Dairy Milk vs. Plant Milk: Why You Should Switch | The Daily Dish

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Dairy Milk vs. Plant Milk: Why You Should Switch

No Comments | Written on October 13, 2017 at 10:45 am , by

For the past year or two, almond milk and other alternatives to dairy milk have been on the rise. The non-dairy sections of grocery stores continue to grow, and many Americans are considering making the switch themselves. Consumers often cite ethical, environmental, and health-based concerns as their reason for excluding dairy milk from their diets.

Plant milk companies, like Silk and Almond Breeze, claim that their products are better for your health, while dairy companies state that consumers of non-dairy milk are missing out on important nutrients found in dairy. Since these sources aren’t exactly free from bias, we’re here to test which of these claims is true. This article compares fat free (skim) milk, and reduced fat (2%) milk from Dean’s Dairy Pure to unsweetened almond milk, and soymilk from Silk.


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First, let’s discuss calcium. Teachers, parents, and doctors constantly remind children that they need to drink plenty of milk, because they need calcium to build strong bones and teeth. According to Dean’s Dairy Pure nutrition facts, both the skim milk, and 2% milk contain 30% daily value of Calcium. However, both the soymilk and almond milk contain 15% more, at 45% daily value of Calcium. If plant milks have more Calcium, what other health concerns could be keeping someone from switching from dairy?

The only nutrient that plant milk doesn’t have that the dairy milks include is Vitamin C. Yes, Vitamin C is important. However, both Dean’s skim milk, and 2% milk only contain Vitamins A, C, and D. The soymilk contains vitamins A, D, and B12, Folate, Phosphorus, Iron, Riboflavin, and Magnesium. The almond milk contains vitamins A, E, D, Riboflavin, Iron, and Magnesium. Vitamin C is a nutrient that is easily found in the average American diet, because many fruits and vegetables have plenty of it. These plant milks also have a whole bunch of other vitamins and minerals that are missing from dairy milk, and are much less commonly found than vitamin C.

As for fat and calories, plant-based milk also beats dairy milk in those categories. The winner by far is the unsweetened almond milk with only 30 calories, and 25 calories from fat. The almond milk also only has 2.5 grams of fat with none of the fat coming from saturated or trans fats. The fat free skim milk is the runner up with 90 calories, and 0 grams of fat. The soymilk is next with 110 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, and .5 grams of saturated fat.

The worst in terms of fat and calories is the reduced fat dairy milk at 130 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, and 3 whole grams of saturated fat. It’s important to remember when thinking of dairy milk that it is designed to turn an 85 pound calf into a cow weighing over 1,000 pounds, so if you’re watching your weight, stay away from any dairy milks not marked fat free.

When considering cholesterol and sodium, which are both detrimental to heart health, plant milk is again the clear winner. With regards to cholesterol, almond and soymilk have 0mg, skim milk has 5mg, and 2% milk has 20mg. No plant-based milk will ever have any cholesterol, because plants simply do not produce cholesterol. Soymilk has the least amount of sodium at 95mg, and both dairy milks follow with 130 mg. Almond milk has the largest amount at 165mg.

If you have heart problems, the sodium levels in the dairy and almond milks could pose a problem, but if you are healthy the benefits of zero cholesterol from almond milk far outweighs the risk of sodium.

Finally when comparing the amount of protein found in these milks, skim milk, 2% milk, and soymilk all contain 8 grams of protein, while the almond milk only contains 1 gram of protein.

If you’re still not convinced as to why someone would switch from dairy to non-dairy after this information about the health benefits of drinking plant milk, consider the environmental and ethical arguments for plant milk. Creating dairy milk requires more land and water than creating plant milk, because instead of consuming the plants directly we are first giving them to the cows, which require much larger quantities of food and water. In fact, the majority of deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest is to create farmland to grow food for livestock.


Additionally, many people have switched to plant milk after learning about the mistreatment of cows in the dairy industry. Cows often develop mastitis, an infection in the udder, because of constant milking by machines. Because of these infections, the National Mastitis Council puts forth guidelines for how much pus and blood can be in milk before it’s considered ‘abnormal’ (eww!).

The cows are also forcibly impregnated because they need to be constantly pregnant to keep producing milk. Since the calves would drink their mother’s milk, they are taken away from their mothers and killed so that humans can drink the milk instead.

As the non-dairy industry continues to grow, plant milks are improving in taste and variety. Creamy chocolate cashew milk is a perfect taste replica of dairy chocolate milk, and protein nut milks are a great option for those looking to build muscle without the negative health effects of dairy milk. Many people say they prefer the taste of plant milks, and with so many types of plant milk on the market (almond, soy, cashew, coconut—even pea milk!) everyone is bound to find a flavor they like.

So what do you say? More and more people are making the switch to plant milk, will you?


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