3 ridiculous reasons not to drink milk (& the ones that make sense)
Some thought for food
Over the years, as a dietitian and daughter of a dairy farmer, I’ve heard a lot of reasons people don’t drink milk. I’ll be the first to agree that a healthy diet doesn’t need to include dairy – many cultures consume little to no animal milk. But if you’re going to skip dairy, please don’t offer one of these examples as a reason…they just don’t hold up!
Photo credit: Mihail Macri
“We’re the only species who drinks the milk of another species!”
Humans are the only species to [choose to] wear clothes. We’re the only species to pour so much time and effort into saving the sickest, weakest, and oldest members of our society. The only ones who create by-products that aren’t biodegradable. The only ones who have harnessed the power of electricity and fire. See where I’m going with this? Being “the only species” to do something doesn’t inherently make that thing good or bad…you could just as much offer this as a reason TO drink milk as you could to find it wrong. Lots of other species are the only ones to do the things they do…it’s called specialization.
“Milk is designed for one thing: a baby calf.”
That’s true! But then I ask you – what food is “designed” for human consumption? Leaves are designed to do photosynthesis to keep a plant alive. Seeds are part of the reproductive system of plants. Roots are designed to pull water and nutrients from the soil. There is not a thing that we eat that is designed for us to eat…except our own mother’s milk (which happens to be pretty nutritionally similar to the milk of other mammals). We’ve adapted to eat various (and nearly all) parts of our environment that contain carbohydrate, fat, and protein. If you believe that we got where we are by evolution, this is one you have to concede: our eating animals, plants, and fungi has never been because those things were created for us to eat…it’s because our species survived by specializing in being able to digest those things.
“Drinking milk isn’t natural.”
Last I checked, humans are animals, and animals are a part of nature. There are LOADS of examples of species co-existing in ways we find weird, extraordinary, or unbelievable. Certainly, questions of how we cohabitate and care for domesticated animals are relevant here…but to say that it goes against nature is to willfully ignore what nature is – a crazy cacophony of species living together on this green planet, sometimes using each other to survive.
Photo credit: Annie Spratt
It’s not for everyone
Again – milk is a choice, not a necessity, at this point for most people. So if you don’t drink it, consider offering one of these reasons:
“It doesn’t sit well with me.”
Whether you’re lactose intolerant (unable to break down milk sugar), or have trouble digesting the protein portion (casein or whey), milk could cause gas, bloating, and other digestive woes. There are many milk-alternative options out there – choose wisely if you are looking for something that has the same amount of protein, fat, and vitamin & minerals as real dairy!
“I don’t believe in using animal products for food.”
Veganism is a food pattern that relies solely on plant sources of calories, and you can certainly get the nutrition you need this way. You’ve been born at a lucky time in history to make this choice, as very few places in the world grow the variety and amounts of the kinds of foods you need to eat year-round! Your diet should still consist of lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes – many faux-animal products don’t have the same nutrient balance as their original versions. And there are more than enough vegan junk foods on the market these days to be totally animal-free, and yet totally sugared up and nutrient deplete. Consult the chart below to find a dairy alternative that fits your tastes & needs!
At the very least
Don’t let me hear you using one of those 3 silly reasons not to drink milk – and the next time you hear someone else use one, take the opportunity to have an interesting conversation about their philosophy (kindly!). Food IS something you should think about, source responsibly, and treat with respect, whether the source is plant or animal.
Refer to the below chart to see how various “milks” stack up – or make your own with this guide (all you need is a good blender and some cheesecloth – or a french press!), just remember that many of the store-bought ones are adding vitamins & minerals to mimic real dairy; something you won’t be able to do in your kitchen. Bottoms up!