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Cow's Milk Consumption Plummets, Studies Show

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The current article you are reading does not reflect the views of the current editors and contributors of the new Ecorazzi

Got milk? Not anymore. More Americans are moving away from cow’s milk, USDA data has shown. In fact, overall cow’s milk consumption has dropped 37% since the 1970s. (Whole milk? Down 78%!) What are we drinking instead? Just about anything else.

While carbonated beverages, juices, and coffee are still fairly popular, alternatives to cow’s milk are on the rise. Soy, almond, rice, hemp, coconut and other plant milks are being consumed by vegans and meat-eaters alike. Some opt for non-dairy milks due to allergies or vegan beliefs, many choose it for taste, and for some it’s a matter of price. The price of cow’s milk has increased 10% in just the last year.

Allergies aside, plant-based milks are much healthier for humans than cow’s milk. (Obviously cow’s milk is perfect for baby cows.) Plant milks are rich in protein and calcium and are fortified with other vitamins, much like breakfast cereals. Non-dairy milks also have a good source of calcium that has higher absorption than cow’s milk, other studies are showing. The rates of bone fracture are highest in cow’s milk-drinking countries.

The popularity of non-dairy milks is also good news for dairy cows, who are forcefully impregnated only to have their babies taken away so their milk can go to humans. Furthermore, undercover investigations regularly reveal brutal treatment of these animals on dairy farms, as if their lives of confinement, exploitation, and mental anguish weren’t bad enough.

While the dairy industry is trying to rev up their reputation by swapping out their “Got Milk?” slogan with “Milk Life” and boasting cow’s milk’s protein, the facts are clear: we can get better, healthier protein from non-dairy milks, and no one has to suffer.

What’s your favorite plant milk?

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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  • Foundinfood

    My favorite is homemade almond & walnut milk! 1/2 cup almonds, 1/2 walnuts, a little cinnamon, a few dates and a sprinkle of sea salt! Delicious and creamy!

  • Laurie

    Could we please call it almond, soy or coconut JUICE, since these are plant-based products? MILK is an animal product – it’s what a mother’s body produces for her baby. I don’t think we should use the word “milk” in other contexts. Using it reinforces and condones the consumption of milk and its byproducts by children and adults (non-babies!) Got milk..? NO!

    • Lisa

      While I hear what you’re saying, I think it makes sense to use the word “milk” even when plant-based for a few reasons: 1) It generally looks white and can be fatty (from nuts) so it can be used in similar ways as people are used to using cow’s milk, 2) “Juice” sounds like a sweet beverage. People will be more averse to pouring hemp juice into coffee or cereal. 3) The meaning of words can evolve. “Milk” now includes plant products, the same way that “meat” can be used for plant products, like coconut meat. If anything, I think it’s useful to get in the habit of always saying “plant milk” or “almond milk” or “cow’s milk” so that the word “milk” doesn’t automatically mean the animal version.

      • Laurie

        Thank you for your reply, Lisa! Those are excellent thoughts for consideration and I appreciate you sharing them.

  • matt

    Hemp Milk is my favorite!

  • Steve powers

    almond by far.

  • janie


  • Harold Brown

    While fluid milk consumption is going down, which is great, total fluid milk production is way up. According to the same website, USDA AMS, yogurt consumption is way up. Greek yogurt in particular. Here in New York, second or third biggest dairy producing state, dairy’s are expanding to meet fluid milk demand for Chiobani and soon Byrne Dairy’s Greek yogurt production. So much so governor Cuomo has lifted all environmental caps on air and water to allow for expansion. Here in the Finger Lakes this means we are seeing our lakes water quality decline very fast and those who live near these dairy’s are suffering chronic respiratory problems. We need to tell the whole story. While fluid milk consumption IS going down, more cows are being bred to produce more milk for another product.

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