In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can vegetarians drink milk?” and will discuss why vegetarians don’t drink milk?
Can vegetarians drink milk?
No, vegetarians can drink milk. At the very least, not those made from animals. A vegetarian diet is one in which all of the food is derived from plants. This implies that vegetarians do not only abstain from eating meat and fish, but they also abstain from using any animal products in their cooking.
Traditional dairy products, such as milk, are obtained from animals (alongside cheese, butter, and yogurt). Cows are the most prevalent source of milk, although many other animals, such as goats, also produce it.
Plant-based milk products, on the other hand, are becoming more popular as vegetarian alternatives to traditional milk. Soy or almond milk, for example, are examples of plant-based vegetarian dairy products that are ideal for a vegetarian diet since they include no animal components.
The rapid growth of the number of people with diets including only plant-based food products is reported in EU countries as follows: 8 million in Germany, 800 thousand in Belgium, 3.3 million in France, 200 thousand in Greece 800 thousand in the Netherlands (1).
The largest consumption of plant-based drinks is recorded in the U.S. and Canada. While sales of alternative milk grew by 61% in 2012 – 2017, sales of cow milk fell by 15%. Company Future Market Insights (2019) expects that the market of plant-based substitutes of animal milk will grow up to reach 9.5 billion USD by the end of 2022, with an annual increase of 7.1%. As estimated by «Euromonitor», since the beginning of 2014 sales of alternative milk drinks grew by 31% in the U.S., by 24% in Europe, by 14% in the Asian-Pacific area, by 17% in Latin America. According to «Innova Market Insights», the global market of “plant-based milk” exceeded 16 billion USD in 2018 (1).
Is milk vegetarian?
Is it possible for a vegetarian to consume milk? That’s a no unless you’re talking about plant-based milk. The relationship between vegetarians and milk, particularly dairy milk, can never work due to a multitude of factors.
The reasons for being vegetarian are as diverse as the people who choose to do so (3). On the whole, vegetarians have a strong stance against animal abuse in the global food industry. This, of course, assures that vegetarians (as well as vegetarians) do not consume any meat, since doing so would be unethical.
vegetarians don’t consume animal milk since it’s an animal product. vegetarians think that for the same ethical reasons, no animal products should ever be consumed. The contemporary industrial complex guarantees that cows are maintained against their will to make milk even if no animals are murdered in the process. PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, believes it is unethical to drink milk because of the abuse inflicted on commercial dairy cows and supports the substitution of calcium-fortified juices, soy milk, and rice milk for regular milk (4).
Dairy cows are injected with hormones and forced to produce milk at a rate that is significantly greater than what they would if they were free to roam. They are confined to their booths for the rest of their lives, and their children are removed from them because of their treatment.
The ethics of milk production are important to vegetarians, but it is not the only reason to avoid dairy products. There are environmental and health benefits to being vegetarian rather than dairy products. Studies show that 40 percent of greenhouse gasses from ovolactovegetarian diets are attributed to the consumption of dairy products (3).
What is it about milk that makes it bad?
In addition to animal welfare concerns, vegetarians are motivated by moral and ethical considerations. There are numerous health advantages to eliminating dairy and other animal products from your diet, thus more people are switching to a plant-based one. You should, at the absolute least, restrict your intake of these foods.
Even though most of us have grown up drinking milk, it’s not as good for us as the dairy business would have us think. The use of dairy products isn’t entirely natural (apart from humans and cows, how many other animals drink milk from cows?), and many individuals are allergic to them for this reason.
Tolerance to dairy products requires a long history of milk consumption, starting at an early age. To answer your question, yes, milk is a good source of protein and calcium for most people (especially when growing up). Milk is palatable, flavorful, and inexpensive. It’s also commonly accessible.
Is, however, milk a healthful beverage? Due to their high fat and cholesterol content, dairy products are linked to heart disease and other health issues in later life. Cutting down on milk intake has been shown to improve mood and well-being as well as increase energy!
On the other hand, milk consumption has been previously associated with a higher bone density, which is protective. This is due not only to calcium, but also with other nutrients that are thought to influence production and maintenance of bone matrix such as high biological value protein, vitamins C, D, and K, as well as minerals like copper, manganese, and zinc. In addition, there is a protective influence of milk consumption in cardiovascular diseases. Despite the saturated fat content, there is no strong evidence demonstrating hazards from whole milk consumption due to specific and diverse metabolic effects of saturated fatty acids found in milk. Finally, the proteins found in milk are of unique high-quality and biological value, and several bioactive peptides resulting from their enzymatic hydrolysis have shown multiple biological roles that could exert a protective action in human health. These main biological actions include antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, antihypertensive, antimicrobial, antithrombotic, opioid, and immunomodulatory roles, in addition to improving absorption of other nutrients (2).
Is it OK to drink animal milk, or should you avoid it like the plague? To a certain extent, that’s up to you, although there are compelling grounds against ingesting milk.
Alternatives to milk
It’s a common criticism of vegetarianism that it’s difficult to get enough protein without eating dairy products. But that’s not the case now. From making a cappuccino to baking cakes, several acceptable milk substitutes are available.
The market of milk analogs is currently dominated by soya bean milk, oat milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, cocoa milk, multigrain milk etc. most of which are produced by controlled fermentation which owes to their functional bioactive composition. Such analogs are appreciated for their functionally active components which are often correlated to their health-promoting and disease-preventing properties. One major advantage of analogs over conventional milk is that the energy input per unit of milk produced is much less compared to animal milk while there is always an opportunity to manipulate their composition based on demand (5).
Almond milk and soy milk are two frequently accessible natural milk substitutes. Even though they have a slightly different flavor, they are nonetheless excellent on their own and don’t include the slaughter of animals in the creation process. vegetarian cheese, butter, and yogurt are also available as dairy substitutes.
vegetarians will appreciate tofu as a great source of protein. If you’re making a creamy dessert that normally calls for milk or heavy cream, silken tofu may be used in place of the heavier ingredients.
Is milk a good option for your diet?
More importantly, ask yourself WHY you want to know whether the milk you drink is vegetarian or not. Just to make sure I don’t accidentally make anything that’ll offend a vegetarian, or is there a good reason? Or do you want to know whether drinking milk can help your health if you’re a vegetarian? Or are you concerned about animal welfare and want to know whether drinking milk is harmful to them?
In other words, it’s more necessary to think about whether or not you want to include a given product in your diet rather than worry about whether or not it’s vegetarian (like eggs, cheese, or milk). It’s perfectly OK to be a vegetarian who abstains from drinking milk for moral grounds.
Other FAQs about Milk that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can vegetarians drink milk?” and discussed why vegetarians don’t drink milk?
- Pritulska, Natalia, et al. СONSUMER PREFERENCES ON THE MARKET OF PLANT-BASED MILK ANALOGUES. Slovak J Food Sci, 2021, 15.
- Hargreaves, Shila Minari, et al. Vegetarian diet: an overview through the perspective of quality of life domains. Int j environ res public health, 2021, 18, 4067.
- Pereira, Paula C. Milk nutritional composition and its role in human health. Nutrition, 2014, 30, 619-627.
- Goldberg, Jeanne P., Sara C. Folta, and Aviva Must. Milk: can a “good” food be so bad?. Pediatrics, 2002, 110, 826-832.
- Paul, Anna Aleena, et al. Milk Analog: Plant based alternatives to conventional milk, production, potential and health concerns. Crit rev food sci nutr, 2020, 60, 3005-3023.