Call it a sign of the times. America’s largest milk producer, Dean Foods, has filed for bankruptcy because people are not drinking cow’s milk.
Just this year alone, the company’s profits have fallen by 14 percent and its stock plummeted by 80 percent. Dean Foods is the parent company to a host of dairy labels including Land O’Lakes, Dairy Pure, and Organic Valley.
But it’s just not Dean Foods. In 2018, the Dairy Farmers of America revealed that its total sales were down over a billion dollars. Additionally, nearly three thousand dairy farms closed their doors for good last year. At the same time, plant-based alternatives to dairy have skyrocketed in popularity. In fact, the sale of oat milk jumped 636 percent last year alone. Market researchers expect the global sale of vegan alternatives to dairy to more than double by 2025.
This massive consumer switch from cow’s milk to plant-based milk is excellent news for those concerned with climate change. The UN’s IPCC report on land use singled out dairy production as being particularly horrendous in terms of its detrimental effect on the environment.
This switch also has the potential to greatly reduce the overwhelming amount of suffering inherent in the dairy industry. The truth is, cows bred for dairy are victims of unimaginable cruelty. They are continually impregnated, fed a whole host of drugs to make them produce unnatural amounts of milk, and have their newborn calves stolen from them just hours after birth. If you think things are better for cows raised on organic farms, think again.
Thankfully, we are now living in the golden age of healthy and humane vegan dairy alternatives. From butter and ice cream, to yogurt and cheese, the options are endless and they taste great. It looks like people are finally starting to get it.
Main image: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals