Welcome! And well done on making the first step to a healthier and kinder lifestyle.
Going dairy-free is one of the most natural changes to your diet. Why? Simply because drinking milk past infancy is not what nature intended. We’re the only species in the world to do so and what’s more, we consume milk of a different animal!
Whilst consuming milk and dairy products is common in some countries, not everyone is able to stomach it. Most people lose the ability to digest the milk sugar lactose after weaning – about two thirds of the world’s adults are lactose intolerant. The message is loud and clear: we are meant to consume breast milk only in infancy and then stop.
However, as milk is our first food, we tend to view it with a certain emotional attachment and the dairy industry are well aware of it. Their marketing has got us convinced that cow’s milk is a perfect food, that we need it for healthy bones and, most importantly, we need to consume it several times a day. Whatever the claim, don’t forget they are selling you a product, even if it’s disguised as health advice. Not long ago, cigarettes were recommended by doctors – clever marketing bolstered by excessive funding is capable of reaching everyone!
All the dairy-free diet basics are covered in our easy-to-read practical guide Everyone’s Going Dairy-Free – free to download!
It's easy to go dairy-free with so many amazing products and dairy alternatives widely available and many easy swaps, tips and tricks. Don’t be scared to experiment with plant milks, yoghurts, tofu, vegan cheese, desserts etc. Everyone has different favourites so while someone loves rice or almond milk, you may discover that your favourite is soya or oat milk! They’re all healthy and work in hot drinks as well as on cereal or in cooking.
Most cafés offer soya milk and many also have almond or coconut milks. All restaurants are obliged to have an allergen list for each meal, which makes choosing much easier - and the variety of dairy-free, vegan dishes and convenience foods is skyrocketing. Restaurant chains are keeping up with demand and some offer delicious pizza with dairy-free cheese (Zizzi, Pizza Express), Mexican food (Las Iguanas) and Asian dishes (Yo Sushi, Itsu, Wagamama) whilst there is also a range of all-time favourites (Wetherspoons, Hungry Horse, Harvester). And there’s a growing range of vegan sandwiches, too (Pret, M&S, WH Smith)!
Once you make the decision to change your diet and start discovering new options and flavours, you’ll soon discover what works best for you. But most importantly, you’ll be healthier and happier as a result!
See our handy guide Everyone’s Going Dairy-Free to help you with the smooth transition
or order our exclusive Going Dairy-Free Super Pack to kickstart your diet change!
Milk is for babies
There’s no way to sugarcoat it – milk sold for human consumption comes from grieving mothers whose babies were stolen from them a day after birth so we can drink their milk. This happens at all dairy farms, big and small, conventional or organic. These teetering calves are placed in individual hutches or pens, calling out for their mums, craving their care and warmth. All they get is a bucket of milk replacer. Nothing to do, left alone, isolated, calling for their mum. Eventually, the females will replace their mothers, being forcibly impregnated before two years of age, whilst the males are usually killed for veal when few months old - or just shot as unwanted 'by-products' of the dairy industry.
Meanwhile, the mother cows have to be restrained from trying to get to their babies and are milked for all they’re worth every day. Shockingly, they are milked for seven months of their nine month pregnancy. Shortly after giving birth, they are made pregnant again and so the gruelling cycle continues.
Increasingly, dairy cows never see a blade of grass, being 'zero grazed' and kept in large sheds all year long. Viva! investigated 15 farms that supplied Cadbury and every one used zero grazing. The industry is intensifying, packing ever-increasing numbers of cows inside large sheds.
When cows are exhausted and no longer profitable, they are slaughtered for cheap beef products, usually at only five years old, for burgers, soups, pasties, sausages, baby food.
Go dairy-free and thrive
Is milk bad for you? Cow’s milk is the perfect food for a baby cow but not for humans. You may have noticed that there are differences between the two species! Cows grow very rapidly while humans are the slowest growing land mammal on our planet. Cow's milk naturally contains a cocktail of 35 different hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone, and 11 growth factors that are meant to turn a small calf into a fully grown cow in a year. But these hormones can wreak havoc in your body and have been linked to cancer, acne and more. Dairy protein is notoriously hard to digest and often causes cow’s milk allergy, while dairy fat is linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes type 2. And that’s not all – milk also contains pus! Legally, it can contain up to 400 million pus cells per litre because dairy cows suffer from udder inflammation (mastitis) so often it’s now accepted as a part of the deal.
There’s so much research on the consequences of consuming milk and dairy products on human health, you have only to scratch the surface to learn the truth. We have produced a comprehensive and fully-referenced report White Lies where you can find all the details about milk and your health.
If you have doubts about healthy bones on a dairy-free diet or want reassurance, see our campaign Break Free, focused specifically on this issue and offering practical advice. Or if you’d prefer a summary on calcium alone, have a look at our calcium fact sheet.
For information about all aspects of dairy consumption and production, in an easy-to-read format, see the brilliant all-rounder - Why You Don’t Need Dairy guide.
You’ll have a lighter impact on the environment too!
Most milk comes from large farms where cows are kept indoors all year long. Even at farms that do allow grazing, the cows still spend the majority of the year indoors. That means using huge amounts of water, feed and fuel to keep the farms running and a whole lot of pollution as a result.
In terms of European animal food production, the dairy industry produces the most greenhouse gases! Dairy farms are also the biggest offenders when it comes to water pollution, mostly due to slurry and silage leaks.
And it takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce just one litre of milk. If you switch to plant based milks, your carbon footprint will be much lighter!
To find out more about the environmental impacts of dairy farming and plant-based alternatives, click here.
And why not sign up to the FREE 30 Day Vegan!
It’s a great help for people who are finding their feet in the dairy-free, vegan world. Every day for 30 days you’ll get an email with:
Tasty, healthy meal plans
Celebrity vegan inspiration