A recent survey from agribusiness giant Cargill reveals that half of U.S. dairy consumers also use vegan dairy alternatives.
The survey asked consumers whether and how they consumed dairy products versus dairy-free alternatives, such as plant-based milk or ice cream.
While 67 percent of those surveyed said they regularly consumed animal-based dairy products, up to 50 percent said they consumed both dairy and plant-based dairy alternatives. What’s more, of those respondents who avoid or limit dairy, a whopping 20 percent said they avoided dairy for animal rights or animal cruelty issues.
This is horrifying to the dairy industry. With half of all dairy consumers also using plant-based alternatives, the dairy industry is losing a significant portion of its business to vegan products.
America’s largest dairy company, Dean Foods, recently issued a notice to dozens of dairy suppliers that it would end their contracts, citing the overproduction of dairy milk due to lack of consumer demand.
According to a 2013 USDA report, dairy consumption has been on the decline for decades, with each generation consuming less milk than the one before. In fact, dairy consumption has fallen a whopping 40 percent since 1970.
While dairy consumption continues to decline, the plant-based market is thriving. A 2017 report by the Plant Based Foods Association and The Good Food Institute shows a more than 20 percent increase from the previous year in purchases of dairy alternatives, such as vegan cheese, ice cream, and yogurt, for a total of over $700 million in sales.
The decline in dairy consumption is great news for cows, who are treated as mere milk-producing machines at factory farms, forcibly impregnated and kept in terrible conditions. Calves are torn away from their mothers shortly after they are born. Male calves are killed for veal. Females are forced into the dairy herd, trapped in a cycle of abuse for years until they are considered “spent” and sent to slaughter.
Heartbreaking, right? Just watch this undercover video from a Mercy For Animals investigation.