World Milk Day which takes place today (1st June) is an international celebration which began 15 years ago. The day came about as an opportunity to publicise activities connected with the milk and the milk industry. Organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, it is a day for celebrating all aspects of milk. It focuses specifically on milk as a global food, as well as promoting its various health benefits to encourage a healthy and balanced diet. During World Milk Day, the campaign also seeks to increase public awareness of milk – such as its nutritional value, economic importance and natural origin of different milks across the globe.
In previous years, society embraced animal milks, in particular, cow milk. However, in recent years more people have been turning to other animal milk alternatives, as well as soya milk, almond milk and rice milk.
Cow’s milk is very common in the Western world, and when we refer to ‘milk’ we are often referring to the milk of a cow. Cow’s Milk can provide a lot of vitamins, minerals and proteins, but can be high in fat and calories. There are three common types of cow milk – whole milk, reduced fat and lactose-free. Whole milk has none of the fat removed and is therefore very high in protein, calcium and vitamin D. The reduced fat versions, such as skimmed and semi-skimmed, have much less fat content but still retain many of its nutritional benefits. Lactose free milk omits lactose – the sugar which naturally occurs in milk products, and can be an allergen for some people.
Believe it or not, on a worldwide basis, more people drink the milk of goats more than any other animal. The benefits of replacing cow’s milk with goat’s milk can have many health benefits, particularly for those who suffer from some form of intolerance or allergy to cow’s milk. As cow’s milk is high in fat, it can cause excess mucus or thicken the mucus in the body. Mucus or phlegm can worsen upper respiratory problems, such as asthma. However, goat’s milk has far less fat and so does not produce these same side effects. The milk is still high in calcium, and actually benefits the environment as well as the population, as goats require much less food and space than cows.
Soy milk is an extremely popular alternative for vegans and those with a lactose intolerance. The milk comes from plants, and so contains no lactose or cholesterol. Soy milk is a good source of calcium, potassium, vitamins A, B12 and D and contains almost as much protein as cow’s milk!
Almond milk is another popular animal milk alternative, and can be found widely in many supermarkets and coffee shops. This milk is also lactose and cholesterol free and is a good source of vitamins A and D.
This form of milk is very simply made from rice and water. It contains no lactose or nuts, so can be a good option for those prone to any related allergies. Its simple ingredients mean it does not naturally contain any calcium or vitamin D, but it is very high in carbohydrates.
So why not try a milk alternative this World Milk Day? With so much choice and variety, it’s easy to find one that suits your own personal choice and health goals!