Leia Flure, Registered Dietitian
It’s becoming more popular to replace dairy with plant-based alternatives – why is this a trend and what should you know before cutting out the cow’s milk?
· Lactose intolerance
· Milk protein allergy
· Vegan diet
· Fears about dairy products and how they’re made
It’s okay if people want to choose dairy alternatives, but there are some things you need to know before making the switch!
· Dairy is not absolutely necessary for a healthy diet, BUT – it vastly helps Americans meet three out of 4 nutrients that we tend to not get enough of – calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. It can take a lot of effort to take in enough of these nutrients with other whole foods.
· Dairy alternatives are often lacking in several important nutrients that cow’s milk provides, and may be higher in some nutrients that people are trying to moderate.
Vitamin D and calcium are usually added so they are comparable to dairy milk, but most milk alternatives are lower in protein and potassium. Soy milk is the only alternative that’s close to dairy. Read those nutrition labels carefully!
· All dairy milk is tested for antibiotic residues – the entire tanker must be dumped and the farmer pays a fine if antibiotics are found. It does happen, but it’s pretty rare. Farmers don’t want this to happen because it’s very costly in terms of money and reputation.
· Hormones are naturally found in milk as well as many other foods.
There are a lot of misconceptions about dairy but they’re based on inaccurate information or an incomplete picture. Choosing dairy alternatives is fine – it’s nice to have choices! – but make it an informed choice instead of one based on fear