Amongst the different types of food we consume in a day, Dairy is one that almost everybody around the world have on a regular basis. It makes sense, as dairy carries high nutritional value and calcium and healthy carbs. Studies show that 3 out of 5 people have milk every single day and 15 out of 20 people have a dairy product (excluding millk) atleast five times a week.
However, what does this mean for our planet?
Dairy production has a considerable effect on climate change due to emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide. Simply put, dairy consumption IS having a major impact on the planet.
The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife. Additionally, manure and fertilizer runoff from dairy farms can pollute water resources. Dairy cows add substantial amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.Farmers can significantly reduce environmental impacts through the use of better management practices and technologies.
The scientists also found that even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing.
Dairy operations can consume large volumes of water to grow feed, water cows, manage manure and process products. The increased nutrients in local waterways contribute to the growth of algae, which reduces oxygen for aquatic plant and animal life.
Dairy production is not as harmful to the environment as compared with meat production.There are many feasible alternatives to dairy such as most plant-based milks are very low in protein and aren’t always fortified with important vitamins and minerals. However, fortified soya-based dairy alternatives tend to have the most similar nutritional profile to cow’s milk products.
The topic of dairy consumption is not to impose a ban or forbid dairy consumption forever - that would be a rather difficult step and quite impossible to achieve. Dairy contains a lot of nutrition and is easier to attain compared to other products. The point of this is to only reduce our dairy intake a little by little. Cutting down on diary forever in one day is unnecessary, instead let us all lessen our consumption and purchase together and try to make our planet more livable.