Can Your Coffee Order Make A Difference?

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by Paris Newman

“Drink your milk if you want strong bones!”

“Drink your milk to achieve a balanced diet!”

“Drink your milk to maintain your health!”

Such expressions surrounding dairy milk are drilled into our consciousness within the early stages of childhood. Yet, could it really be possible that such widespread idioms are detrimental to our planet, our animals and ourselves?

Contemporary health scientists, environmentalists and animal activists suggest that the praise, power and supremacy associated with the dairy industry are greatly unwarranted.

Due to the rising exposure of negative associations with dairy milk production, the plant-based milk industry is booming! Cafés all over Melbourne are offering a wealth of dairy alternative, plant-based milk to meet the demands of the people. It is now possible to get your coffee made with soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk and oat milk to name a few options. However, the big question is: what are the precise factors causing this shift away from dairy milk?

Firstly, in relation to health consequences, dairy milk has a high saturated fat content. Therefore, it has been found that large, consistent consumption of dairy milk can lead to clogged arteries and hence may result in future heart problems.

Secondly, environmentally speaking, the mass production of dairy milk is contributing to devastating planetary degradation. On a global scale, the dairy industry is one of the largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions. The large-scale breeding of cows, the production, the processing and the transportation of milk eventuates in an exorbitant release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is the main catalyst for global warming. In addition to such planetary pollution, the dairy milk industry uses excessive amounts of water for hydrating cows and cleaning production facilities, which has arguably lead to water scarcity in multiple regions worldwide.

Lastly, the dairy milk industry violates the ethical treatment of animals. As the female cow can only produce milk when she is pregnant, in order to sustain production demands, the common narrative goes that she is continually artificially inseminated from a young age, until her milk yield begins to deteriorate. Once a cow’s milk production capacity dwindles, she will be sent to the slaughterhouse. The cows bred into this tragic cycle of life are kept in extremely confined facilities and their calves are torn away from them shortly after giving birth.

While the immediate reaction to such information may be helplessness, let us allow the gloom and doom of this tale to serve as a source of inspiration for transformation!

It is critically important that we, as consumers, are aware of the health, environmental and ethical drawbacks involved with the dairy milk industry. Ultimately, we are the ones that will determine the future direction of agricultural production; we hold the power to provoke change. Our consumption choices can initiate pressure upon the dairy industry to transform their current operation.

So, even if you don’t want to completely eradicate dairy from your diet, your coffee order could be a good starting point to make a difference! Perhaps you could try to select a plant-based milk for your coffee order several times a week.

What about the nutritional value of plant-based milk? It is true that cows milk contains a large amount of protein and calcium, which are necessary for a healthy, balanced diet. Yet, soy milk is essentially on par with the amount of protein present in cows milk. Plus, soy, rice and almond milk all contain a large amount of calcium. Additionally, plant-based milk serve as a healthier alternative as they contain less or no saturated fat, compared to cows milk high saturated fat content (however, be wary of coconut milk, as its saturated fat content is considerable).

In order to make a difference, we need to become more critical and intentional consumers. These small steps, like choosing to have your coffee with plant-based milk, could be the beginning of a global shift towards a healthier, more conscientious planet. 

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