When you hear the word milk what do you imagine? A cold
glass of white, opaque liquid waiting for you to drink; maybe dip a cookie
in. The milk you probably picture comes
from a cow, but milk can come from many different animals OR be plant-based.
Milk doesn’t always equal dairy.
Milk technically is classified as an emulsified colloid.
That is just a fancy way of saying that fat and protein globules are suspended
in water. Milk is opaque because the
solution is balanced, which means the globules are floating evenly throughout
without sticking together in one place!
All mammals secrete milk from their mammary glands for their
babies, which means that everything from cows to blue whales produces milk!
Milk production for their young is one of the main features of mammals. Do we
drink whale milk? No, but humans consume milk from a variety of animals. You probably have had cow’s milk, but what
about goat or camel? There are parts of the world where both of those are also
Something that has gained popularity in the past few years
is plant-based milk, which could include almond, coconut, cashew, soy or oat
milks. Remember how I explained that milk is essentially globules of floating
protein? Well these plant seeds can be transformed into milk by simply putting
them into solution. For instance, to
make almond milk all you have to do is soak almonds, blend them with water, and
strain. You could also pick some up at
We all drank our mother’s milk (or formula) for at least the
first year of our lives, but what is the benefit of consuming milk when we’re
older? Milk is a great source of fat and protein for a growing child, but can
also be a great source of calcium for strong bones. Dairy milk for a long time seemed to be the
main go-to for consumers, but trends are leaning more towards these plant-based
milks. Plant-based milks are suitable
for vegans, more environmentally friendly, more climate friendly, and great for
anyone who is lactose-intolerant. They also can be a great source of calcium
and other nutrients without the sugar you find in milk.
Lactose is a type of sugar (a disaccharide composed of glucose and galactose) and is the primary carbohydrate in the milk of mammals. All mammal milk has it but it can vary from animal to animal. Cows’ milk, for example, has 12g/cup and goats’ milk has 9g/cup of lactose. Lactase, an enzyme produced in our intestines, is what helps our bodies break lactose down into digestible sugars. If someone lacks lactase, they won’t be able to digest the lactose, which may lead to digestive trouble. Lactose intolerance can develop at any point in your life and some cultures have a high rate of lactose intolerance since a lot of their cuisine doesn’t include dairy.
Will you follow the trend and switch to plant milk? Or stick with traditional dairy?