Research is increasingly indicating that plant-based diets are beneficial to our health and help to prevent and manage diseases.
We don’t need dairy for good health
There is nothing contained in cows’ milk that we can’t get from more humane sources like plant milk. Plant milks are lower in saturated fat than whole cows’ milk and contain no cholesterol.
What about calcium?
There is a long-standing misconception that we need dairy milk for good health, especially for strong bones. However, the reality is that you can look after your bones without eating animal products. You can buy fortified plant milk containing the same amount of calcium as cows’ milk, and calcium-set tofu and fortified plant alternatives to yoghurt are really rich in calcium too. There are also smaller but useful amounts of calcium in kale, pak choi, okra, spring greens, dried figs, chia seeds and almonds. All of these wonderful foods are packed full of other minerals, vitamins and fibre.
Comparisons between whole cows’ milk and plant-based milks are particularly favourable in terms of saturated fat, calories and nutrient value. Take a widely available fortified soya milk, for example, which contains 40 calories and almost zero saturated fat per 100ml, similar amounts of protein, calcium and riboflavin to whole cows’ milk, and more vitamin D. The same quantity of whole cows’ milk contains more calories (66Kcal) and significantly more saturated fat (3g).
Cows’ milk has been created by nature as a powerful growth food to help turn a small calf into a large cow. In order to digest milk, lactase must be present in the body to break down the sugar, or lactose, contained in it. It is estimated that 65 per cent of human adults (and most adult mammals) decrease the production of lactase past weaning, and without it, milk consumption can lead to bloating, flatulence, cramps, diarrhoea and nausea. The inability to digest lactose in milk is very common in some parts of the world. It occurs in around 90-100 per cent of Asians, 65-70 per cent of Africans, and 10 per cent of Caucasians. Fortified plant milk can be used as an alternative to cows’ milk by people who are lactose intolerant.
For more information on where to get your iodine without dairy, visit the Vegan Society website.