Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Mooove Over Cows Milk

Published on July 25, 2012 by   ·   9 Comments Pin It
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Read the labels. I dare you to read the labels! Contrary to what may be told to you by your pediatrician, friends and family, cow’s milk does not have more calcium than almond milk. In fact, it has less!

One cup of cow’s milk contains just 30% calcium while one cup of almond milk contains a whopping 45%! Soy milk is also a close competitor with one cup containing  20%.

Another real problem with cow’s milk is the saturated fat, which has been proven to contribute to childhood obesity, diabetes, heart disease and a whole host of other diseases! One cup of whole milk contains 23% of one’s daily requirement for saturated fat- roughly 1/4 of what we are supposed to consume the entire day!

That would not be terrible in and of itself, but pediatricians are recommending that children have 3 glasses a day “to get their calcium requirements” (and adults are being given very similar advice). So, not even taking into consideration what the children are eating during their day, children are being told to consume 69% of saturated fat before they even put a morsel in their mouths. And, if they fill up with milk, chances are that they won’t be as hungry and won’t eat the healthy vegetables or heart friendly salmon on their plate!

Well, what if you drink and give your family reduced fat milk? One cup reduced fat milk contains 15% of our daily requirements so if you or your kids are drinking 3 glasses a day that would be 45% of the daily requirement.

What about protein? The incorrect belief many have is that nut or soy based milks don’t have protein. Soy, in fact, has just as much protein as cow’s milk. So that myth is debunked!

Lastly, if these arguments don’t sway you perhaps this one will. Cow’s milk makes us pack on the pounds! If you think about it, cow’s milk is intended to turn a 90 pound calf into a 2000 pound cow in a year!We wouldn’t dream of drinking someone elses breast milk, but we will drink the breast milk from another species? Makes no sense to me!

I don’t drink cow’s milk for health, humane or philosophical reasons or give it to my kids but the occasional glass of milk or cup of yogurt is not the problem. The routine daily inclusion in the diet is! Utimately cow’s milk is not a healthy thing to consistently put into our bodies. Read The Milk Myth (or any of the many articles on milk here on GirlieGirl Army but using the search engine) to learn more.

Here is a cheat sheet comparing milk to other milk substitues:

  • Almond milk- more calcium than cow’s milk (45% to cows milk’s 28%) but not much protein; also contains vitamin E; rich, creamy taste Almond Breeze Vanilla Unsweetened is our favorite because you get the delicious, creamy flavor without the added sugar. Vanilla SilkMilk is another favorite!
  • Soy milk- as much protein as cow’s milk (7g versus 8g) and almost as much calcium (20% to cows milk’s 28%); also contains magnesium and vitamin D; negatives would be the soy estrogens that some say to stay away from; I prefer the taste of almond milk but my husband is literally addicted to the Silk Milk Vanilla Soy Creamer, which he puts in his coffee and over berries.
  • Rice milk- I personally don’t like rice milk and think it tastes watery. It also has a very low calcium (2%) and protein (1g) count. Although it does come in an “enriched” variety with calicum and vitamin A, B12, and D”, I don’t consider this the same as getting these nutrients naturally. The only reason I think this would be my choice is if I had a nut allergy and?or had cancer in my history and couldn’t have almond or soy milk.
  • Hemp milk- as much calcium as cow’s milk (30% to cows milk’s 28%) but low protein (2g) much like almond milk; also high in Omega 3’s; I prefer the taste of almond milk but  if I had a nut allergy, hemp milk would be a good alternative.
  • Coconut milk- more calcium than cow’s milk (45% to cows milk’s 28%); rich, creamy taste; high in B12 so a good choice if you are feeling low energy. Negatives would be that it is 25% saturated fat similar to cows milk but studies have show that plant-based saturated fat does not contribute to disease in the same way animal based saturated fat does. I use coconut milk as a treat over berries much like I would dessert, but stick to almond milk on a daily basis.
Via diet and lifestyle coach, writer, raw food chef, GirlieGirl Army Blogger,  and teacher Katherine Pennington at Be in Balance.  We love reading her blog Raw Mom and Hot Dog Kids for tips on how to raise healthy kids in a very unhealthy world.

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Readers Comments (9)

  1. Melissa says:

    I love this article, and find it so relevant to a recent discussion I had with a medical practioner. I am pregnant, and since conception have seen five of the doctors in my OB/GYN group, all but one of whom have been very supportive of my vegan diet. Last week, though, I had an appointment with a doctor with whom I’d not previously spoken, and the only dietary question he asked during my exam was regarding how many cups of milk I drink a day. I told him that I drink almond milk, and he immediately and confidently responded by saying “you really need to take a calcium supplement, then, if you’re not already doing so.” I laughed, and told him that I was not only getting MORE calcium by drinking almond milk over cow milk, but that he was clearly asking the wrong questions (he never asked me about any other foods I eat; if he had, he would know that there are plenty of calcium-rich foods in my diet!). After questioning his supplementation advice, he admitted that he didn’t have training on vegan diets, and that when in doubt he recommends that his patients supplement. I wouldn’t leave his office without making him promise me to check out the Vegetarian Resource Group’s information on vegan pregnancy. Hopefully he does take the time to study up on the positive health impacts of veganism (while pregnant or not) so that he doesn’t misguide other patients. As patients, we not only need to arm ourselves with the right information so that we can determine when medical advice is based on stereotypes rather than fact, but we also need to ensure that our healthcare providers are motivated to research facts that go against traditional dietary thinking.

    • Chloé Jo says:

      Good for you, Melissa! I’m a pregnant Mom with a two year old boy who is healthy as can be! My two vegan pregnancies have been smooth sailing and I know that Doc’s have barely any nutritional training. Mommy knows best!

  2. Lots of great points! I love every plant-based milk (except for soy because it upsets my stomach) and I love how they can be used in so many different ways. Making almond milk is super easy and it tastes bests that way, and I think coconut milk is most similar to cow’s milk because of how creamy and think it can be.

  3. Schooled the doctor- way to go Melissa! My very traditional pediatrician is beginning to learn more too and definitely knows not to even broach the subject of diet with me and my kids. It is so important that these doctors begin being educated more on nutrition so that they can help all patients-vegans and not- and not start children on a lifetime path of disease.

  4. Lisa says:

    There’s some good information here, but why is there a shout-out for “heart-healthy salmon” in this article? I’d no sooner eat a dead fish than I would drink a cow’s milk; neither is necessary for my good health, or anyone else’s.

  5. Lisa says:

    Sorry, I misquoted. It’s “heart-friendly salmon,” but the gist is the same.

  6. sam says:

    So Delicious brand almond milk is fortified with 5g of protein making it probably the best option.

  7. Andy says:

    Well done Melissa.

    Life vegan with two young children. No dairy!

  8. martin says:

    I have a question about some sort of a formula that would allow a parent to make sure the kids get “enough” calcium and other non-supplemented, food based nutritional components (vitamins, minerals, etc). The problem with the math approach is that my kids (and perhaps many other kids) very seldom have a full cup of enriched rice milk or 120 g of broccoli – they just have as much as fits and the rest is left behind; hard to count. let me know how you calculate the amounts? And how sure you are that it is the right amount? Thanks in advance. Your GirlieGirl Martin :)




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