A recent USDA report revealed that cow milk consumption is steadily declining. This is due in part to the availability of plant-based alternatives and the increasing amount of vegans.
According to the report, between the years of 2010-2017, dairy milk consumption dropped by 250% per year.
The Economic Research Service (ERS) wanted to know if plant-based milk played a role in this decline in cow milk consumption. They determined that between 2013 and 2017, cow milk consumption declined by 12% per week, while plant-based options increased by 36% per week.
Despite this shift from cow milk to non-dairy alternatives, cow milk sales are still significnatly higher.
But, it’s clear to see that there IS a shift happening. And non-dairy milk options play a significant role.
Vegan Plant-Based Milks Expanding
The USDA discovered that for every gallon of plant-based milk purchased, a gallon of cow milk stayed on the shelf. They said, “The rate of replacement is estimated to be about one-to-one in recent years.” So for every non-dairy milk purchased, the same amount of dairy milk goes unpurchased.
Plant-based milk sales are expanding, due to an increase in product availability and options. For many people, it’s not hard to walk into a grocery store and find non-dairy milk of some kind. Often, there will be several non-dairy options, from soy milk to almond milk, oat milk to hemp milk – the options just keep growing.
According to The Good Food Institue, plant-based milk alternatives brought in over $2B in sales in 2019.
The institute further reported that other plant-based options are also growing, though none quite as quickly as plant-based milk.
Making An Impact
To continue this trend of reducing dairy consumption and increasing plant-based consumption, every individual can make a massive difference.
For every ounce of plant-based milk you purchase, you (statistically) are reducing the sale of that amount of cow milk – and saving cows’ lives in turn.
Choosing Plant-Based Milk
When choosing a plant-based milk, it really comes down to preference. However, it’s important to note that not all non-dairy milk is created equally. Soymilk is higher protein and contains more calories than an unsweeteened almond milk.
Almond, rice, and oat milk are generally low in protein and higher in sugars.
Make sure to read the nutrition labels before purchasing and be especially mindful of giving non-dairy milk to kids. Something like almond milk should not be used to substitute the nutrition from cow or human milk for a growing child or baby but should be thought of more as juice.