When it comes to selecting the perfect drink in the morning, there's now two options to choose from: dairy milk and plant-based milk. Sometimes it's spelled with a ‘y’ instead of an ‘i’.
Indian dairy consumers are starting to care a lot more about their health, wellbeing, and food allergies. Other areas of concern include the environment and the treatment of animals. A massive shift is underway!
According to GFI India, while India remains the largest producer and consumer of dairy in the world, plant-based dairy is expected to grow 20.7% per year. By 2024, the Indian plant-based mylk industry will be worth a whopping 63.9 million dollars!
Additionally, 90% of plant-based mylk users still consume dairy milk, but 70% of users will be increasing their (vegan mylk) consumption in the future. Vegan milk isn't just popular amongst vegans and vegetarians, it's gaining popularity with everyone!
Milk isn’t just a drink you pour into your chai. It’s a liquid food produced by lactating mammals, intended to nourish young mammals before they're able to digest solid food.
Humans are the only species who not only consume milk past childhood, but also the milk from another species!
Vegan milk is a plant-based drink that emulates the taste, texture, and qualities of cow’s milk. Like milk, it can be used to make milk products. And like milk, it is a liquid composed of protein and fat.
As an alternative, vegan milk can be enjoyed and used in the same way as cow's milk. But unlike cow's milk, vegan milk is sustainable, cruelty-free, lactose-free, cholesterol-free, and guilt-free.
Vegan milks are made very similarly to cow's milk. But instead of exploiting a lactating cow, the process starts by crushing plant-based ingredients and blending it with water. Popular bases for vegan milk include coconuts, soy, millets, cashews, oats, rice, peanuts, and so on.
Next, the mylk is pasteurised to keep the myllk fresh and safe, and it's homogenised to ensure the final product doesn't separate.
Lactose intolerance is very common in India, and many people don't even know it. Between 60 and 65 percent of Indians are lactose intolerant.
All the sugar in milk that you see on the nutrition label is called lactose. The problem with lactose is that most people cannot actually digest it, but there's a good reason for that.
When mammals (including humans) are born, they produce an enzyme called lactase to break down lactose. After weaning, it’s natural to lose the ability to digest lactose so that we can obtain our nutrients from other foods.
But since humans are the only species of animals to drink milk past childhood, we suffer the consequences of lactose intolerance. Symptoms of lactose intolerance can range from mild to severe. They include, but aren’t limited to:
Cow's milk also comes with whey and casein, which can encourage our bodies to make the growth hormone IGF-1. Consuming dairy can increase the levels of this growth hormone past childhood, potentially increasing our risk for various cancers throughout adulthood.
The relief we experience after eliminating milk says a lot about how suitable milk is for us biologically.
Dairy is one of the largest industries in India because milk and milk products play such a central role in the Indian diet and Indian economy. However, it comes at a cost to the environment, both locally and globally. Agriculture represents 16% of all the pollution India emits, and of that figure, 74% of it is due to the methane that cows and buffalo produce.
So much of this pollution can be mitigated by our daily dietary choices alone. That's why choosing plant-based mylk is so much better for the environment. It reduces water, land, and energy wastage.
There’s studies citing milk is bad for bones, and studies citing it’s good for bones. The truth is, the research there is still inconclusive.
But what we do know is that plant-based mylks are lower in carbohydrates, lower in calories, lower in saturated fat, higher in fibre, and never contain any cholesterol or lactose!
Throughout India, small farms are being replaced by tabelas- factory farms to meet the demand of consumers but neglect the needs of animals.
Dairy cows are often subject to poor conditions, like standing in knee-deep waste and inhaling unsafe levels of ammonia. Even though this causes a variety of health issues and illnesses, veterinary care is typically denied to the animals suffering and even dying.
Female dairy cows are forcibly impregnated through artificial insemination to continuously produce milk. Cows form strong maternal bonds and grief every calf that is taken away from her to extract milk for human consumption.
According to an undercover investigation led by PETA India, calves in Mumbai are tightly tethered on short ropes to prevent them from going to their mothers (who are being milked) but in their struggle they often strangle themselves to death.
The vast majority of cows live in tightly confined, dirty stalls they can hardly move in. After 3-4 lactations, a cow’s milk production falls, and she is sent for slaughter or abandoned on the side of the road.
At this point in time, the taste is not 100% identical on its own. But that doesn't mean it isn't absolutely delicious.
When vegan mylk is used in baking and cooking applications, it’s hard to tell a difference, if there even is one at all! It boils, froths, and thickens just the way it should.
Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, lactose tolerant, concerned for your health, or simply looking to live a healthier lifestyle, plant-based mylk is the best option for your body, the environment, and the animals.
If you want to learn more about this topic, check out our other blog posts: