The Great Milk Debate

Milk is in the news.

Forks Over Knives shared an article, Milk industry aims to pour cold water on criticisms, and my husband Rob discovered the dairy industry’s attempt to tell people the “truth” about milk on their website, Milk Truth. Both are attempting to shout their truth over the other.

With all of the information floating around, who is right? Who should we listen to?

The necessity and nutritional benefits of milk are highly debated today

On one side there is the Dairy Industry and the USDA. Both recommend milk as an integral part of a healthy diet. The USDA recommends adults drink three cups of dairy each day. The Milk Truth website claims that dairy milk contains 9 essential nutrients and offers a range of benefits that are backed by years of research. The website also claims that it’s difficult to get all the nutrients needed for the human body to thrive without milk in the diet.

On the other side there are vegans, paleos, doctors and scientists who claim milk should not be drunk by humans. The paleos claim that humans shouldn’t drink milk as our ancestors didn’t drink milk. Vegans say drinking milk of another mammal is unnatural. The vegans also worry about the conditions in which cows live, which can be less than accommodating to say the least. (Some) Doctors and scientists say that milk is not necessary for human survival and have research that shows milk is actually detrimental to human health.

Real MilkNow let’s criticize

Milk Truth states dairy milk provides 9 essential nutrients  but which ones? There’s no clarification of which essential nutrients milk provides. A strike on the record for milk.

It’s also stated that dairy milk has eight times more protein than almond and rice milks. So what? Most American’s consume twice the amount of protein that is recommended (and necessary). American’s don’t need any more protein. Another strike.

“It’s hard to get the nutrients you need without milk in your diet” is yet another claim made by the website. Again, which nutrients? In addition, it makes sense that cutting out a source of nutrients in the American diet is detrimental to health as most of the foods that are consumed in the US are either devoid of nutrients or enriched. Americans struggle to eat the nutrients that they need from fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, so they must get them from artificial sources. Strike for advocating for consumption of enriched products instead of foods naturally filled with vitamins and minerals.

Yet the other side had problems with their arguments as well. Paleos use argumentum ad antiquitatem (argument of tradition) to reason that we shouldn’t drink milk. Strike because argumentum ad antiquitatem is a logical fallacy. The human race enslaved black people and didn’t allow women to vote in the past. Arguing we maintained habit in the past doesn’t mean it’s right or healthy.

Vegans may state that drinking milk is unnatural, but what’s classified as natural? Is modern transportation natural? Is technology natural? The debate over what’s natural is a matter of perspective and opinion, which creates another strike for the opposing side.

Who’s right?

Who should we listen to if arguments for both sides have strikes against their reasoning?

Both opponents have issues, but only one side has validity: the anti-milk side.

The dairy industry may claim they have years of research supporting the health claims of milk, but those studies are almost always funded by the dairy industry. The studies that oppose dairy milk are mostly independently funded and funded without monetary interests in mind. Read Rob’s article — Is dairy milk bad for human health? — that addresses most of the problems associated with milk consumption, backed by scientific research.There are many alternatives to dairy milk on the market

In addition, the vegans’ claim that milk is unethical is valid as cows are artificially inseminated, prematurely separated from their young and housed in dirty and uncomfortable conditions.

Individuals receive a wide variety of benefits after removing milk from their diet including clearer skin, weight loss and/or decreased phlegm and allergies. Removing milk from the diet is an easy way to start your transition into a healthier lifestyle. As the increased sales of non-dairy milk has shown, it’s just as satisfying and just as delicious (if not more so) than dairy milk.

Why not try to make the change?

  • Updated 3 years ago
Sara Binde

Sara is a health and nutrition coach. She advocates for a whole foods plant-based lifestyle and teaches the world how to achieve weight loss.