A new report from World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) U.K. concluded eating plant-based is the best way to lower your carbon footprint and combat climate change. Now, WWF has teamed up with a major cheese company to “improve” the sustainability of their dairy production. But there is a glaring problem with that decision…
The Bel Group, a multi-national cheese marketer in France, and WWF have teamed up to introduce the “Global Sustainability Upstream Dairy Charter” to hold the Bel Group accountable to the social, economic, and environmental areas of dairy production. The charter includes six areas where Bel Group will improve their business practices. For instance, all dairy farmers who are employed by Bel Group will have to use sustainable farming methods and in return will receive training, long-term contracts, and loans. Bel Group will be collecting milk from pastoral dairies as often as possible and has also moved their supply chain to only non-GMO and traceable soy and palm oil for their feed. Bel Group cites an average eight percent decline in global greenhouse gases from the farms in their network, Food Navigator reports, and the charter’s intent is to “evolve” The Bel Group’s business practices.
While it is great to see dairy producers recognize their environmental impact, these actions only begin to scratch the surface. Dairy production takes an enormous amount of water from hydrating cows, cleaning milking parlor floors, walls, and milking equipment. The average dairy farm uses 150 gallons of water per cow, per DAY just for automatic flushing systems that keep feces off the ground. Oh, and did we mention the dairy industry also contributes to four percent of total global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions!? Trying to move to only pastoral dairy farmers and reducing the footprint of feed are nice gestures but with the amount of land and water resources needed to sustain these farms are still more than the Earth – with an ever-growing population – can afford to give.
Instead of trying to make “sustainable” dairy production work, why not be truly environmentally-friendly and invest in plant-based dairy alternatives?
Non-dairy milk sales in the U.S. have increased by 61 percent and there is a LOT of money in the dairy-free space. Dean Foods, a major dairy company, recently invested in plant-based company, Good Karma Foods, and Goldman Sachs is even in on the plant-based game with their investment in Ripple Foods, makers of pea protein milk. Not to mention Whitewave has acquired and invested in expanding the dairy-free products and brands under their umbrellas.
Need more reasons to turn to dairy-free milk and cheese? Well, studies show no one even wants dairy. Conventional organic milk sales have been slipping thanks to the numerous plant-based alternatives, and in general, dairy consumption has been on a steady decline since the 1970s. In light of changing market trends, some California dairy farmers are switching to almond crops. What’s more, a 92-year-old dairy plant that was forced to close due to a decline in sales recently reopened as a plant-based milk company. The tides are turning against dairy and given the massive toll this industry has on animals and the planet … we can’t say we’re sorry about it!
If you agree that the Bel Group should get with the program and commit to truly sustainable plant-based dairy alternatives, SHARE this article with your network!
If you’re interested in learning more about the environmental impact of your food choices, be sure to check out the #EatForThePlanet book!
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