A recent report by global market researchers Mintel estimates dairy milk popularity will drop 11% in Western Europe by 2020. The report comes as plant-based milk sales rose 19.1% over the past year in Europe. Vegan milk sales in the U.S. also rose by 61% in the past five years.
With a declining demand for dairy products, the number of dairy herds has dropped, too. UK government statistics show that during the decades between 1995 and 2015, the number of farmed dairy cows decreased by 700,000, as an estimated 10 million people ditched dairy from their diet. Between 2014 and 2016, a £240 million dairy sales loss occurred as a result of fewer cows.
Claire Hider, a vegan nutritionist based in Edinburgh said she believes the public are opting to choose plant milk over dairy due to health concerns. “Cutting out dairy may be helpful for those with acne, allergies, digestive problems, sinus issues, there are also plenty of scientific papers pointing to a connection between dairy products and inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and hormonal cancers, for example of the breast and prostate,” says Hider.
As cow’s milk is designed to grow baby calfs, the nutritional ratio and components of dairy products are vastly different to human breast milk. In addition to being loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, many dairy-drinkers experience weight gain and other health issues related to high fat intake, including elevated cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease. Hider adds “Cow’s milk contains proteins, fats and minerals in ratios that are nutritionally beneficial only to a baby calf – which is designed to grow pretty rapidly into a full-grown bovine ruminant weighing close to a ton.”