Opinion: Dairy-free products aren’t always the best choice

Almond+milk+is+one+of+the+most+popular+dairy-free+alternatives+to+milk

Photo by Eitan Malkus, LT

Almond milk is one of the most popular dairy-free alternatives to milk

Daniela Abrams , Editor-In-Chief

Nowadays, upon entering a coffee shop, whether a chain or local, there is no doubt you will be greeted with an array of alternatives for dairy options. Whether that be almond, coconut, oat or even cashew milk, there are plenty to choose from. 

Although many different people of all ages indulge in these dairy alternatives, it has stuck with Gen Z the most. This generation has developed a “coffee culture” which encourages teenagers to spend an excessive amount of money on little iced coffee drinks. I myself am guilty of entertaining this and even paying the extra dollar for the dairy alternative. 

This culture has given rise to a dairy-free movement, which discourages younger adults from drinking dairy. Today’s teens have developed and popularized a certain lifestyle. This lifestyle idealizes veganism and living a more ”granola” lifestyle. On Tik Tok, there is a new trend where teenagers get offended when the barista questions whether they want real milk or oat in their coffee because they aim to look like someone who drinks plant-based milk. 

By all means, if you are dairy-free, or just prefer the taste, go ahead. However, I believe these new trends have created a stigma around dairy. Teens will claim that they are lactose intolerant in an attempt to fit in with this new trend and find alternatives for all dairy products. 

This trend created the idea that non-dairy products are much healthier than regular milk. However, most of these alternatives are filled with many harmful gums. Oatmilk, for example, is a refined carbohydrate. According to GQ Magazine, these refined carbohydrates can create a spike in your insulin levels and blood glucose. Additionally, Oatly, one of the most common oat milk distributors, is currently being recalled due to a possible bacteria contamination. 

Regular milk often has none or fewer artificial sweeteners, and contaminants and is often much creamier. In addition, it is high in vitamin D and protein. We shouldn’t dismiss these benefits only because dairy alternatives have gone viral.

I would like our generation to take back dairy, and indulge in all of its wonderful products, before considering switching to a dairy-free diet. A drastic diet change should not be a trend; it should be a conscious decision that someone makes because it is what is best for them.