First it was soy milk, then it was almond, now the proliferation of non-dairy milkshas lead to everything from hemp, rice and oat through to macadamia, cashew and tiger nut plant-based alternatives. While the movement towards plant-based, dairy-free milk and vegan products shows no sign of slowing down, the question is: why exactly are we drinking them? Leaving our lactose intolerant friends out of it, it’s safe to say that there is a progression towards popularising and preferencing nut and plant-based dairy alternatives, yet without a steady argument as to why. Or so a new report has found. In a bid to understand more about why Australians are consuming less dairy than in the past, Dairy Australiacommissioned a survey to understand why we do or don’t eat dairy, and suffice to say, the results proved rather… weak to say the least.
In the survey, one out of five millennials admitted to avoiding dairy and when asked why, 50 per cent of millennials admitted their decision to stop consuming dairy stemmed from social media. While we’re partial to a scroll like anyone, it’s far from a medically backed reason… In fact two-thirds of dairy avoiders admit they have gone off dairy without having a formal medical diagnosis. Why is this worrying? Well, aside from the fact cutting out dairy means cutting out essential nutrients such as calcium, it also means we’re averting key food groups without a medical understanding, guidance or firm reason why.
For example, the survey found 55 per cent of women believe that dairy doesn’t help with weight management, yet of those who avoid it, as the survey suggested, a large part of their reasoning was the result of social media influencers. Which, as previous research has found (see article here) just because someone may have 80K followers and tells you to drink ‘xx plant-based’ milk doesn’t mean it’s the best decision for your body or is credible. With the research report showing only 4.6 per cent of Australians are not medically able to consume dairy (as diagnosed by a doctor), it does beg the question, should we be avoiding it? While it’s a question left to be answered or advised by the professionals, it is worth pondering… if our great grandparents lived off the land churning their own butter and milking their own cows and they were healthy, perhaps dairy isn’t quite the devil we make it out to be?
While it’s completely down to the individual and their body requirements (we’re in no way advocating one diet over another), it is important if you’re wanting to optimise your wellness to be a conscious consumer and really question and understand why you follow the diet you do. And if you’re unsure what your body needs? Perhaps rather than turning to your feed for what fuel sources others are promoting, why not go old school and return to roots by asking the experts instead?