You Know Dairy’s In Trouble When Their Ads Resort To Bashing Almond Milk

got milk ad

I don’t know if it’s a sign of sea change in how America thinks about milk, or just a snyde advertising idea brought to you by the Dairy Council, but their latest “Real Milk Comes From Cows” ad campaign seem to be taking the offensive in an attempt to win over health-conscious consumers. Their latest ad campaign basically smears plant-based milks like almond, coconut, and soymilk by calling out ingredients that we’re supposed to think are scary, and dubbing their color as “weird.” Although Blisstree got tons of flak for being skeptical about milk’s nutrition value a few weeks ago, I think it’s safe to say that many share our concerns—at least enough to make the Dairy Council realize that we need more than cute photos of celebs with milk mustaches to convince us that it’s good to drink.

The ad shows milk alongside various plant-based milks, each with a list of ingredients, with some highlighted, implying that they’re more processed (and therefore less healthy). But they don’t call out specific brands or compare flavors; all of the alternatives contain sweeteners, which are all possible to avoid, and many contain preservatives which, again, aren’t all necessarily bad or impossible to avoid.

Meanwhile, the ad explains that cow’s milk only contains milk, skim milk, vitamin A palmitate, and vitamin D3; a much shorter ingredient list than any of the other milks. What they’re leaving out—and what you won’t find on an ingredients list—is that, unless specified otherwise, American milk comes from cows that are fed growth hormones and given antibiotics that aren’t necessarily safe for human consumption (other countries like Canada and everyone in the EU have banned their use for health safety reasons).

The same ad campaign takes pride in the fact that real milk doesn’t need shaking; another misleading claim. While most of the stuff you buy in the store doesn’t settle the way that nut milks or soymilk does, the reason doesn’t have anything to do with it being natural or healthy. In fact, raw, unprocessed milk does require shaking; it’s only through homogenization and the separation of milk fats that we get such a uniform product.

Their website also features an interactive “health benefits” section, with links to plenty of studies showing that it helps with everything from PMS to building beautiful hair, skin and nails. Again, many of these claims are up for debate, and many health-concerned consumers aren’t buying them.

The dairy council, of course, isn’t the first to take the offense with their ads; PETA has long promoted vegan diets by bashing the dairy and meat industries. But when dairy—a multibillion dollar industry that spends colossal amounts of money on ads—is adopting the same tacts, it seems like a sure sign that milk is in trouble.

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    • C

      Milk is all-natural! Just like cyanide and uranium. In all seriousness, though, this campaign isn’t that ridiculous compared to the PMS ads that got so much flak a while ago… but it does seem like an escalating show of desperation. It kind of surprises me though that most of the supposedly scary words they highlighted are thickeners and emulsifiers… You know, the stuff they have to put in it because consumers want it to seem more like ‘real’ cow’s milk? LOL. (by the way, almond milk has been around since at least the middle ages so it’s not like it’s some new untested craziness, which is how they appear to be trying to pass milk alternatives off.)

    • tessa

      even goat’s milk is better than cow’s milk; sarah britton actually posted a really informative breakdown of the differences today, found here

      there may be a wonderful-looking recipe there, also

    • Peppercorn

      I just sent them this letter, hopefully they’ll listen:

      To whom it may concern:
      My name is (lalala my name), and I am a college student at (a university somewhere) majoring in Sustainable Development. I recently saw your “Real Milk Comes From Cows” promotion, and I was saddened to find that it is demeaning and defaming to milk substitutes and those who consume them. Though I realize that cow’s milk is the basis of your entire campaign, I don’t think advertising and promotion should ever stoop to bashing the competition. People today are already unkind enough, we don’t need kids growing up with the idea that insults and defamation are the tools needed to get one’s own way.
      I was additionally saddened that the information provided by this promotion was skewed to the point of inaccuracy; coconut, hazelnut, almond, and soy milks can all be found without the additives listed in the advertisement (Guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum, carob bean gum, refined sugars, et cetera), so depicting these beverages as all containing these ingredients (which are not necessarily harmful, and are added often in the first place to make the drink’s texture and flavor more similar to cow’s milk) is misleading. Though the cow’s milk endorsed by you does indeed have a shorter list of ingredients, making it seem more natural, it must also be noted that much of the cow’s milk produced in the United States of America comes from cows who have been treated with antibiotics and hormones, both of which can be harmful to the human beings who drink it. Additionally, many of these dairy cows are kept in inhumane conditions that are not only harmful to the animals themselves, but also to the people living in surrounding areas. Many people living in rural areas near factory farms experience health problems related to animal-transmitted diseases and exposure to antibiotics, chemicals, and pesticides used on the animals. With the rise in popularity of plant-based milks, this cruelty towards animals and fellow humans is being decreased.
      Furthermore, these plant-based milks are also criticized for the fact that they tend to settle and must be shaken before consumption. Being advocates for cow’s milk, you must surely know that most cow’s milk does not settle only because it is homogenized; unhomogenized/raw cow’s milk settles and separates just as much, if not more, than plant-based milks. Therefore, this criticism is unfounded and misleading.
      While cow’s milk can certainly have many nutritional values, so can plant-based milks- one could even go as far to say that they often are the safer beverage of choice, as the likelihood of consuming harmful hormones or antibiotics is greatly decreased when one chooses to drink plant-based milks.
      I am in no way insulting cow’s milk myself; it has long been a staple for people around the world, including myself. However, I can condone neither the bullying tactics used in this promotion nor the inhumane and ecologically unsound methods by which most of our nation’s cow’s milk is produced. I feel that it would be wonderful if a program such as yourself would, instead of insulting the competition, advocate for humanely and environmentally sensitively produced cow’s milk and encourage the patronage of small and/or sustainable/organic/cruelty-free dairy farmers.
      Best wishes,

      • Hanna Brooks Olsen

        Woah! This is great. Thanks for sharing!

    • Chris

      6th generation family dairy farmer here, just wanted to encourage talking with and visiting your local dairyman. We’d love to show you around and talk with you about what we get to do for a living!

      -You might be surprised to find that most of the milk produced in the US doesn’t contain added growth or production hormones.

      -Also, we only use antibiotics on cows that are sick and need it to survive! We discard any and all milk that contains antibiotics, so it never reaches the food supply.

      -The American Dietetic Association studied the differences between ‘hormone free’ milk, conventional milk, and organic milk. They found zero difference in the level of hormones, and did not detect antibiotics in any of the different types.

      If you have more questions, I’d love to have a conversation. You can follow me on Twitter @FarmerHeins. Thanks!

      • Joe

        Hope u dont mind but i copied and pasted ur post on2 fb, so over vegans bashing the dairy industry and they never have facts, just always make up stuff 2 suit ther needs

      • rc

        These cows are treated appallingly merely by the nature of the thing. Would any women out there like to be continuously impregnated, have your children ripped away from you and then have machines attached to your nipples sucking out the liquid inside that is there to feed your young? Didn’t think so! Everyone seems to have forgotten that a certain amount of puss is also allowed into milk because the cows can suffer from painfully sore mastitis. 1 cow in pain is bad enough, and it is certainly more than one, thats for sure!

    • LoLo

      I find this offense because many people (myself included) would like to drink ‘real’/dairy milk, but are forced to turn to plant-based substitutes due to dietary restrictions (aka lactose intolerance). Funny enough, I’m also allergic to soy milk, so my options are limited.

      I haven’t had dairy milk in over 13 years and I’m doing just fine and don’t miss it one bit. Besides, milk is really only good for growing babies/children/adolescents, and with cereal and oreo cookies.

    • Joe

      Wot gets me is the fact that vegans diss cows milk and the dairy industry all the time and thats ok but the moment the dairy industry does the same it becomes a problem, vegans have double standards and im sick and tired of them trying 2 force ther ways on2 the rest of us

    • Laina

      It would be one thing if the dairy industry wasn’t riddled with bad practices and secrets, but they are, so it’s good to see them squirm just a little bit.

    • keith

      In New Zealand where Fonterra is a global giant in the dairy industry, and most dairy cows are free range grass fed animals. It is hard to believe that our own cows milk is contaminated with the same dangerous chemicals as you find in the US.
      In NZ while we have laws to prevent this happening, NOBODY checks the product, and the chemicals are sold here, if they were not being used they would not be sold! and farmers have shown themselves to be very capable of criminal actions in the past.

      Milk from animals is a good food source, better if you can get safe clean milk.
      However as it also reduces the benefitial plant phenols and sterols in your blood which protect your health, it is best consumed in moderation and a good balance of green plant foods is required to off set the negative effect.

      As you sow so shall you reap, love your cow and you will have sweet milk for your life. :)

    • Bea Elliott

      Female cows are forcibly artificially inseminated to become pregnant and

      continue lactating. After 9 months, the dairy industry steals these baby

      calves shortly after they are born. The “worthless” males who can’t make

      milk are either killed immediately or kept in isolation for a few months

      to become veal. The unfortunate females calves follow their mother’s sad

      lot all the way to the last moments on the kill floor when they are no

      longer “productive”.

      Adult humans do not need cow’s milk any more than they need goat’s milk,

      wolf’s milk, camel’s milk, giraffe’s milk. Unweaned infants do remarkably

      better on their own mother’s breast milk which is what our species was

      intended to consume.

      Thankfully there’s abundant plant based alternatives that are just as

      nutritional, just as satisfying and just as versatile in cooking. Some

      even have twice the amount of calcium and vitamin D as cow’s milk does.

      Protein? Where does the cow get hers from? Dark greens…

      There’s absolutely nothing beneficial to the human diet in cow’s milk.

      It’s also destructive to the environment and a tragic waste of resources.

      Perhaps it is time for “unweaned” adults to look beyond what

      deceptiveness and hype the dairy industry is pitching at you in order to

      keep their profits and their cruel practices in check.