Vegan or Not, 50% of All Americans Drink Dairy-Free Milk, Study Finds

Fifty percent of U.S. shoppers purchase both dairy and vegan milk, according to a new study by food, agriculture, financial, and industrial product provider Cargill.

Whilst 67 percent of participants in the study still believe dairy is an integral part of their diet, just under half stated that dairy is not essential for a balanced diet, and half said they regularly purchase both dairy and nondairy milk. According to Cargill, consumers are opting for vegan milk for a number of reasons, including lactose intolerance and dairy allergies, but also because they wish to stay away from growth hormones, saturated fat, and antibiotics.

A number of studies have linked dairy consumption with health problems, including prostate cancer and breast cancer. Leading breast surgeon Kristie Funk, whose A-List former clients include Angelina Jolie and Sheryl Crow, recently told the Sunday Times, “When I delved into the literature regarding food, I was literally shocked. It is crystal clear that the body’s cellular response to animal protein and fat [in meat and dairy] is nothing but dangerous.”

man pouring milk into coffee

Aside from health, taste is the most important factor in whether consumers decide to purchase vegan or dairy products — ice cream, in particular. According to Cargill, young people especially are on the lookout for tasty alternatives to traditional fat-filled, sugar-packed dairy ice cream.

To remain successful, Cargill notes, the dairy industry has to change. It warns that the vegan market will keep accelerating and gaining worldwide traction, and if dairy companies want to keep up, they must adapt and produce more innovative, healthier products. One recent report stated that dairy ice cream and milk sales have plummeted 13 percent in recent years, in response, some dairy farmers are considering a pivot into the plant-based milk market.

In 2016, dairy company Elmhurst did just that. Despite being dairy-focused since 1925, CEO Henry Schwartz decided to direct the company exclusively into the plant-based market after switching to a vegan diet himself. “It was time to reevaluate the past,” he told NPR in January. “And start creating the food traditions that would carry us into the future.” 

Image Credit: Califia Farms

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