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Dairy Substitutes Are the Way to Go

For most of us, we grew up drinking dairy milk. Though in recent years it seems there has been a large shift in consumers buying dairy products and opting for vegan products—especially with milk. If you haven’t made the shift yet, you might want to.

Photo by @askkell on Unsplash

Dairy milk has an exceedingly detrimental effect on our environment for a multitude of reasons, starting with their manure. Cow manure produces CO2 emissions into the air, soil, and groundwater. Contaminating the planet with every drop of manure.

Due to the dairy industry’s hefty economic contribution to the U.S. economy, dairy is mass-produced. Meaning more cow’s generate a significant amount of methane into the Earth’s atmosphere—and methane is the second largest human-made contributor to global warming.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the top sources for methane emissions are:

  • Landfills

  • Oil and natural gas systems

  • Agricultural activities

  • Coal mining

  • Stationary and mobile combustion

  • Wastewater treatment

  • Certain industrial processes

How do cows produce methane? Cows are known as ruminant animals, which is a classification of herbivorous hoofed mammals with a four-chambered stomach. With their four-chambered stomach—there is the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum. While the abomasum is considered the “true stomach,” in a ruminant mammal, the rumen is the stomach chamber that breaks down plant nutrients in a microbial manner. It does this by being exposed to bacteria that breaks down the cellulose. This process is called the foregut fermentation.

Through foregut fermentation greenhouse gasses are released. However, digestion isn’t the only producer of these gasses. Actual cow gas that is emitted from the mammal is the biggest source of gas—topping manure. Some food can exemplify the issue such as hay or grass. Seaweed has been shown to reduce gasses produced through flatulence, as well as corn.

So what can be done?

Well there isn’t much of an option other than to cut back or cut off your consumption of dairy products, or beef. As much as it may be hard to give up such a large part of the American diet—this is something that will make for a better and healthier future for everyone. Next time you're perusing the dairy aisle, check out some plant-based milk alternatives. It will be worth the long while.

Plus, they taste better. I started drinking plant-based milk three years ago, and I honestly can’t imagine going back to regular dairy milk.


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