Veganism has been becoming increasingly popular every year with more and more people adopting a plant based lifestyle and has reached new heights in 2021. The amount of milk consumed per capita since 1975 has tumbled more than 40% in the US and around 50% in the UK. The Indian statistics for the same are not so dramatic, not even close. As Indians, we are conditioned to believe that milk is required to fulfill our nutritional requirements. Major corporations that manufacture milk through their advertising campaigns have instilled this belief in the population that milk is a critical part of your diet.
But is this really true?
There’s a certain truth behind the consumption of milk that remains hidden. Let’s break this down into the health, environmental and ethical reasons why we one should not consume dairy blindly.
WHY GO VEGAN?
FOR YOUR HEALTH
All dairy products, especially milk contain high levels of saturated fats. This can cause higher cholesterol levels which ultimately increase the risk of heart diseases and strokes. A plant-based diet could benefit your heart in a big way. It helps lower your cholesterol levels, along with the chances of suffering from heart disease someday.
Research has linked the high fat content and hormones in milk, cheese, and other dairy products to breast cancer. According to a 2017 review conducted by Taylor and Francis, eating a vegan diet may reduce a person’s risk of cancer by 15%.
A survey conducted by Mayo Clinic asked nearly 70,000 volunteers about their diets, then tracked them over time, they found lower cancer rates among people who didn’t eat meat at all.
In fact, vegans — those who don’t eat any animal products including fish, dairy or eggs — appeared to have the lowest rates of cancer of any type.
Cow’s milk can also lead to increased incidence of autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes. An article published on diabetes.co.uk says that Research has indicated that the presence of cow’s insulin within cow’s milk leads to an increased number of autoantibodies which raise the risk of type 1 diabetes.
A myth that prevails is that vegans have no source of calcium if they give up milk. Foods such as Sesame Seeds, Chia Seeds, Soy Milk, Almonds, Figs, Tofu, White beans etc. are very rich in calcium and are more than sufficient to meet the requirements if consumed in the right manner.
FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Eating a vegan diet could be the biggest way to reduce environmental impact on earth on an individual level. Researchers at Oxford say that if everyone stopped eating these foods, global farmland use could be reduced by 75 per cent, an area equivalent to the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined. Not only would this result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it would also free up wild land lost to agriculture, one of the primary causes for mass wildlife extinction. The truth that the meat and dairy giants keep concealed is that their industry accounts for 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions (Science, 2018). It’s a significant contributor to problems such as air pollution, ocean dead zones, habitat loss, and species extinction.
When it comes to turning vegan for the environment, people tend to question how would a single person’s transition benefit something so huge. They believe they are too small to create any impact. But what they don’t know is that by going vegan even for a month you save 620 pounds of harmful carbon dioxide emissions, 913 square feet of forest, and 33,481 gallons of water. You can even use the vegan calculator to see these results for yourself.
Imagine these numbers if the same person adopts an entirely vegan lifestyle.
FOR THE ANIMALS
India has the largest number of vegetarians, a lot of whom believe their diet is 100% cruelty-free. This is not entirely true. While a vegetarian lifestyle certainly creates less of a demand for animals killed for their meat compared to a standard omnivore diet, it unfortunately is still complicit in the crueler practices faced by animals who are used for their milk. Multiple reports published by organizations such as PETA show that the production of dairy products necessitates the death of countless male calves that are of no use as they do not produce milk, as well as the premature death of cows slaughtered as they get old and their milk production decreases. Going vegan is one of the best things you can do to bring an end to animal cruelty. By refusing to pay for animal derived products, you reduce the demand for them, which reduces the supply and fewer animals are bred to be exploited on farms and in slaughterhouses.
With so many great vegan options and alternatives coming up, eating green has never been more delicious.
Whether you go vegan for the environment, for your health, or for animals, you have the power to change the world, simply by changing what’s on your plate.
Read more: The Future is Vegan