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Heal The Planet Opportunity: Dairy Production

Did you know it takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce a single gallon of milk?  Or, that there are approximately 270 million dairy cows worldwide? The USDA has forecasted an increase in dairy production for 2019, but at what cost to the environment.  By reducing the amount of dairy consumed we can cut greenhouse gas emissions substantially, as well as improve our health. 

Milk gives you strong bones, fact or fiction? 

As the dairy industry is boosts production our planet is not the only life that suffers.  In regards to human health, dairy is the number one source of saturated fats. Diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol, increase the risk of heart disease.  Studies have also linked dairy to an increased risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers as well as research shows that dairy products have little or no benefit for bone health.  Numerous health professionals have reported there is no negative side effect to remove dairy from your diet. Let’s look at the implications dairy has our environment.

Facts About Dairy and The Environment:

  • 2.5 liters of wastewater is created for every 1 liter of milk produced.  Runoffs from corrals can wash manure into streams and rivers causing pollution.
  • It is estimated that 4,781 gallons of water are used per cow every day for their food needs.
  • Dairy facilities that uses an automatic “flushing” system for manure clean up using 150 gallons of water per cow, per day.
  • 80% of all soy and 60-65% of all corn is grown solely to feed livestock.
  • 80 million metric tons of methane is released from cow burps every year.
  • Commercial dairies with 10,000 milk cows release an average of 3,575 pounds of ammonia, 33,092 pounds of methane, and 409 pounds of nitrous oxide into the environment every day. 

How can I make an impact:

Tier 1: Global Goodness

  • Reduce milk consumption by switching to plant based alternatives.
  • Substitute non-dairy versions for cream and butter in meal prep.
  • Read labels and educate yourself on alternative names for dairy.  Milk, cream, casein, and whey are just a few names for dairy.

Tier 2: Planet Protector

  • All of Tier 1
  • Research the effects of dairy on your health.  Knowledge is power.  
  • Purchasing foods that are labeled vegan will ensure there is no dairy. 
  • Substitute nutritional yeast for cheese, or purchase plant based cheese alternatives.
  • Switch to almond or coconut creamer in your coffee.

Tier 3: Earth Angel

  • All of Tier 1 & 2
  • Start making your own nut and seed milks.  It is extremely cost effective and saves pesky packaging.
  • Lobby your local congress to improve the environmental standards of dairy production as well as the wellbeing of the cows.
  • Watch Cowspiracy.  By seeing what is going on in these facilities, we can make a more educated decision on where we spend our money. 

Facts References: 

https://www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2011/how-dairy-farms-contribute-to-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-information/health-concerns-about-dairy

5 Side Effects of Consuming Too Much Dairy Protein

https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/dairy

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110719111708.htm

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0958694612002051

Milk Life? How About Milk Destruction: The Shocking Truth About the Dairy Industry and the Environment

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301341877_Impact_of_Dairy_Effluent_on_Environment-A_Review

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