much more intolerance to the life we’ve been living
January 31, 2019 8:35 AM   Subscribe

“Consumers are really not sure about the dairy industry. They’re not convinced these products are good for them any more.” But the plant milk boom is... “way bigger than just switching your milk”. To converts, almond and oat milk are the next wave in a fundamental shift towards a more conscious, sustainable way of living. To critics, they’re little more than cleverly marketed nut juice with additives – a symptom of everything that’s wrong with modern food culture. And so a strange battle has emerged, between an industry trying to replace something it says we don’t need in the first place, and dairy, a business that for a century sold itself as the foundation of a healthy diet, while ignoring the fact that most of the world does just fine without it (SL The Guardian)

Milk’s “share of throat” – an industry term for the proportion of total liquid we consume in a day – has been eroded by a steady flow of soft drinks, juices and smoothies, even bottled water. But none of these presented an existential threat. Blanket marketing established the connection between milk and wholesomeness and good nutrition. Now new forms of persuasion, more targeted and pervasive, have stripped away that healthy sheen from dairy.

Plant milks received a boost from their association with clean eating, a craze that has also had the effect of linking dairy with negative health issues. Clean eating, advocated by a fresh-skinned, glossy crop of wellness bloggers and Instagram celebrities, argued for the elimination of any foods deemed overly processed, allergenic, or otherwise “unnatural”: gluten, caffeine, meat and dairy. Its proponents blamed lactose intolerance as the cause of a range of ailments, including acne, eczema, lethargy, joint pain and a variety of digestive issues. And, as the clean eaters warned their readers off dairy, they sent them into the willing arms of plant milk startups. A steady supply of attractive millennial influencers filled their Instagram feeds with appetising shots of peanut-milk Thai curries and gluten-free beetroot bread. (According to industry analysts, one of the keys to the plant-based trend is that it looks appetising on Instagram.) The clean eaters did what years of vegan campaigning never could. Suddenly, giving up milk wasn’t just a health issue. It was part of living your best and most beautiful life.
posted by devrim (127 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was pretty knocked back when I saw there was a brand of cashew milk called Malk. (jury still out as to whether it contains Vitamin R.)
posted by Tesseractive at 8:43 AM on January 31 [51 favorites]


Personally I could care about milk as a beverage and use almond or soy on my cereal on those occasions I eat cereal.

But cheese, yeah. Nothing vegetarian or vegan comes even slightly close to real cheese, especially once you move beyond them trying to mimic crappy "American cheddar".

Likewise, I find powdered milk useful for baking, vegetarian and/or vegan baking is a pain in the ass and I'd rather just use real milk than the various substitutes you have to jump through more hoops for. I'm lazy I suppose.

Obviously from an environmental standpoint that's not so great. While nut trees take a lot of water, almond milk is still a much better choice ecologically, to say nothing of the abuse dairy cows are subjected to. Ethically I should give it up. But... cheese!
posted by sotonohito at 8:44 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]




After I developed a slight milk intolerance, the proliferation of milk alternatives has been wonderful.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:51 AM on January 31 [15 favorites]


I think we can all agree that ice cream is the foundation of a balanced diet. Preferably with chocolate sprinkles. Ideally with a flake. Its milky goodness all the way through.
posted by biffa at 8:53 AM on January 31 [32 favorites]


Anecdotally my household (4 people, rural Canada) has moved away from cow milk entirely this year. The decision wasn't mine, but I'm not a calf so not bothered.

The vegan half of our family both opted out primarily on account of the environmental impact of dairy farms, and secondarily due to cow empathy.

I'll still buy a nice cheese now and again. Myself I haven't cut dairy out so much as given it the cold shoulder. To the dairy farming families: I'm sorry.
posted by Construction Concern at 8:55 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


I was pretty knocked back when I saw there was a brand of cashew milk called Malk. (jury still out as to whether it contains Vitamin R.)

Perhaps a variant of the Soylent advertising strategy?
posted by Going To Maine at 8:56 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


I would virtually always rather do without milk than use an artificial milk, because they have few of the properties of real milk - they don't taste milky, so unless you enjoy soy or coconut flavors with your coffee, you're out of luck; they don't work much better than water in cooking because they have few proteins and generally not much fat; some of them have a strong and overwhelming flavor which means that your vegan biscuits will be Oat Milk Biscuits and not much else; and indeed you don't get the protein that you get from milk; their nutritional profile is either "not much" or "heavily fortified with additives". With the exception of hemp milk, they're not really very creamy, either. They're pretty much on a plane with Daiya, the best of the widely available vegan "cheeses" - sorta plausible in certain applications, but with very few of the nutritional benefits of the real thing, with a strong and unique flavor that does not blend well and not really a great substitute in most dishes.

Let's just say that people who like plant milks can have my share.
posted by Frowner at 8:58 AM on January 31 [57 favorites]


Speaking of Soylent, when reading this article yesterday I kept thinking how Soylent should release gallon jugs of watered down Soylent styled as milk. Soylent already tastes like the milk leftover from a bowl of marshmallow-less lucky charm and lots of these plant milks seem to struggle with nutritional value. Soylent-Milk would provide a balanced fraction of all the necessary nutrients while functioning as the slightly thick white water we apparently need to consume cereal.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:59 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


We consume a lot of dairy in our house. Yogurt, cheese, butter, milk, sour cream, ice cream. I have yet to have an alternative to dairy that I find palatable. I start my day every morning with a bowl of plain yogurt and a cup of espresso. But I don't drink milk. Bleh. Except on the rare occasion I have cereal.
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:00 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Before you completely write off nut cheese (which, wow, phrasing) try Miyoko's. It's the only company I've found that makes not only tolerable but delicious cheese alternatives, so much better than the Daiya shreds crap of the past. Still haven't found a replacement for a really good gouda though.
posted by sonmi at 9:01 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


I have a mild lactose intolerance that comes and goes, but I honestly find dairy products to be too delicious to not consume them. The minor suffering when my intolerance flares up is nothing compared to the joy of cookies and milk, or delicious cheese, or a creamy gelato, or all sorts of things.

I'm glad the alternatives exist for those who need or want them, but for me, cow juice is truly where it's at, even if my body sometimes would prefer not to deal with it.
posted by SansPoint at 9:02 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


Vanilla soy milk, my lovely indulgence, Costco organic, gmo free, shelf stable, $11.50 for a dozen quarts in a box. No cholesterol, 7gm protein, 100 cals per cup. I mostly put it in coffee or tea, sometimes in oatmeal or baked goods. I use a small fridge, the quarts are handy. I don't eat beef, it is coming down to feta, as far as my relationship with cows, well, and then, shoes. I am never buying another purse.
posted by Oyéah at 9:04 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


I'm lactose intolerant and stopped drinking milk a long time ago, but continued to eat some cheeses. I few years ago I got back into having cold cereal for breakfast and started buying almond milk, but didn't feel right buying expensively flavored and whitened water. A couple of years ago I noticed my neighborhood supermarket had store brand fat-free lactose-free milk, tried it and have been using it ever since. I was in the store one time and they were out, I talked to the guy stocking some other stuff nearby, he's maybe the dairy manager, and he told me that they sell so much of the milk I buy that they have a hard time keeping it in stock. So, if you're not vegan, and you're tired of overpriced flavored and colored water, try it out.
posted by mareli at 9:07 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


“share of throat” - welp wasn't expecting that when I clicked "more inside."

Is this where we recommend non-dairy dairy products? If so, I'll leave a recommendation for Ben and Jerry's Non-Dairy flavors.

(Please let this be a recommendation thread and not one where we eventually yell at each other for "being wrong" for having different tastes.)
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:07 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


I may have to draw my dairy-consuming line at Vodka distilled from milk though.
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:08 AM on January 31


I try to go for quality over quantity with my milk consumption these days. I'm the only person in the house that really drinks it (husband and son drink soy for lactose intolerance reasons) and I don't drink that much of it. I can afford to buy the glass bottle low-heat pasturized local grass fed small dairy etc etc etc milk. But I could never give it up completely because when milk is good, it's so good.

And, like, cheese. Again: I do not consume a whole lot, but that which I do consume is a treasured part of my existence.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:08 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


Its proponents blamed lactose intolerance as the cause of a range of ailments, including acne, eczema, lethargy, joint pain and a variety of digestive issues.

Fucking hell.

Pseudoscience has completely confused people.

Lactose intolerance is not an "allergy," i.e., it's not an immune response. It's simply a lack of the enzyme by means of which you can break down milk sugar, resulting the attendant problems an undigested sugar creates in the old digestive tract, ranging from mild discomfort to more painful and embarrassing symptoms.

A milk allergy is something different entirely - it's an immune response to proteins in milk (i.e., an actual allergic response).

There's also the weird and bogus claim that dairy causes "mucus buildup." Anecdotally speaking, when I've heard this from people, I feel like somewhere in the Venn diagram of pseudoscience, there's a significant overlap of anti-vaxxers and people who believe the dairy-and-mucus thesis.

That said, I like soy milk (there are tasty brands on the market these days), even though I'm totally fine with eating dairy and have a deep, abiding love for cheese.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:09 AM on January 31 [39 favorites]


I can do without milk as a consumable-- original-flavor Silk soy milk is perfectly good for my bowl of Rice Krispies-- but I'll be damned if I have to witness the millennia-old craft of cheesemaking be consigned to history's dustbin. Stilton, Roquefort, Cheddar: I will defend you to my last stinking breath.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:09 AM on January 31 [22 favorites]


You will pry my delicious raw whole milk from my cold, dead hands.
posted by Melismata at 9:11 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


If you can find the Oat-based cream cheese-alike (for example Oatly ‘På Mackan’), give it a try. A pretty good substitute!

We are pretty sold on oat malks. Lowest carbon option and getting very tasty as the food chemistry gets figured out!
posted by anthill at 9:11 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


how many coal industries worth of people are currently employed as dairy farmers?
posted by es_de_bah at 9:12 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


There's also the weird and bogus claim that dairy causes "mucus buildup."

I remember hearing this all the time growing up. "Don't drink milk when you've got a cold, because it'll make the mucus buildup worse," was a common refrain.
posted by asnider at 9:15 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


Canada's new Food Guide has changed how milk/dairy is categorized and it's upset various sectors of the food industry, nutrition, healthcare, etc.

Got milk? Not so much. Health Canada's new food guide drops 'milk and alternatives' and favours plant-based protein [National Post]
“Gone is the rainbow of the old four food groups, replaced by a single plate, half of it filled with fruits and vegetables, and a quarter each to whole grains and proteins. “Milk and alternatives” and “meat and alternatives” have lost their status as official, standalone food groups and have been lumped into the protein-rich category instead. [...] The previous four food groups — vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and meat — are history. Instead, food is now separated into three groupings: vegetables and fruits, whole grains (such as whole grain pasta, brown rice and quinoa) and protein foods (lentils, lean red meat, fish, poultry, unsweetened milk and fortified soy beverages, nuts, seeds, tofu, lower fat dairy and cheeses lower in fat and sodium).”
posted by Fizz at 9:18 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


In the early 2000s, soya had its own health scare. Soya contains phytoestrogens, oestrogen-like compounds that can mimic the hormone’s effects in humans, a discovery that led to fears about it disrupting hormones and “feminising” men. Clinical studies have consistently shown those fears are overstated. Even so, neo-Nazis continue to push the theory that soya milk is a liberal conspiracy to emasculate men, and drink cow’s milk at rallies to demonstrate “digestive superiority”.

Given their fondness for the Axis powers, these guys seems weirdly ignorant of what the Japanese Imperial Army was eating.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:22 AM on January 31 [14 favorites]


Consumers have also caught on that the actual almond content of most almond milks is minuscule. Both Silk and Alpro contain just 2% almonds. “It’s actually a water-based emulsion that you’re adding oils, a lot of sugar and gums to, and then just adding a couple of nuts on top,” Elmhurst’s Cheryl Mitchell said.

This right here is part of why I went off the stuff after many years of choking down milk substitutes. How many years did I suffer through watery, beige almond milk on cereal, or force myself to make smoothies with gritty hemp milk? I just don't eat cereal now. My main milk vector is cheeses and a splash in coffee every now and again.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:22 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


There's also the weird and bogus claim that dairy causes "mucus buildup."

I remember hearing this all the time growing up. "Don't drink milk when you've got a cold, because it'll make the mucus buildup worse," was a common refrain.


Same here. It really isn't like anti-vax propaganda. It is more similar to "don't go outside in the rain without a jacket, you'll catch a cold" sort of "common sense" correlation == causation type stuff and, as far as I can tell, free from breathless celebrity endorsements and dedicated conspiracy sites. Plus it doesn't hurt to not drink milk when you're sick.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:25 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


Plus it doesn't hurt to not drink milk when you're sick.

Heh. If I'm all phlegmy, the last thing on my mind is a tall glass of milk.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:33 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Like Fizz, I immediately thought of the recent hubbub in light of the newest Canada's Food Guide. I've been deeply unimpressed with the previous version of the guide that was released specially for First Nations, Inuit and Métis, particularly in how lactose intolerance was just paid lip service. (The advice was basically "talk to your family doctor and drink fortified soy beverages if you don't drink milk," when both family doctors and affordable fortified soy beverages are in short supply in many of our communities.) Apparently an update to that version of the guide is in the works, and while I'm open to being pleasantly surprised, I'm not holding my breath.

However, the First Nations Health Authority here in BC (while out of practicality leaning on dairy in their main nutritional guide) has a set of traditional foods fact sheets that I've found helpful for getting more calcium and vitamins in my diet without relying so much on dairy or dairy-mimicking substitutes.
posted by northernish at 9:35 AM on January 31 [15 favorites]


Discovering that plant milk in my tea is absolutely fine was THE THING that flipped me from vegetarian to vegan. I do miss cheese now and then, though although vegan cheese as pizza topping is about the only circumstance in which I think it's OK (that and a grilled cheese). Plant milk's great, though. We use oat milk mostly.
posted by dowcrag at 9:37 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


They didn't mention that Silk spent a bunch of money on making very tasty flavored milk-like products. Chocolate Silk is better than any other chocolate milk in my experience, and has a dark, rich, chocolatey flavor. It's probably not much healthier than fruit juice, nonetheless, I drink it sometimes. The little shelf-stable cartons are useful as non-perishable, low-effort calories and hydration that can be added to coffee. I should get more.
posted by bagel at 9:42 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Soya’s rapid growth was short-lived, in large part due to the fact that it doesn’t taste very good.

Umm, citation needed? I've always found dairy milk disgusting, but somehow it took me until about 2013 to discover there are alternatives that are not gross. I actually think most brands of soy milk are pretty tasty, but then I also think almond milk basically tastes like skim milk with salt mixed in, so I must have atypical standards about these things.
posted by gueneverey at 9:43 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


"You will pry my delicious raw whole milk from my cold, dead hands."

My mouth and throat feel coated and icky just thinking about it, can we just let you keep your thick fluids and leave your hands alive too?
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:44 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Water is a perfectly cromulent substitute to drinking a glass of milk. I don't get the point of drinking these highly-processed food-chemistry factory made fake milk-like drinks.
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:48 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]


I am honestly getting a little tired of the whole "people aren't any more likely to be lactose intolerant, but more people are claiming to be lactose intolerant, so those people must be stupid idiots who hate science and are making it up" thing. So, um, guys? The population has changed. It's not that any given person is more likely to be lactose intolerant. It's that a higher proportion of the population, in both the UK and the US, comes from demographics among whom most adults can't tolerate lactose.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:51 AM on January 31 [31 favorites]


I'm mildly lactose intolerant, and milk is the worst offender for triggering the symptoms, by far. I remember being a kid, being expected to drink milk with my lunch at school, because it was the "healthy" option. Nevermind that it was gross and had a weird texture and made my stomach hurt.

My dad, on the other hand, has a true milk allergy. A little milk is okay (good, since it's absolutely everywhere here), but a whole glass of it gives him hives. So between the two of us, we basically never had cow's milk in the house growing up and I never really missed it.

In college, soy milk started to be come a thing, and I started using it in baking and cooking and now that's all I use. I'm not about to chug a glass of it anytime soon, but I never did that with regular milk, either. But I like it in my baking and most of my cooking. Other times, the siren song of cheese is just too much and that's when I raid the lactaid.
posted by PearlRose at 9:51 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


workin on my night cheese
posted by salt grass at 9:56 AM on January 31 [18 favorites]


The real milk/goats milk that I occasionally have contact with call mass produced factory 'milk' nothing more than colored water
posted by robbyrobs at 9:59 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


People in my dad's family tend to become lactose intolerant in their mid/late 20s. And there's surprise dairy ingredients in everything. The intolerance increases in severity over time. There comes a point when popping lactase supplements is no longer economically reasonable, no matter how much you want a pizza, and my dad is basically there at this point. I have time before it gets that bad, but since he's an old pro milk-avoider at this point, of course I went to him for advice when this curse upon our bloodline hit me.

So I'm like "hey, my life and my relationship to food have just changed significantly against my will, I am at sea, tell me your wisdom." And instead, his wife (who is, hahaha, also an anti-vaxxer) butts in with "you know I have milk problems too, right? it makes my throat all slimy and it's miserable! You think having to cook all your own stuff or risk losing a whole afternoon is bad? Sometimes phlegm happens to me!" I'll absolutely believe that the milk/mucus thing is a tradition in some parts of the US, but in my lifetime I've never heard it from anyone other than the exact target demographic of Goop.

Anyway, it's been really eye-opening to how many products use lactose as a filler, if nothing else...
posted by Faustian Bargain Bin at 9:59 AM on January 31


I do find that singing goes a bit wrong after dairy products, for me. I am also moderately lactose intolerant and as the mouth and throat are part of the digestive system it makes sense there'd be some response. *gurgle*
posted by wellred at 10:01 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


- but I'll be damned if I have to witness the millennia-old craft of cheesemaking be consigned to history's dustbin. Stilton, Roquefort, Cheddar: I will defend you to my last stinking breath

I'm right there with you, militantly so.

I was very much raised on milk. A glass of skim with all three meals. But that changed a long time ago*. Not that I've given up on dairy. My day usually begins with some yogurt (at least 3.5 percent cream) and seldom ends without at least some cheese. Also, a little cream with my coffee. In fact, it was all this "other" dairy that first got me rethinking my milk consumption. Which was in line with some advice I got from the family doctor. Not to dump anything from my diet entirely, but rather to scale back (unless, of course, I was experiencing particularly dire symptoms, but even then, to suddenly blame everything on one particular source just doesn't feel that wise -- I am what I eat, all of it, not just some of it).

* the one exception is an occasional craving for chocolate milk. There used to be a TV commercial where they pitched it for when you were both thirsty and hungry (the thungries). It's true. It works.
posted by philip-random at 10:03 AM on January 31 [6 favorites]


Consumers have also caught on that the actual almond content of most almond milks is minuscule. Both Silk and Alpro contain just 2% almonds. “It’s actually a water-based emulsion that you’re adding oils, a lot of sugar and gums to, and then just adding a couple of nuts on top,” Elmhurst’s Cheryl Mitchell said.

Almond milk -- REAL almond milk -- is a food with a long history. Almond milk was used in medieval times as an ingredient on "fasting days" when real dairy could not be used, and it has an even longer history in the Middle East. It is reasonably easy to make (you need a food processor or heavy duty blender, a bowl, and some cheesecloth). I make it to use in historic cookery maybe once a month or so.

While I understand that "real" almond milk would probably be more expensive to make and market than what is currently sold in the US as "almond milk," I'm pretty surprised that there isn't some company, somewhere, that isn't marketing it as a premium product. It is so, so, SO much better than the gross oily liquid that is sold in the supermarket as "almond milk." (It is also generally shelf stable.)
posted by anastasiav at 10:08 AM on January 31 [14 favorites]


For years, I didn't have real milk in my house. The only thing I used milk for was cereal, and almond milk is just fine for that (plain, unsweetened). Then, I decided to get a frother and use my Aeropress to make lattes instead of regular coffee in the morning, to break my 2-3x weekly cafe visit habit. All of the lattes I made were terrible, until I switched over to dairy milk. It turns out my latte-making ability is about on par with the cafe, just that almond milk sucks in that application. It's just me, and I don't use either milk enough to use up 2 open containers before they go bad, so I switched over to all dairy. I use about a half gallon every 2 weeks, so I don't feel that bad about it.
posted by Fig at 10:11 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Up until my mid-20s I also drank milk with virtually every meal I had at home, plus with snacks...for a long while I was probably averaging at least a litre a day (and that's a conservative estimate), which seems incredible to me and my middle-aged metabolism now. When I met my wife she was vegan, so I starting putting soy milk on top of my cereal (another thing I almost never eat now because that shit is too expensive), and otherwise gradually tapering my consumption down and now I basically never drink it; maybe a glass every month or two when I visit my parents. Personally I don't miss it at all now, but given that it was a cornerstone of my diet for decades I probably would have considered it a great hardship if I'd gone cold turkey with it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:18 AM on January 31


I don't drink milk straight-up; I even make hot chocolate with water, not milk. (Cocoa powder, the darker the better, sugar, touch of cinnamon, hot water. Simple perfection.) When I was a young boy, I had enough of a reaction to plain ol' milk that my parents called it an allergy and sent me to school with a Thermos of juice; I don't know if it was a true allergy that I overcame, an intolerance that I overcame or something else. I never got used to the taste of just plain milk, though.

But, cheese? Yes, please, the sharper the better. Ice cream? Oh yeah. I can consume mass quantities. Butter? You will have to cut me in half to remove it from my refrigerator, if for baking and cooking reasons alone. So it's not an allergy, and dairy will remain embedded in my system for a long while. I thank you, cows, for your service.
posted by delfin at 10:29 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


I could take or leave milk. I don't even buy it, except sometimes for cooking. I go through a shitload of butter, cheese, and yogurt though.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:30 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


My wife has gone vegetarian and is now flirting with veganism. I am in general favour of eating less meat, and getting protein from a variety of sources for environmental reasons if nothing else. And I have really cut back my meat intake over the years, but we're on a two week trial period of no milk in the house, with some pressure to go even further and...I'm struggling. I don't drink a lot of milk, so I can see going without rather than the cashew "milk" we've been trying, but it's the idea of carrying on and trying to avoid cheese and eggs and yogurt where I'm starting to balk.
posted by nubs at 10:32 AM on January 31


i am violently vilely lactose intolerant with the additional gastro blessing of what appears to be idiopathic gastroparesis, which means the hideous bubbling cauldron of intestinal horrors sits inside me for days at a time percolating into WMD, and still i will not stop consuming dairy products, i will die first, and so will all unfortunates around me. i don't care and no one can stop me. good day.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:42 AM on January 31 [19 favorites]


There's also the weird and bogus claim that dairy causes "mucus buildup." Anecdotally speaking, when I've heard this from people, I feel like somewhere in the Venn diagram of pseudoscience, there's a significant overlap of anti-vaxxers and people who believe the dairy-and-mucus thesis.

So here's my theory on that: it's reflux. Maybe it's confirmation bias but I seem to know a lot of people who get GERD based on all sorts of random stuff. And reflux doesn't always just cause heartburn - in some people it causes phlegminess which I guess is the body's response to the acid.

Anyway, I know this has been a widely debated phenomena for years (decades) but I think there is something to it.
posted by GuyZero at 10:42 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


"There comes a point when popping lactase supplements is no longer economically reasonable"

2 chewable Lactaids a day costs me about $15 a month at WalMart prices. $15 to just pop one when I'm not 100% sure my meal doesn't have any hidden lactose in it is a bargain. Plus I can still eat ice cream etc. But I do use Almond Milk on my cereal and in my tea.
posted by COD at 10:44 AM on January 31


they're $10 for 60 on amazon.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:45 AM on January 31


i am violently vilely lactose intolerant with the additional gastro blessing of what appears to be idiopathic gastroparesis, which means the hideous bubbling cauldron of intestinal horrors sits inside me for days at a time percolating into WMD, and still i will not stop consuming dairy products, i will die first, and so will all unfortunates around me. i don't care and no one can stop me. good day.

This should be the plot of the next Bond film
posted by nubs at 10:47 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


And reflux doesn't always just cause heartburn

I used to have an issue with constant pressure and ringing in my ears. It went away when I got my GERD under control. I have no medical confirmation that the two were related, but since two ENTs and two brain scans never came up with an explanation, I'm very suspicious that it was GERD somehow causing sinus issues all along. And cutting way back on dairy is definitely correlated with the improvement in GERD.
posted by COD at 10:49 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


On the soy milk front: I've had some really good soy milk dishes in restaurants serving Hong Kong food - sweet soy milk with fried cakes alongside and savory dishes with vegetables, shrimp and seaweed. That soy milk was very fresh and not totally homogenized and it was a very different thing from what you buy at the store. (I believe that you can also get fresh soy milk at some large Asian groceries, but I've never tried any.)

I also wonder - it often seems to me like the UK gets a different range of vegetarian/vegan products than are readily available in, eg, large midwestern American cities. (Lots more kinds of Quorn, those sausage rolls, etc) The linked article talks about getting, like, seventy varieties of artificial milks at a Sainsbury's, and there aren't seventy varieties at the co-op here. (I assume this includes plain oat milk, sweet oat milk, chocolate oat milk, etc.) Do they also get fresher non-dairy milks than we get here?
posted by Frowner at 10:50 AM on January 31


I liked both soy and almond milk but they did not like my stomach AT ALL so I've just stopped eating cereal, which is honestly probably healthier, that stuff is just Carbs with Varying Amounts of Sugar and not actually filling anyway.

I have not tried oat milk though. Does it taste....oaty? Bland? Can you bake with it? I eat oatmeal fairly often, if you make it with oat milk is it better? Too much?
posted by emjaybee at 10:52 AM on January 31


Curious how this is a problem raised by millennials and was seldom heard of 20 or so years ago.
posted by Burn_IT at 10:53 AM on January 31


they're $10 for 60 on amazon.

If you are brave Amazon has the 180 ct. box of Kirkland brand for about $20. But I found those boxes always seem to have a few duds in them that simply don't work, so I spend the extra for brand name. Was buying at Amazon until I decided to not buy anything from Amazon late last year. But that is a different thread...
posted by COD at 10:53 AM on January 31


I liek milk.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:53 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]



I have not tried oat milk though. Does it taste....oaty? Bland? Can you bake with it? I eat oatmeal fairly often, if you make it with oat milk is it better? Too much?


The oat milk I've had is very oaty, oaty enough for the flavor to come through strongly when cooking. As long as an oat flavor will blend with your baking, that's fine, of course, but I feel like it's the least useful of the widely available milks.

Hemp milk is my favorite fake milk - it's fattier and creamier, and has a flavor that IMO blends better with other things.
posted by Frowner at 10:56 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


I like milk, eat a lot of yogurt and some cheese, but have never liked the sogginess of cereal in milk. Usually that means eating cereal dry, but I have now stumbled upon the protien-packed breakfast of using a spoonful of peanut butter and picking up cheerios with it. It's like a game, and the cheerios are always crunchy!
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 10:58 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Curious how this is a problem raised by millennials and was seldom heard of 20 or so years ago.

The article does a good job of laying out the history of dairy and the alternatives from the middle ages to now, and my takeaway is that a lot of the recent stuff is more the result of the forces of marketing and awareness than anything else.
posted by nubs at 10:58 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


Curious how this is a problem raised by millennials and was seldom heard of 20 or so years ago.

uhhhhh

do u think dairy intolerance is made up by hipster youths
posted by poffin boffin at 10:59 AM on January 31 [14 favorites]


in which hipster youths = normal middle class 40 year old adults
posted by poffin boffin at 11:00 AM on January 31 [15 favorites]


A very sincere thanks to the MeFites in this thread who have just alerted me that I'm taking a damn bath on lactase and should probably shop elsewhere.
posted by Faustian Bargain Bin at 11:00 AM on January 31 [6 favorites]


Also I recently bought Maple Malk and it was not bad and I'm not ashamed.
posted by GuyZero at 11:00 AM on January 31


I try to go for quality over quantity with my milk consumption these days. [...] low-heat pasturized local grass fed small dairy etc etc etc milk. But I could never give it up completely because when milk is good, it's so good.

Yeah this is sort of where I'm at with milk/dairy and also increasingly with meat in general. I'm not interested in "giving up" foods altogether, and most of the problems of the meat and dairy industries come from their scale. You can do dairy ethically and sustainably if you're doing it on a small scale, and people aren't going through huge quantities of the stuff as a staple food.

I mean, the reason dairy exists is largely because it allows you to take advantage of otherwise un-arable land. The places you think of as having dairy- and cheese-heavy cuisine (e.g. northern Italy) also have a lot of land that's not suitable for normal row crops. Grazing animals on the land, where they eat the native grass, and then consuming the animal milk (or the animals themselves) makes sense, and it's been sustainable for millenia in some areas.

What's not sustainable is doing it at industrial scale where the animals are merely one step in a vast chain that goes from intensively farmed, heavily fertilized row crops, to animal feed, to animal, to milk, to dairy products. That's garbage: it's clearly not going to end well, and it's probably the #2 priority after fossil fuels (to which it's... not entirely disconnected) that we need to fix as a civilization before we crash the biosphere.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:02 AM on January 31 [8 favorites]


CVS sells their generic lactase enzyme (Lactaid) in a bottle so you don't have all that waste. Pretty great if you are like me and take 8 when you eat a Neapolitan pizza.
posted by advicepig at 11:09 AM on January 31 [6 favorites]


Is there anyway to stop non animal milk curdling in coffee, because other than that I'm gone...
posted by Damienmce at 11:10 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


wrt cvs and other generic lactaids, I've had the same experience COD did with the kirkland ones: Do Not Rely Upon These False Friends For They Shall Fail You In Public
posted by poffin boffin at 11:14 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


I do both moo juice and plant alternatives and am happy to see so many varities though a friend recently pointed out a billboard that advertised a plant milk called "Ripple". We're children of the 70s so we chuckled.
It's a "delicious pea milk" which I also admit makes my inner 12 year old giggle.
posted by pointystick at 11:14 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


Speaking of Soylent

I... have been known to put Soylent on cereal. It's filling as all get out, and the taste is way better than any non-dairy milk I've tried. It doesn't work in coffee worth a damn though.

For cheese? I think I could go all-goat and/or all-sheep, or at least all small-farm. I'd lose, what? Mac and cheese? Grocery store mozz for pizza?
posted by supercres at 11:14 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I realized I'm lactose intolerant about 12 years ago. I did a test of no dairy for a month to confirm it. My joint pain, which appears to be auto-immune, got a lot better. Pseudoscience? Maybe. Anecdata, yes. I went from being barely able to walk a half a mile and worried that I'd have to give up dancing to feeling a lot better and being able to walk comfortably. I'm still dancing, though now that the arthritis has found my hips, it's problematic. Enzyme pills did not resolve the lactose intolerance.

I miss cheese, but not as much as I dislike joint pain. I indulged in a small amount of sample smoked Gouda the other day at the grocery. Dang, cheese is really awesome.
posted by theora55 at 11:17 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


I think I'm completely over and done with animal milk. Modern dairy farming is super gross, and I've personally seen how calves and their cows react when separated and it's horrible.

People who know me may remember me being pretty pro-carnivore in my comments on MeFi, and they may be surprised to learn that I've been almost entirely plant-based for over a year and haven't purchased any animal products in so long I can't remember the last thing I actually bought was. It wasn't planned, it just kind of happened. I think the last thing might have been fish and chips at our local fry and burger joint.

Most of my motivation is empathy and environmental. After starting HRT my empathy capacity took off like a bottle rocket and I started having really heavy moral, ethical and emotional issues around the use (and very real abuse) of animals as food. I have a really hard time looking at a cow or pig now and thinking "Yum! Yeah, just murder that cute, furry living thing that just made eye contact with, hack it up and burn it for me. That sounds like a fine dinner!"

Even writing that makes me feel gross, nauseous and really uncomfortable. This is new to me, but following my heart and striving to be gentle and kind are not, so it's been a really easy choice and transition.

It is increasingly difficult for me to not see modern farming practices as needlessly cruel, unhygienic and environmentally hazardous on both local and global scales.

And as someone who has lived with food scarcity, who has seen it personally and has worked against it in places like my last job, where we had a free kitchen and fed people from donations - part of my choice is about food scarcity and how much food it takes to raise animals for consumption, and how large scale animal farming is directly using up a disproportionately, exponentially larger share of arable land that could be easily used to feed the rest of the world and keep food and grain prices even lower.

The other huge part of it is health. About two months ago my local food bank had actual milk available and I was like "hell yeah, milk for cereal! it's been so long!" and it gave me the pissing-out-my-ass shits so bad it pretty much knocked me out of commission for the day and just left me feeling really gross and greasy. But it reminded me that that if I was honest with myself, that experience was actually common when I ate a lot more dairy.

Lately what I use for "milk" on cereal (because I fucking love cereal) is I just take some rolled oats, salt and a dash of sugar in water and froth them up with a fork. I then just pour this over cereal or granola, oats and all, because adding rolled oats to cold cereal is a thing I like to do anyways.

And I live somewhere with a lot of support for plant based foods, the food is really good, and even at totally blue collar greasy spoon burger joints they usually have multiple veggie patty choices ranging from really tasty lentil patties. And apart from fish and chips, my favorite dining out meals in town are all vegan anyway. And now I kind of want to try making vegan fish and chips with big battered strips of tempeh or extra firm tofu or something. Hell, tempura and chips would be most of the way there.

And I've had way too many tasty vegan baked goods that use egg replacers like flax seed and I personally can't tell the difference or miss having eggs around. I have some friends starting a plant based snack bar and they're going to be offering rad junk food like waffles and cereals along with baked goods and other fun snacks.

Hell, I had a Beyond Burger for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it actually kind of grossed me out because it was so realistic. The way they simulate the gritty, chewy bits of ground beef is just almost too real in that it mimics the texture of really cheap ground beef with a lot of finely ground gristle and fat in it, so it's kind of sandy and grainy almost like it's got bits of bone in it.

I mean it was really good and I kept forgetting it wasn't actually beef, so give it a try.

I don't really label myself as vegan. If you must have a label it's "freegan" - which is an annoying word and you shouldn't let it get stuck in your craw - but I'm freegan in that at my income level and reliance on the local food bank, I will accept and eat some animal products like beef jerkey, tinned salmon or things that would otherwise go uneaten, and I'm not reading all the labels (yet) for hidden whey or other animal based ingredients and food modifiers.

And for months now if, say, offered a choice between vegan Field Roasts or hot dogs from the fridge at the food bank, I'll take the Field Roasts, and if the choice is just hot dogs, I'm not likely to take them at all.

But I've stopped purchasing animal products entirely. I haven't even looked at the cheese or dairy case in a store in maybe a year. I don't actually... miss cheese? I mean if you put some really nice fancy cheese in front of me I might have a little bit, but I definitely am not sitting here pining for the stuff or looking for a replacement.

What I mainly want is a lot more avocados. I crave avocados so much it actually makes me homesick. I crave avocados so much I usually carry around an avocado eating kit in my snack bag that consists of a small nested camping cutlery set and camping salt/pepper shaker filled with fancy salt and black pepper in it. Just in case I meet an avocado that needs eating. Which happens pretty often, as in "Hey, you want this half of an avocado?" or even "Hey, we're running to the store, want a snack?" "Yes. Avocados please!"

My missing piece right now is I want some kind of savory vegan beef jerky replacement. I don't care if it's made out of weird mycoproteins and seaweed. If you can make me a good vegan landjäger sausage or beef jerky replacement that hits that salty umami spicy sweet taste and shelf stable protein axis, I will be a very happy non-metaphorical camper and hiker.

So, yeah. If meat/dairy has been grossing you out, I'm right there with you.
posted by loquacious at 11:20 AM on January 31 [23 favorites]


I use OJ or apple cider in baking instead of milk. It activates the baking powder just fine and tastes good. I made pumpkin pie with coconut milk and, meh. If I eat cereal, it's dry, by the handful. Nut and soy 'milks' are expensive and not a nutritional mainstay in any way, though I will probably make some hazelnut milk next time I make a pumpkin pie because I think it would taste good. I wish there were as many dairy-free products as gluten-free. Dairy finds its way into a lot of foods where you don't expect it.

Lactose intolerance is the norm for most people around the globe. It's mostly Europeans who have adapted to tolerate it. Many people will lose their ability to tolerate lactose as they age. One of the 1st symptoms is nasty farting. Just in case you haven't figured out why you have gas shortly after eating. Try the enzyme or going without dairy.
posted by theora55 at 11:24 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I have now stumbled upon the protien-packed breakfast of using a spoonful of peanut butter and picking up cheerios with it.

Yaaaas the song of my people! I wish I could afford to buy Mormon or sysco sized 5 gallon pails of peanut butter.

Also, I can note that oat and hemp milk makes some of the best vegan hot cocoa. Get yourself some of those Dandies vegan marshmallows and float one in a really hot mug of it, or go for the gold with vegan smores with your cocoa.
posted by loquacious at 11:28 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I like a nice frosty glass of moo, but it's not worth animal suffering.
posted by JHarris at 11:28 AM on January 31


I realized I'm lactose intolerant about 12 years ago. I did a test of no dairy for a month to confirm it. My joint pain, which appears to be auto-immune, got a lot better. Pseudoscience? Maybe. Anecdata, yes. I went from being barely able to walk a half a mile and worried that I'd have to give up dancing to feeling a lot better and being able to walk comfortably. I'm still dancing, though now that the arthritis has found my hips, it's problematic. Enzyme pills did not resolve the lactose intolerance.

The low-inflammation diet is also a pretty awesome and helpful thing for almost everyone. As far as I know I don't have any auto-immune stuff going on, but when I'm eating within the range of that kind of low sugar, plant based diet that's in line with an anti-inflammation diet I can report I feel less beat up by some of the strenuous hiking I do, I seem to feel better more often, I get sick less, my skin is clearer and injuries heal faster.
posted by loquacious at 11:35 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Many people will lose their ability to tolerate lactose as they age. One of the 1st symptoms is nasty farting. Just in case you haven't figured out why you have gas shortly after eating. Try the enzyme or going without dairy.

Hmmmm.

Not that I am both olde and notorious for my gastrointestinal output or anything, but... I may have to test this empirically.

As far as I know I don't have any auto-immune stuff going on, but when I'm eating within the range of that kind of low sugar, plant based diet that's in line with an anti-inflammation diet I can report I feel less beat up by some of the strenuous hiking I do, I seem to feel better more often, I get sick less, my skin is clearer and injuries heal faster.

Which jives nicely with the old Michael Pollan mantra: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. That's a guideline that I don't always follow, but I often feel better about what I eat when I do.

I do not shove processed foods away from my plate and cry SHUNNNN! at them, however. I am highly skeptical of most claims of "remove food X and gorge on food Y and you'll live to be 120" food worthiness. All things in moderation, try to maintain variety, and if I can lean in the direction of "less processed," I do. Not to the extent of "I won't drink milk unless I'm on a first-name basis with the cow," but more like avoiding the most obvious salt and sugar and fat bombs and making reasonable choices without becoming a zealot about it.
posted by delfin at 11:46 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised no one has mentioned hazelnut milk. That's my dairy replacer of choice.Great flavor, not trying to be milk.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:52 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


You know that food pyramid? In my house, pasta & cheese make up the bottom 2 layers. If I die of cheese, I will have led a happy life, so alas. Milk, I wax & wane depending on my mood, but it really helps when I've got heartburn. We drink about a gallon a week between 6 people, so that's not that much, really.

none of the milk alternatives taste good to me, so I'm okay with water or herbal tea whenever I just want a drink. Don't do sodas because of the caffeine & sugar, & Topo Chico is fun, but not at that price.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:52 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


i guess at this point i just don't think denying myself occasional ice cream will make that much of a difference when i drown in my home from climate change or die from a preventable/treatable illness due to lack of health coverage

also van leeuwen's earl grey is amazing
posted by poffin boffin at 11:54 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


I used to be a cheese lover. I had to give up dairy for a while when trying to determine my child's food sensitivities (along with pretty much everything else). I used to be a "I could NEVER live without CHEESE" but I'm not anymore. Because I have. And peanut butter, almond butter, sunbutter, etc, were all good fatty substitutes for me. I forget from time to time that I don't really like avocados and have those.

A fellow parent on MeFi stated that when they started breastfeeding their child, they quit dairy in solidarity with the mama cows. That really stuck with me.
posted by jillithd at 11:56 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


Also, something I find that is often left out of almost all sides of this animals vs. plant-based food debates is the concept that meat and dairy have some known psychologically addictive properties in that we biologically crave heavy high fat, high salt, high sugar and high energy foods, even when we're well fed and not foraging in a food scarce environment specifically for the dopamine and neurotransmitter release.

The use or abuse of food as a drug is rarely addressed. Hell, the US has several national holidays that are basically entirely focused on abusive behavior involving self-medicating with food. There's hundreds of restaurant franchises that market it and entire industries effectively based on this.

Which is why doing something like giving up soft drinks can be nearly as difficult as quitting smoking or drinking. Even diet soft drinks can hit that dopamine release button.

I have definitely noticed this dopamine hit when I haven't had, say, a full strength sugar soft drink in a couple of months or a even some meat like a handful of beef jerky or something. It's actually pretty profound to me as an effect, even as someone who has spent a lot of their life hacking their dopamine circuits to self medicate.

There is a bit of a withdrawal and "I'm missing something" profile that can have annoying psychological effects when forgoing these kinds of foods.

And it seems to be a large elephant gone missing in the room when this debate comes up in almost every forum or segment I've personally seen.

Likely because people in general are very uncomfortable thinking about their own behavior and diet as addictive or abusive, because that negative stuff is just for drunks and junkies, even if they're hitting that dopamine button by drinking soft drinks all day.

So if you find yourself going plant based or you go cold turkey from, well, turkey, be mindful of this. Being irritated and missing that dopamine hit is actually a thing and you're not imagining it.
posted by loquacious at 12:00 PM on January 31 [13 favorites]


Yeah I've been a vegetarian for a long time, but have slowly started to cut out dairy. I still consume eggs (which I buy local and free range), but I only consume dairy free milk and I'm trying to reduce my cheese consumption. I've never really eaten yogurt and I don't do many other dairy products.

I guess the main thing is I'd like to be more deliberate with my food consumption. I don't think it's terrible to eat meat or dairy, but I do think it's disgusting when people take pleasure at joking about killing baby animals or seem to give no thought to the environmental impacts or ethics of factory farming. It's hard to change habits overnight, especially if you have limited time and money, but I must admit I was pretty grossed out when I had a friend explicitly state, while shoving vegan cupcakes down her through, how she went vegan for personal health benefits and that she didn't actually care about animal welfare or the environment.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 12:04 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I do not shove processed foods away from my plate and cry SHUNNNN! at them, however. I am highly skeptical of most claims of "remove food X and gorge on food Y and you'll live to be 120" food worthiness.

Agreed, and that's not what I'm saying at all, and I definitely don't want to live to be a 120 anyway. I don't shun non-organic food, and am not yet reading every label.

And I fucking love me some goddamn Oreos and I frankly still eat an alarming amount of garbage. I'm not over here eating only kale and carrots, "plant-based freegan" to me just means "all the food, hold the animals if you can, please."

But eating less processed sugar, preservatives and whatever factory farmed franken-meat I can realistically obtain at my income level is kind of an automatic dietary win for me and just about everyone.

And that mantra from Pollen about eating mostly plants is pretty spot on and just really clean, clear advice as a guideline.
posted by loquacious at 12:10 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Exactly. You can eat smarter, and feel healthier doing so, without eating ONLY the smartest and the healthiest.

Especially since what exactly is the smartest and the healthiest seems to change on a regular basis.
posted by delfin at 12:13 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Chocolate Silk is better than any other chocolate milk in my experience, and has a dark, rich, chocolatey flavor.

Agreed - - I am an unrepentant cow milk fanboy, but Silk Dark Chocolate Almondmilk is absolutely delicious.
posted by fairmettle at 12:17 PM on January 31


I've never liked milk straight, whole, skim or any flavors. To be honest, I don't care for any of the nut alternatives either. I mostly use milk/cream in cooking and sometimes I sub out for coconut milk, depending on the recipe flavor profile.

That said, I live in fear of becoming lactose intolerance. A life without fancy cheese seems like a life hardly worth living.
posted by thivaia at 12:26 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Before you completely write off nut cheese (which, wow, phrasing) try Miyoko's. It's the only company I've found that makes not only tolerable but delicious cheese alternatives, so much better than the Daiya shreds crap of the past.

She also has a cookbook called Artisan Vegan Cheese with some fantastic recipes. Using things like carageenan you can make a sliceable nut cheese which also melts and stretches when exposed to heat - things like pepper jack for quesadillas, or mozzarella sticks that you can batter and deep fry. Miso and nutritional yeast creates a fairly "cheddary" flavor, especially if left to age, and makes a very serviceable mac & cheese.

The only down side is that it can be time consuming, one of the primary ingredients she calls for is called rejuvelac, created by basically fermenting sprouts into a bubbly, pungent beverage over the course of a few days. It also requires specialty ingredients, like raw cashews, carageenan, etc which can be more expensive than dairy cheese, though nowhere near the exorbitant fees you'd pay for most vegan cheeses at a natural food store.

Will one of her cheeses hold up against your favorite brie or gouda side by side? Maybe not, but served with crackers or sprinkled on top of tacos I doubt you'd care too much because it's delicious. I've even made a pizza with her mozzarella, and having that mouthfeel of stretchy/melty hit all the right buttons for me that Daiya never did (always had somewhat of a weird aftertaste).

So yeah, if you're a dairy free food nerd I recommend giving it a try!
posted by Feyala at 12:26 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


I just love that the pea milk crew decided to name their product after some old school bum wine.
posted by East14thTaco at 12:30 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


It is more similar to "don't go outside in the rain without a jacket, you'll catch a cold" sort of "common sense" correlation == causation type stuff

Oh, for sure. It's not like it's a harmful suggestion and I generally don't crave milk when I'm sick. Frankly, I rarely drink it all except sometimes when I'm eating a piece of super rich cholocate cake or having a rare bowl of cereal. Mostly, we buy it for baking and for our daughter.

Someone mentioned upthread that Silk's chocolate beverage is better than chocolate milk, so I'll add that their Silk Coconut for Coffee (original, unsweetened) is excellent and I prefer it to dairy cream. The fact that it lasts a lot longer before going bad doesn't hurt, either, since I tend to drink my coffee black except on the weekend when I want something a little more indulgent.
posted by asnider at 12:38 PM on January 31


You can pry my cheese from my cold dead hands.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:41 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


I am also sadly increasingly lactose intolerant. It snuck up on me again recently because I had reduced most of my cheese consumption to Jarlsberg, which is supposedly lactose-free, but sweetened condensed milk in chai became not OK. I experimented with dairy-free alternatives in my late 20s and ultimately landed on unsweetened, unflavored, refrigerated almond milk (pink carton Trader Joe’s or orange carton Whole Foods) for my cereal, oatmeal, smoothie, and limited baking needs. After reading the article I’m wondering if I’m wasting money on the refrigerated version. Was my taste test faulty? Is there any real difference?

I have a kid with a metabolic disorder that requires following a low-protein diet, so I am well-versed in dairy alternatives, but [Swedish] oat milk hadn’t popped onto my radar yet. It’s low-protein, so we’ll check it out! I had been worrying about the ecological ramifications of our almond milk consumption, but is it any worse than big dairy? I’m sure the Good Place accountants know the point values and are scoring my actions accurately.
posted by Maarika at 12:52 PM on January 31


Maarika, it looks like it's something of a mixed bag ecologically between dairy and almond milk! Dairy's definitely worse from a carbon prospective, but almond milk uses a ton of water (6k liters for a liter of almond milk). I'm not finding any reputable sources for how much water goes into producing a gallon of dairy milk upon a quick search, but oat milk's recommended as a sustainable non-dairy milk.
posted by devrim at 1:03 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


For reasons unrelated to health, I can count exactly how much dairy I'm consuming every week: a pound of butter; three pounds of a particular brand of full fat cheddar cheese; and three quarts of whole milk. I've developed sensitivities to all plant fats I've tried except rice bran oil, the oil in olive fruits -- not the seeds, and avocados, also not the seeds.

In my experience, tested hundreds of times by now, ultra-pasteurized milk causes much more mucus than the same brand of milk pasteurized in the standard way, and though I've only tried it about ten times, strictly grass fed milk of the same brand causes much more mucus than the ultra-pasteurized milk, despite the fact that it tastes better.
posted by jamjam at 1:13 PM on January 31


There's a big difference between a liquid that looks like milk and a liquid that tastes/cooks/flavors like milk. Cow milk and soy milk can look exactly alike, but they are not the same thing in the least.
posted by zardoz at 1:28 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


I grew up on a dairy farm, I stopped eating as much dairy for two reasons.
Dairy products that I want are very expensive.
Dairy Farmers in the USA are largely farming on a scale that is reprehensible and that will not stop.

Production of milk is so much higher than it used to be, it's a really efficient process on 10,000 head dairies. The amount produced today is a 600% increase from 1950
The average size of a licensed dairy farm in 2017 was 234 head. In 2007 it was 129. We went from 70,000 herds in 2007 to 40,000 in 2017. That number has decreased even more.
In the 1970s we had 400,000 herds and operators. .
500+ cow dairies are producing over 60% of the milk in the USA. That's where all the dairy farms went.
Dairy Farmers are continuing to produce more and more milk every year with less demand.

They put a lot of this into cheese storage.
There is 1.39 billion pounds of cheese in storage in the USA as of 2018. Worst of all, it's not even good cheese.
There is no reason for the dairy industry to do what it is doing, which is pushing small producers out of business and creating dairy monopolys.

And then I have a personal reason.70% of Farmers in the USA, 600,000 owners and managers of farms, voted for Trump. My dad voted for Trump.
As soon as Trump came into office, things got very bad for small dairy Farmers. My dad will probably lose the farm in the next 2 years.
My family has been farming in the USA for 9 generations, and it all ended with me and my millennial cousins. The average age of a farmer is 56.
It'll likely keep going up.
posted by burntbook at 1:35 PM on January 31 [21 favorites]


Is there any real evidence-based science behind this "meat and dairy are bad" trend? I know we were all told that dietary fat is a heart killer and saturated fat even more so for the past 20 years or so but I've seen newer studies that are increasingly contradicting that belief. In fact, many are showing real benefits to high fat and low carb approaches to diet.
Obviously if your body doesn't process dairy well it makes sense to avoid it, but I'm really not sold on why the rest of us should give it up.
posted by rocket88 at 1:36 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Amen, rocket88.
posted by Melismata at 1:37 PM on January 31


i get really chidi'd out by weighing the cost of animal suffering in an omnivore diet vs the cost of human suffering in a veg(an) diet and it's just A Lot right now.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:54 PM on January 31 [24 favorites]


That is my opinion too rocket88, dairy is actually a rich source of protein and fat. Cows are treated horribly and the massive extent of the dairy industry is unsustainable, but those are reasons to change industry, not stop using milk. As with so many other aspects of the US's economic health right now, change must come, change will come one way or another, but implementing the change will be painful in the short term, and some people keep lobbying to put the change off.
posted by JHarris at 1:57 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


I started using cashew milk in my coffee when I was dating someone that had lactose intolerance. It seemed perfectly fine, until we weren’t dating anymore and I decided to try dairy again. Sweet mother of Jesus, it’s so much better.

I don’t drink a lot of milk; really it is mostly in my coffee (I drink lattes, or cafe au lattes when I’m at home) . I’ve tried a bunch of non-dairy alternatives, and some are decent and even good in their own right (hemp milk, coconut milk if I want that coconut flavor). But it’s not the same.

Of course, I’m of European descent AND a long line of dairy farmers, so I am certain I’m built, at least for now, for dairy. Still, I could probably do without, if it wasn’t for:

Cheese. I need my cheese. And even if I had a decent “everyday” cheese alternative (think shredded cheese on salads or tacos), I don’t know I could given up the really wonderful aged cheddars out there. Not what you get at your regular grocery store labeled aged, but the 5 year and up kind from specialty grocers and cheese houses. The ones with the crystals in them. The aged cheddars so strong that you can only take the tinyiest nibbles of cheese.

The flip side is that I’ll kill a fool over horchata (cinnamon rice milk, often made with almonds as well). I do love me some Trader Joe’s Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:13 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, kefir, feta, goat cheese, halloumi, yummy crumbly British cheeses, melty and sharp French ones, cream for coffee, tall glass of milk with a grilled cheese sandwich, or a soft cookie... it’s an *enormous* proportion of my diet. Only alpha-gal syndrome could make me stop. (And holy shit would that just wreck me.)

I’ve given vegan alternatives a try... the taste factor isn’t there for me, satiety’s *sorely* lacking, I’m frankly amazed they’re having the takeup they do. (Everyone’s M surely varies, I know.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:23 PM on January 31


i get really chidi'd out by weighing the cost of animal suffering in an omnivore diet vs the cost of human suffering in a veg(an) diet and it's just A Lot right now.

My understanding is the immediate human suffering in the veg(an) diet supply chain largely exists in the omni diet supply chain, by orders of magnitude, but not the reverse. Push the timeline out a bit and the effects of exponentially more water used and carbon emitted, and it's not really comparable.

Regarding what's healthier for a diet, though, yeah, murky.
posted by avalonian at 2:25 PM on January 31


I just feel like I should point out for the newly lactose intolerant, cheeses have varying levels of lactose. They're all very different. A super aged parmesan isn't the same as triple cream brie.

Also it's probably been said and I missed it but lactose intolerance is WAY more common in people of color and Ashkenazi Jews. Super, super common.
posted by colorblock sock at 2:29 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


I'm quite happy with Tofutti cream cheese and sour cream. They are delicious and have the right taste and mouth feel. For cream in creamy soups, I used coconut milk powder, which works really well. Chao "cheese" is delicious for Mac & cheese - with the right amount of umami. I ate more Rice Dream mint ice cream sandwiches than I care to admit in 2017. I can't remember the name right now, but there is a spicy nacho "cheese" dip at my local co-op made from potatoes and carrots that is frickin delicious. And my flavor profile has changed, too, where I would never dream of eating bean dip or refried beans 3 years ago, but now I love them! Instead of chips and cheese dip, I eat chips and bean dip. LOL

Anyway, there is hope. Delicious, delicious hope.
posted by jillithd at 4:45 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Dairy's definitely worse from a carbon prospective, but almond milk uses a ton of water (6k liters for a liter of almond milk). I'm not finding any reputable sources for how much water goes into producing a gallon of dairy milk upon a quick search, but oat milk's recommended as a sustainable non-dairy milk.

It's also very relevant here that the water used to grow almonds is in California and i s a much more unsustainable resource than water in Wisconsin which comes form the sky.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:57 PM on January 31


Oat milk in coffee is fantastic. I was introduced to it in Oslo and was blown away by its thick, creamy consistency and neutral taste. Made for an excellent latte.
posted by vivzan at 8:15 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


If you think you’re lactose intolerant but have trouble with cheese, it may be casein intolerance/allergy instead. And hey, you know what, I had constant mucous production going for the last 10 years of my life, every day my throat ached from it draining down the back of my throat, and was only ever diagnosed with “idiopathic rhinitis” or “equivocal for dust mite allergy” or “might be GERD”. I would also get heartburn, and bloating, and digestive issues, but never pinned down a trigger—until the last year or two when it started getting worse and I finally figured out it might be lactose intolerance. Only I still had problems even with lactaid and lactose-free milk, but had no problems with butter. I finally decided to try going dairy free. And you know what? My sinuses are clear for the first time in TEN YEARS. No more heartburn, much less digestive distress. I miss cheese so, so badly. But it finally got to a point where feeling good was worth the sacrifice. Target brand almond milk is my favorite so far. Natural Bliss makes stellar almond creamers that actually mix with coffee. I can still tolerate butter in moderate amounts, although Earth Balance is pretty good too. But I miss cheese...
posted by impishoptimist at 9:17 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


A huge, huge upside of milk is that a lot of grocery stores use it as a loss leader. Even in New York, you can easily find milk for $3-4 a gallon. If you can tolerate the lactose, it's a good price for 2400kcal, 120g protein, and lots of vitamins and minerals. I unfortunately can't tolerate the lactose, not at the throughput I would need to get real nutrition from milk, so I make strained yogurt. Still a good price. Soy milk isn't that far off, nutritionally, but at least in New York you have to go to one of two or three Chinese supermarkets to get the good stuff (cheap, unsweetened, in gallon jugs).
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:16 PM on January 31


As a veteran vegan I'm still taken aback by the general popularity of plant milk now. It's great.

The most interesting thing recently is seeing some new coffee drinks use plant milks by default without mentioning it on the packaging other than in the ingredients: they assume non-vegan consumers will buy it and enjoy it without noticing, and aren't making any big push to sell to vegans. It's just a normal thing now.

British almond milk is always like drinking healthy gritty misery. When I've visited the USA and tried almond milk it's usually deliciously decadent and obviously full of additives. It's much more fun. Soy milk too. I'd make sloshing sounds as I walked around if it wasn't for the gum building up inside me.

I was avoiding Rude Health milks even before they ranted against vegans, simply because their milks are not good enough to justify the high price. I have a feeling their target market is the affluent detox cult.

There is no single best replacement for cows milk. People have preferences, and different milks work better in some situations. Bon Soy is really good in coffee, for instance, and I've found some of the high fat coconut milks work very well in cakes (the full-fat version of Rebel Kitchen's plain coconut milk is almost overwhelmingly rich and delicious). Provamel unsweetened soy seems to work best in tea at home.

Anyway, it's great.
posted by BinaryApe at 1:00 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]


We very recently tried to lower our meat consumption, and switching from milk to one of the substitutes was the next step. Since we've regularly spent our holidays in a farm, our daughter had witnessed a cow giving birth, and though all animals were very well treated in the farm, the fact that the calves were taken away real soon, that the cows were calling their calves for days was puzzling her. So, just as she had decided to avoid meat as much as possible, she asked us not to buy milk anymore, but to try different options. Right now, she's partial to oat milk, which is, I guess, the one with the most neutral flavour. But I will read this thread very closely, because I wonder what nutrients she will be lacking if she doesn't eat meat and doesn't drink milk for the rest of her days.
posted by nicolin at 2:30 AM on February 1


satiety’s *sorely* lacking

That's my other biggest gripe about almond milk (besides the fact it tastes bad to me). It's like drinking water. And the cartons proudly advertise "Only 30 calories!" or whatever. I'm like dude how is that a selling point? I need more calories than that! Also protein! Food is supposed to provide sustenance, is it not? This isn't usually a problem with soy milk though, I dunno about others.
posted by gueneverey at 6:11 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]


nicolin, she'll possibly need a B12 vitamin replacement and that's about it, really. I take a multi-vitamin and also love to coat sprinkle "nooch" (nutritional yeast) on anything you'd sprinkle parmesan cheese on, for example, for my B needs. If you are on Facebook, I'd highly recommend two groups for vegan kids: How Vegan Children Thrive! and What Vegan Children Eat! The first is to ask questions in a very supportive environment - it is well moderated. The second is a sibling to the first for good ideas on what other vegan kids around the world eat.
posted by jillithd at 7:48 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]


And the cartons proudly advertise "Only 30 calories!" or whatever. I'm like dude how is that a selling point?

To be fair, liquid calories are insidious and most people aren't really good at knowing when they've consumed too many. For people looking to cut back, switching to dairy alternatives is one option.
posted by asnider at 8:51 AM on February 1


We went vegan for Veganuary and have decided to stay vegan - we are finding it very easy. Oatly Barista is delicious- and it's foamable and make great cappuccinos.
posted by hazyjane at 9:09 AM on February 1 [2 favorites]


I think part of the reason for the increased popularity of these milks is an increasingly diverse population and an accompanying increased likelihood of lactose intolerance. Drinking tall cold glasses of any kind of milk seems like a dying tradition in the US, though. I think a lot of people are replacing milk with beverages that don't call themselves milk or try to approximate it at all. Buying milk solely to cook with is such a chore - I either have to throw the rest out or find other ways to cook it before it spoils - that I was wondering if I should just use UHT milk and keep it on hand like oil or flour.
posted by Selena777 at 9:24 AM on February 1


As a compromise, try mixing almond milk with a little bit of heavy cream (35% whipping cream is perfect). It offsets the wateriness of the nut milk while adding only a small amount of lactose and other carbs.
posted by rocket88 at 1:02 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


My missing piece right now is I want some kind of savory vegan beef jerky replacement.

Stonewall's Jerquee has been around like forever. Defatted soy flour is the main ingredient IIRC. Slightly spongier texture than actual jerky, but has remarkable chewiness and I like the flavor of the spicier options. Really one of my favorite faux jerky options, even when I wasn't a vegetarian I still ate it when I found a store that carried it.

Primal has soy, gluten and shiitake based options in a variety of flavors.

And it seems to be a large elephant gone missing in the room when this debate comes up in almost every forum or segment I've personally seen.


If you've ever been to an overeater's anonymous meeting you'll never think of food consumption the same way again.

I love hazelnut milk when I can find it unsweetened, but that's a matter of luck. My main go to is almond milk on cereal and when I add milk to tea or coffee I use soy milk because almond milk does nothing.

Any insight into which non-dairy options are best for cooling down after an overly spicy meal? Coconut? Cashew?
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:07 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


Oh, and flax milk was surprisingly good when I tried it. Did not expect it to be.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:08 PM on February 1


Any insight into which non-dairy options are best for cooling down after an overly spicy meal? Coconut? Cashew?

You need fat for that, so try avocado. Blend some (preferably frozen chunks) in with your non-dairy milk of choice.
posted by rocket88 at 1:40 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


I started using nut milks - mostly coconut - with cereal/granola in my late 20s without even realizing that I was becoming lactose intolerant. I used to love drinking cow milk, but just weaned myself off it, unaware. Then eventually yogurt was a problem, and I just couldn't tell real strained yogurts from Greek-style. An evening doubled over in pain after convincing myself that the hazelnut gelato was probably made from hazelnuts so it'd be OK convinced me to order some lactase pills. I try to avoid them, and have gotten good at it at home but sometimes I wanna feel normal. And sometimes there's goat cheese? I miss soft cheeses. The Lactaid-Milk is a no go though; oh wow that gave me the worst gas I have ever had.

I am mostly on Cashewgurt for with granola and am playing with switching from butter to ghee. I suppose I should be making more almost-no lactose mac n cheese while I can still digest some lactose.
posted by mountmccabe at 3:39 PM on February 1


Any insight into which non-dairy options are best for cooling down after an overly spicy meal? Coconut? Cashew?

Alcohol also works as a solvent.

But fat is also helpful. Many non-dairy ice creams have a good amount of fat. Some of them even don't feel chalky.
posted by mountmccabe at 3:43 PM on February 1


I’m on dairy farms a lot, professionally. I have to strongly push back on the argument made several times in this discussion that dairy cows are routinely treated poorly. Animals that are treated badly are not healthy, efficient producers of food for human consumption, and the men and women who work with animals every day aren’t monsters, they care very much about their cows’ welfare. If you read an issue of “Hoard’s Dairyman” or “Progressive Dairyman” you’ll see that cow comfort and welfare are very high priorities for farmers. The selection tool that many farmers use to make breeding decisions was recently revised to include information about 6 common health problems in dairy cows. The International Committee for Animal Recording is developing guidelines for genetic evaluation of animal welfare. A lot of smart people are working very hard on these issues.
posted by wintermind at 7:47 PM on February 1 [6 favorites]


I'm not leaving milk behind because I think dairy farmers are evil, but even the beat treated cows still have their young taken away for slaughter yes?
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:17 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


> Any insight into which non-dairy options are best for cooling down after an overly spicy meal?

A slurp of hot tea really works to kill the immediate spice in your mouth.
posted by lucidium at 9:45 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Hot tea may help somewhat... but dairy is particularly useful when eating hot pepper products, as casein in mammals' milk helps break the bond between capsaicin (what makes hot peppers burn) and lipoprotein receptors on the tongue. Nut milks don't have that.
posted by delfin at 2:36 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


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