World Milk Day is observed on June 1 every year and was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to recognise the importance of milk as a global food. In this post-zoonotic apocalyptic world, it might be a good idea to evaluate the importance of milk and our dependence on yet another animal-based food product. Milk is the primary source of nutrition for infant mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. After giving birth - all mothers produce milk for the initial development of their offspring. However, we are taught to consume dairy products as children and adults on a regular basis as milk has been marketed as healthy and essential for adult growth and sustenance.
Most believe milk consumption is a necessity, even after weaning off of mothers' milk. Surprisingly though, animal milk is not always the healthy drink it is played up to be.
Increased milk production can cause infection in the udder (mastitis) of animals, resulting in bacteria in the milk.
Increased milk production can cause infection in animals
Reared in conditions of extreme confinement, animals are pre-emptively kept on antibiotics to avoid illness.
Children are particularly vulnerable to these antibiotics, which obstruct the development of the immune system and cause antibiotic resistance. As per experts, growth hormones in milk may also lead to diabetes and obesity.
Many studies, such as the one by the American Journal of Public Health, have shown that a higher intake of dairy products is not associated with decreased risk of fracture. In fact, Amy Lanou Ph.D., nutrition director for PCRM, states that the countries with the highest milk consumption have the highest rates of osteoporosis.
The legacy of the traditional dairy industry, however, still lives on - with many believing that calcium, protein and vitamin D are only available in animal milk and its products. In reality, plant-based milk has more or equal calcium, protein, sodium and potassium compared to cow's milk- minus the cholesterol, allergies, hormones and antibiotics.
Plant-based milk has more or equal nutrients than cow milk
Vitamin B12 is mostly fortified even in the animal by-products as it's obtained from soil and industrialisation does not allow animals to graze naturally leading to artificially supplement the animals with B12 vitamin and the product to match its nutritional value.
Similarly, homemade plant milk can lack the same, and hence has been a cause of concern for many people considering a shift to plant-based alternatives. However, most packaged plant-based milks are fortified with vitamin B12, which are also preservative-free and low in fat content.
|Nutrient Value 236 ml||Almond Milk||Rice Milk||Soy Milk||Full Fat Milk|
|Total Fat (g)||2.5||2.3||4||6.5|
Today, the market shelves are filled with healthy and plant-based milk options. And while tier 1 city residents would find it easy to locate these options at a local superstore, they're unbelievably simple to make at home too!
Making plant-based milk doesn't take much of your time just like any other dish that you may prepare. Other than the obvious reason- of being animal-friendly, homemade plant milk is nutritious, fresh, preservative-free and cholesterol-free.
Here Are Ways In Which You Can Use Plant-Based Milk
1. How To Make Almond Milk:
Soak 1 and a half cups (192g) of almonds in 4 cups (1 litre) of filtered water overnight.
Blend the almonds with the water and add dates/sugar (optional) if you like your milk to be sweet.
Strain with a cheesecloth/nut bag/strainer to remove almond pulp.
It can be stored in the refrigerator safely for 3-4 days and the pulp can be used in curries for creaminess.
*Pro Tip: You can also milk cashew, coconut, and peanuts in similar ways.
Almond milk can easily be made at home
2. How To Make Rice Milk:
Put 85g of hot rice, 700ml of hot water, tsp of salt and vanilla (optional) in a blender and blend for 2 minutes.
Strain the residue in a cheesecloth or a fine sieve to remove the granules. It can be kept for at least 48 hours.
With minimum ingredients, rice plant can be made
3. How To Make Soy Milk:
To make 1 litre of soymilk put 140 gms split soybeans in a pan and pour 3 litres of boiling water over them.
Let it cool overnight.
Drain the beans, add 1-litre cold water and mix it in a blender for 3 minutes.
Remove the soymilk from the solids by squeezing the mixture through a cheesecloth. Bring the soymilk to boiling point and continue to boil for 10 minutes and cool down to store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Remove the soymilk from the solids by squeezing the mixture through a cheesecloth.
The growing awareness regarding ill effects and inadequacies of milk increased lactose intolerance and a general trend towards compassion has caused a new industry to emerge - that of the plant-based milk industry. However, India's culinary culture and tradition have always used plant-based milk like coconut, peanut, rice etc. The mainstream industry has now caught up to speed and India too, has seen a fair share of growth in this market.
This World Milk Day, let's make an effort to understand its essence and not get lost in the commercialization of its celebration. Let us strive to make it inclusive, sustainable for people, animals and the environment.
About Author: Varda Mehrotra is the Executive Director of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO).
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