Why You Don’t Need Milk - dummies

By Suzanne Havala Hobbs

After infancy, you don’t need milk. It’s a simple fact. Milk is a substance produced by mammals to nourish their newborn babies. Baby mammals — including humans — depend on milk until their digestive systems have had enough time to mature and allow them to eat solid food.

After they begin eating solid food, the animals don’t go back to drinking milk. That is, of course, unless they’re human. Some human adults — a minority of the world’s population — drink milk from cows, goats, and other large mammals.

Any health-supporting diet takes care and planning, whether or not it includes dairy products. Still, it’s reassuring to know that there’s no requirement for you to drink milk to be healthy.

If you don’t drink milk or consume other dairy products, where do you get your calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, and other nutrients typically associated with these products? It’s one of the first questions your friends and family will ask you if you tell them you’re going dairy-free. Rest assured that these nutrients are widely available in many other health-supporting foods. You probably already enjoy some of them.

You can find calcium in navy bean soup, almonds, fortified orange juice, and cooked kale. Sunshine is nature’s natural source of vitamin D, though you also can get it in eggs and certain kinds of fish. Riboflavin and other vitamins, as well as all the minerals and other substances you need for good health, are widespread in other foods, too, including a range of fruits, vegetables, beans and peas, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. These are the healthiest foods you can possibly eat.

You can find plenty of nutrients in foods that may be new to you, too. If you don’t mind experimenting a bit, some of these products may become new favorites. Examples include soymilk, almond milk, rice milk, nondairy cheese, soy yogurt, and other nondairy products. Most of them taste great and work in recipes in much the same way that cow’s milk and traditional dairy products do.