This is a guest post from Jessica Blanchard - a registered dietitian, Ayurvedic practitioner, and yoga teacher.
It’s time, isn’t it?
You’re motivated. You’re ready. You’re going vegan.
But a doubt eats away at your resolve.
Don’t you need milk?
After all, you’ve grown up hearing that milk “does a body good.” The milk proponents drummed this mantra into your head, so you believed it.
But the question remains — Do you need milk?
The answer is yes — if you’re a calf.
But humans can kiss dairy goodbye.
Separate Fact From Fiction
It’s true; you’ve always heard that you must drink milk to have healthy bones, and you need the protein in milk for growth.
But did you know that the American dairy industry spends $180 million per year on advertising to convince us of this?
Even the USDA, who produces our dietary guidelines, “helps America’s dairy farmers and producers efficiently market high-quality milk and a wide range of dairy products." Source
So the same agency tells us what to eat and promotes dairy products.
Smell anything rotten?
Let’s be honest.
Because you deserve the truth — facts backed by science, not profits.
It’s time to peer beyond the interests of big industry. Let’s uncover the myths about dairy and dig out the reality.
It’s not what you expect...
Myth #1 You need dairy for strong bones.
Most Americans grew up thinking that we absolutely needed milk for healthy bones. For so long, milk and its calcium were touted as the only solution for bone health.
The dairy industry’s heavy advertising along with the USDA’s inclusion of milk as one of the four food groups (remember this?) had everyone convinced.
In truth, your bone health depends on a balance of factors from your diet and lifestyle. Your body needs adequate calcium, protein, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C to build bones.
Calcium is a mineral in the soil that is absorbed by the roots of plants, and cows get their calcium by eating these plants. So the actual source of calcium is the earth, not cows.
You don’t need dairy products for healthy bones and calcium. You need the right balance of nutrients for your bones.
Plenty of plant sources give us plenty of calcium. And the same plants give us the other required nutrients like protein, vitamin K and C, potassium, and magnesium. You can get vitamin D from fortified nut milks or supplements. Or you can spend a little time outdoors so that your body can synthesize it from the sun.
So the truth is, you don’t need dairy to protect your bones. Instead, you can simply eat a variety of the following:
Beans: black beans, great northern beans, and navy beans
Greens: bok choy, turnip, mustard, collard, kale
Soy: tofu, tempeh, edamame, soymilk (calcium-fortified)
Seeds: sesame, tahini, almonds, almond butter
Fruits: figs, raisins, calcium-fortified juices
Fortified nut milks: soy, almond, coconut, hempseed
These bone superfoods provide all the calcium your body requires. And consuming calcium above required levels does not guarantee healthier bones. In one study, vegans that had a lower calcium intake than omnivores had the same bone health.
By eating a vegan diet with plenty of plant-based whole foods, you’ll get plenty of bone-building nutrients plus a host of other health benefits such as lower blood pressure, and a lower risk of cancer and heart disease. In fact, getting your nutrients from plants instead of animals leads to better bone health.