Dairy products are high carbon. Cattle produce methane, plus cattle eat grain grown on land that should be growing rainforests. The main argument for eating dairy is as a source of calcium to reduce the risks of osteoporosis. Further guidance can be found here.)
We need to dramatically decrease our dairy consumption to allow others to share in this, but also to avoid dairy cows being bred in areas where there is no natural food source. For further info, I highly recommend reviewing this FAO Report.
The UK has good conditions for growing grass-fed cows, but they are also fed on imported soy and other protein-rich grains. I love cheese, and I really struggle reducing the amount I eat, so instead of going completely vegan immediately, try some of the simple ways to reduce the amount of dairy products you buy:
- Forget to buy it. If you don’t have it in the fridge, you won’t use it. If you are going to buy it, buy something expensive or interesting and local that you will savour rather than binge eat.
- Favour vegetable-based sauces, rather than creamy ones for pasta dishes. These are also better for you.
- Grate cheese, rather than slice. With the increased surface area, you can taste it more, plus it looks like more on your plate or in your sandwich, so you need a lot less. A finer grater will create more flavour.
- Use vegan alternatives to dairy. There are arguments that soy is grown in place of rainforests, but by eating the soy direct, you have a much reduced impact compared to processing it through a cow first. This is 10 times more efficient than producing dairy or beef products.
- Only eat cold butter and fats. When butter melts, you can use far more than you would if it were cold. Avoid cooking with butter, and replace with vegetable oils. Save butter for where you can really taste it, on a piece of nice homemade bread.
- Start drinking coffee and tea without milk. I started this at work, as I kept forgetting to take milk, and after the first week I stopped noticing.
- Milk and cheese can be frozen if you are going away and won’t finish it. Milk will turn yellow when it freezes, but it is still fine and will turn white again when it defrosts. Defrosted cheese is better used in recipes rather than eaten raw. Try freezing Parmesan rinds to throw in to soups for adding really great flavour from a waste product. Even better, if you know other people that would throw them away, ask to have their parmesan rinds for freezing, ready for future use.
- Many cuisines across the world use little dairy compared to our own. Try Thai, Japanese and Indo-chinese vegetarian recipes, or experiment with new recipes from across the globe. If you are getting a takeaway, don’t go for pizza.
- Buy softer cheeses. Hard cheese requires more milk per kg than soft.
- Cheese should be a delicious treat. Never eat it drunk.
In the UK, we eat around 12 kg of cheese per person. By halving this, we could reduce our carbon footprint by 60 kgCO2e per year per person.
Any additional ways of reducing dairy consumption, I’d love to hear.