Yes, it’s National Milk Day. A holiday that was set in place, according to the National Milk Producer’s Federation, in order to commemorate the day in 1878 when milk was first delivered in sterilized glass bottles to homes throughout the United States. So, in honor of the history of milk’s impact on this country, grab a big, tall glass of the non-dairy milk of your choosing — because haven’t you heard? Dairy milk has been going out of style for quite some time now. According to Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder of One Green Planet, “U.S. milk consumption has been steadily declining by 25 percent per capita since the mid-1970s. Americans, on average, drink 37 percent less milk today than they did in 1970, according to data from the USDA.” The consumption of non-dairy milk is now at an all-time high, with almond milk leading the way. In just five years, the almond milk industry grew 250 percent to more than $894.6 million.

People are replacing dairy with their favorite non-dairy beverage so quickly that the dairy industry is fighting back. Recently, 32 members of Congress issued a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration arguing the case that the only milk out there that can legally be called “milk” comes from a cow. Desperate, much? Unilever already attempted a maneuver like when they attempted to sue plant-based food company Hampton Creek on the grounds that their vegan mayonnaise, Just Mayo, was in direct violation of the legal definition of “mayonnaise” because “real mayonnaise” must contain eggs. The whole ordeal was a beautiful, poetic fail. The lawsuit was quickly dropped and not too long after that, Unilever released their own brand of vegan mayonnaise — sorry, we mean Hellmann’s Carefully Crafted Dressing and Sandwich Spread.

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But the dairy industry doesn’t seem as ready or willing to concede their stronghold on the term “milk”  and “join ’em” in the non-dairy trend. We’ve seen the industry attempt to bolster sales through its Milk Life campaign, where celebrity athletes tout the benefits of a big glass of cow’s milk. Guess they haven’t heard of pea milk yet, which has eight times the protein of almond milk50 percent more calcium than dairy milk, and a third of the saturated fat.  Considering that maintaining a dairy farm requires 3.4 million gallons of water EVERY DAY and the average farm is the source of tons of air and water pollution, we also just can’t ignore the massive environmental impact of the dairy industry. Considering a glass of Ripple pea milk, for example, uses 99 percent less water than dairy milk and has a carbon footprint that is 93 percent smaller, while maintaining a superior nutritional profile to cow’s milk … we’d say the winner in this argument is clear. Non-dairy, plant-based milks are the future.

This might explain Several Californian dairy farms have already converted their farms to almond groves in order to produce almond milk instead. In fact, the amount of almond groves in the Sunshine State has nearly doubled in the past decade. It is, of course, important to note that almonds are a water intensive crop, but when compared to dairy – they waste far less water and do not come with the additional waste and pollution that an intensive dairy farm does. 

Perhaps another decade down the line, cows will no longer be the icon of “milk.” With alternatives made from soy, coconut, almond, flax, pea protein, hemp, and others popping up in grocery stores all over the country while milk stays the same, we can’t help but think that dairy has seen its day. So go ahead and grab a big glass of the milk of your choosing in celebration of National Milk Day – we’re guessing that glass was already filled with a non-dairy product anyway!

Lead image source: S_Photo/Shutterstock

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