Should Humans Drink Milk? 5 Things You Should Know
The history of milk is the history of civilisation. Without it, there would be no civilisation.
Milk has been a dietary staple for at least as long as humans have been documenting their diet, but the question of whether or not humans should drink milk from another animal has been a comparatively lesser consideration--until recently.
Yes, there are varying and conflicting beliefs out there about whether 'milk is milk' and whether 'milk from an animal is fit for human consumption'.
Over the last few years, drinking milk has been called into question, for a variety of dietary, cultural, and personal preference reasons. Also, because of the way that milk - particularly dairy - is mostly raised and farmed for mass consumption.
Drinking milk is frowned upon by vegans, by those looking to protect the earth, and by many people who have lactose intolerances.
But milk isn’t necessarily the enemy and there’s a reason it has long been a staple of the human diet.
Organic, earth friendly raised, unpasteurised milk is full of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and good bacteria, and it’s an easy, versatile component in many meals and snacks (especially on the go).
However, factory-farmed milk - which has been treated and heated to within an inch of its life - hardly resembles milk at all and really should be avoided.
If your belief systems around milk mean that it's simply not for you, the good news is that you have some great alternative options.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about whether humans should drink milk. More specifically, find out if you, as a human, should drink milk.
The answer isn’t necessarily the same for everyone.
We’re going to talk about raw milk and its substitutes, so you can make an informed decision about consuming milk or whether or not it's for you.
Important Things To Know
1. Different Views on Milk
There are many cultural views and personal beliefs around the subject of drinking milk. With so many different types of diets and food preferences, everyone is going to have their own opinion about whether or not milk is fit for humans to drink.
Vegans, for example, believe that any animal by-products should never be consumed, whereas a vegetarian might feel comfortable drinking milk since no animals were killed to make it.
Some vegetarians might also be completely against it, just like how there are vegetarians who eat eggs and some who don’t.
Over the last few decades, milk allergies have been on the rise, putting a focus on milk alternatives. There has also been a focus on eating sustainably, and dairy milk produced in bulk can have an incredibly taxing effect on the planet. There are tons of different views on human consumption of milk, and they all have valid arguments; it depends on what works best for your lifestyle and beliefs.
2. Benefits of Milk
Drinking dairy milk can be part of a healthy diet, which is why it’s been consumed by humans for thousands of years.
Pasteurisation wasn’t introduced until the last century, to combat unsanitary production methods and transportation of milk so that we didn’t develop illness from drinking milk. We’ve become used to only drinking pasteurised milk (in fact, it’s all you can buy in stores), but raw, unpasteurised milk from healthy, happy animals can do wonders for your health.
It’s loaded with healthy bacteria that your digestive system needs to function well, making you better equipped to repel digestive diseases like Crohns and IBS.
Raw milk is also full of enzymes that help you digest other foods more easily, and can often be more easily digested by those with milk allergies. Pasteurised milk may have been necessary in the past, but it’s not a requirement in this day and age, making raw, unpasteurised milk a healthy, accessible option.
So, the question, “should humans drink milk” may be best answered with another question: what kind of milk? Raw milk definitely has its advantages.
3. Raw Milk
The senseless destruction of fresh milk through pasteurisation, ultra-pasteurisation and now ultra high-temperature pasteurisation turns a raw, living food into a white, 'milk-flavoured pustulant drink'.
With a proper understanding of milk and its destructive effects (when heat-treated), and the remarkable therapeutic effects when consumed RAW, there are many health benefits of consuming raw unprocessed and unpasteurised milk.
First, consider this...
Life begets life, meaning that raw milk is available for human consumption as a death-free food. Milk is the succor of life and light, the sun held in liquid state and the quickened 'blood' of grasses.
Offered fresh milk, most mammals - even adult ones - will usually drink it immediately without any natural resistance.
Humans, with their mobility and intelligence, figured out long ago how to have ongoing access to milk, especially given that we have opposable thumbs and hands that make squeezing milk from an udder possible.
The problem is that milk has become so commercialised for the sake of industry and profit, that the finished product you see on your supermarket shelf hardly resembles real milk at all.
4. Milk Alternatives
Regardless of the benefits of raw milk, some people simply can’t consume it or choose not to, and that’s perfectly okay. Plenty of milk alternatives have surfaced that are healthy, delicious, and contain many of the same benefits of dairy milk.
Some of these include soy milk, nut milks, oat milk, and coconut milk.
Almond milk is one of the best alternatives to raw milk, not just because it’s incredibly tasty and nutritious. Almond milk is comparatively low in calories and sugar, but high in vitamin E and calcium, it’s generally enriched with vitamin D (which many people don’t get enough of from the sun), it’s naturally lactose free so even those with milk allergies can drink it, it’s vegan, and it’s incredibly versatile.
Almond milk can be used in so many different ways, including:
- In your cereal or oatmeal
- In hot beverages like tea and coffee
- Blended into smoothies
- As a milk substitute in baking
- In soups, sauces and dressings
You can even make homemade almond milk easily by soaking them in water for several hours, rinsing them, blending them with water, and then straining the mixture through a nut milk bag. This homemade variety keeps fresh in your fridge for up to five days. Making your own almond milk helps you control exactly what goes into it, including the sweetness.
If you're going to buy Almond milk from the supermarket, be sure to choose organic, untreated wherever possible.
Learn more in 5 Amazing Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives.
5. Finding the Right Source
As with anything you consume, knowing where it comes from is crucial. There’s a huge difference in mass-produced milk from cows that get zero exercise and consume low-quality food, to organic raw milk from healthy, happy cows that are fed good, clean grass—even though you might not notice the differences at first.
If you have local farms, try visiting them first to purchase raw, organic milk rather than going to the supermarket. You can see the conditions for yourself, plus you’re supporting the local economy and small, family farms with a lesser carbon footprint.
If there are no farms near you, farmer’s markets can be great sources, or at least they can recommend where to find good, organic raw milk.
Learn more in Organic Versus Non Organic.
If you choose not to drink milk for any reason, it’s important to know which nutrients you’re missing out on and how to replace those things.
Raw milk is loaded with protein, for tissue and muscle repair. It also comes chock full of calcium, and as get older we need more calcium to maintain healthy, strong bones, so finding another source of calcium is crucial. It’s also rich in fatty acids that protect you from disease and ignite the immune system to torch bacteria.
Raw milk particularly has probiotics that help maintain a healthy gut flora, so replacing milk with other fermented foods like kefir, tempeh, kombucha, pickled vegetables, and more is important to ensure your digestive function and immune system have what they need to work optimally.
It’s hard to replace the plethora of nutrients in raw milk with just one of two foods, but it is absolutely possible when you eat a wide variety of fruits, nuts, legumes, vegetables and whole grains.
Learn more in Probiotics: Health Benefits & 7 Powerful Food Sources
If you're going to consume milk or dairy, knowing your source can make all the difference. Raw alternatives that have been organically raised from earth-friendly farms are the way to go.
Note: In certain states and countries it is illegal to sell untreated, raw milk for human consumption. Often it will still be available, but the store is obliged to label it as cosmetic "bath milk". If it's unavailable in your area, find a local organic farm, organic farmer's co-op, or go to a farmer's market and get it direct from the source.
If you can't stomach milk what should you drink?
If you would prefer to avoid raw milk despite its benefits, there are a number of great substitutes available in good health food stores these days or that you can make yourself e.g. Organic Soy and Quality Nut Milks.
Tolman Self Care.