larger group of consumers who, may suspect a health benefit in a lower cow milk consumption. The most frequent alternatives to cow’s milk are soy milk and almond milk but there is also hemp, rice and coconut milk on supermarket shelves. My personal favourite in the almond milk, especially the chocolate flavoured one.
Note 1: Canadian Dairy Information Center
Note 2: Progressive publishing Dairy statistics
Note 3: European Commission, Eurostat
Note 4: In Canada, dairy farm revenues of $ 8,2 billion generate $ 17.0 billion in various dairy products deliveries. By extrapolating on a pro-rata basis this number to the United States and Europe, we obtain this total estimate of dairy sales.