Last Thursday, I read an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times that got me all fired up. The article, titled “Can you call soy milk ‘milk’?” was about how lawmakers are asking the FDA to prohibit non-dairy products from using the word “milk” on their labels. On what grounds, you ask? “Since the 1930s, ‘milk’ has been legally defined as ‘the lacteal secretions of a bovine mammal.'” If that doesn’t make dairy sound unappealing, I don’t know what does.
The article was written by Emily Byrd, the communications manager of the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that promotes alternatives to animal agriculture. She contends that, despite what the lawmakers claim, consumers are not confused by the word “milk” on such products as soy milk or almond milk. It’s not consumers they’re aiming to protect — it’s the dairy industry.
Now, normally I don’t get all political in my blog, and I’m not an expert in anything, but I do get ticked off when I think about the dairy industry. Specifically, the way it has tried to promote its own gain by brainwashing Americans into thinking that milk is good for them. Remember those “Got Milk?” ads from the eighties featuring famous people with milk mustaches?
There were also commercials that showed gawky youngsters being encouraged by their older selves to drink milk so they could grow up to be tall and attractive. These ended with the slogan “Milk. It does a body good.”
I believed that horse shit for years. I used to drink a big glass of milk with every meal, thinking it was going to make me strong so I’d be able to nail the broad jump in gym and get a Presidential Physical Fitness Award signed by Ronald Reagan. Meanwhile, the milk was making my guts churn and my bowels explode on a daily basis.
When I eventually learned what lactose-intolerance was, it all made sense. Our bodies are not designed to digest “the lacteal secretions of a bovine mammal.” Think about it: Why would humans need to drink cow’s milk? That milk was meant for baby cows, not people.
The good news: Looks like people are finally getting it that cow’s milk is not good for them. According to the LA Times article, “Americans are drinking nearly 40% less dairy milk than they were a few decades ago… In the meantime, the dairy alternatives industry is thriving, expanding sales by 250% over the past five years.”
These statistics make me happy. It means that those of us who have made a lifestyle choice to go dairy-free are becoming less of a minority. Which will hopefully lead to a greater variety and higher quality of alternatives — and perhaps a future when we can open a restaurant menu and not have to scour for the one or two items that don’t contain cheese.
To read the full LA Times article “Can you call soy milk ‘milk’?” click here.