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October 07, 2019 - The Vegan Authority

Milk: plant-based versus fluid from mammary gland of female mammals

Milk: plant-based versus fluid from mammary gland of female mammals
Credit: Go to Daniela Díaz's profile Daniela Díaz

Calling plant-derived liquids ‘milk’ goes back at least a thousand years. Botany, in fact, defines milk as a kind of juice or sap, usually white in colour, found in certain plants.

Almond milk was introduced into Europe by the Moors in about the 8th century. An early form of soy milk became popular in China in about the 14th century. Plant-based milks were the rule rather than the exception throughout Asia and other areas where humans had a higher rate of lactose intolerance,and it seems impossible to think of Thai food and many other regional cuisines without the essential component of coconut milk, reports Smart Company.

Biology, on the other hand, defines milk as the white fluid from the mammary glands of female mammals used to nourish their young. It is this latter definition that the dairy industry clings to when trying to define their product. The only issue, though is that cow's milk was destined for their calves, not humans.

The dairy industry sees the growing demand for plant-based milk as a threat to their livelihood. So much so that they want governments to decree that the word ‘milk’ be reserved for milk from mammals. They argue that consumers will be misled and confused if plant-based products are allowed to use the term milk. This is a legal fight that is ongoing.

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