Delicious Living Blog

Why you should drink dairy alternatives

Got Milk?'s new advertising campaign bashes milk substitutes—suggesting they are both artificial and creepy. Here's why that is wrong.

Recently, the California Milk Processor Board (the folks behind the infamous Got Milk? advertisements) unleashed a new campaign to rev up support behind dairy. Gotmilk.com, the fancy new website accompanying the campaign, reveals five bottles containing liquids of varying whiteness on it's homepage. A banner prompts the reader to “Find the real milk.” Click on soy milk and the website chides, “This came from a cow? Please.” Almond milk is described as having a “funky color,” and coconut milk is touted as being “spooky.”

While these empty descriptors (honestly, funky color? That’s the best you got?) are pretty ridiculous, the website questions the ingredients found in milk substitutes too; insinuating that these products are artificial. So let's set the record straight by examining a few of these seemingly “spooky” ingredients found in dairy alternatives.

Carrageenan

An extract of red seaweed, this ingredient gets its name from Carragheen, a coastal town in Ireland where it has been used in foods for hundreds of years. Food-grade carrageenan (otherwise known as undegraded carrageenan) has been extensively studied, and is widely considered to be a safe, natural additive in foods. It adds a creamy mouthfeel to both milk substitutes as well as ice creams, puddings, marshmellows, etc. Degraded carrageenan, on the other hand, is not used in foods, and may have tumor-causing properties.

Guar Gum

Popular in gluten-free baking, guar gum is a white, flour-like substance used as a thickener. It’s made from the seeds of the guar bean—a plant native to India.

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum adds volume and viscocity to baked goods. It’s made from a microorganism called Xanthomonas campestris and is a natural carbohydrate.

Carob Bean Gum

Also known as Locust Bean Gum, carob bean gum is a thickener derived from—you guessed it—the seeds of a carob tree.

Tocopherol

Found in fortified products such as almond milk, as well as sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, olive oil, and broccoli, tocopherol is simply vitamin E. Studies show it reduces the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, eye disorders such as age-related macular degeneration, and cognitive decline.

Wait, isn't milk healthy?

Don’t get me wrong. I regularly eat dairy products like cheese and yogurt. Dairy milk is significantly more beneficial than other beverages; as both doctors and health professionals alike unequivocally recommend milk over soda, energy drinks and sugary juice cocktails. Milk has roughly 300 mgs of calcium per glass, and (as gotmilk.com helpfully points out) it aids in muscle repair, bone strength, sleep and healthy hair skin and nails. Egyptian queen Cleopatra, the website informs, even took weekly milk baths to soften her skin. (Filling a whole bathtub with milk? Talk about an increase in sales!)

But with factory farms consistently using antibiotics, growth hormones and unsavory practices to produce conventional milk, not to mention roughly 75 percent of the world’s population is unable to properly digest dairy, it may not be the goodly white liquid the new Got Milk? campaign leads you to believe.

Rather, embrace milk subsitutes such as coconut milk—which contains lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid vital for immunity—almond milk, hazelnut milk, hemp milk and soy milk—a zero-cholesterol, eco-friendly beverage.

Other options include opting for goat milk, which contains less lactose, or buying organic dairy produced by responsible companies such as Horizon, Organic Valley, or Stonyfield, whose cows eat pesticide-free food, are never treated with artificial growth hormones, and are raised in healthy, clean living conditions. Now that's what I call a happy cow.

Discuss this Blog Entry 7

on Feb 22, 2012

You gotta stay away from the soy milk. Unfermented soy products will give the consumer too much digestive inhibitors that it outways the positive aspects of soy. Google the Ploy of Soy.

Sheryllyn (not verified)
on Feb 22, 2012

I'm glad to see this article, but it is REALLY LATE to the party!

The Board of Unnecessary started running in November or December.

http://livingwithinandwithout.blogspot.com/2011/12/got-milk-board-of-unn...

Getting the info out earlier would be more helpful!

Marta (not verified)
on Feb 22, 2012

Many people are soy-intolerant, including me. Tofu is healthy because it's fermented and natural; other soy products have been proven to be indigestible and even dangerous, from what I've heard.

No dairy milk is healthy unless it's raw. Along with BGH and antibiotics, regular pasteurization and homogenization render milk indigestible, acidic, and actually harmful to your bones, NOT beneficial. Please don't rely on gotmilk.com for your information. Milk has plenty of calcium IN it, but your bones can't absorb it properly when it's pasteurized. Eat green veggies and nuts for calcium.

Check out notmilk.com - with an "N".

on Feb 22, 2012

Stay away from dairy milk too! Unless it's raw. Pasteurized, homogenized milk is a completely different substance from raw, healthy milk. It's bad for your bones, heart, and sinuses, to name a few. Stop drinking milk and it may actually make your bones stronger (it did with me).

Try googling "notmilk.com" instead of gotmilk if you want more reliable information. I don't trust the people who sell the stuff. Water is my drink of choice.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 23, 2012

Even better - make your own milk substitutes. Any nut milk is easy to make with soaked nuts and/or hemp seeds. Add flavors and sweetness with dates, vanilla and cocoa powder.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 23, 2012

Here's where I'm at on the milk debate -- after eschewing cow's milk in favor of soy milk for decades, and then giving up soy in favor of some of the other "milks," I now am grossed out by sugar-laden alt milks in basically unrecyclable brick packs and won't buy them anymore.

The heck with all those stabilizers, sweeteners and precious little of the actually healthful ingredients ("almond" milk? ha). Instead, I use my blendtec blender and some almonds or chia or whatever I want and make my own fresh milk. Infinitely tastier, cheaper, and better for the planet. Not to mention healthier for me and my family.

Megan @ Fiterature (not verified)
on Feb 23, 2012

Thanks for this information - I didn't know what half of that stuff was. It's nice to know the dairy alternatives are so natural.

Thanks!

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