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Plant-Based Milk Controversy

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) – a medical group that counts 12,000 doctor members – issued a demand to American Heart Association (AHA) to withdraw its recommendation for children to drink cow’s milk. ”The argument isn’t around milk, or what kind of milk, it's about what you eat that is actually good for you based on scientific evidence, and the answer is not cow’s milk, Goats milk or any animal milk but whole food, plant-based milk”

Which brings us to the question: if it doesn’t come from an animal can it legally be called milk ?Almond milk has lower greenhouse gas emissions and uses less land than cow herds, for example, In fact all of the alternatives, Coconut, Soy, Oat, Pea, , have a lower impact than dairy, but should you be allowed to call it milk. The dairy industry is slowly being taken over by corporations and moving out the small dairy farmers. Since 1970, the number of American dairy farmers has dropped by more than 93%, from more than 640,000 to about 40,000 today. The corporate lawyers would argue that plant milk is a poor source of protein, fat, and nutrients important for an infant's growth and development. What's more, many processed varieties contain additives like sugar, salt, flavors, gums, and carrageenan.

So let's look closer at plant based milk. Carrageenan is an extract from a red seaweed commonly known as Irish Moss. This edible seaweed is native to the British Isles, where it's been used in traditional cooking for hundreds of years. Though it's been used for hundreds of years and is indeed organic, there's extensive health research around Carrageenan, suggesting that it is not necessarily safe to eat. It's been linked to IBD, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis and colon cancer and is thus banned in the European Union.

But is animal milk healthier? Federal laws mandate that all schools will provide children with milk at each meal or face the loss of federal funds. Those responsible for this mandate have chosen to ignore the fact that 90 percent of African American, 70 percent of Asian, and 15 percent of Caucasian children are unable to digest the sugar (lactose) in milk alternatives like soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, hazelnut milk, coconut milk, hemp milk and more are all growing in popularity. Even a milk called Not Milk with these plant-based, natural ingredients in common: pea protein, chicory root fiber, pineapple juice concentrate, coconut oil, and cabbage juice concentrate. Yet the question remains: Can nut milk be called milk?

Dairy groups have argued that using the name for plant-based drinks confuses people. Critics say their real motivation is declining sales. The Food and Drug Administration sets legal standards of identity for many food products and defines traditional cow's milk as “the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.” This restricts “milk” to being defined as only coming from cows. If this were the standard even chocolate milk wouldn’t be considered “real” milk because colostrum is only present during a certain phase of milk production.

According to UC Davis Magazine “With the boom of non-dairy beverages marketed using the term “milk,” the dairy industry and the FDA have called for the milk standard to be enforced. They have argued non dairy beverages are misleading consumers into purchasing nutritionally equivalent products compared to cow’s milk based on the marketing and packaging. ”the $35.5 billion US cattle milk industry, which lately has been challenging the $1.6 billion plant-based milk industry’s right to use the word “milk.” Suffered a harsh blow recently. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that calling almond milk “milk” is not deceptive, upholding the dismissal of a lawsuit called Painter v. Blue Diamond Growers.

At the same time, the dairy sector has been facing mounting financial pressure. Milk producers have been losing ground in the United States while plant-based milk products have rapidly gained popularity. By 2021, plant-based milks have made it into one-half of US households, according to surveys. The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to US consumers becoming more familiar with the products given temporary stay-at-home lockdowns and dairy supply chain issues. Demographic data shows that alternative milk drinkers tend to be younger with millennials and GenZers preferring non-dairy options more than the general population. They are also more likely to live in urban areas than rural ones. But there does not seem to be a gender difference, with men just as likely to have tried alternative milks as women.



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