According to a survey conducted by ComRes on behalf of the BBC, more than a quarter of people aged 18 to 24 have reduced or eliminated dairy consumption in the past two years.
The poll of 2,000 respondents found that women are likely to have a negative attitude toward dairy and people aged 18 to 24 are cutting back more than any other age group. In comparison, 16 percent of people aged 25 to 34 and 11 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are likely to be cutting back.
Bekki Ramsay, 23, spoke to the BBC:
I feel like my generation is a lot more open to trying. I know that buying alternative milk is better for the world, but it’s more a health choice for me. It’s kind of impossible to escape from what’s going on in this world and how what we do every day has an impact on the environment.
Choosing dairy-free milk and other vegan products is certainly better for the world. Dairy milk is harmful to both the environment and people’s health.
A study by the University of Oxford found that greenhouse gas emissions from cow’s milk were almost three times higher than those from vegan alternatives.
The study compared the environmental impact of dairy, rice, soy, oat, and almond milks, measuring emissions and land and water use. In each comparison, dairy milk had a greater environmental impact than plant-based milk.
While environmental impact seems to be a driving factor for a lot of people, milk and other dairy products are actually bad for you and increase health risks. In fact, dairy products are the number one source of saturated fat in the U.S.
Dairy consumption has been linked to prostate cancer in more than 20 studies, while a 2006 Harvard study found women with diets high in meat and dairy increased their risk of breast cancer by 33–36 percent.
Shockingly, women who consume dairy products such as yogurt, ice cream, and cheese could raise their risk of mortality from breast cancer by 50 percent, according to an extensive 2013 study. The same study found that because milk products come from pregnant cows, they are particularly high in estrogen.
While the dairy industry touts milk as good for strong, healthy bones, populations that consume the most cow’s milk and other dairy products have some of the highest rates of osteoporosis and hip fractures, according to a study by musculoskeletal epidemiologist Tania Winzenberg and her colleagues.
Whatever the reason for cutting back or eliminating dairy products, the result is higher sales of dairy-free products.
Along with human health risks and environmental pollution, dairy consumption involves horrific animal abuse. Cows exploited for dairy endure lives of misery and deprivation in factory farms. At dairy factory farms, cows are forcibly impregnated, roughly handled, and separated from their calves—male calves are torn from their mothers and slaughtered for veal. Cows are caught in this cycle until they become “spent and are sent to slaughter.