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By Ben Kluvanek

(5 minute read)

On Mother’s Day, many of us will have the good fortune to wake up and celebrate the mothers and role models in our lives. But there is one group of mothers who, due to the unnecessary consumption of dairy milk by humans, will not spend the day with their offspring.

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Suffering mothers

Dairy farm [Source: Shutterstock]

As we wake up on Sunday morning, there will be 1.5 million cows living inside the gates of dairy farms across Australia [1]. Not many people realize that only mother cows can produce milk. To keep the milk (and the dollars) flowing, dairy farmers ensure that the cows are impregnated as often and as quickly as biologically possible. The babies, if female, might be kept on the farm to produce milk themselves; otherwise, they are slaughtered for meat by the time they are a few weeks old. Even babies that remain on the farm are separated from their mothers within days [2]. The legislation allows 5-day-old cows to be transported for rearing, without food or water, for trips of up to 6 hours [3].

And mothers who produce milk don’t even get to live out their full 20-year lifespans. As soon as these cows are no longer economically viable, they are slaughtered for beef; this can occur before the cow’s fourth birthday [4].

These are mammals just like us. They produce milk because they are mothers, not because they are cows. Cows thrive in the sun, they form strong bonds with their families, they develop unique and quirky personalities, and they even love to play [5]. Cows should not have their children removed from them and slaughtered for meat; they should be left  to spend Mother’s Day – and all other days – with their children.

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The solution? Try plant-based milk this Mother’s Day

You can help these mothers and enjoy milk products at the same time by making the switch to plant-based milks.

Plant-based milks are available in abundance. Supermarket shelves are lined with countless options, including almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, macadamia milk, coconut milk, and cashew milk. So you can pick the perfect variety to meet your personal taste and nutritional needs, or you can experiment with different varieties if you’re a coffee drinker, tea drinker or an aspiring dessert chef. There are even brands designed for optimal outcomes in specific uses, like Bonsoy which is popular with baristas in cafés across Australia. Best of all, they’re dairy-free.

Plant based milks [Source: Shutterstock]

These plant-based milks might seem like a new innovation, but humans have actually been drinking many of them since Medieval times or even earlier [6]. Plant-based milks offer many potential health benefits [7]. And contrary to the occasional sensationalist news headline, cow milk is not an essential human food, with nutrition expert Andy Bellatti (MS, RD) reminding us: ‘Milk is simply not necessary in the diet. Every nutrient in milk can be found in whole plant foods.’ [8] The abundant varieties to choose from and the potential benefits to your health are part of the reason why Australians are rapidly switching to plant-based milks [9].

Beyond milks, there has been a delectable revolution in cheeses, yoghurts and ice-creams. In that delicious latter category are the latest lines of Magnum, Cornetto, and Ben & Jerry’s, as well as Peters Drumstick, which comes in luxurious flavours like Raspberry & Coconut and Affogato.

So there are plenty of delicious products to try and ice-creams to buy for your mother this Mother’s Day. Why not give it a go?

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References

1. Dairy Australia, Cows and Farms, URL: https://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/industry/farm-facts/cows-and-farms

2. Stěhulová, I, Lidfors, L & Špinka, M 2008, Response of dairy cows and calves to early separation: Effect of calf age and visual and auditory contact after separation, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 110(1-2), 114-165.

3. South Australia Animal Welfare Regulations 2012 under the Animal Welfare Act 1985, URL: https://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/LZ/C/R/ANIMAL%20WELFARE%20REGULATIONS%202012/CURRENT/2012.187.AUTH.PDF

4. Wallace, RL 2002, Market cows, Illinois Livestock Trail, URL: http://livestocktrail.illinois.edu/dairynet/paperdisplay.cfm?contentid=354

5. Young, R 2017, The Secret Life of Cows, Faber and Faber

6. Franklin-Wallis, O 2019, White gold: the unstoppable rise of alternative milks, The Guardian, URL: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/jan/29/white-gold-the-unstoppable-rise-of-alternative-milks-oat-soy-rice-coconut-plant

7. Paul, AA, Kumar, S, Kumar, V & Sharma, R 2019, Milk Analog: Plant based alternatives to conventional milk, production, potential and health concerns, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2019.1674243

8. Healthline Editorial Team 2015, Ask The Experts: Is Milk Good for You?, Healthline, URL: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/experts-is-milk-good-for-you#1

9. Lucio, R 2019, Plant based milk sales continue to soar, Inside FMCG, URL:  https://insidefmcg.com.au/2019/08/12/plant-based-milk-sales-continue-to-soar/

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