Dairy Industry Tries—and Fails—to Scare People Away from Plant-Based Diets (Plus 8 Great Sources of Plant-Based Calcium)

figs_mediumYou’ve probably seen the scary stories about how eliminating dairy from your diet can harm your health. It began with a press release from the National Osteopathic Society, which lead to a BBC article, which triggered a global news frenzy about the risks of not consuming dairy.

The thing is, the claims that lead to this spate of panicked headlines are simply not true.

In an article with the headline “Dairy-free diets warning over risk to bone health,” the BBC reported that “dairy products are the main source of calcium,” and went on to identify cow’s milk as the overall “best source” of calcium. Neither of these claims are supported by any scientific data, and both appear to be sourced solely from the National Osteoporosis Society.

But is the authoritatively named National Osteoporosis Society pushing the dairy industry’s agenda? It has a number of corporate sponsors whose interests could conflict with an impartial review of the link between dairy and bone health, including Yoplait, one of the world’s largest yogurt brands. Yoplait has openly stated that it is “a proud partner and supporter of the National Osteoporosis Society.”

This connection led the Plant Based News editorial team to wonder whether the recent slew of headlines could be the latest attempt from the dairy industry to discredit the proven health benefits of plant-based eating.

Humans Don’t Need to Eat Dairy to Be Healthy

Despite what recent buzzy news coverage would have you believe, there’s absolutely no proof that dairy is necessary for human health. According to Dr. Walter Willett, the Harvard University expert on nutrition, although there has been “a general belief that we need to
consume a lot of milk because that will prevent osteoporosis and kale_facebookfractures,” rigorous scientific studies reveal that there is no relationship between dairy consumption and a lower fracture risk.

As for the idea that individuals who adhere to a plant-based diet will miss out on essential nutrients, the Vegan Society rebutted this by pointing out that any diet can be lacking in nutrients. The British Dietetics Association, the largest association of food and nutrition professionals in the UK, has stated that ‘well-planned, plant-based, vegan-friendly diets can be devised to support healthy living at every age and life-stage.”

Furthermore, over 50% of the population is lactose intolerant! That means that, for 1 out of every 2 people, consuming dairy is not only unnecessary, but actually harmful to their overall health and wellbeing.

The Top 8 Plant-Based Sources of Calcium

I’s completely possible to fill your plate with plant-based sources of calcium. If you want to make sure you’re eating enough calcium, take a look at this list of calcium-rich foods shared by Prevention magazine:

  • Kale
  • Okra
  • Almonds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Collard greens
  • Tofu
  • Oranges
  • Figs