The Vegan Society greeted the news that the retail milk price is now lower than the cost price (and lower than some bottled water) with horror that animal suffering and life is of so little value; but not surprise.
The Vegan Society's Chief Executive Officer, Jasmijn de Boo, called on the public to see that the time is right for a switch to healthy and compassionate alternatives to dairy milk such as plant-based milks such as soya, almond and rice milks.
"The Vegan Society is saddened to learn that farmers are being forced out of their livelihoods but we have clearly seen this dairy milk crisis coming for a long time. For years we have seen the demand for dairy drop, and the sales of plant-based milks increase exponentially. Consumers increasingly want healthy, ethical alternatives that do not cost the earth or cause animal pain and suffering. Sales clearly show that people are willing to pay a little more for a product that is good for them. The large range of plant-based milks are tasty and healthy, particularly the unsweetened versions. People are now more aware that dairy milk is not needed to maintain good health. In fact, a growing number of studies point out the health disadvantages of dairy milk," noted Jasmijn de Boo.
The latest study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Aune and other researchers shows that high intakes of dairy products may increase total prostate cancer risk. (1) The size of the non-dairy market jumped from 36 million litres in 2011 to 92 million litres in 2013 - an increase of 155 per cent in just two years, according to retail analysts Mintel. Mintel says the plant-based, non-dairy category is worth £150.6 million. Soya-based alternatives to yoghurt account for 13 per cent of all sales in the plant-based eating category and are growing at 8 per cent year-on-year. (2)
Dairy farming causes great suffering to calves and cows. Cows are required to produce an unnatural and very high volume of milk and they struggle to maintain their metabolism and health under such stress. Lameness and udder infections are common among dairy cows as a result of the unnaturally high milk yields demanded of them. A cow should only naturally produce enough milk to feed her own calf until it is weaned.
"Many people do not understand that dairy milk is only suitable for calves. The calf is taken away from its mother at birth and this causes both calf and cow great emotional distress. The male calves are destined for a short life as they cannot become milk machines in their turn. Humans are the only animals that drink milk after weaning," de Boo commented. She believes "It is time we welcome the consumption of plant protein directly, rather than passing it through four cow stomachs and contributing to greenhouse gases and animal suffering and death along the way."
Notes to editors:
Aune D, Navarro Rosenblatt DA, Chan DS, Vieira AR, Vieira R, Greenwood DC, Vatten LJ, Norat T. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies, AJCN 101(1):87-117.
 Mintel, Dairy Drinks, Milk and Cream, UK, April 2014.