You're drinking what? Dairy lobby fights back with a new definition of the word 'milk'

It is 2020, the world is on fire, and some of us are in the midst of a gripping debate about exactly what we should have in our cereal.

As we learn about the environmental impacts of mass cattle farming, the future is looking bleak for the beef and dairy lobbies. US citizens need to cut milk by 60% and beef by 90% to prevent global heating changes, according to researchers.

If dairy’s out, then, what milk is best for the world? You can now get milk from soy beans, cashews, or tiger nuts – just to name a few. All are far better for the planet than dairy, according to a 2018 study. (The Guardian’s own analysis of vegan options was published this week).

But the dairy lobby is not going down without a fight, going as far as demanding that milk alternatives cannot be called “milk”.

Today, Virginia’s legislature has made alternative milks parading as real milk “unlawful”. What is real milk, you ask? According to them, it is “the lacteal secretion of a healthy, hooved mammal.” (Yum!)

This has led to existential questions such as “do we have to change the name of peanut butter?” and “what about breast-milk?” There is, in fact, an exception in the bill that accepts that breast-milk is the real deal, but the fact that a loophole needs to exist does make you wonder what this whole thing is really about.

In the words of Shakespeare, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Perhaps that’s the problem.


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