Should we be crying over spilled milk?

I feel a bit ashamed sometimes to hold my hand up and admit that I consume dairy.

“I work in a café, and we get more orders with alternative milk than regular milk”. “I don’t consume dairy because I don’t agree with the milking process”. “I drink cows’ milk because it has more protein than all the other ones”. “I don’t like alternative milk. I used soya milk for a while, but I despised it, plus regular milk is just cheaper. Need that calcium”.


Here are some of the views from students of DCU. Milk often divides people, because of its confusing messages from health professionals. I personally own goats and that’s the milk I consume!


Raw goats’ milk is used to counteract diseases, due to its high amount of protein. Goats’ milk also aids our body in absorbing other nutrients. It is also just a healthier choice as it doesn’t produce mucous, meaning it’s better for people suffering from respiratory problems. The benefits can be truly seen from the Kenyan elephants!


The keepers at the Retei Animal Sanctuary had been struggling throughout the pandemic. The orphanage relied on human baby formula milk for calves, but with the pandemic supply was short.


The sanctuary looked closer to home for options. Goat farms are prominent in Kenya, so they started using goat milk. It was lovely to see the relationships between the elephants and goats forming, but also the relationship between the community and the animals. When everyone is consuming the same milk, it’s almost connecting.


Not only is the milk more natural, but it had many health benefits for the elephants. The increase in protein led to a speedy recovery for the weak elephants rescued.


Putting aside the health benefits, these days it seems alternative milk is more popular than regular milk. I feel a bit ashamed sometimes to hold my hand up and admit that I consume dairy.


According to the Central Statistics Office, there has been a 48% increase in the consumption of dairy for under 35s during lockdown. So, I’m not alone! Maybe other people also feel ashamed to talk about their dairy intake?


It’s obvious where this shame stems from. The methane cows produce causes almost 23 times as much global warming per molecule as carbon dioxide. This is damaging to the environment, but is alternative milk much better?


Almonds are grown in California where there is a need for four litres of water to produce one almond. Considering the drought experienced in California, maybe almonds are just as bad for the environment. Just like soy milk… as the demand grows, land must be turned into soy plantations, causing wide-scale deforestation.


“People need to realise that if we all went vegan at the one-time then the cows would suffer huge infections, we might save the environment, but we would kill off the species entirely,” said one farmer from county Meath.  According to a member of the Dairy Alliances “Without an opportunity to enter a milking parlour, a cow would produce lots of milk she’d have to carry throughout her day. If the dairy farm hopes to continue collecting quality milk, ensuring the cow can give milk is a top priority.”.


The Irish Farming Association is angered at how they have been targeted in the climate action plan.


I think as the population increases; our food production will need to increase. If there is not enough production in Ireland, then we will just start importing from other countries where the carbon footprint is higher. With an increase in dairy consumption, I see this as a good thing. Irish produce is being supported.


Louise Hickey.