A Dairy Dilemma

By Kendyl Brower 

Vegans have a bad reputation: it is easy to interpret their activism as pretentious, ignorant, and insolent. Recently, the Tik Toker @thatveganteacher’s questionable actions such as opting out of being an organ donor in fears of donating to a meat eater have led many to believe that vegans are extremely closed minded. However, beneath the negative clichés of veganism, a virtuous ideology remains, one in which we should all aspire to follow. According to a study at the University of Oxford, omitting meat and dairy from one’s diet can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by 73%. Veganism proves to be the single most effective way consumers can address the growing issue of climate change. Of course, this lifestyle does not suit everyone— many citizens cannot afford fresh produce or vegan alternatives. Thus, veganism must be framed as a compromise or goal rather than an identity. As climate change continues to grow as the most detrimental issue of our generation, it is imperative that we make every effort in our power to reduce our carbon footprint. Making a simple dairy swap can greatly benefit the environment. 

Plant based milk is on the rise! Oat milk sales jumped 222% from April 2018 to April 2019 and continue to skyrocket. This plant based milk “renaissance” occurs for an honorable reason, the production of these products uses much less valuable resources. In comparison to other milks, the production of cow’s milk results in three times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, nine times the amount of land usage, and an absurd amount of water use. One 200ml glass of milk requires 120L of water; a bath uses less water than a single glass of milk. Contrastingly, oat milk needs less than 20ml of water and produces far less harmful emissions. All dairy alternatives prove less damaging to the environment than cow’s milk, so plenty of options flood the markets. No matter which dairy alternative you choose—oat, almond, coconut, pea, hemp, or soy—you will help the planet. 

Additionally, the switch does not need to be costly. I recently brought out my culinary skills and ventured into the production of oat milk. The ingredients are simple and surprisingly affordable. Simply, blending rolled oats ($0.16/oz), a couple dates, and water crafts a deliciously rich oat milk. By exploring milk alternatives, you might save a few dollars as well. 

Meat and dairy lovers might oppose making dietary changes since there are much more pressing environmental issues such as overpopulation and air pollution. While these concerns are valid, attacking the massive issue of climate change must start somewhere and somehow, even if it is as simple as a glass of milk. Addressing our consequential environmental issues with dietary alterations provides a simple change with immense benefits. Eating meat does not make you a bad person, and avoiding it does not make you a good one. Doing your best to help our withering planet in any way possible is the end goal, and the only way to resolve this intensifying catastrophic issue.