Dairy first entered the human diet during the shift to agriculture in the Middle East about 9,000 years ago. Since then it has spread across the globe and is consumed in the form of milk, butter, cheese and yogurt. As humans continued to consume dairy, a genetic mutation emerged and spread throughout Europe that allowed humans to produce lactase and consume milk into adulthood.
The USDA is one of the biggest advocates of dairy. Their reasoning is primarily for calcium and the promotion of bone health. While some studies have found favorable evidence, others question the claims. Dairy products can also be a good source of protein and various vitamins such as Vitamin D.
Nutrition Facts of Dairy Products
Dairy Free Eating
The benefits of dairy products are especially questionable to the 75% of adults worldwide and 25% in the U.S. who are lactose intolerant. If you are not lactose intolerant, then dairy consumption shouldn’t be a huge concern. When in doubt, listen to your body.
Calcium & Other Nutrients: Chia seeds, tofu and dark leafy greens are among the richest dairy free sources of calcium. The other nutrients can easily be covered by eating a wide variety of plant based products.
Dairy Free Milk: Almond milk, soy milk, rice milk and coconut milk.
Cheese: I often substitute cheese with avocado. There are many other options such as nutritional yeast and soy-based products that try to be like cheese.