Like all other mammals, humans need milk (from their own species) only during early infancy. However, it is estimated there are approximately 270 million cows in the world producing around 900 million tons of milk for human consumption each year. A large part of them are raised on industrial farms, and most of their social, physical and psychological needs are violated.

For the dairy industry to survive, cows must be constantly impregnated, usually through artificial insemination. This implies that they remove the semen from a bull through electrification and then introduce it into the cow by inserting almost half an arm through her rectum.

So that the calves don’t drink the milk their mothers produce for them, they are separated from their mothers when they are still very young. Most of the males are sent directly to the slaughterhouse, and the females are bred to face the same fate as their mothers. When the calves still live with their mothers, sharp devices are placed near their mouths so they can’t drink milk. Although cows can live more than 20 years, they are killed when they are around 5 years old, when they can no longer produce enough milk because of the over-exploitation they are subjected to.

Throughout their short life, these cows suffer greatly due to various factors. In addition to being separated from their families and living in lockdown, many have their horns removed without anesthesia so they don’t hurt each other or farm workers. There is a high percentage of lameness among cows, caused by infections or excess weight, among other causes. Mastitis, inflammation in the breast tissue that causes a lot of pain and discomfort, is also very common and is usually caused by the use of milking machines and poor hygiene in farms.

Cows are very intelligent, sociable and feel emotions. They are curious, love to play and jump for joy when they solve problems. They can remember specific individuals, form lasting bonds, and have best friends. Like any animal, they deserve to live autonomously and not be treated like objects. By opting for plant-based milk we can stop contributing to the dairy industry and avoid the exploitation and constant suffering of millions of cows. And, in addition, we do good to the planet and our health.

According to data from Our World in Data, which compares the environmental impacts of 4 kinds of plant-based milk (oats, rice, soy and almond) and cow’s milk, the last involves at least 10 times more land use and 3 times more greenhouse gas emissions greenhouse than their plant-based counterparts. Plus, it uses twice as much water as almond milk and 20 times as much water as soy milk.

The nutritional properties vary depending on the food that is used as a base, but in general, plant-based milk is very healthy. Most have less sugar, more calcium, and less saturated fat than cow’s milk, and no antibiotics, excess hormones, or body fluids to avoid. On the other hand, the consumption of cow’s milk has been associated by various studies with autoimmune diseases, Parkinson’s, various types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, among other conditions. Furthermore, almost 70% of the world’s population has lactose intolerance (although many don’t know it).

There are many varieties of plant-based milk. Among the best known are soy, almond, coconut, oat, flax, canary seed and rice. However, there are many other highly nutritious grains and seeds that can also be used to make plant-based milk, such as quinoa, sesame, peanuts, chickpeas, lupines, millet, and many dried fruits such as walnuts, cashews and hazelnuts.
The plant-based milk market has grown a lot in recent years, so it is currently possible to find a wide variety of options for sale. On the other hand, with the help of a blender and a good cloth filter, you can create your own varieties of milk, according to your personal tastes, in a few minutes. Some only need the grains to be pre-soaked and others need to go through a cooking process, but all of them are very easy to prepare. Isn’t that great?

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Mati Nuñez del Prado Alanes
Matilde Nuñez del Prado Alanes is from La Paz, Bolivia. She made her thesis in Sociology on cockfighting, as a result of an undercover investigation in the field for 4 years, and she is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Critical Theory. Her topics of interest are the relationships between humans and other sentient animals from the perspective of Critical Animal Studies, the socio-ecological issues, and the intersectionality between different forms of oppression, domination and exploitation.